Posts Tagged ‘Madrid’

Making saints

We have now less than 100 days to go until the World Youth Day in Madrid. Sunday May 8th was exactly 100 days before August 16th, when the festivities will begin.

The Spanish capital has been preparing since Pope Benedict announced it as the location of the next World Youth Day when he was in Sydney in 2008. According to the organisers, up to now, more than 340,000 people in over 170 countries have registered, but the events are expected to draw a crowd of 1.5 million.

Yago de la Cierva, Executive Director of World Youth Day, has spoken of the final stages of preparation:

“In January, we closed the planning stage in order to move into the implementation of plans made in accordance with the Holy See and the three public administrations involved. In order to dedicate the necessary time and effort to all the preparations, we split the 7 departments into 16 working areas and many people have joined us, most of them as full-time or part-time volunteers.”

He wants the young people who come to receive “a warm welcome in Madrid and spend some unforgettable days here.”

Religious and cultural events and catecheses

Every World Youth Day is different and the tone of each one is set not only by the internationality of the multitudes that take part, but also by the host city and its distinctive culture. De la Cierva stated that WYD in Spain will also reflect its unique style in that “from a contextual point of view, Spain’s culture and religious spirit will take precedence, as everything should be rooted in the past twenty centuries of Catholic tradition of our country, and from a schedule standpoint, perhaps it is evident in the many activities that will be taking place at night.”

World Youth Day is divided into three sections: main events, the cultural program, and catecheses. The highlight of the events will be the final weekend, when Cuatro Vientos Air Base outside the capital will witness the celebration of the Youth Prayer Vigil and the Closing Mass. The WYD cultural program will provide over 300 activities including exhibitions in the Reina Sofia museum and the Museo Del Prado. The catecheses will take place between August 17th and 19th in over 200 churches in Madrid. Bishops from around the world will meet with young people attending World Youth Day.

All this is in aid of one thing that Pope Benedict spoke of when he invited young people to Sydney, that still stands as the greatest encouragement for young people preparing for Madrid, which is now just months away:

“Together we shall invoke the Holy Spirit, confidently asking God for the gift of a new Pentecost for the Church and for humanity in the third millennium.”

YouCat – the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church – will be used in the catechesis of the pilgrims. Buy your copy here.


Of related interest:

Young Way of Life for Young Catholics – Written for young Catholics who want to live their faith more deeply but are not sure what steps to take, this booklet contains practical, down-to-earth advice on many aspects of daily life.
Lent You will be my Witnesses – During World Youth day 2008 in Australia, Pope Benedict not only raised challenging questions but gave the young people inspired and convincing answers rooted in Christ.
Union Union With God - St Athanasius famously said that “the Son of God became man so that we might become God”. This booklet delves into what it means for a Christian to not only have a relationship with God but become so united with Him that we take part in his divinity.

Making saints

Continuing our series on World Youth Day, we want to make this a place where people can tell their stories of the big event. My name is Simone Finaldi, (I’m the one in the wheelchair in the picture below) and I look after this blog, so I thought I would begin.

I’m 25, and Madrid 2011 will be my fourth World Youth Day.

I go for three reasons: firstly because as a young person I have been invited by the Holy Father, and his invites really should be answered, secondly because World Youth Days are an opportunity to pray and to take a spiritual as well as physical journey in search of my vocation and thirdly to show the world at large that the Catholic Church is neither dead nor dying.

Paris 1997

For me, there are similarities between my first World Youth Day in Paris and the upcoming one in Madrid, then as now, some said that Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular had nothing to say to the youth of a secular European country.

But the youth themselves thought otherwise and over a million of them flocked to the mass with the Holy Father. In this account however, I do not intend to sentimentalize these meetings.

The tougher side

I have cerebral palsy and spending hours on coaches, going without a good amount of sleep and food is no easy task, for me especially.

