That is the question Pope Benedict XVI asks in his message on the occasion of the 22nd World Youth Day.
You may ask: “Twenty-second World Youth Day?”
Not everyone realizes it, but besides a beautiful liturgy and marking the start to Holy Week, Palm Sunday – or Passion Sunday – also marks the annual World Youth Day. It’s not the headline grabbing Toronto or Cologne World Youth Days, but it’s a World Youth Day celebrated at the diocesan level. In fact, myself, along with some Salt + Light colleagues joined a few hundred youth in Toronto on Saturday evening to celebrate Toronto's diocesan WYD. After listening to Archbishop Thomas Collins discuss Benedict XVI's WYD message and answer questions, we processed for fifteen minues from St. Paul's Basillica -- along Queen Street, palms in hand, cross in the lead, Archbishop in cope and mitre -- to St. Michael's Cathedral to celebrate Palm Sunday Mass. It was a beautiful public witness, and an uplifting event for the youth of the diocese to be greated so enthusiastically by their new shepherd!
Now I've mentioned the Holy Father's WYD message, and I just wanted to touch on that for a moment. The theme for the Pope's message was the scripture passage: “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (John 13:34).
As would seem appropriate to his pontificate, there is plenty of love in the Holy Father's document. In fact, the headings for the different sections include: God the source of love, the Cross of Christ fully reveals the love of God, loving our neighbour as Christ loves us, and witnesses to the love of Christ.
There was one section in particular that stood out for me, and that is the Holy Father’s discussion on love during the engagement leading up to marriage. Our Pontiff writes:
The period of engagement, very necessary in order to form a couple, is a time of expectation and preparation that needs to be lived in purity of gesture and words. It allows you to mature in love, in concern and in attention for each other; it helps you to practise self-control and to develop your respect for each other. These are the characteristics of true love that does not place emphasis on seeking its own satisfaction or its own welfare. In your prayer together, ask the Lord to watch over and increase your love and to purify it of all selfishness.
I think as young persons we often forget that marriage is a vocation and requires formation; I would even compare the engagement period to the period that a young man studies philosophy and theology in preparation of the priesthood. As the Holy Father says a man and woman need time to mature in love and develop self-control and respect for each other. All of these, are integral to a marriage!
And isn’t it appropriate that this message is prepared for an event held on Palm Sunday? It’s on this Sunday that we recall the Passion of Christ. It’s in the Passion, culminating in His crucifixion and death, that Jesus makes the ultimate sacrifice: God gives himself for His creation! In marriage, as in any vocation, we are called to imitate Christ and live a sacrificial love.
So, is it possible to love? Yes it is! And that’s the Holy Father challenges us to awaken that love.
for the Holy Father’s WYD message, as he discusses embarking on a “discovery” of love.