Agnostic Nobel laureate who is no friend of the Catholic Church is impressed by WYD 2011, in Madrid

According to Vargas Llosa, who was born in Peru but is now a Spanish citizen, World Youth Day was “a gigantic festival of teens, students and young professionals who came from every corner of the world to sing, dance, pray and proclaim their adherence to the Catholic Church and their ‘addiction’ to the Pope.”

“The small protests by secularists, anarchists, atheists and Catholics who dissent from the Pope caused some minor incidents, albeit some grotesque, such as the group of lunatics who were seen throwing condoms at a group of girls who … prayed the rosary with their eyes closed,” he recalled.

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Read the Pope’s World Youth Day 2011 Homily



Cuatro Vientos Air Base, Madrid
Sunday, 21 August 2011

Dear Young Friends:

I have been thinking a lot about you during this time in which we have been separated.  I hope you have been able to get some sleep in spite of the weather.  I am sure that since dawn you have raised up your eyes more than once, and not only your eyes but above all your hearts, turning this occasion into prayer.  God turns all things into good.  With this confidence and trusting in the Lord who never abandons us, let us begin our Eucharistic celebration, full of enthusiasm and strong in our faith.



 Dear Young People,

In this celebration of the Eucharist we have reached the high point of this World Youth Day.  Seeing you here, gathered in such great numbers from all parts of the world, fills my heart with joy.  I think of the special love with which Jesus is looking upon you.  Yes, the Lord loves you and calls you his friends (cf. Jn 15:15).  He goes out to meet you and he wants to accompany you on your journey, to open the door to a life of fulfilment and to give you a share in his own closeness to the Father.  For our part, we have come to know the immensity of his love and we want to respond generously to his love by sharing with others the joy we have received.  Certainly, there are many people today who feel attracted by the figure of Christ and want to know him better.  They realize that he is the answer to so many of our deepest concerns.  But who is he really?  How can someone who lived on this earth so long ago have anything in common with me today?

The Gospel we have just heard (cf. Mt 16:13-20) suggests two different ways of knowing Christ.  The first is an impersonal knowledge, one based on current opinion.  When Jesus asks: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”, the disciples answer: “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets”.  In other words, Christ is seen as yet another religious figure, like those who came before him.  Then Jesus turns to the disciples and asks them: “But who do you say that I am?”  Peter responds with what is the first confession of faith: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God”.  Faith is more than just empirical or historical facts; it is an ability to grasp the mystery of Christ’s person in all its depth.

Yet faith is not the result of human effort, of human reasoning, but rather a gift of God: “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah!  For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven”.  Faith starts with God, who opens his heart to us and invites us to share in his own divine life.  Faith does not simply provide information about who Christ is; rather, it entails a personal relationship with Christ, a surrender of our whole person, with all our understanding, will and feelings, to God’s self-revelation.  So Jesus’ question: “But who do you say that I am?”, is ultimately a challenge to the disciples to make a personal decision in his regard.  Faith in Christ and discipleship are strictly interconnected.

And, since faith involves following the Master, it must become constantly stronger, deeper and more mature, to the extent that it leads to a closer and more intense relationship with Jesus.   Peter and the other disciples also had to grow in this way, until their encounter with the Risen Lord opened their eyes to the fullness of faith.

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The real story of World Youth Day

Let us take our eyes away from the news for a moment, in order to look at the news. That is to say, let us ignore for a moment how it is being reported, and look instead at what is happening.

A very large public Mass is taking place, today, in Madrid, the capital of a once very great, and once very Catholic country. It is held outdoors, because there is no building in the world that can accommodate (way) more than a million people.

This Mass is to be sung by a gentleman who is in his 85th year. There are few progressive intellectuals (including nominal Catholics) who will not assure us that he is totally out of touch with our times.

According to official estimates, some 1,500,000 young persons – most, I should think, of the Roman persuasion – had checked into the Madrid area at the outset of “World Youth Day.” If you have ever been to a hockey game in Ottawa, you may know what roughly 20,000 people looks like. Assuming, of course, a full house. Now multiply that by 75 to get some idea. Then add those who did not need to find a bed, in the Madrid area.

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Inspiring video from World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid

Visit the Rome Reports You Tube Site

Submitted by Doria2

Related reader comment:

The Popemobile stopped at least 40 times for babies to be kissed and blessed, at a totally packed air base in Madrid, Spain. Over one million young people came to hear the  84 year-old  Pope in a rain and wind  storm  [that  was  mitigated  by prayer]. And  pray  they  did … all  night long. If these young people are like those at the other world youth days, they will be  on fire with the faith and like seed corn, will grow the faith. I hope to see some news media in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2013, for the next World Youth  Day.