And it’s not just me who has extra trouble, those who make it possible for me to go by aiding me, pushing my chair, sometimes across impressively inhospitable terrain, and generally putting up with the foul moods I get into when under physical stress, carry more than just the extra weight of my wheelchair.

What it has meant for me

Yet God bless them for it, with their help, I have not only been at the centre of some of the most emotional and important moments of recent history, (I can remember like it was yesterday, John Paul II’s words, “Lord, who shall we go to? You have the message of eternal life,” (John 6:68) spoken to two million young people in Rome in 2000) but I have also become convinced that young people desire the real truth that I have heard in these moments.

WYD

They do not want compromise, or a watered-down, sanitized version of the Christian message, I can testify that they want to change the world, and Jesus, with his call to “turn the other cheek,” is the only true revolutionary.

Both John Paul II and Benedict XVI have presented Jesus to me as God’s answer to my problems, questions and desires, as well as those of the wider world.

Why another Journey?

I am going to Madrid, knowing how uncomfortable I am likely to be and still having a fear of huge crowds, hoping to meet Jesus yet again. I hope to support the Church in Spain, as she battles against a regime with frighteningly Stalinist tendencies (the re-writing of history and eradication of that country’s religious heritage are two examples,) and because I wish to understand how Jesus’ statement in last week’s Gospel about another man with a physical impairment, might apply to me:

‘Neither he nor his parents sinned,’ Jesus answered ‘he was born blind so that the works of God might be displayed in him.   (John 9: 3)

Do you have any World Youth Day memories you want to share? Let us know by leaving your comment!


Of related interest:

Young Way of Life for Young Catholics – Written for young Catholics who want to live their faith more deeply but are not sure what steps to take, this booklet contains practical, down-to-earth advice on many aspects of daily life.
Lent You will be my Witnesses – During World Youth day 2008 in Australia, Pope Benedict not only raised challenging questions but gave the young people inspired and convincing answers rooted in Christ.
Union Union With God - St Athanasius famously said that “the Son of God became man so that we might become God”. This booklet delves into what it means for a Christian to not only have a relationship with God but become so united with Him that we take part in his divinity.

Making saints

World Youth Day 2011 is only a few months away, and we want to begin to prepare for this important event by looking at the importance of its location, the capital of Spain.

Some have cited the figure of 1.5 million young people, as the expected number that will go to Madrid in August – and it could be more.

“A new Pentecost”

The last World Youth Day took place in 2008 in Sydney, Australia, and around 300,000 young people answered the Pope’s call.

He had asked the pilgrims:

“To give time to prayer and to your spiritual formation during this last stage of the journey leading to the 23rd World Youth Day, so that in Sydney you will be able to renew the promises made at your Baptism and Confirmation.

“Together we shall invoke the Holy Spirit, confidently asking God for the gift of a new Pentecost for the Church and for humanity in the third millennium.”

Here, the Holy Father was referencing the 23rd World Youth Day’s motto:

“You will receive the power when the Holy Spirit comes on you” (Acts 1:8)

Madrid’s motto – a call to Europe

In just over 100 days, World Youth Day will return to Europe, the continent where it began. Pope Benedict chose as the verse from Scripture that will accompany the pilgrims:

“Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith” (Col 2:7)

Clearly, it is a call to arms to stand firm before the onslaught of a new kind of radical secularism in this continent and particularly in Spain, that throughout history has been a Catholic stronghold.

As Benedict XVI wrote, in a letter to young people last year:

“Now, at a time when Europe greatly needs to rediscover its Christian roots, our meeting will take place in Madrid with the theme: ‘Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith’.

“We see a certain ‘eclipse of God’ taking place [in Europe], a kind of amnesia which, albeit not an outright rejection of Christianity, is nonetheless a denial of the treasure of our faith, a denial that could lead to the loss of our deepest identity.”

The significance of Spain

Anyone who has read any Spanish history will know that, in the past, the Christians of that land had to fight for their faith in a very real sense against Muslim invaders.

