Sanctuary of Torreciudad, Spain, August 29-September 1
Shortly after arriving and greeting Our Lady, he prayed before the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe, accompanied by many young people. During those days he met with families and young people from various countries.
On the afternoon of the 29th, he met with friends and the staff of Torreciudad, whom he encouraged to “give thanks to God for the possibility of helping out.” Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz expressed his gratitude to the employees of the shrine, directors of the board and collaborators.
One of the architects who was part of the team that built the shrine between 1970 and 1975 recalled that at that time “he saw much love for God, difficulties and human enthusiasm,” and that St. Josemaría said that our Lord would be merciful to those who put love into sites for divine worship. The Prelate responded with words of St. Josemaría: “the only weapon for everything is prayer,” and encouraged him to “transform work into prayer. “And the first and fundamental prayer is the Eucharist, since all strength comes from the Cross of Christ, made sacramentally present at Mass.”
Torreciudad has been carrying out a fundraising campaign for a long-term renovation project. One of the persons assisting the Board of Trustees to raise money said he feels fortunate to work for Our Lady of Torreciudad: “Although sometimes one suffers a bit, it is always worthwhile.” The Prelate encouraged him to consider that “when you ask for help, you do a favor” to people.
At the end of the day, he met with a group of priests who were taking part in a workshop of formation. He recalled some events from his pastoral trip to the United States and Canada, his meetings with many families and with the bishops of the cities he visited. At the end, Msgr. Ocáriz knelt down to receive the blessing of all the priests.
Students were the protagonists on the morning of Friday the 30th and the afternoon of Saturday the 31st, in two gatherings in which more than a thousand young people took part. Some of them asked questions about Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit. One university student said that she thinks it is a wonderful document, and she “would like to read it and reflect on it in my prayer, because I think it could be very useful for me.”
When speaking about the Apostolic Exhortation in his dialogue with the students, Msgr. Ocáriz stressed that “God calls everyone” and that “each person has to see how God's love is made specific” in his or her life. Each person needs to freely seek the light of God's call and ask for the strength to want to say yes. He stressed the importance of personal freedom in the response to one's own vocation: “You decide,” he said to a student. “You have to be the one to decide, because He doesn’t impose himself. Ask for light and strength, although there will always be a margin of uncertainty. Ask in your prayer, and seek advice.”
In response to another question about vocational discernment, Msgr. Ocáriz pointed out that “Christus Vivit speaks a lot about discernment. We all have a Christian vocation but our Lord does not make us see it clearly at first because he wants us to be very free to choose.”
Concern for those who are suffering was very present in the Prelate's words. A young Syrian woman who is now studying for a master's degree in engineering in Barcelona asked how to continue helping her country. Msgr. Ocáriz encouraged her not to feel far away from Syria, since with her prayerr and work she can directly help to improve the situation: “We are all praying for your country. As Catholics, we need to have a universal spirit. We shouldn’t see the news from other countries or cities as something foreign to us. Sometimes we lack the heart to feel compassion for others, to suffer with those who are suffering—in Syria, Venezuela, etc.—and also to rejoice with the good news of others as well.”
The Prelate received several families who shared with him their hopes and challenges. He greeted each one, giving them a photo, a rosary and candy for the children.
He also attended the organ concert that is held every Friday in August at Torreciudad, and met with several groups of professionals who were spending some days of formation there. He devoted special attention to the staff that lives there and works directly in the daily management of the shrine, stresing the importance of their work. The rector of the shrine, Fr. Pedro Díez Antoñanzas, and other priests and staff members showed the Prelate the improvements that have been made to the Shrine since his last visit a year ago.
Romana, n. 69, July-December 2019, p. 218-220.