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Day 17: Sharing the Faith

Patrick is 26 and has been a Catholic all his life. He’s involved with Youth 2000, and also the online group Made For Glory.

I’m sure I’m not the only one. There must be a few of us out there. My name is Patrick, I’m a young Catholic, and I’ll admit it; I have never been to a World Youth Day! For many reasons such as cost, time, my boss is a dictator, I never seem to have quite managed to get it together and actually make my way onto a plane, like millions of other young Catholics, and trot off to another country to celebrate our faith in what is possibly one of the most singularly unique experiences the Church has to offer.

I’m not that sorry though, and that is due to one man in particular: Pope Benedict XVI. Like John Paul II before him, Benedict (or Papa B, B16, Benny, or any other affectionate name young Catholics have put upon him) has had almost a magnetic lure to the young people of the Church. His words have always led them; his presence has always has excited them; his mission has always been about them; and his call has always inspired them. This blog alone, even though it will only have forty people, is enough to show just how deeply this little, old German, who was probably unknown to the majority of young people pre-election, has turned into one of the most well known men on the planet, and potentially the most inspiring figure for the young people of the Church in this generation (at least so far). Why, I hear you ask? Because he gets young people talking!

Not having been to any WYDs as I said, my experience of Pope Benedict is mostly through sharing; I have come to admire, support, and adore this man, from his red shoes to his cheeky grin, through others sharing what they have experienced. So brilliant is he that the youth of the Church have left any major event that he was at raving with joy about what he has said or done. We saw in Rachel’s post that his very presence changed her life! We saw in Andy’s post that his words radically altered his entire outlook on his vocation as a teacher! We see across this entire blog people sharing Benedict XVI with each other and the world. He is a man that touches us so deeply that we cannot do anything than share the joy and excitement we feel with those around us. I do not feel like I missed out on Madrid because my siblings came back and could do nothing but talk about it – their shared stories was my experience; the same with my friends who went to Sydney; the same with Cologne. The infectious nature of Pope Benedict has touched my life through those he has inspired, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has partaken in this shared experience.

When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them

Luke 2:17

I say my experience was mostly through sharing, because I have been given the opportunity to see him, at both Hyde Park and Birmingham, and this was where it was my time to share. Normally if I go off on retreat there are a few people at work who know what I’m actually up to, but for most I’m just ‘not available’ that weekend. Not this time; I wanted everyone to know where I was going, and who I was going to see. I got back and I wanted everyone to know how awesome it was, and how inspired and proud I felt. If we can pick one thing out of Benedict’s papacy that he has inspired young people to do, its share: share their faith; share their excitement; share their joy! This notion of sharing has taken a most progressive turn in his recent progression to Twitter in which he called all young people to ‘share’ their faith through means like Facebook to create through this sharing of faith and joy a new digital evangelisation.

It falls, in particular, to young people, who have an almost spontaneous affinity for the new means of communication, to take on the responsibility for the evangelization of this ‘digital continent’

Pope Benedict XVI, World Communications Day Message, 24/05/09

I can’t even list the amount of times I pull up Facebook and someone has quoted Pope Benedict’s latest awesome comment. His words have been shared, thanks to the digital medium, across the world in a way his predecessors could not even have dreamed of. Even today, as I write, and Pope Benedict makes his last general audience in St Peter’s Facebook is a whirlwind of status update after update of young people sharing their heartfelt thanksgiving for this man and what he has shared with them. We are a Church of sharing; it is in the very nature of our faith to share the “hope that is within” (1 Peter 3:15). If there is one thing that can be said for Pope Benedict’s legacy, it’s that he taught the young people to share, and through this he has shaped a generation of individuals into not just a Church, but a family.

All the believers were one in heart and mind…they shared everything they had

Acts 4:32

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