08/20/2011, 00.00
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Pope to WYD seminarians: Apostles of Christ, travelling companions and servants of men

Benedict XVI celebrates a mass with seminarians from all over the world attending the World Youth Day and celebrates the priestly vocation, "rooted in Christ." He asks the thousands of young clerics present to be grateful to Christ asks for this "act of preference for each of you." Imitating Christ and testifying before the world " without anxiety or mediocrity." St. John of Avila, patron saint of the Spanish clergy, proclaimed Doctor of the Church Universal. The Pope confesses some young WYD pilgrims.
Madrid (AsiaNews) - Being seminarians means facing a road of "love and realism," of "boldness and authenticity" and above all it means getting ready "to be apostles with Christ and like Christ, to be travelling companions and servants of men". Before the thousands of seminarians who have come to Madrid for the World Youth Day (WYD), Benedict XVI stressed the importance and urgency of the priestly vocation, in a morning Mass in the cathedral of Santa María la Real de la Almudena packed to overflowing.

Following on the theme of WYD, "Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith", he asked the young clerics to have "a life deeply rooted in Christ," which is revealed "as a novelty, attracting force with those who truly seek God, truth and justice. "

The inclusion of a Mass with young seminarians in the WYD program is a courageous gesture, after the poisons revelations and controversies that have emerged in past years over the scandal of paedophile priests. Benedict XVI goes to the heart of the priestly vocation, "a sign of favour” in which Christ “holds each one of you". " Looking at you, - he adds - I again see proof of how Christ continues to call young disciples and to make them his apostles, thus keeping alive the mission of the Church and the offer of the Gospel to the world "

At the same time, the encounter with young seminarians - like yesterday's meeting with the young consecrated – is the perfect opportunity for inspiration for the young people of WYD to question themselves about their vocation and to experience the depth and charm.

Benedict XVI outlines the personality of Christ the Priest: " His life was one of service and his longing was a constant prayer, placing himself in the name of all before the Father as the first-born son of many brothers and sisters " He speaks especially of the Eucharist, which "the real expression of that unconditional offering of Jesus for all, even for those who betrayed him. It was the offering of his body and blood for the life of mankind and for the forgiveness of sins. His blood, a sign of life, was given to us by God as a covenant, so that we might apply the force of his life wherever death reigns due to our sins, and thus destroy it. Christ’s body broken and his blood outpoured – the surrender of his freedom – became through these Eucharistic signs the new source of mankind’s redeemed freedom. In Christ, we have the promise of definitive redemption and the certain hope of future blessings. Through Christ we know that we are not walking towards the abyss, the silence of nothingness or death, but are rather pilgrims on the way to a promised land, on the way to him who is our end and our beginning. " "Dear friends – he adds - you are preparing yourselves to become apostles with Christ and like Christ, and to accompany your fellow men and women along their journey as companions and servants."

By inviting these young men to make their time in the seminary " years of interior silence, of unceasing prayer, of constant study and of gradual insertion into the pastoral activity and structures of the Church ", he recalls that the Church is "the creation of Christ through his Holy Spirit, as well as the result of those of us who shape it through our holiness and our sins. God, who does not hesitate to make of the poor and of sinners his friends and instruments for the redemption of the human race, willed it so. The holiness of the Church is above all the objective holiness of the very person of Christ, of his Gospel and his sacraments, the holiness of that power from on high which enlivens and impels it. We have to be saints so as not to create a contradiction between the sign that we are and the reality that we wish to signify. "

The invitation is always to imitate Christ: " Ask him to let you imitate him in his perfect charity towards all, so that you do not shun the excluded and sinners, but help them convert and return to the right path. Ask him to teach you how to be close to the sick and the poor in simplicity and generosity."

At the same time there is an invitation to a courageous witness to the world: "Face this challenge without anxiety or mediocrity, but rather as a beautiful way of living our human life in gratuitousness and service, as witnesses of God made man, messengers of the supreme dignity of the human person and therefore its unconditional defenders. Relying on his love, do not be intimidated by surroundings that would exclude God and in which power, wealth and pleasure are frequently the main criteria ruling people’s lives. You may be shunned along with others who propose higher goals or who unmask the false gods before whom many now bow down. That will be the moment when a life deeply rooted in Christ will clearly be seen as something new and it will powerfully attract those who truly search for God, truth and justice".

At the end of the Mass, Benedict XVI made the announcement that he has decided to proclaim that St. John of Avila Doctor of the Church Universal.

John of Avila, a sixteenth century saint from Andalusia, Spain is the patron of priests and is among the patrons of WYD in Madrid.

Before the Mass, the pope had gone to the Fiesta del Perdon, the largest city park, where 200 modern confessionals are located and where for the week of WYD, there are priests who confess young people in different languages. Benedict XVI also stopped there to hear the confession of some young people.
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