And now again a call to battle is being sounded, this time, not against some foreign assailant, or powerful warlord, but against forces that wish to eradicate from Europe, the true and lasting foundation of its unity.   

When the Pope travelled to Santiago de Compostela in 2010, he summed up this idea of European unity perfectly:

“The paths that cross Europe on the way to Santiago differed greatly, each marked by its own language and its particular characteristics, but the faith was the same. There was a common language, the Gospel of Christ.”

Let us hope World Youth Day 2011 can be a starting point for beginning to speak the same language once again.

On CTS Catholic Compass, we will be looking at past World Youth Days and gathering people’s memories and experiences together, so watch this space.


Of related interest:

Young Way of Life for Young Catholics – Written for young Catholics who want to live their faith more deeply but are not sure what steps to take, this booklet contains practical, down-to-earth advice on many aspects of daily life.
Lent You will be my Witnesses – During World Youth day 2008 in Australia, Pope Benedict not only raised challenging questions but gave the young people inspired and convincing answers rooted in Christ.
Union Union With God - St Athanasius famously said that “the Son of God became man so that we might become God”. This booklet delves into what it means for a Christian to not only have a relationship with God but become so united with Him that we take part in his divinity.

Saints for the Slavs

In this our 3rd and final post on the illustrations for Pope Benedict’s addresses on the Spiritual Masters, the Prado’s deputy director Gabriele Finaldi looks at other forms of artistic expression the Holy Father drew attention to.

Particularly striking is the force and originality of the early medieval brass bicephalic image of Saints Cyril and Methodius from Kreuzenstein Castle in Austria, two heads attached to one neck, both tonsured and one of them, the older Methodius, sporting a very neat beard.

They were brothers by blood and in the faith and their hearts beat as one in their concern to evangelize the Slavs.

The Virgin Mary

The chapter on Saint Bernard is illustrated by Giovanni da Milano’s gold-ground panel painting at Prato in which the saint is sitting at his scriptorium and the Virgin appears to guide his hand; in another Florentine work, Filippino Lippi shows the saint pausing in his labours at a rustic writing desk in an open-air setting as the Virgin turns the page of the manuscript he is composing. He looks at her, completely captivated.

Slavic Brothers

The Pope reminds us that yet another Florentine, the poet Dante, put on the lips of Bernard, the Doctor Mellifluus, the sublime prayer to Mary: “Virgin Mother, daughter of your own Son, / humble and exalted more than any other creature” (Paradise XXXIII).

Architecture and light

The Pope devoted one of his addresses to the Cathedral and how its architectural idiom  developed from the Romanesque to the Gothic. It is the closest he comes to a lesson in art history, explaining how developments in building technique made possible the upward thrust of Gothic architecture and the replacing of thick load-bearing walls with vast stained-glass windows:

“Great luminous images, very suitable for instructing the people in faith […] A cascade of light poured through the stained-glass upon the faithful to tell them the story of salvation and to involve them in the story.”

This chapter is illustrated with photographs of the great pile of the Cathedral of Trier and the Romanesque Abbey of Saint Denis in Paris.

Other chapters are illustrated with stained glass: Cyril and Methodius preach to the Slavs in a window in Prague designed by Alfons Mucha, best-known for his art-nouveau poster designs, and an English Neo-Gothic window gets a look in, too, with the scene of the Martyrdom of Saint Boniface from St Luke’s Church in Bath.

Ancient wisdom for our modern journey

The CTS has drawn on the great iconographic tradition of East and West to illustrate Pope Benedict’s texts, on the vast storehouse of manuscripts, windows, buildings, paintings, icons, frescoes and mosaics that have served to celebrate and to expound the faith, to teach it and to celebrate it over twenty centuries.

There is truly an ancient wisdom here. The Pope concludes one of his addresses thus:

“May the Lord help us to rediscover the way of beauty as one of the itineraries, perhaps the most attractive and fascinating, on which to succeed in encountering and loving God.”

These books are intended as a help along the journey.