Ed S

Pilgrim’s Update: World Youth Day 2011

Greetings from Madrid, Spain! We have had a wonderful trip so far.

We spent our first two days in Fatima, Portugal. What a beautiful, peaceful place! There was just a wonderful presence there as pilgrims from all over the world came together in candlelight vigils, prayer, Mass, and processions. Our last night there we celebrated a candlelight vigil with about 40,000 pilgrims. We could feel the Lord’s presence among us.

Now we are in Madrid and the opening Mass is today.

Thank you for your prayers. So many young people have left their families and homes to come together to worship the Lord together. They are now expecting 1.5 million people here. May the Lord bless all those who are here. May hearts be turned to the Lord.

May God bless you and your family.


Fr. Burke

Editor’s note: Father Burke Masters is the Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois. After this trip, he might also qualify as director of vacations!

Follow the events on video


Wooden carving-1326 A.D.-Spain/Tilma- 1531 A.D.-Mexico

[adapted from Michael H. Brown’s  The Last  Secret]

In the hilly terrain southwest of Madrid, near that river  called Guadalupe, a humble cowherd named Gil Cordero of Cáceres was searching for a lost cow when something very strange happened.

It was 1326. He’d been  searching three days.

Thirsty and fatigued, Cordero headed for the sound of a mountain stream when he spotted the cow motionless on a mound of stones. Figuring the animal dead, Cordero pulled out his knife and  prepared to take the animal’s hide, which he then could sell. As was the custom, he positioned himself, pressed in the knife, and made an incision in the form of  a cross on the cow’s breast. That was when the cow suddenly moved. Not just moved but sprang up on its hooves as if restored to  life. Cordero must have backed away. He was astonished and terrified.

The “dead” animal abruptly standing there!

At the same time Cordero spotted something –someone — coming from the woods. His astonishment was ready to surge to a higher magnitude.

It was no normal woman. There were no normal women out here. It was a female “of marvelous beauty” who spoke in a kind supernal voice. “Have no fear, for I am the Mother of God, by Whom the human race achieved redemption,” she told the speechless herdsman. “Go to your
home and tell the clergy and other people to come to this place where I appear to you and dig here, where they will find a statue.”

As was her custom she also asked that a chapel be built. Cordero had to have stood there staring. Whether the Virgin left in a flash of light or faded into the backdrop is not in the records.

Once he got hold of himself Cordero turned his attention back to the cow and as instructed headed into Cáceres. There he informed the clergy and anyone else within earshot that the Virgin had appeared out near the Guadalupe and she wanted them to dig for a lost relic. She wanted a chapel.

Looked upon as an uneducated and ignorant peasant, Cordero’s account was immediately mocked and the ridicule left him in a state between depression and desperation.

“Friends, do not dismiss these things!” protested the lonely cowherd. “If you will not believe me, then believe the mark the cow bears on her breast!”

Cordero insisted that the Virgin had promised to work many miracles and that people would come from many regions because of her wonders.

Seeing Cordero’s despair and knowing that many images had been hidden during the Arab occupation, which was about to end with a final expulsion, officials in Cáceres relented and paraded with the entire village to the precise spot where the animal had been found. There were knights, noblemen, and priests.

Pushing small boulders and removing stones, they dug into the  earth until the ground collapsed into a small cave. Inside was just what Cordero  promised, a statue along with an ancient bell. There was a document explaining its origin and also the relics of Saint Fulgentius and Saint Florentina.

The statue is what drew the attention. As the document explained, it was the long-lost image of Mary (believed to have been carved by St. Luke) that Pope Gregory the Great had given the bishop of Seville, the one that may have been paraded around Rome in  390, during an outbreak of plague. Moreover, the unstained, oriental wood seemed in perfect condition despite six centuries in the earth. Buried when the Moslems had first attacked, it was now coming out of seclusion at a time when the last Moslem holdouts were being expelled!

A hut was hastily built and a humble altar of stone was mounded. Soon that was replaced by a chapel, the bell melted and mixed with
other metal to form two bells which called the faithful to prayer and were rung during severe storms to preserve the crops. A subsequent
and enlarged shrine was attended by dignitaries from many parts and visited a century later by a devout explorer named Christopher Columbus, who would carry a replica of the statue with him on his voyages and would name an island in the West Indes “Guadalupe,” a name that would also spread to Mexico.

Submitted by Nancy W.