Yesterday, 31 August, the busy day began at the Hungarian Parliament where an international youth delegation from the Genfest were welcomed. This was followed in the afternoon by a grand celebration in the esplanade of the Sports Arena, the opening of an “Expo of Eastern Europe” performance and sport activities with live interviews transmitted over the radio. In the evening there was the festive evening concert with young artists from five continents, preceded by the greetings of the Mayor of Budapest Tarlos Istvan, by the General President of UNESCO MS Katalina Bogyay.
Pope Benedict XVI sent a message giving his warm greetings to all the young people present. Referring to the Genfest motto “Let’s bridge” and to the bridges destroyed in the Second World War, the Pope affirmed: “Yet out of the ashes of that terrible conflict, there arose a determination to build peace on lasting foundations, a determination which was to be the inspiration behind the founding of the Focolare Movement. The bridges across the Danube were rebuilt, and the international community set itself the goal of eliminating once and for all the conditions that might lead to future conflict.”
“While Budapest itself, together with much of Eastern Europe, continued to suffer under the oppression of a totalitarian regime, there too, new possibilities for freedom and fraternal outreach have come about since the end of the Cold War. May this beautiful city be a sign of hope to inspire all the young people present to offer the hand of friendship to those from other backgrounds and cultures, “in such a way as to shape the earthly city in unity and peace, rendering it to some degree an anticipation and foreshadowing of the undivided city of God” (Caritas in Veritate, 7).”
Today, 1 September, there was the presentation of the several national delegations and the first part of “Let’s bridge”, the metaphor of the various phases in building a bridge. There will also be alternating reflections and witnesses by the youths from around the world who are committed to bringing about universal brotherhood in today’s world.
A solemn moment took place when the United World Project was launched. This project was conceived and developed by the youth of the Focolare Movement and open to everyone’s collaboration, which will be launched in its first phase in Budapest, aims to highlight and promote fraternity already under way by individuals, groups and nations. It will also start up a permanent international Observatory, recognized by the UN.
It is to these young people in particular that Maria Voce addressed her talk this afternoon, challenging them to: “Look on high. Set your gazes far, it is there that you’ll find something certain that you can grab onto. Look to the Love that is God. He is the only One who doesn’t disappoint you. Place yourselves on his side, trying to see the world and things with his eyes and you’ll be firm pillars of new bridges upon which everyone will walk happy and secure, and others will follow you.”
With their intense silence the young people absorbed her every word.
“Then, have no fear!” she continued, “Be yourselves and enter personally into society, and place your small or great personality at its service, your abilities and your talents. You make a unique contribution, one that will never be repeated again, different from that of the adults. . . You are now called to spend your lives for something immense, leaving behind you something immortal”.
At this point Maria Voce urged everyone: “So you need step into action. . . Begin to love concretely. The first step will not involve grand scale actions, but those small acts of love that make life great and have the power to change the world and influence society. . . And never allow the bridges that have been built today to lessen. The first bridge was built right here among yourselves. . . You’ve constructed a small bit of united world and each of you carries the strength of this experience within you. . . And so you shall file forth from this Sport Arena like a great river of love”.
She concluded by recalling a statement made by the founder, Chiara Lubich: “The world needs more soul, more love. And this is what we should bring to it!” She wished them: “Courage, then! All of us united in this beautiful adventure!”
In the evening there will be a large “Flashmob” – tranmsitted through live streaming – held simultaneously with other flashmobs around the world. The one in Hungary will take place at the historical Chain Bridge over the Danube. It aims to show the commitment of the Youth for Unity to build bridges among people, countries, religions and cultures.
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