Gabriele Finaldi is deputy director of the Prado museum in Madrid.

Spiritual Masters: Fathers and Writers of the First Millennium by Pope Benedict XVI is available here.


Of related interest:

Art and prayer Art and Prayer – The Catholic Church, with its particular understanding of how art should relate to faith and spirituality, has commissioned and inspired some of the most beautiful works of art the world has ever seen.
Icon Icons – Images have been used in Christian worship for over seventeen centuries, and few styles have withstood the test of time as well as the holy icon. In this richly illustrated book, Fr John Baggley guides the reader through the history of the holy icon.
Spiritual Masters II Spiritual Masters: Medieval Fathers and Writers - In this richly illustrated, beautifully bound hardback volume, Pope Benedict examines the great saints of the Middle Ages from St Odo, Abbot of Cluny, to St Peter Lombard the twelfth-century theologian.

Saints for the Slavs

In our 2nd post on the art contained in the CTS Spiritual Masters books, the deputy director of Madrid’s Prado art museum, Gabriele Finaldi, draws attention to images of a not-so-photogenic saint and an advocate of holy pictures.

Finding the true face of the Church

Ambrose Autpert was the tutor of King Charlemagne, who became a Benedictine monk and was probably assassinated in 784,

The Pope tells us that he “lived in a time of powerful political exploitation of the Church, in which nationalism and tribalism had disfigured her face.

“But he, in the midst of all these difficulties with which we too are familiar, was able to discover the true face of the Church in Mary, in the Saints, and he was thus able to understand what it means to be a Catholic, a Christian, to live on the word of God, to enter into the abyss.”

Aquinas

St Thomas Aquinas, not the most photogenic of scholars, is shown in Justus of Ghent’s Louvre “portrait”, made for Federico da Montefeltro’s studiolo at Urbino. He looks serious and committed and enumerates the points of his argument, no doubt a withering demolition of an opponent’s erroneous thesis, on the fingers of his left hand.

A visual medium, a visible God

There are of course, several solemn, bearded Byzantines, from John Climacus to Theodore the Studite and from Symeon the New Theologian to John Damascene, the great champion of holy images:

“In other ages God had not been represented in images, being incorporate and faceless. But since God has now been seen in the flesh, and lived among men, I represent that part of God which is visible”.

This statement of John Damascene proved absolutely fundamental for the art of East and West.

A unity of heaven and earth

Several of the illustrations spread over a double-page work particularly well. Pages 6-7 of the The Medieval Fathers and Writers show a section of the great fourteenth-century fresco by Andrea di Bonaiuto in the Spanish Chapel of Santa Maria Novella in Florence.

Abbot

Saint Thomas Aquinas confounds the heretics with a clear exposition of the word of God signified by an open book.

The heretics pull at their hair, hide their books, or tear out the pages from their own scriptures. Several of them have seen the light and kneel at his feet seeking his instruction.

What all these masters understood, whatever age they lived in, was that being close to Christ in this life means having an early share in the eternal life to come: this is shown in a large Romanian wall-painting from the Humor Monastery in Bucovina depicting the earthly and heavenly orders united in adoration of the enthroned Virgin and Child – an example for us all.

Gabriele Finaldi is deputy director of the Prado museum in Madrid.


Of related interest:

Art and prayer Art and Prayer – The Catholic Church, with its particular understanding of how art should relate to faith and spirituality, has commissioned and inspired some of the most beautiful works of art the world has ever seen.
Icon Icons – Images have been used in Christian worship for over seventeen centuries, and few styles have withstood the test of time as well as the holy icon. In this richly illustrated book, Fr John Baggley guides the reader through the history of the holy icon.
Spiritual Masters II Spiritual Masters: Medieval Fathers and Writers - In this richly illustrated, beautifully bound hardback volume, Pope Benedict examines the great saints of the Middle Ages from St Odo, Abbot of Cluny, to St Peter Lombard the twelfth-century theologian.


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