Pope commends lifelong friendship with Jesus

Pope Benedict XVI urged children to cultivate a lifelong friendship with Jesus because he would guide them, help them make the right decisions in life and help them become better people.

CLICK HERE"We need this friendship with God, who helps us make the right decisions, to mature as human adults," he said on Saturday to a crowd of nearly 150,000 people, mostly young children who had just celebrated their first Communion earlier this year.

During a colourful, festive ceremony in St. Peter's Square featuring clowns, people on stilts, singers and dancers, the pope led eucharistic adoration as well as a warm and informal catechesis based on the questions posed to him by several children.

One by one, seven children came up to the pope and asked him questions on the microphone about why it is important to go to Mass and to confession and what their teachers mean by the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

"But how can that be?" asked one boy. "I can't even see him."

With a polite laugh, the pope smiled and explained that there were lots of important things that exist even though they cannot be seen. Intelligence and reason, for example, as well as electricity are all things that are invisible, but one knows they are there because one can see their effects, the pope said.

"We don't see electrical current, but we see the light" it produces, he said.

The Holy Father was visibly delighted at the children's questions, which in some cases drew a hearty laugh from the pontiff and his audience for their poignancy and sincerity.

Going to confession before Communion "is necessary only when one commits a truly grave sin that has deeply offended Jesus in such a way that the friendship has been destroyed and one must start all over again," he said.

However, just as people clean house or children pick up their room "at least once a week, even if the mess is always the same," the faithful should make a habit of going regularly to confession, he added.

In response to other questions, the pope explained what Jesus meant when he said he was the bread of life, saying, "Jesus is food for the soul." Both the body and spirit need nourishment in order to both "grow and reach fullness."

He also explained eucharistic adoration as "recognizing Jesus as my Lord who shows me the life to follow." Adoration is a time to tell Jesus, "I am yours and I pray that you, too, will always be with me," he said.

Some of the prayers offered by the children included an appeal to the faithful and to government leaders to remember and respond in some way to "all the children of the world who suffer from war, disease and a lack of food, education, medicine and affection."

Another child asked God "to grant us holy priests who can celebrate the Eucharist in your name and give to everyone the Word and Bread of Life."

Pope urges children to cultivate lifelong friendship with Jesus (Catholic News Service 17/10/05)

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18 Oct 2005