By Rachel Curry
Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe reunited with World Youth Day (WYD) pilgrims and set them a new challenge to enrich their faith at a special Ignite Live event on Friday, 2 September.
Attended by more than 250 people at Chisholm College, the event is one of six hosted by Ignite Youth throughout the year bringing together youth groups, parishes and individuals from across the Archdiocese of Perth.
Last Friday’s event was also designated as the official reunion for Perth’s WYD pilgrims, following the huge celebrations held from 26 to 31 July in Krakow, Poland.
Much of the night therefore focused on reflections from WYD, alongside the usual games, activities, music and opportunities for reconciliation.
During his speech to attendees, Archbishop Costelloe touched on this topic by focusing on the beatitudes – the eight blessings Jesus recounted during the Sermon on the Mount.
One of the beatitudes – ‘Blessed are the merciful’ – was the theme of this year’s WYD.
The Archbishop had no problem relating to the young people in attendance, freely admitting that the beatitudes could be confronting, even for him.
“It’s not an easy job, really, to talk about the beatitudes. When you have a look at them, you realise the list is kind of a list of the very things most of us don’t want to be,” he said.
“The first one, for example: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’. How many of us here have as one of our major ambitions to be poor for the rest of our lives? Probably not too many of us.
“What about the next one? How many of us here really want to spend our days mourning, crying, being sad, being miserable, being regretful about things that we’ve lost? How many of us really, really want to be meek and gentle?”
Archbishop Costelloe went on to explain that the beatitudes could be condensed into one question, which he challenged the young people in attendance to ask themselves: What kind of person do I want to become?
“It’s a question for everybody, but I think it’s a particularly important question for young people, because you are still at that stage where you can shape yourself, or you can allow a whole lot of other people to shape you in ways that you might not particularly want to be shaped,” he said.
“It’s a big question and I think it would be foolish to think that anyone can offer a quick or easy answer. I don’t think we can come up with an answer tonight. Maybe all we can do, or I can do, is put the question before you and you and encourage you to think about the question.”
This is where the beatitudes come in, Archbishop Costelloe said, because they are Jesus’ suggestions of the qualities that we should demonstrate in our lives in order to be happy.
He added that the beatitudes were not necessarily to be taken literally, using the first beatitude, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs,’ as an example.
“Being poor in spirit obviously doesn’t mean being poverty stricken or destitute or lacking the basic necessities of life,” he said.
“Being poor in spirit – and I think this is what Jesus is suggesting to us, recommending to us – being poor in spirit means that nothing has so much power over us that it can stop us from grabbing the gift of life with both hands and living it to the full.”
Ignite Youth Perth Co-ordinator Ronan McGinniss said the Archbishop’s message struck a chord with those present on the night.
“It was very relatable to people who went along to WYD because of the link to ‘Blessed are the merciful’, but it was also spoken in such a way to encourage those people that didn’t attend WYD and people that may not even go to Church to consider the person that they want to become,” he said.
Mr McGinniss added that holding a reunion for Perth pilgrims was important to ensure the experience of WYD could be continued at a local level, and Ignite Youth were happy to collaborate on the event.
For more information about Ignite Live events, visit www.igniteyouth.com/live-perth.