The 33rd International Youth Prayer Encounter, Mladifest in Medjugorje, has begun tonight. The Holy Mass on the first evening of Mladifest was celebrated by the Archbishop of Barcelona and the President of the Bishops' Conference of Spain, Cardinal Juan José Omella.
Before the Holy Mass, which was concelebrated by nine bishops and archbishops and 473 priests, the parade took place with the flags of more than seventy countries from which pilgrims came to the Youth Festival this year, and then the message of the Holy Father Pope Francis to the participants of the Youth Festival was read by the Apostolic Visitor with a special in the role for the parish of Medjugorje, Archbishop Aldo Cavalli.
"Learn from me and you will find peace" (Mt 11, 28-30) is the motto of this year's Youth Festival, and this is exactly the motto Pope Francis explained to young people, who invited young people to come to Him with open hearts, take His yoke and they learn from Him.
"Beloved, do not be afraid, go to Him with everything you carry in your heart. He is the only Lord who offers true refreshment and true peace. Follow the example of Mary, His and our Mother, who will lead you to Him. Trust her, who is the Star of the Sea, a sign of hope on a turbulent sea that leads us to the harbor of peace. She, who knows her Son, will help you to imitate Him in your relationship with God the Father, in compassion for your neighbors and in the awareness of what we are called to do: to be children of God. At this moment, in the heart of the summer, the Lord invites you to go on vacation with Him, in the most special place that exists, which is your own heart'', it is stated, among other things, in the message of the Holy Father, who entrusted the youth to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
"Dear young people, while you are resting in Jesus Christ these days, I entrust you all to the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Heavenly Mother, so that through her intercession and example, you may take upon yourself the sweet burden of following Christ. Let the gaze of God the Father who loves you accompany you, so that when you meet others you can witness the peace that you will receive as a gift in return. I pray for that intention and I bless you, and at the same time I entrust myself in your prayers'', was stated in the message of Pope Francis to the participants of the Youth Festival, which was conveyed to them by Msgr. Aldo Cavalli.
Fr. Marinko Šakota, the parish priest of Medjugorje, thanked Cardinal Omella for coming to Medjugorje and at the beginning of his homily, Archbishop of Barcelona Juan José Omella said that he is "deeply happy and very grateful to God that I can be with all of you and celebrate this Eucharist in this land of Mary", in the parish of Međugorje, at the opening of the 33rd Youth Festival'' and he thanked Msgr. Aldi Cavalli for the invitation and the Franciscan priests for the warm welcome.
Cardinal Omella then said that he "comes from Spain, a very Marian country" and that in 1982, when leaving Spain at the end of his pastoral journey, St. John Paul II. said: "Goodbye, Spain, land of the Blessed Virgin Mary".
"I was born in a small town in Aragon, in the diocese of Zaragoza, in a region where the Blessed Virgin Mary was present in a very special way. In the city of Zaragoza, there is a huge and beautiful basilica dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Pillar - La Virgen del Pilar - because it was there around 40 AD that the first apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary recognized by the Church took place. I always say that there is no comparable apparition because, according to tradition, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to the apostle James in her mortal body. Thanks to this unexpected visit, the apostle James, according to the same tradition, regained his strength to continue his path of evangelization,'' said Cardinal Omella, and he recounted another miracle through the intercession of Our Lady of the Pillar in the small town of Calanda in the diocese of Zaragoza, where he used to be the parish priest, and then he told the young people that "everything that the Blessed Virgin Mary is willing to do is to bring us to meet her Son and our brother Jesus Christ and this is truly impressive!"
"Each of us can ask ourselves: why did I come to this corner of Europe? What am I doing here? I wonder that too! Many of you, like me, are here for the first time. You may be asking yourself these or similar questions. Maybe relatives and friends encouraged you to come here. But if you are here, it is because Jesus and Mary wanted it. A unique week begins, let yourself be carried and guided by our Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Life is precious and worth living to the fullest. During life we fight battle after battle and evil sometimes wins and takes over parts of our lives. Yes, evil can take over and conquer different aspects of our life. Our life is a path of constant conversion so that, with the help of Jesus and Mary, we can recognize and defeat those parasites that steal our lives", said Archbishop Omella and invited young people to use "this week to reconcile with God in this confessional of the world, in Medjugorje''.
"These days in Medjugorje, the Eucharist will be the central place of meeting with God the Father, with Jesus Christ and with the Holy Spirit; the meeting place with the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, angels and all the saints; a meeting place with our living and deceased brothers and sisters. Everything we experience this week will help us to reorient our entire existence towards the encounter with the Holy Trinity in the Eucharistic celebration. In Him we must find the source and light for all our actions and all our actions. As the martyrs of Abyssinia said, we cannot live without the Eucharist, without Sunday, without the Lord's Day", said Archbishop Omella and at the end called: "Holy Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us and for the whole world". (FOTO)