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Praised be Jesus Christ!
It was a great blessing to attend the youth rally at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers and the Mass celebrated at Yankee Stadium. This was my first time seeing a pope in person. The rally at the seminary was particularly moving. As a former professor, our Holy Father is used to addressing youth, and he took the opportunity to impart some important lessons on those present. It was clear that, even though he was probably exhausted, his love for God and for us is so strong, and his joy to be with us was apparent.
Contrary to what some say, it was immensely clear to me that our Holy Father understands the youth of America today, both the questions we have and challenges we meet. First of all, he reminded us that we can all be saints. “St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, St. John Neumann, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, Venerable Pierre Toussaint, and Padre Felix Varela: any one of us could be among them, for there is no stereotype to this group, no single mold.” How many times do we forget that we can be saints? Holiness is not for a select few. He said that we must spend time developing a personal friendship with God in daily, mental prayer, and he encouraged eucharistic adoration. What struck me also was his reflection on liturgy, and how liturgy is a participation in Christ’s work. The liturgy is not ours except through him, with him, in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. This is great news indeed, for it relates to our entire lives; in no way is salvation our work but Christ’s work with which we cooperate, and I think knowing this enables us to trust more fully in God’s great mercy.
Our Holy Father encouraged us to resist a culture which tells us that Christ’s message as it comes to us through the Church will make us unhappy. As a college student, people constantly tell me that to be happy I must do certain things, like drink excessively or be sexually active. I’m told that I am repressing something within myself, that I shouldn’t say “no” to these human desires for love and fun. However, our Holy Father told us that what we are doing is not something negative but something beautiful. We are saying, “Yes” to Christ, who knows the desires of the human heart better than anyone. Cardinal Seán has said this before as well. How many times have friends who do not share this same faith and hope in Christ tell me that they feel empty and use the pleasures of this world to numb the pain?
The Mass at Yankee Stadium was impressive as well. It was a clear sign of the Church’s unity to receive Holy Communion with thousands of others gathered to worship God with the man chosen to lead us all to him. Our Holy Father, like his great predecessor, is a prophet for our times. Let us thank God for this holy witness and pray for our Holy Father every day.
Donato Infante III is a native of Southborough and is currently a junior at Boston College where he writes for The Observer.
Heeding the call is presented in collaboration with the archdiocese’s Office of Vocations and is a forum for topics intended to motivate and inspire those considering a call to ordained ministry or religious life.