Notes on papal meeting with special nun; behind the scenes at the vigil

MADRID — Pope Benedict XVI’s trip to Spain did focus on young people, including young religious women, but it wasn’t an exclusive focus.

Yesterday afternoon Pope Benedict met briefly with Cistercian Sister Teresita, who just turned 104. But what is even more interesting, she entered the Cistercian cloister on the very day Joseph Ratzinger, the pope, was born: April 16, 1927. With the exception of a few hours during Spain’s Civil War in the 1930s, Sister Teresita has spent the last 84 years inside the convent at Buenafuente del Sistal.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters that also present at the meeting was a younger consecrated woman, a sister of the Sacred Heart, who retired back to Spain after working with then-Cardinal Ratzinger at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He did not give her name.

On another note, Father Lombardi also spoke a bit about what happened last night, during the storm that hit Cuatro Vientos airfield just after the pope arrived.

Pope leading Eucharistic adoration. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

He said the pope “was very decisive” about remaining with the young people and leading them in Eucharistic adoration even when the sound system failed. Father Lombardi said Msgr. Guido Marini, papal master of ceremonies, went to the pope several times and suggested that the evening be cut short. The pope decided not to read the bulk of the speech he prepared, but he said, “No,” to the idea of leaving.

While the pope was waiting for the worst of the storm to pass and for the sound system to come back on, firefighters lowered a big screen on the altar platform because it was a danger in the wind, Father Lombardi said. But other than that, he said, the pope was safe the whole time.

Father Lombardi also asked people to read the full text of the speech the pope had prepared and “take it as if it were delivered,” especially because the vigil was the World Youth Day appointment where the pope planned to speak about the importance of the vocation of marriage.

Here is the Vatican translation of that section of the prepared text:

During this prayer vigil, I urge you to ask God to help you find your vocation in society and in the Church, and to persevere in that vocation with joy and fidelity. It is a good thing to open our hearts to Christ’s call and to follow with courage and generosity the path he maps out for us.

The Lord calls many people to marriage, in which a man and a woman, in becoming one flesh (cf. Gen 2:24), find fulfillment in a profound life of communion. It is a prospect that is both bright and demanding. It is a project for true love which is daily renewed and deepened by sharing joys and sorrows, one marked by complete self-giving. For this reason, to acknowledge the beauty and goodness of marriage is to realize that only a setting of fidelity and indissolubility, along with openness to God’s gift of life, is adequate to the grandeur and dignity of marital love.

Christ calls others to follow him more closely in the priesthood or in consecrated life. It is hard to put into words the happiness you feel when you know that Jesus seeks you, trusts in you, and with his unmistakable voice also says to you: “Follow me!” (cf. Mk 2:14).

Dear young people, if you wish to discover and to live faithfully the form of life to which the Lord is calling each of you, you must remain in his love as his friends. And how do we preserve friendship except through frequent contact, conversation, being together in good times and bad? Saint Teresa of Jesus used to say that prayer is just such “friendly contact, often spending time alone with the one who we know loves us” (cf. Autobiography, 8).

Madrid 11 comes to a close, but Rio 13 on the horizon

By Sara Angle
One in a series

MADRID — I left the vigil early last night and planned on going to a stadium in west Madrid this morning to watch the closing Mass on their giant screen with many other pilgrims that could not get to Cuatro Vientos, or had left the vigil. Unfortunately, they canceled it! I’ve been watching on TV from my hotel…a better view anyway! I’ve actually heard from some other pilgrims that they are doing the same thing…

Even though we are not at the airbase with the 1 million + people, there is still a sense of community and togetherness I feel by watching the Mass on TV, just as I expect Catholics all over the world who are following WYD from home to feel in communion with those of us here in Madrid.

Yesterday, I finally spotted the symbol of Madrid: The Bear and the Strawberry Tree!

After all, WYD is all about coming together, no matter where you are from or where you are going if your life. We are all one in Christ.

I’m hoping to get into Mass at Almudena Cathedral today…say a prayer for me that I can make it!

Next stop after Madrid? Maybe Rio ; )

Sara Angle, 21, is a senior at Villanova University and has written for CNS from Rome and Washington. She enjoys traveling and soaking up the culture of her surroundings, be it through food, fashion or faith, and looks forward to covering WYD for CNS — from the big events to the off-beat adventures. Sara loves reading and writing (but not arithmetic) and dancing like no one is watching. You can also follow her on Twitter @CatholicNewsSvc. She’ll be using the hashtag #SaraInMadrid.

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