‘Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart’ [John 19:25].
‘At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country’ [Luke 1:56].
‘. . . they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage’ [Matthew 2:11].
‘The Mother of my Lord comes to me’ [Luke 1:43].
The above words are taken from the book, Cross Roads, the National Pastoral Planning Handbook the Church in Australia has produced as a resource for the journey of the World Youth Day cross and icon.
Clearly the word ‘cross’ is used to prompt us to think of the importance of the cross in our lives. Each scripture quotation refers to Mary, the mother of Jesus. The book is a resource to help us to pray with the WYD Cross and the Icon of Mary with the child Jesus (Salus Populi Romani).
In 1984, Pope John Paul II entrusted a simple, but large, wooden cross to the youth of the world. The cross has visited every continent and has been touched, carried and prayed with by millions of young people. It has become a central symbol of the international World Youth Day. It was smuggled behind the Iron Curtain in 1988, taken to Ground Zero in New York in 2003, passed through the Brandenburg Gates in Berlin; it will probably go to Antarctica in January 2008 – it is coming to our archdiocese in June. In 2003 the late Holy Father presented a further gift — the Icon of Mary to journey ‘together with the cross’ as ‘a sign of Mary’s motherly presence close to young people’.
In 106 days time the cross and icon will be in this archdiocese – for three days only – 18-20 June. The details are not yet available as to where the cross will be and just what ceremonies will accompany it, but we know that this will be a unique opportunity for us. The cross and icon will never be here again.
For us, it will not just be a matter of coming to see the cross, or to look at the icon, to touch the cross or kiss the icon. It will be rather a moment of grace, a moment of renewal, a moment to think about the place of the cross in our lives. Remember Jesus said to all, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, they must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me’ [Luke 9:23].
All will be invited to be involved in the journey of the cross and icon. As the cross is taken in its three-week journey throughout New Zealand, it will certainly be a case of CROSS COUNTRY. It is an opportunity to pray and reflect deeply on the CROSS WORDS (words Jesus spoke from the cross). It is a chance to show New Zealand that as we CROSS WAYS, we are led to the life that only God can give. It may be that as we pray and reflect with the Cross and Icon in the coming June days, that we will CROSS OVER – from our way of living to Jesus’ way of living.
John A Dew