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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Fr. Alvaro Corcuera, LC: Pope John Paul II was able to keep Christ as his BEST FRIEND
I invite you, then, dear ECYD members, to make your own the words that the Pope always repeated to us: "Do not be afraid! Open wide your doors to Christ!".

JPII desde su balcón, paloma volando

Your Kingdom Come!

Rome, April 8, 2005

Dear Members of ECYD:

To all of you I send a cordial greeting in these days of such importance for the Church because of the recent death of our beloved Pope John Paul II. I am sure that we are all praying a lot as he makes his final trip to the house of the Father.

This morning I was able to attend the funeral mass, along with millions of faithful from all over the world. Surely, many of you saw it on television. Not only St. Peter´s Square, but also the city and the entire world was overflowing with people. The Pope continues attracting crowds, even after his death. During these days, there have been lines up to 20 hours long to see the body of this great saint who was a man like us with his daily struggles, but who was able to keep Christ as his BEST FRIEND before anything else. That´s why he gave his life for Him up to the last moment, and seconds before dying, said: "Amen!"

I imagine how heaven must have received John Paul II. With what enthusiasm must he have given Christ, his Friend, the eternal and definitive embrace!: "Enter into the joy of your Lord" (Mt. 25:21). With what joy must the angels, saints, and martyrs of heaven have welcomed him; all those whom he canonized during his pontificate! How much peace he must be enjoying! That is why even though it hurts us to see him go, we have great serenity and trust: the Pope is already rejoicing eternally in God and is interceding for all of us. As one journalist, who was not much of a believer but was enthused about the events of these days, put it: "At last, the Pope has met with the best of his friends."

Besides admiring his work and praying for his soul, as ECYD members we are called to contemplate the enormous example that he left us by the way he spent his life, day by day, to extend the Kingdom of Christ in all hearts.

I myself had the chance to see firsthand his limitless surrender when God gave me the opportunity to help Nuestro Padre in the organization of the Pope´s first trip to Mexico in 1979. From the first moment, he won the hearts of all of us. And not only because of his always lively smile, so full of peace and joy in the midst of so many sufferings, or his contagious enthusiasm, but above all, because of his holiness. The Pope truly believed in the One who had given him life, and for whom he gave himself totally. And as I was telling you, he was a man who had to struggle every day to be better, to fulfill his spiritual commitments, to wage battle against his defects, and to overcome and conquer temptations courageously.

This was shown in a special way in his prayer. When John Paul II went off to pray, it seemed like everything else moved into second place. Everyone knows that occasion when he was praying and one of his secretaries came up to him to tell him that he had a very important phone call from a very high world leader. "Is it very urgent?" asked the Holy Father. "It seems to be, Your Holiness," answered the secretary. "If it is so urgent, then I will have to pray a lot to God for this intention." And he continued praying. Afterwards, of course, he spoke with the priest. But beforehand, he saw the problem and looked for the solution with Christ. In the Eucharist, all problems are solved!

He was the Pope of the Eucharist. He went to heaven in the Year of the Eucharist. And it is not a coincidence: he is telling us that we have to finish this year not with words, but with our Eucharistic life. That is why, before the World Youth Days, the Pope always said: "The Pope awaits you". And he said it with great enthusiasm. This year, however, he said: "Christ awaits you." He always wanted it to be Him, Christ; he wanted us to see Christ. For this reason, as ECYD members, we know very well that, in salvation history, we will be what our Eucharistic life is; we will be what our personal relationship with Christ in the Eucharist is. Behind a saint, behind an apostle, there is a soul who has loved Christ in the tabernacle. The Holy Father governed us from the tabernacle. He lived his day from the tabernacle. He gave his life from the tabernacle.

