[JMJ 97 - Le Cyberjournal]

Saturday Night Fervor With John Paul II

Last night's liturgy at Paris' Longchamp racetrack was both an outpouring of unbridled affection and a moving birth into eternal life.

A 45-minute standing-cheering-banner-waving ovation greeted the Supreme Pontiff as he drove through close to a million-strong throng of WYD pilgrims yesterday evening. Cardinals, bishops and guests gazed in stupefaction at the thunder of affection showered on John Paul II's arrival at Longchamp racetrack for a prayer vigil during the course of which 10 young men and women from five continents received the sacraments of baptism and confirmation.

Calling to mind essentials

Though accustomed to the Pope's popularity, the show of affection from the stunningly huge turnout (300,000 more than expected) seemed to surprise guests and organizers alike. But the Pope immediately put things into the right perspective: "Christ has called you," he said, addressing the 10 young men and women candidates for baptism, "and you have chosen to follow him into the light of eternal life."

Portraits of the Baptized

These are the names and countries of the 10 young men and women baptized by Pope John Paul II at the Longchamp Prayer Vigil on Saturday, 23 August

Arnaud Aubry,

24, from France
Grober-Marcos Condori Condori,
19, from Bolivia
Megan-Lucia Costello,
15, from the USA
Katia-Maria Lemaire,
27, from Tahiti
Raimary-Clara Millan Perez,
14, from Cuba
Jacqueline Mwangi,
16, from Kenya
Jean-François Phann,
23, from Cambodia
Louis-Marie Tam,
28, from Hong Kong
Désiré Toe,
30, from Burkina-Faso
Aleksey Yappinen,
22, from Russia

The gift of the Kingdom

The purpose of last night's gathering was indeed prayer and the rekindling of the grace of baptism while 10 new members were received into the Church. The Cardinal Archbishop of Paris, Jean-Marie Lustiger, introduced the 10 candidates: 6 men and 4 women (see Portraits). The reading Ez 36:24-28 was proclaimed in Polish, followed by Saint Paul's Epistle to the Romans, 6:3-11 in Spanish. The gospel of John, 3:1-6 was sung in French, and the answer to Nicodemus's question: "How can one be born a second time?" illuminated the Paris night sky: "No one may enter the Kingdom of Heaven unless he be born of water and of the Spirit."

Celebrating the paschal mystery

As Jesus-Christ himself was baptized in the River Jordan to die and be resurrected from the dead so that all may have eternal life, so the Pope recalled that God's gift of eternal life is offered to all who choose to answer the call of the Son of God to be born into eternal life by linking their lives to the Passion he lived for all our sakes.

Paul-Dominique Masiclat