The 31st International Prayer Encounter of the Youth started in Medjugorje. At the very beginning, representatives of YouFra came forward holding 110 flags of the countries that came to Medjugorje in the previous years but were not able to be here this year due to the coronavirus alerts. Pope Francis sent his Letter to the youth in Medjugorje, given to the youth form the parish by the Apostolic Nuncio to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Archbishop Luigi Pezutto. The message was read, and this is a part of it:
''The annual encounter of the youth in Medjugorje is the time filled with prayer, reflections and fraternal meeting, time that gives you the opportunity to meet the living Jesus Christ, in a special way in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and in the sacrament of Reconciliation. It thus helps you discover a different way of life, different from the one offered by the culture of the temporary, according to which nothing can be permanent, the culture that knows only the pleasure of the present moment. In this atmosphere of relativism, in which it is difficult to find true and sure answers, the motto of the Festival: »Come, and you shall see« (Jn 1,39), the words used by Jesus to address his disciples - are a blessing. Jesus is also looking at you, inviting you to come and stay with Him.
Do not be afraid! Christ lives and wants you to be alive. He is the true beauty and youth of this world. Everything He touches becomes young, new, full of life and meaning (cf. Apostolic exhortation. Christus vivit, 1). This is exactly what we see in the Gospel scene, in which the Lord asks two disciples following Him: »What are you looking for?« They answer: »Rabbi, where do you live?«, and Jesus tells them: »Come, and you shall see« (cf. Jn 1,35-39). They came, they saw, and they stayed. The experience of meeting Jesus was so imprinted in the disciples’ memory that one of them even recorded the time of the meeting: »It was around four o'clock in the afternoon« (v. 39).
Dear youth, »keep running attracted by that face of Christ, whom we love so much, whom we adore in the Holy Eucharist and acknowledge in the flesh of our suffering brothers and sisters. May the Holy Spirit urge you on as you run this race. The Church needs your momentum, your intuitions, your faith« (Ibid, 299). In this race for the Gospel, inspired by this Festival as well, I entrust you to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, invoking the light and the power of the Holy Spirit so that you may be true witnesses of Christ. Therefore, I pray and I bless you, asking you to pray for me, too.
Prior to the opening of the Youth Festival, the Press Conference was held when the Apostolic Visitor for parish of Medjugorje, Msgr. Henryk Hoser, in the spirit of this year’s motto of the Youth Festival ''Come, and you will see'' said that ''there are controversies regarding Medjugorje for nearly forty years now, mostly regarding the issue of apparitions.''
''Here, we talk about not only controversy regarding the apparitions, but regarding the pastoral activity as well. Some are fervent intercessors, some are against and they even deny our fidelity to the doctrine of the Church, but the most appropriate response would therefore be: ”Come, and you will see!”, for only then you would be able to witness about what you have seen and experienced, said Msgr. Hoser. The evening Holy Mass was celebrated by the Apostolic Nuncio to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Msgr. Luigi Pezzuto, with 40 priests concelebrating and with millions of people watching online through various media who broadcasted the whole event. In his homily he spoke about the relationship with the Blessed Virgin Mary.
„With regard to that, I would not suggest you should be praying to Our Lady a lot to receive her protection; that is surely alright. However, true devotion to Mary is trying to obtain something more – it is to receive a grace to accept her in our lives, in the way that she was a disciple and faithful, joyful, free and strong, and this would, doubtlessly lead us all to Jesus”, said Pezzuto and Fr. Marinko, the parish priest of Medjugorje, thanked him for this occasion of coming to Medjugorje. (PHOTO)