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.
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).