Written by Sherry
Sunday, 20 July 2008 05:40
He is everywhere this Sunday morning. The Pope, that is.
Here's the lead from the Sydney Morning News:
Pope Benedict XVI has used his keynote address at the closing Mass of World Youth Day to issue a plea to young Catholics to join the priesthood and consider life as a nun or brother in a Catholic religious order.
In his homily, the Pope asked the tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered:
"'What will you leave to the next generation? What difference will you make?"
In Australia, as in the rest of the developed world, the Catholic Church is facing a severe shortage of priests, necessitating the twinning of parishes and forcing priests to travel vast distances to administer the Scaraments.
The church needed the gifts of young people.
''I address this plea in a special way to those of you whom the Lord is calling to the priesthood and the consecrated life,'' the Pope said.
''Do not be afraid to say 'yes' to Jesus to find your joy in doing his will, giving yourself completely to the pursuit of holiness, and using all your talents in the service of others.''
Both the Morning News and the Australian (the national newspaper) play up the "spiritual desert" theme - and how many hearts will that resonate with?
"POPE Benedict XVI urged 350,000 young pilgrims today to become prophets of a new age bringing renewed faith to a spiritually barren world.
The Pope's ringing challenge echoed over a vast sea of Catholics packing Sydney's Royal Randwick Racecourse at the concluding mass of week-long World Youth Day (WYD) celebrations, which at times attracted up to half a million pilgrims and well-wishers.
His message capped a triumphant first trip to Australia for the 81-year-old pontiff, who flies back to Rome tomorrow after a landmark visit that included a papal apology to victims of church sexual abuse.
Declaring the spirit of the church alive and well, the Pope told pilgrims from more than 170 countries he had shared an "unforgettable experience" in the great south land.
"Our eyes have been opened to see the world around us as it truly is, 'charged' as the poet says, 'with the grandeur of God', filled with the glory of His creative love," he said.
Pope Benedict said a new generation of Christians was being called to help build a world in which God's gift of life was welcomed and love was not greedy or self-seeking but pure, faithful and genuinely free.
He spoke of a "new age in which hope liberates us from the shallowness, apathy and self-absorption which deaden our souls and poison our relationships".
"The world needs this renewal,'' he said in a homily beamed to hundreds of millions of television viewers worldwide.
"In so many of our societies, side by side with material prosperity, a spiritual desert is spreading: an interior emptiness, an unnamed fear, a quiet sense of despair.
"How many of our contemporaries have built broken cisterns in desperate search for meaning - the ultimate meaning that only love can give?"
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC television), which has been notorious for its negative coverage, didn't cover the content of the Pope's homily at all. They focused on stirring up a controversy over the numbers that showed up for the final Papal Mass. The organizers had predicted 500,000 and most people don't think that many were present. Being the biggest gathering in the history of Australia wasn't enough for them.
But even ABC had to call it "unforgettable".
Mebourne's The Age highlighted the Church's role in Australian history:
"Here in Australia, let us thank the Lord for the gift of faith which has come down to us like a treasure passed on from generation to generation in the communion of the church," Pope Benedict said today.
"Here in Oceania, let us give thanks in a special way for all those heroic missionaries, dedicated priests and religious, Christian parents and grandparents, teachers and catechists who built up the church in these lands - witnesses like Blessed Mary MacKillop, Saint Peter Chanel, Blessed Peter To Rot, and so many others.
"The power of the spirit revealed in their lives, is still at work in the good they left behind, in the society which they shaped and which is being handed on to you."
He asked the pilgrims what their legacy would be to future generations, posing the question: "Are you building your lives on firm foundations, building something that will endure?"
Clara will be disappointed that the name of the remarkable lay apostle, Carolyn Chisholm, was not mentioned (but then Carolyn's cause is not formally underway yet.)
Who knows what future saints and apostles are beginning the long journey home today; their bodies exhausted and their spirits enflamed?