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Call for silence amidst celebrations

— Holy Father has put his own stamp on the Church’s celebration of World Youth Day

WITH World Youth Day celebrations beginning in less than three weeks time and excitement building, Pope Benedict XVI has put his own stamp on the event by calling again for prayerful reflection amid the jubilations.

During World Youth Day in Madrid, scheduled for August 16-21, Eucharistic adoration is to cap the Holy Father’s participation at the vigil. Adoration and prayer also will continue throughout the night at the military airport where many of the young people are expected to camp overnight.

The precedent for periods of silence and solemnity was set in Cologne (right), Germany, six years ago during Pope Benedict’s first WYD as Pontiff. He surprised the youth gathered at the Saturday night vigil by urging them to be quieter at certain stages of the event. He ended the vigil with Eucharistic adoration, with tens of thousands of young people kneeling silently in a field, thus starting a major new WYD tradition. The scene was repeated in Australia in 2008.

Reverence and joy

Pope Benedict has insisted that real, even prolonged moments of silence be added to every liturgy he celebrates.

Visiting Sulmona, Italy, in 2010, he said: “We live today in a society in which every space, every moment must be ‘filled’ with initiatives, activities and sound,” so that there is no time for listening and dialogue.”

“The point is to highlight that the central person of World Youth Day is Jesus Christ, and the pope is coming to proclaim him,” Fr Javier Cremades, Madrid coordinator of the liturgies, said.

“Young people will come to World Youth Day to celebrate with the Holy Father. If they did not want to attend a liturgy in the Pope’s style, they wouldn’t be coming.”

However, not all of Father Cremades’ plans emphasise the formal.

Young people will be woken up by with mariachi music the morning of August 21, hours before the Pope arrives to celebrate the final Mass at the Cuatro Vientos military airport, he said.


WYD Organisers will have 17 tents set up as chapels for all-night adoration following the vigil.

Yago de la Cierva, executive director of World Youth Day Madrid, said that while organisers, priests and even the pope cannot control what the Holy Spirit does in the lives of the young pilgrims, they must be serious about preparing an atmosphere where the Spirit’s action can be recognised.

“One important thing is to take great care with the Liturgy, so the young will say, ‘Wow, the Mass is beautiful,’” he said ahead of this year’s WYD events beginning.

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