We Are Called To Bear Witness

The recently concluded World Youth Day in Sydney proposed several challenges to young people of our time. The theme, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be my witnesses (Acts 1:8),” summarized the thrust of Pope Benedict’s Addresses and Homily. On several instances, he encouraged the youth to open hearts to Spirit’s power in order to become God’s witnesses in this modern world.

During the Vigil, the Pope spoke to the youth on how to become witnesses in “a world which in many ways is fragile.” He highlighted unity as the key to changing the world. Unity, however, “cannot be achieved through our efforts alone. God has made us for one another and only in God and his Church can we find the unity we seek,” he said. It is precisely the role of the Holy Spirit to bring this work to fulfillment for He is the bond of unity in the Blessed Trinity. The Holy Pontiff then expounded three theological insights of St Augustine to explain how the Holy Spirit works in our Christian life.

In his Homily during the closing Mass of the WYD, the Pope challenged the youth to unleash the Spirit’s power by allowing oneself to be changed from within: “We have to let it break through the hard crust of our indifference, our spiritual weariness, our blind conformity to the spirit of this age.” He affirmed that both the world and the Church need renewal and the gifts of young people can respond to this need.

The Holy Father also visited a rehabilitation community for disadvantaged youth in Sydney. He urged them to be ambassadors of hope and to help other troubled youth to choose the path of life. He warned them about the path that leads to death, that is, “the cult of material possessions, the cult of possessive love and the cult of power.”

At the Welcoming Celebration, the Holy Father began by reflecting on the natural beauty of creation. He affirmed that at the heart of the marvel of creation, man occupies the apex for he is an image of the Creator. But just as there are “scars” that mark the earth – “erosion, deforestation, …” -- there are also "wounds indicating that something is amiss” in our social environment. These social wounds, according to the Pope, are caused by the secularist vision which “seeks to explain human life and shape society with little or no reference to the Creator.” He challenged the youth to be convinced and to bear witness to the reality that they “were created anew at Baptism and strengthened through the gifts of the Spirit at Confirmation.”

We also include in this issue the Catechesis delivered by Archbishop Chaput on the occasion of the WYD ’08. According to the Bishop of Denver, giving witness is first of all living the unity of life. Unfortunately, he lamented, many people are tempted to lead a “double life.” The bishop presented an interesting diagnosis of this present culture of life and offered possible remedy to this malady.