The 27th International Prayer Meeting of the Youth is taking place in Medjugorje with the theme “Be Merciful”. The official beginning of this Festival was on Ausgust 1, with Rosary at 6 pm led by Fr. Karlo Lovric, while Fr. Miljenko Steko, the Provincial of Herzegovinian Franciscan Province, celebrated Holy Mass at 7 pm with 320 priests concelebrating.
Hosts of this parish greeted and welcomed all the youth in the beginning of the opening Holy Mass and then presentations of all 69 countries present here, followed: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Angola, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Belarus, Brazil, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Philippines, France, La Reunion, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Croatia, India, Ireland, Italy, the United States, Holy Land, South Africa, Canada, China, Columbia, Congo, Kosovo, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Hungary, Malaysia, Malta, Vatican and others.
Fr. Marinko Sakota, Medjugorje parish priest and host, welcomed all young people and said: “Welcome, dear young people, welcome to Medjugorje. Welcome to the 27th International Prayer Meeting – Youth Festival, with this year’s theme: ‘Be merciful’. We would like to open to God’s mercy more and more in these upcoming days, we would like to be transformed, to allow our Lord to transform us, to change us, so we would be able to be merciful towards each other. In these days we would like to learn to be merciful.”
Dr. fra Miljenko Šteko said in his homily: „You, who are always coming backhere again, you witness your own mystery of immense love Christ has for us, love that gives us grace and peace. Here in Medjugorje, at the invitation of our Mother, children who respond are those who in the chaos of this world seek for hope, light and the path. Here, at this place of grace and peace, Mother brings them back to the Son who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus tonight, looks down on us with pity, in the same way He looked down on people in the Gospel and He sees and understands the wounds of this world. He sees our wonderings, He sees the whole industry of production of needs for the youth that bombards the young people today. He sees the industry of illusion that teaches, unlike the Gospel, to live without responsibilities and borders. That pitiful gaze of Jesus comes down on this wounded world that rushes for profit and entertainment. It comes down on people deceived and betrayed, people who were offered false happiness.
Can’t we, too, recognise that philosophy of life that twists out the face of mankind, especially the face of the youth, philosophy that rejects work, efforts and sweat of hard work as something unnecessary or something bad? Illness, old age, suffering and pains do not exist, if they do, those are considered to be curses. Yet, everything moves in the gaze of eternal youth where everything is in accordance with the desires that are available right now and straight away. All over the place, they are trying to convince you that renunciation is unnecessary, that everything is available and given to you so easily…
However, here in Medjugorje, one finds completely different speech: fast, pray, convert…As if we can hear in all these years, over and over again, the same invitation Jesus had when he began his public life – ‘Repent and believe in the Gospel!’ (Mark 1,15). Yes, I know, that is a very hard speech. It is far easier to choose new illusions rather than to be sobered by the truth of salvation. You are the witnesses of such world, world that constantly seeks, world that wonders around in anxiety. You are the witnesses of creation of tempting false images of the world where everyday reality becomes farer and farer, but our fruits come from there: terror instead of peace, violence instead of understanding, anxiety instead of satisfaction.
How should one find a way out? What is the response to the wounds of this world? What are we to return to? Which is the path of salvation for man and for the world? What could we rely to? Which are the consequences of man’s choice? One can drink water without any fear only at the spring. That is why you came here to this Meeting, to this Holy Mass and you can hear the words again: ‘Repent and believe in the Gospel!’ When we participate in the Holy Mass with pure hearts, when we accept the reality of conversion, you are becoming messengers of hope, new dawn and seeds for this world. Just as Holy Father said to the youth in Krakow – ‘Church is watching you today, the whole world is looking at you today and they would like to learn from you, so they would renew faith in Father’s mercy.’ We, Christians, are called to that. We are called to be merciful like the Father, as the theme of this Festival says”, said Fr. Miljenko in his homily.
The Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament followed after Holy Mass, and this Meeting will finish on Saturday, August 6, with Holy Mass on Cross Mountain at 5 pm.
The programme is live streamed by radio Mir Medjugorje, while many other radio stations, Internet portals and TV stations are taking the content of the whole programme too. The Festival consists of prayer, music, lectures and testimonies, while the International Choir and Orchestra made of youth from 20 different countries is making the whole event more special. The Youth Festival is simultaneously translated to 20 langauges. (photos)