Young people from all over the world took part in the traditional New Year’s European Meeting of Youth. In the Year of Faith they arrived in the capital of Christianity – the Eternal City.

Among the youth who arrived in the Italian station of the Trustfulness Pilgrimage through the Land from 28 December 2012 to 2 January 2013, the biggest group were, traditionally, Poles. – Young people come from all European countries. Over 3 thousand people from Ukraine arrived, about a thousand Belarusians, Portugese, French, Germans, young people from the Balkan countries – said brother Marek from Taize at the beginning of the meeting.

A road of faith through Rome

The meeting was another phase of the so-called Pilgrimage of Trustfulness through the Land. The community encouraged young people to set off on the road of faith which leads through Rome. It is here where we can uncover the beginnings of Christianity, the traces of the first Christ’s witnesses who gave their life for Him. In the letter announcing the meeting in Rome, brother Alois, the prior of the Community Taize encouraged young people to clear their sources of trustfulness to God. He gave four proposal thanks to which young people can trust God stronger anew. A conversation about roads of our faith with people at their age and older people will help them. Young people should look for roads on which one can meet Jesus, look for support in God or not be afraid of the future and meet other people.

Prayers in Roman basilicas

People who arrived in Rome were accommodated in families, parishes and convent communities of the Eternal City. This year the prayers took place not in trading halls but in Roman basilicas. The program of the meeting was planned in such a way so that everybody of the young pilgrims could visit all seven basilicas of the Eternal City (including the most important ones: basilicas of St. Peter, St. John at Lateran, Our Lady the Greater and St. Paul behind the Walls). Afternoon and evening prayers, conducted by brothers from Taize, gathered visitors but also young people from Rome. As usually, the European Youth’s Meeting combine spiritual and material aspects. The youths visited Rome, learnt about its history and the most interesting monuments. They got to know the faith of the first Christians, visiting Circo Massimo and catacombs, visited the most important churches of the city, Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel.

A meeting with Benedict XVI

On the second day of the meeting in Rome (29 December) over 45 thousand young Catholics, protestants and Orthodox believers gathered on the Square of St. Peter for the common prayer with pope Benedict XVI. It was the first such a meeting since the beginning of the pontificate of the present Holy Father. In the evening there was a prayer with songs of Taize, reading God’s Word and sometimes meditation in silence. Later, at the light of the rising full moon, the whole square was lightened with ten thousand candles – everybody was holding a candle, the symbol of resurrection. In the atmosphere of meditation and prayer, young people listened to greetings of brother Alois, addressed to Benedict XVI.

Greeting Holy Father, brother Alois emphasized that young people who had arrived in Rome are connected with the same baptism and the same God’s Word. These relations are stronger than the existing divisions. – We have come tonight to celebrate with you, Holy Father, this unity, real, even if it is not a complete unity yet. When we are looking at Christ, it becomes deeper – said the prior of Taize. He reminded that the task of this convent community is passing on the Gospel, especially to young people. this heritage was left to it by its founder – brother Roger. – He marked the ways of reconciliation, which we have not completely walked through – noted his successor. He also noted that many people would like to live reconciliation. – Christians who are reconciled can become the witnesses of peace and communion, can bring new solidarity to people – stated brother Alois. He also mentioned the last letter of brother Roger to Pope, expressing his wish about the community Taize to go together with the Holy See. –So, I would like to assure you about deep feeling which our hearts give to you personally and to your pastoral ministry –the prior of the brothers of Taize assured Benedict XVI.

Be full of hope!

Pope Benedict XVI addressed his words to the youth in five languages. He reminded that in Rome St. Peter and Paul had devoted their life to God. he emphasized that their faith is the same as the one which raised the youth to set off in order to try to clean the sources of trustfulness in God, in order to live with them everyday. In this way they accept the Year of Faith begun in October as their purpose. He repeated after John Paul II: ‘Pope feels fully engaged in this Pilgrimage of Trustfulness through the Land together with you. I am also called to be a pilgrim of trustfulness in the name of Christ. Benedict XVI reminded that this form was initiated by brother Roger. The Pope encouraged young people to be patient in faith and following brother Roger on the road of ecumenism: - When you maintain in these struggles for keeping trustful, God will not leave you alone or isolated. He gives joy and consolation to all of us in the communion of the Church – said the Pope.

The Holy Father also said a few words in Polish: - Singing with silence take an important place in your common prayers. Songs of Taize are fulfilling basilicas of Rome in these days. Singing is incomparable support and expression of prayer. Singing to Christ, also opening up to the mystery of His hope. Have hope to anticipate dawn, in order to praise God. You will not be disappointed – he assured. – Dear young friends, Christ does not discourage you from the world. He send you where the light is getting dim, so that you would bring it to others. Yes, you are called to be small torches to those who are around you. Thanks to your care about equal division of earthly goods, thanks to your engagement for the sake of justice and new solidarity among people, you will help those who are around you, in order to understand better that the Gospel is leading us both to God and to others. So, be full of hope. May God bless you, also your families and friends! – concluded Benedict XVI. Next he gave apostolic blessing to gathered pilgrims.

A feast of Nations

On the New Year’s Eve, after reflections of brother Alois and prayer at the cross, young people went to parishes hosting them for the common vigil prayer in the intention of peace in the world in connection with nations who are suffering. After midnight they said New Year’s wishes to one another and started the Feast of Nations which looked different in every community. The New Year was started by the participants with an ecumenical prayer with parish communities, whereas at noon they ate the New Year’s dinner with families hosting them. Traditionally, they also gave small gifts originating from their countries to their hosts. After dinner in basilicas young people had meetings in national and regional groups. Poles met in the basilica of St. peter behind Walls where they sang carols and shared their experiences of faith which they received from Roman hosts. The meetings were ended with the common Vespers of the Young and confession of faith in the Year of Faith. It was conducted by the representative of the Papal Council for the Secular cardinal Stanisław Ryłko. The meeting was attended by Polish bishops who had come to Rome with the youth, and the ambassador of the Polish Republic at the Holy See Hanna Suchocka.

The morning prayer ended the meeting on 2 January 2013 in parishes.

Next year – Strasburg

The next European Youth’s Meeting will take place in Strasburg. – it will take place on both sides of the border between two countries, in a city which is a symbol of the European reconciliation, symbol of open and solidary Europe. We will be hosted in Alzacja on the French side and in Badenia on the German side – announced brother Alois during an evening prayer in the Basilica of St. John in Lateran in Rome. Whereas in August 2015 in the headquarters of the community – the Taize village in France there will be a jubilee meeting of the youth in the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the community and the 100th anniversary of the birth of its founder – brother Roger.


"Niedziela" 2/2013

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl