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 published: 2009-04-07

When we touch the cross, when, indeed, we carry it, we touch the mystery of God

Palm Sunday celebrations at St. Peter’s, Rome


Jugendliche aus Spanien übernehmen das WJT-Kreuz

Entrega de la Cruz de la JMJ a jóvenes de España

Youth from Spain receiving the WYD cross

Jugendliche aus Spanien übernehmen das WJT-Kreuz


Bei der Palmsonntagsmesse auf dem Petersplatz

Domingo de Ramos en la Plaza San Pedro

Palm Sunday Holy Mass at St. Peter’s Square

Bei der Palmsonntagsmesse auf dem Petersplatz

Schw. Maria Montserrat mit der Pilgernden Gottesmutter  

La Hermana María Montserrat con la Peregrina

Sister Maria Montserrat with the Pilgrim MTA

Schw. Maria Montserrat mit der Pilgernden Gottesmutter

Diese Pilgermadonna war beim WJT in Sydney beim Papst  

La Peregrina estuvo con el Santo Padre, durante la JMJ de Sydney

This Pilgrim MTA was with the Pope during WYD in Sydney

Diese Pilgermadonna war beim WJT in Sydney beim Papst


Procesión de ramos

Palm Procession


Der Heilige Vater grüßt…  

El Santo Padre saludando...

The Holy Father greeting...

Der Heilige Vater grüßt…


San Pedro

St. Peter’s


Fotos: Hna. María del Pilar Mendieta © 2009

Álbum de fotos – photo album – Fotoalbum


ROME, VIS/mkf. Young people from all over the world, including a 7,000-strong delegation from the archdiocese of Madrid, Spain where Word Youth Day is due to be celebrated in 2011, participated in the Palm Sunday Eucharistic celebration presided by the Pope in St. Peter's Square this morning. Today also marks 24th World Youth Day, celebrated this year at a diocesan level on the theme: "We have set our hope on the living God".

Before Mass, Benedict XVI blessed the palms and olive branches by the obelisk in the square then led the procession to the altar. In his homily the Holy Father remarked that Christ, with His death on the cross, demonstrated once again "the fundamental law of human existence: 'Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life'.

"Those who wish to keep their lives for themselves", he added, "to live only for themselves, to keep everything for themselves and exploit every possibility; those people lose their lives. They become empty and boring. Only by abandoning ourselves, only in the disinterested giving of 'I' in favour of 'you', only in the 'yes' to the greater life, which is of God, do our own lives become broader and greater".

Love", Benedict XVI explained, "means the abandoning of self, the giving of self, not wishing to possess oneself but becoming free of self; not closing in on oneself (what will become of me?) but looking ahead towards others: towards God and towards the people He sends me".

"In reality, however, it is not a question of simply recognising a principle but of living its truth, the truth of the cross and the resurrection. Hence, it is not enough to make one single great decision. It is certainly important to dare to make the great fundamental decision, to dare to say the great 'yes' which the Lord asks of us at a certain moment in our lives", yet this must then be "constantly renewed in our everyday lives in which, ever and anew, we must abandon our own self and place ourselves at the disposal of others".

The Pope went on: "Sacrifice and denial are part of a just life. Those who promise a life without this ever-new gift of self, are deluding others. Without sacrifice, there can be no fulfilling life". In this context he also explained how in his own experience "the times in which I said 'yes' to a sacrifice were the greatest and most important moments of my life".

"The glory of God, His lordship, His will, these are always more important and truer than my thoughts, than my will. What is essential is ... to learn this just ordering of reality and accept it intimately, trusting in God and believing that He is doing the right thing, that His will is truth and love, that my life becomes good if I learn to adhere to this order. For us the life, death and resurrection of Jesus are the guarantee that we can truly trust God. It is in this way that His Kingdom is realised".

A pilgrim cross

The cross "travels from one end of the earth to the other, from sea to sea, and we accompany it. We travel with it on its path and thus we discover our own path.

"When we touch the cross, when, indeed, we carry it, we touch the mystery of God, the mystery of Jesus Christ", the Pope added. "But we also touch the fundamental law, the basic norm of our lives: the fact that without the 'yes' to the cross, without walking in communion with Christ day after day, life can have no success".

Benedict XVI concluded his homily by again emphasising how "those who wish to keep their life for themselves lose it. Those who give their life (in the small everyday actions that are part of the great decision), those people find it. This is the truth, a demanding but beautiful and liberating truth in which, little by little, we wish to enter as the cross journeys across the continents".

The Pilgrim MTA that saw the Pope

Following this morning's Mass and before praying the Angelus, a brief ceremony took place during which a group of young Australians handed the World Youth Day cross and icon to a group of Spanish youth.

Turning to the 150 delegates (bishops, priests and lay people) who have been participating in an international meeting on World Youth Days organised by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the Pope noted: "Thus begin the preparations for the next world gathering of young people, which will take place in 2011 in Madrid, Spain, and for which I have already indicated the theme: 'Rooted and built in Christ, established in the faith' (Col 2, 7)

Among the participants of this international meeting were also representatives of the Spanish Schoenstatt Youth. Sister Maria Montserrat had a special "participant" with her: the Pilgrim MTA, that Sr. M. Julie from Australia had taken along to her encounter with the Holy Father during the World Youth Day in Sydney!

"As is traditional", the Pope added, "the young Australians will soon consign the World Youth Day cross to young Spaniards, the 'pilgrim cross' which carries the message of Christ's love to all the young people of the world. This handing-over ceremony has a highly symbolic value with which we express our immense gratitude to God for the gifts received at the great meeting of Sydney, and for those He will grant us at the gathering in Madrid".

The Holy Father concluded his remarks by noting how on Monday the WYD cross, accompanied by the icon of the Virgin Mary, will depart for the Spanish capital where it will be present at the Good Friday procession. It will them begin a long pilgrimage across the dioceses of Spain, returning to Madrid for summer 2011. "May this cross and this icon of Mary be for everyone a sign of the invincible love of Christ and of His - and our - Mother!"



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