From there, from his profound union with God, came that extraordinary strength that enabled him fulfill everything he did in life, from his trips all over the world to his ability to suffer serenely in the last moments of his earthly life. He did everything out of love for his great Friend, for Christ: he made 104 trips, visited 129 nations and 250 Italian cities, and covered more than three times the distance of the earth to the moon. He wrote 14 encyclicals, which are the Pope´s most authoritative way of speaking to us as the successor of St. Peter and as the Vicar of Christ. He survived the assassination attempt in 1981, on the day of Our Lady of Fatima. There are countless other facts we could mention, and it was all to preach Christ! Certainly, it impresses us when we read all these statistics of his pontificate... It was really a marathon, but everything sprang from silence, from that conversation with Christ in the Eucharist. How can we forget those Masses that he prepared for with one or two hours of adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament? There he conversed with the Friend, with the one he is now meeting in that eternal embrace. From the Eucharist, the Pope touched the heart of God; he touched the hearts of all men. It was the presence of the Eucharistic Christ that transformed souls and hearts.

I invite you, then, dear ECYD members, to make your own the words that the Pope always repeated to us: "Do not be afraid! Open wide your doors to Christ!". I am convinced that this was what John Paul II hoped for from all of us: for us to be unconditional friends of Christ.

The young people were a very beloved part of the Pope´s heart. All the newspapers lately have emphasized those words full of tenderness that he spoke to the youth: "I looked for you. Now you have come to see me. And I thank you." Will you bear all the fruits God wants in this moment, as a consequence of so much love from the Vicar of Christ for all of you, for the future of hope that he sees in each one of you? It depends on us! I know that you are capable of doing anything for Christ. You are capable of making any sacrifice for Him.

He trusted in you and expected a lot from you; even now, I am sure, he continues praying intensely for his beloved young people. And that makes us be very authentic in our faith and love as Catholics. We have to fight every day so that we will never fall into mediocrity, so that we will be valiant and strong to resist the many enemies that show up and want to take us away from Christ. We have to spread the message of the Gospel with courage and make ourselves worthy of the name we bear. We are Christians!  What greater gift! What greater gift could we have in life?

Dear ECYD members, you have a great mission in the world and the Church, even starting now. Think about the admirable examples of saints who, with only a few years of life behind them, showed the world how important Christ was for them. Think, for example, about that beautiful letter that Nuestro Padre wrote us about José Luis Sánchez del Río (Cf. Letter of October 16, 2004). Even at the age of 14, he was able to respond to Christ and win the crown of martyrdom. Perhaps God is not going to ask you to die as martyrs, but he will ask you to give yourselves to Christ with full hands like José Luis did. I do believe that God is asking us to be martyrs of our duty every day, because being authentic Christians today means going against the current. It´s easy to be Catholics in name only, but to be truly Catholic demands an entire life! And what joy to be one, don´t you agree? If you will allow me to express a personal experience, my time in ECYD gave me the best years that I remember with the greatest joy, because I discovered a FRIEND, and what a friend! Christ, who never leaves us alone. Everything could fail us, everything could turn out bad, but He will always be there, faithful!

Draw close to Christ, dear young people of ECYD. Make him your best friend and entrust your entire being to him. Be apostles at all times-at home, at school, with your friends and with strangers-always following the admirable example of this man of God who was John Paul II.

In these days while the Church asks us to pray for the eternal repose of the Pope, don´t stop praying to God for him. And also pray to him for all of you and for the needs of the Church and the world. I am convinced that he will always put our prayers before God.

I cannot end without inviting you to respond to the Pope´s call to attend the World Youth Day in Cologne. I am sure that even from heaven he will enjoy your company as he always did here on earth.

Keep Mary very close to you. How greatly the Pope loved Mary! You all know the motto of his pontificate: "I am completely yours, O Mary!" I hope that the Blessed Virgin will hold a very special place in your hearts and in your lives, just as she did for John Paul II. After his last operation, not so long ago, when he realized that he could no longer speak, he asked for a piece of paper and a pen. There he wrote: "Mary, I am all yours!" Before her, I pray to God for all of you and for your families and friends. Don´t stop keeping me in your prayers as well. May God bless you very much, and thank you for your prayers!

With my priestly blessing, I remain affectionately yours in Christ,

Alvaro Corcuera, LC



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