MADRID (EWTN News/CNA) — Archbishop-designate of Philadelphia Charles Chaput told thousands of young people gathered in Madrid for World Youth Day that an authentic relationship with Christ isn’t based purely on emotions.
“Ultimately, it will not be how you feel that will determine how genuine and profound your encounter with Jesus is,” he told pilgrims.
“Instead, it will be determined by how much you are transformed into him and how much you burn in the desire to bring him to others, by announcing the Gospel, by serving the poor and the needy, by defending the unborn, by securing a culture that is not hostile to the growth of Christian families,” he said.
Archbishop Chaput made his remarks to English-speaking youth at the Madrid Arena, which seats 12,000 people, on Aug. 17 for the “Noche de Alegría” (Night of Joy.)
The French lay movement the Emmanuel Community organized the evening’s events, which included prayer, worship, music and Eucharistic adoration.
If “you want to know how mighty the transforming power of Jesus is, how much he is capable of changing your lives, do not focus too much on how intensely you feel tonight,” Archbishop Chaput told the massive crowd.
“If he gives you a profound, moving experience, praise be to him! If you don’t experience that emotion, if you don’t feel shivers running under your spine, praise be to him too!”
The archbishop pointed to the examples of St. Teresa of Avila and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, who both illustrate “how the transformative power of Jesus operates in our lives.”
“St. Teresa of Avila experienced 30 uninterrupted years of dry, frustrating prayer life,” he said. “Nevertheless, her fidelity to Jesus’ calling and her fervent dedication to reform the Carmelites were always intense and unstoppable.”
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, “as we learned after her death, went through a long, terribly painful period of total lack of spiritual consolations,” the archbishop added. “She nevertheless achieved one of the most impressive Catholic congregations, dedicated to serve the poorest among the poor.”
Archbishop Chaput said the “Noche de Alegria” must be centered on “he who is the reason for this event: the holy Eucharist, Jesus in his real presence.”
“In this way, this ‘Night of Joy’ will truly become an anticipation of what our lives should be.”
Everything from “the testimonies from around the world, which you have heard, to music and praising — everything must revolve around and prepare us for the Eucharistic adoration.”
“But,” he added, “receiving the Eucharist has consequences. Adoring Jesus in the Holy Sacrament, as we are preparing ourselves to do, has consequences” and requires action on the part of the faithful.
Archbishop Chaput pointed to the passage from the Gospel of Luke where Christ’s disciples journey with him on the road to Emmaus after his death and resurrection.
After Christ shares the Scriptures with the disciples and breaks bread with them — a foreshadowing of the Mass, Archbishop Chaput explained — their eyes are opened to see who he really is.
“No doubt, the joy and peace experienced by the disciples after recognizing Jesus must have been indescribable,” he said.
“But as deep, intense and personal as it was,” the archbishop concluded, “it did not paralyze them in individualistic satisfaction.
“On the contrary, it moved them to run back to their peers to bring the Good News to them.”
“Brightened by the internal light that comes from personally experiencing Jesus, they were immediately moved to share the power of Jesus’ redemption with the rest of the world.”
Earlier in the day on Aug. 17, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago challenged World Youth Day pilgrims to respond to the initiative that God has already taken in their lives.
“I want to tell young people that faith is a response to God’s initiative and that his initiative in creation and in history culminates in Jesus Christ, who give us a name that enables us to enter into friendship with God,” Cardinal George told CNA during a morning catechesis session for English-speaking pilgrims on Aug. 17.
“And I want to tell them they should figure out their response in their own life — a response to evil, a response to the challenge of mission,” he added.
Cardinal George addressed more than 1,000 young people at the Church of St. Teresa and St. Joseph in central Madrid’s Plaza de Espana. With all the pews taken, pilgrims found whatever space they could on the church floor, balcony or even the street outside.
“I thought Cardinal George did a really great job. He was very inspiring,” said 24-year-old Carlie Collins from Melbourne, Australia, “talking about the use of a name in someone’s life and how important that is, and the connection you get from it just because of their name was really interesting.”
“I think Cardinal George was very impressive,” said Father Jim Doyle, a young priest from County Wexford in Ireland.
“I liked the whole thing about the person and that God calls each of us individually and as a person — so we’re not like anybody else, and Jesus works within each person individually and has a special calling for everyone.”
Cardinal George also took questions from several young people before leading the congregation in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and then Mass.
At the same time, similar catechesis sessions were being hosted by bishops in churches all across Madrid.
“World Youth Day is always a wonderful experience,” concluded Cardinal George.
“It’s something I’ve tried to be part of ever since I’ve been a bishop. It’s always very rewarding to see the young people come together and reinforce each other’s faith from very many parts of the world.”