The Archbishop of Corrientes, Monsignor Andrés Stanovnik, presided over the central Mass in the atrium of the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Itatí before more than 300,000 young people who walked more than 70 kilometers moved by faith. A very emotional celebration, in the Pope's homeland of Argentina, after two years of Pandemic. As in each edition, the young people read the manifesto and the pilgrim image of the Virgin of Itatí was transferred from the diocese of Oberá to the archdiocese of Resistencia. After the blessing, the image of María de Itatí toured the esplanade receiving the greeting of the thousands of pilgrims. The homily of the Central Mass for the 43rd Pilgrimage of the NEA to Itatí was given by Monsignor Hugo Barbaro, Bishop of San Roque in Itatí.
Homily of Monsignor Hugo Barbaro, Bishop of San Roque:
Very dear Bishop Andrés, Archbishop of Corrientes. Dear brother Bishops, priests. Dear men and women religious, seminarians, faithful; hello to all of you
Very dear young people. With sacrifice they have come to this Sanctuary; Very tired but full of joy, they now attend this Holy Mass. Who pushed them to come? Evidently it was Our Lord Jesus Christ; he wants them to show the Blessed Virgin Mary, once again, all the love they have for her. Many offered the effort of the long walk. It is moving to see thousands advancing along the route, arriving at the Shrine exhausted, limping, and kneeling, moved, before the image of our Tender Mother of Itatí. How is the Virgin not going to reward so much affection from everyone!
Why you came? Each one felt that Christ spoke to their hearts: Come closer to my Mother, she is also your Mother; Give her the effort to go to Itatí, to walk, She takes care of you all the time. She knows your sufferings, your insecurities, your fears, abandon yourself in her arms. She trusts Maria, she loves you as you are; she helps you grow in all that is good, to overcome so many challenges that are not lacking in life, and she wants yours -your life- to be an adventure in style.
Mothers get sad when they see a child going down the wrong path, they do the impossible to get them on the right track. Will the Virgin do less so that we go through the best of paths in this life and reach Heaven? Pope Francis spoke a few years ago about the different risks we run. He talked about material poverty that can affect a lot. We ask in this Holy Mass, through the intercession of the Virgin, that there is no lack of work, nor what we need to lead a dignified life, to support a family; That so many economic anguishes that take away the peace in a home are over.
But the Pope also mentioned other forms of poverty, other serious risks to be taken into account. One is that of moral poverty. It consists of becoming slaves to vices such as alcohol, drugs, pornography, violence. Sometimes you hear them say: this boy, this girl, has no morals, is on the wrong path. What's wrong with him? He considers bad behavior normal, corrupting, sinful: lying, slandering, selfish and disordered sexuality, and so many other moral miseries.
The Virgin is not indifferent to a son who allows himself to be corrupted. She listens to her sweet voice, her maternal voice; she wants you happy, capable of love, transmitter of the richness of your healthy, good life.
The Pope also referred to another risk, that of spiritual poverty. Who suffers it? Who walks away from God and does not feel the need for his Father's love. She is poor, very poor; he forgets about Christ that he is always reaching out his hand to help us, to forgive sins, to transform our life, to make it very good.
The Virgin wants us very rich in the eyes of God. That wealth is given to us by God, but he expects us to be willing to have it, and that we demonstrate it with the effort we can put in to get closer to God, and to move away from what is not of God. This pilgrimage cost them, but they walked with enthusiasm, with effort, eager to reach the goal of reaching the Virgin. The same happens in Life, we have to desire the high goal that God wants for each one, and walk with Mary. Trust in Maria, she is by your side; do not be discouraged by your frailties, by your weaknesses and falls. She supports you, She lifts you up like mothers pick up a little boy who fell because he is learning to walk; She takes you to Jesus who has the remedies and the food you need, never feel defeated but very loved by God.
Dear young people: God is counting on each one of you. He wants you to infect others with the spiritual wealth of love for God and the Virgin that you carry in your heart, so many good values that you shine in your lives. He counts on you to put all that good into the families, so that they are happy and overcome so much suffering, so many crises. God wants them to be protagonists of a fairer world, of the world that God dreamed of, full of justice, full of love. That's why encourage yourself to grow in all the good that God wants from you, always with Mary.
Wherever you are you can have a lot of influence, being like a spotlight that God counts on to improve that little bit of the world that touches you. Being young is synonymous with having big dreams; let yourself be transformed by God, always with Mary.
God never gives up. We have received God's life in Baptism, He forgives us in Confession. And we have this rain of help from God that is the Eucharist; Christ himself will be present in a moment, hidden in the consecrated Host. How much good it will do them to be great friends of the Mass!
God hears our prayer. Tell him, every day, your joys, your sorrows, your needs. God is not deaf; we have the problem when we do not raise our hearts towards Him because we are scattered or distracted in so many things, or we forget that the Lord is by our side.
Christ who loves us so much tells us: There you have your Mother, the Virgin. Don't forget to pray to her, to the Rosary, to look lovingly at some image of her, to think a lot about her. There is no difficulty that cannot be overcome with Maria.
In a book, I read years ago that a saint asked the Virgin for a miracle and told her: I ask you for your only Son, she was referring to Jesus Christ. She insisted over and over saying the same thing. And she got the answer from the Virgin: you are wrong daughter, he is not my only Son, he is the firstborn.
You are his son, we are his sons. We ask that this pilgrimage not only be a very happy moment in the year, but also a restart with Mary of a different year in which we fill ourselves with the wealth that God wants to give us.
I put myself in your hands Mother, guide me so that I always do the Will of God. You are the cause of my joy, of my peace, of everything. Do not ignore our pleas, Mother, deliver us from all danger, oh glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.
Sources: corrienteshoy and https://www.facebook.com/arzctes/