Archive for April 19th, 2008

Approximately 25,000 young people and seminarians from around the United States participated in a youth rally with Pope Benedict XVI on the grounds of Saint Joseph Seminary in Yonkers, New York.

The youth rally was preceded by a concert featuring local choirs as well as such nationally known performers as Kelly Clarkson, Third Day, Salvador, Toby Mac, Three Graces, Father Joseph Espaillat, Father Stan Fortuna, Fragile Tomorrow, and Full Armor.

Following his meeting with young persons with disabilities in the seminary chapel, the Holy Father traveled to the rally stage by Popemobile.

The Holy Father personally greeted the seminarians, religious men and women, and others standing in the front row. Cardinal Egan welcomed the Holy Father and Pope Benedict gave him a chasuble as a remembramce of the visit.

Some youth representatives presented him with gifts of bread representing the cultural diversity of those present. Other young people then presented Pope Benedict with gifts in honor of his birthday and the anniversary of his election. These gifts included a spiritual bouquet, a book entitled Empire State Catholics: A History of the Catholic Community in New York State, and images of six holy individuals who lived or served in New York: Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, Saint Francis Xavier Cabrini, Saint John Neumann, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, Venerable Pierre Toussaint, and Padre Felix Varela. Those gathered sang “Happy Birthday” in German as well as other songs.

The Holy Father gave a brief address. He spoke of the importance of Christian witness, reminding the young people of the examples of the persons whose portraits he has received. Though very different, each of their lives was a journey of hope. The Holy Father spoke movingly of the challenges faced in the Germany of his youth. He thanked God that young people today can grow up in freedom. Still, there is darkness in our world today: dreams are shattered and people are treated as objects; truth is manipulated and the perception of reality is distorted.

Pope Benedict encouraged the young people to follow the path of truth and freedom that leads to happiness. He invited the young people to follow the example of the saints and to devote themselves to personal prayer and silence, liturgical prayer, charity in action, and vocations. The Holy Father addressed special words to the seminarians and to the religious men and women present.

Pope Benedict then gave a brief summary of his address in Spanish.

Following the address, all sang a Litany of the Saints and the Lord’s Prayer. Cardinal Egan presented fifteen young people to the Holy Father. Pope Benedict blessed all those assembled.

Kelly Clarkson sang the “Ave Maria.” The Holy Father then left the rally field in the Popemobile.

The text of the Holy Father’s address is available here.

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This afternoon, Pope Benedict met with about fifty young people with disabilities and their caregivers in the chapel of Saint Joseph Seminary in Yonkers, New York.

Upon arriving, the Holy Father was welcomed by Cardinal Edward Egan, the Archbishop of New York, and Bishop Gerald Walsh, the rector of the seminary. The Holy Father greeted and blessed each child individually. The young people presented the Holy Father with a drawing done by a young man named Greg. Greg is cared for at Incarnation Children’s Center, an agency of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York.

The Archdiocesan Deaf Choir led the hymn, “Take, Lord, Receive.”

Pope Benedict spoke briefly, reminding the young people that their lives are a sign of hope. He asked them to pray for the needs of the world and, especially, to pray for him.

The Holy Father offered his apostolic blessing and then departed for the youth rally on the seminary field.

The complete text of the Holy Father’s address is here.

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This morning, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated the Eucharistic Liturgy in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York.

The Mass was attended by 3,000 priests, deacons, seminarians, and religious men and women from around the United States. At least two representatives from each diocese in the U.S. attended the liturgy. Music was provided by the Saint Patrick’s Cathedral Choir and Orchestra.

The Holy Father arrived at 9:00 a.m. and was welcomed by Cardinal Edward Egan and Monsignor Robert Ritchie, the rector of the Cathedral. After entering the Cathedral, the Holy Father prayed briefly before the Blessed Sacrament. The Mass began at 9:15 a.m.

Cardinal Egan offered words of welcome and the Holy Father was greeted with a very warm ovation. Pope Benedict gave Cardinal Egan a beautiful chalice as a remembrance of the visit.

The readings for the Mass were Acts 2:1-11 (read in Spanish), 1 Corinthians 12: 3b-7, 12-13 (read in English) and John 15:26-27; 16:12-15 (chanted in English). The Responsorial Psalm was Psalm 104.

In his homily, the Holy Father asked God to send a new Pentecost on the Church in America. The proclamation of life in abundance must be the heart of the new evangelization.

Pope Benedict used the structure of the Cathedral to reflect on our vocations in the Body of Christ. The stained glass windows show that, from the inside, we see the Church as she is, flooded with grace. It is hard for those on the outside to enter into this mystery and even those inside sometimes find it hard to see the light. However, we must have faith in God’s infinite power.

The harmonious structure of the Cathedral shows the unity and purposefulness of God’s creation. We must be intellectually converted and see things through the eyes of faith. He called for us to look to Christ in faith so that we may increase our unity and come to true spiritual renewal.

The Holy Father spoke of how vocations to the priesthood, diaconate, and consecrated life are ordered to the Body of Christ. He affirmed them in their witness and fidelity to their ministry, reminding them of the importance of penance and reconciliation and of serving those in need.

The spires of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral are a sign in the midst of Manhattan of the spiritual yearning of the human heart. He called upon those present to be heralds of hope.

The intercessions of the Prayer of the Faithful were read in English, Akan, Korean, Portuguese, German, and Chinese.

The gifts were presented by men and women in consecrated life.

The Holy Father prayed Eucharistic Prayer I. Cardinal Egan (Archbishop of New York), Cardinal Bertone (Vatican Secretary of State), Cardinal George (USCCB President), and Cardinal Levada (Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) prayed parts of the Eucharistic Prayer.

Following the Mass, the Holy Father joined Cardinal Egan in his residence for lunch.

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Homily at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral

The Holy Father’s homily at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral is now available online here.

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Some would say I am a nut for being inches from the pope and not even trying to shake his hand. I should not have been surprised that being in the presence of Pope Benedict XVI would make me revert to my most basic self: a very shy guy.

As a member of the USCCB staff, I accepted an invitation to be in the Great Upper Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception when His Holiness arrived there on Wednesday evening. I took a terrific position in a pew by which he passed. Plenty of folks extended their hands for shaking. I, on the other hand, stood like an easel while he stopped in front of me. Once it became apparent that I showed no sign of life, he continued walking.

Truthfully, I have no regret; I saw a chief role model of my faith, spirituality and philosophy up close. Plus, from the photos friends took from behind me, it looks like I shook his hand anyways.

Daniel Napolitano is an employee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and a 2006 graduate of Marquette University. His previous blog post about the Holy Father is here.

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Happy Anniversary, Pope Benedict XVI!

On April 19, 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected in conclave to succeed Pope John Paul II. The new Pope took the name Benedict XVI.

Please pray for the Holy Father as he begins the fourth year of his Petrine ministry.

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