The World Youth Day
a Name, a Face
Benedict XVI, in the three meetings in Cologne with “his” young people, announced forcefully that only Jesus Christ gives fullness of life. “Open wide your hearts to God; let yourselves be surprised by Christ.” In a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, “the Eternal entered into time”
by Luca Castellin
“Are you going any place in particular, kids, or are you traveling without a goal?” This question, posed by an elderly amusement park owner to the errant protagonists of Kerouac’s novel, On the Road, encapsulates the drama of man and his freedom. And yet, it seems like a clear, simple, almost banal question. For that matter, when you set out on a trip, it’s taken for granted that you’ve got a precise objective. However, it’s not always so: for everyone today, for each of us, there’s a high risk of living like vagabonds without a goal (just like Kerouac and his “heroes”). Benedict XVI emphasized this danger in his August 21st homily in Marienfeld: “In vast parts of the world today, there is a strange forgetfulness of God. It seems as if everything goes on just the same without Him.”
The Magi, instead, had a very clear goal for their long journey. They were guided by a sign, a star that showed them the road. They were pilgrims, not vagabonds; as Cardinal Angelo Scola told us during the catechism in which we participated, they were called “to bring a beginning to its conclusion in a goal.”
A few “inconveniences”
A beginning, an event that has already happened and that still continues to happen, caused us to set out on a muggy night in Milan, just as in so many other cities of the world, for Germany. “My wish for you is that you may live in such a way that what has happened to you shines in your eyes.” These words of Fr. Carron’s, repeated by Fr. Beppe Bolis in the Freiburg Cathedral, began our pilgrimage toward Cologne, toward the meeting with the Pope; with them began the verification within the community of the goal of our journey.
It was a tiring trip and our stay there was even more exhausting, piled up as we were in gyms and classrooms. You could count on one hand the number of trains and buses, and when they arrived they were already overfilled. So we all headed off for wearisome hikes with ever more frequent instances of fainting or painful twisted ankles. We returned late and slept little; our stomachs were perpetually half-empty, ill fed, and complaining. And yet, all these “inconveniences” did not keep us from living to the fullest the days spent in Cologne. We even ran up and down the shores of the Rhine, waiting for the Papal boat to pass by. In silence, amidst the devastating noise of the other pilgrims, we traveled the roads of Cologne toward the Cathedral. In Marienfeld, we literally hung on every word of Benedict XVI. All of us, from the first to the last of the 1,400 young people of the Communion and Liberation Movement, felt tired but, at the same time, glad and hopeful.
Christianity is true
So then, if someone asked us the same question from the pages of Kerouac’s book, what would we answer? We would respond that there is a goal; it exists. We would add that we have already had a presentiment of it, and for this reason we want to make it ours more and more, not only through great events like the World Youth Day, but also in our everyday lives. But we wouldn’t stop there. We would say, drawing from Fr. Beppe’s words before our buses departed homeward bound, that is, bound for the verification of what we have lived, that “even in the face of all the small inconveniences or our greatest objections, Christianity is true.”