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Length 12 min.
Age Group I - Intermediate
Publisher St. Anthony Messenger Press
Topics Special Seasons

This video explores customs, traditions, prayers and ways we can keep Lent as we walk together on the path to Jerusalem, preparing for the new life of Easter. It invites us to Fast, Do Good Works, and Remember the way Jesus lived his life.

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  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Rebecca Hale, NationalBy Rhina GuidosWASHINGTON (CNS) -- In the nation's capital, a $15 museum ticket and pair of 3-D glasses is the passport Christian pilgrims and others need to experience what may be the holiest site in Christianity. Employing state-of-the-art technology, the National Geographic Museum in Washington Nov. 15 opened an exhibit that virtually transports visitors to the streets of Jerusalem and through the doors of a small church that protects what is believed to be the site of Christ's burial and, to Christians, the site of his resurrection."We put you in the Old City, we talk to you a little about the walls of the city, how they move over time and where the Gospels say that the Crucifixion took place, and try to give you the context," said Kathryn Keane, vice president of exhibitions for National Geographic during a Nov. 9 interview with Catholic News Service. After an introductory video explaining some of the tumultuous history surrounding the tomb of Christ site, where structures above have been built and torn down repeatedly over the centuries, visitors walk toward a set where a virtual guide projected on a wall welcomes them to a courtyard just outside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. It's a visual appetizer to get them ready for the experience of, not just entering via 3-D through its doors, but also of flying over it and witnessing, from a bird's eye view, a time-lapse of the structure's physical history. "We're not only taking you in the church the way it looks today but we also go up above the church and we take you back through time," said Keane. "It's a bit of a time machine and we show you all the evolutions of the building, from the time that it was, under (Roman emperor) Hadrian, a pagan temple." "This is not what I would consider a traditional exhibit. It's more an experience than it is an exhibit," said National Geographic archaeologist Fred Hiebert, whose unique experience inside the church led to "Tomb of Christ: The Church of Holy Sepulchre Experience," which runs at the Washington museum until August 2018. Last year, Hiebert witnessed various stages of a nine-month-long, $3 million restoration of the small shrine within the Holy Sepulcher that protects the tomb of Christ. The shrine often is referred to as the Edicule, Latin for "little house." During the process, the three religious groups with jurisdiction over the structure, and who had agreed on its restoration -- the Armenians, the Franciscans and the Greek Orthodox -- agreed to also allow restorers to put a moisture barrier around the the tomb itself.The tomb likely had not been opened in centuries and, at some point, marble slabs were placed on top, perhaps to keep pilgrims from taking home parts of it. It has been venerated since the time of Constantine, the first Christian Roman Emperor who, in the fourth century, sent a team in search of the holy burial site. Soon after, they identified a quarry as that place and Constantine's mother, Helena, had a shrine built around it. The exhibit explains how the effects of weather, earthquakes and also great numbers of pilgrims, many of whom light candles that contribute to a buildup of soot, had brought the structure to the brink of collapse. It also explains the dilemma religious leaders faced when they learned that by injecting liquid mortar into the shrine to reinforce it, it presented the possibility that it would seep into the tomb itself -- defeating the purpose of protecting the most important part. They had to swiftly decide to shut down the shrine to allow the team to protect the tomb -- and that meant briefly opening it. "They said, 'Do it, but don't take more than 60 hours to do it,'" said Hiebert. When restorers temporarily shut down the site, Hiebert and other members of the National Geographic team were present to witness the opening of the tomb, which exposed the original limestone bed and the walls of the cave, which Christians believe witnessed Christ returning to life. "To think that we, we were some of the few people who were locked in that church, got to see what people for hundreds and hundreds of years of Christianity hope to see, and we had a chance to see that ... if there's anything that drove me to do a virtual exhibit, it was that guilt," Hiebert said to an audience gathered at the museum on the opening night of the exhibit. "We have to tell the world about this." The National Geographic team scanned the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the smaller structure inside, the Edicule, in such detail, that visitors who stop by the exhibit can don a VR, or virtual reality, headset and enter the tiny shrine, navigate the small passage way that leads to the tomb, a space that accommodates no more than three or four people, and see an exact visual representation of the tomb, without the real-life inconveniences. "As tourist, you get maybe 15 seconds in the tomb and then they move you out," explained National Geographic engineer Corey Jaskolski at the opening night event. "Part of capturing this and being able to share it with the world through the National Geographic Museum is that we can let people spend as long as they want in the tomb. You can go in there and have your own personal experience and be able to see it in all its glory without the interruptions and bustle of the crowd around." The exhibit explains some of the technology the restoration team from the National Technical University of Athens used, as well as what National Geographic used to scan the images that made the visual aspect of the exhibit possible. "We can tell a story about great science and there's a certain great aspect of faith to it, too," said Hiebert. Keane said the project is an intersection of history, architecture, science, technology and faith. "All of these things aren't at odds with each other," she said. The exhibit displays the document that Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Franciscan leaders signed in 2016, which made the restoration possible, while also noting in a timeline that the groups had agreed in principle in 1959 that the "little house" needed the renovations. Hiebert applauded the cooperation among the religious groups as a "brave" and said of their ability to agree, "That happens once in a lifetime with these guys." The project shows, Hiebert said, that there can be cooperation among different groups in the Middle East. "Having reviewed the history of the (Holy Sepulcher) church, and realizing that it's a contested space, in a contested area ' here was a project that was bringing people together to do something that was positive," he said. "That is a metaphor for optimism in the Middle East. In a place as difficult as Jerusalem, as complex as the Middle East, it's still possible to do an optimistic idealistic project." Archaeologist Hiebert said the exhibit, as well as a TV show about the restoration of the tomb of Christ that National Geographic documented, will debut Dec. 3 on its cable channel. The December cover story of National Geographic magazine also focuses on archaeology and what it reveals about the life of Christ. It shows that science and faith can go hand in hand, Hiebert said. "When we look back on the history of exploration and even the history of National Geographic, we realize that this idea that science is divorced from faith is not true," he said. "It seemed to me natural that National Geographic would be in a position of, here's a site, which is sacred and historic, and we're about to embark on an epic adventure."- - -Follow Guidos on Twitter: @CNS_Rhina.- - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Mike Blake, ReutersBy WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As the nation made preparations to celebrate Thanksgiving Day, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops expressed gratitude for "the gift of immigrants and refugees to the country," but also appealed for their protection. "As we do every year, we will pause this coming Thursday to thank God for the many blessings we enjoy in the United States," Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said in a statement Nov. 20, a week after the U.S. bishops opened their annual fall assembly. The longest and most passionate discussion on the first day of the fall assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Nov. 13 focused on immigrants, on how to help them but also how to drive home the point that they, too, are our brothers and sisters and should not be demonized. Cardinal DiNardo said his Thanksgiving Day statement was prompted by the bishops urging he "speak out on their behalf." He referenced that floor discussion, noting that he and his brother bishops "were attentive in a special way to those who are often excluded from this (nation's) great abundance -- the poor, the sick, the addicted, the unborn, the unemployed and especially migrants and refugees." The bishops "expressed a shared and ever-greater sense of alarm -- and urgency to act -- in the face of policies that seemed unthinkable only a short time ago," he said. Those policies, Cardinal DiNardo said, include the deportation of "Dreamers," the beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. These are "young hard-working people who should be the lowest priority for deportation," he said. President Donald Trump in September ended the Obama-era program and directed Congress to pass a legislative solution. Cardinal DiNardo also described "the anxiety and uncertainty of those with Temporary Protected Status from countries like Haiti, El Salvador and Honduras, which are still recovering from natural disasters and remain ill-equipped to humanely receive and integrate them." The Trump administration in early November announced an end to TPS for 2,500 Nicaraguans who have been living in the United States for nearly 20 years. A decision on TPS for 57,000 Hondurans has been delayed for six months; a decision for Salvadorans is expected soon. Late Nov. 20 the Department of Homeland Security announced it will terminate TPS for the 50,000 Haitians with such status by July 22, 2019. Cardinal DiNardo also lamented that the number of refugees the country will admit over the next year has been capped at 45,000. He called it "an unprecedented reduction in the number of people we will welcome this year into our country who seek refuge from the ravages of war and religious persecution in their countries of origin." "One common feature of all these developments is their tendency to tear apart the family, the fundamental building block of our, or any, society," Cardinal DiNardo said. "These threats to so many vulnerable immigrant and refugee families must end now. "My brothers have urged me to speak out on their behalf to urge the immediate passage -- and signature -- of legislation that would alleviate these immediate threats to these families," he said. Policies that threaten immigrant and refugee families also are "symptoms of an immigration system that is profoundly broken and requires comprehensive reform." "This is a longer-term goal, one that the bishops have advocated for decades to achieve, and one that must never be overlooked," he continued. "Only by complete reform will we have the hope of achieving the common goals of welcoming the most vulnerable, ensuring due process and humane treatment, protecting national security, and respecting the rule of law. We are committed to such reforms and will continue to call for them." He repeated his gratitude "for the gift and contributions of immigrants and refugees to our great nation" and prayed "that next year, families now under threat will not be broken and dispersed, but instead will be united in joy around their tables, giving thanks for all the blessings our nation has to offer. Have a Happy Thanksgiving all!"- - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/James Akena, ReutersBy Junno Arocho EstevesVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has made no secret of what he thinks is the motivating force behind the wars and conflicts underway across the globe. "The powerful, some of the powerful, profit from the production of arms and they sell arms to this country which is against that one, and then they sell them to the one that goes against this one. It is the industry of death! And they profit," Pope Francis told thousands of students meeting at the Vatican in 2015. "An elderly priest that I met years ago used to say this: The devil enters through the pocketbook, through greed. This is why they don't want peace!" he said. The wars in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo are among the many conflicts where this is evident, said Sister Yudith Pereira Rico, associate executive director of Solidarity With South Sudan. At a Vatican news conference Nov. 16 announcing a prayer service for peace in the two suffering African nations, Sister Pereira said multinational corporations and the international community have a vested interest in allowing the wars to continue in both countries. "While people are trying to survive this situation, multinationals are exploiting primary resources," she said. "The international community is giving a huge amount of help and (making) immense efforts but, at the same time, they are still selling weapons. So there is a duplicity in this attitude. This has to be known." Solidarity With South Sudan is an international network of religious congregations that was formed to train primary school teachers, health-care workers, pastoral agents and sustainable farmers from all ethnic groups in the country with the hope they would learn tolerance and reconciliation along the way. A member of the Congregation of the Religious of Jesus and Mary, Sister Pereira has worked for nearly two decades in countries throughout the African continent, including South Sudan. "The people of South Sudan are suffering an armed conflict and a silent genocide that rarely appears in the media and surpasses the imagination" even though it began in early 2013, Sister Pereira said. Military grade weaponry, however, is not the only thing used to wage war. In Congo, the violation and exploitation of women also is used as a weapon of war. Franciscan Sister Sheila Kinsey, coordinator of the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the international unions of women's and men's religious orders, said she spent eight years working on behalf of victims of domestic violence and abuse in the United States prior to helping victims of sexual violence in Congo. The difference between working on sexual abuse there and in the United States "was that in the Congo, it was used as a weapon of war and such atrocities were committed to really humiliate a country. So we knew that that dimension had to be addressed," she said. The people, especially women and children, also are innocent victims of greedy corporations and countries that plunder land and resources, she said, explaining that civilians "don't have adequate employment or the benefit of the resources that are from their own country." One civilian told her, "You know, we have all these weapons but we don't have any industry that makes weapons. Where are they coming from?" Sister Kinsey said. Michel Roy, secretary-general of Caritas Internationalis, said that while the main causes of the conflict in both countries are political in nature, multinational companies are profiting from "the favorable conditions" of a weakened state in order to exploit the country's wealth, particularly from the diamond mines in the southern Congolese province of Kasai. Multinational companies, he said at the news conference, "think destroying in order to receive is the solution. It isn't, but that's the reality." Congolese politicians, Roy added, also receive kickbacks and "are under the orders of these companies" to keep the conflict alive so they can continue to exploit the country's vast diamond industry. "There are also regional interests so that the Congo remains this way, that it doesn't become strong," he said. "A big country with these kinds of resources can become an important country in Africa, like South Africa, like Nigeria." The Vatican prayer service will be followed in January by a roundtable discussion primarily focused on building peace in South Sudan and Congo, Sister Pereira told Catholic News Service. But it also will be an opportunity to shed a light on the exploitation of innocent civilians. "Of course one way (to build peace) is what we have been saying: to stop selling weapons, stop multinationals from working in war (zones)," she said. The support given by Pope Francis, who was scheduled to preside over the Nov. 23 prayer service for peace, Sister Pereira added, is a source of hope for the innocent victims caught in the crosshairs of conflict because it tells them that others are with them. "They need a future and they need to see that other people are also talking about this," she said. "For them, it is important that people outside in Europe -- in Italy, wherever -- are meeting together for them. They can be resilient, they can have strength because they have that support." - - - Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.- - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Jeff Kowalsky, courtesy Michigan CatholicBy Mike StechschulteDETROIT (CNS) -- A humble priest and porter, Blessed Solanus Casey thanked God daily for the gift of those who came to his door in his small corner of the world. On Nov. 18, tens of thousands of those whom he touched gathered to thank God in return for the gift of the holy Capuchin's life. "Others, above all the poor, were seen by him not as a weight or obstacle to his climb to perfection, but as a way to the light of the splendor of God," Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, told the tens of thousands of people gathered at Detroit's Ford Field for Blessed Solanus' beatification Mass. A congregation of more than 60,000 -- young, old, clergy and laity, those of all races and ethnicities -- flooded into Ford Field for the Mass, with tens of thousands more watching live on TV or the internet. Countless others visited the Solanus Casey Center and St. Bonaventure Monastery over the weekend to pray and leave prayer intentions at the tomb of a saintly friar known for miraculous healings, intercessions and a compassionate listening ear. True to Blessed Solanus' spirituality, a special VIP section of the main floor was set aside for those with illness and disabilities. Father Michael Sullivan, provincial minister of the Detroit-based Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Joseph, welcomed those in attendance, "especially those whom Father Solanus so loved -- the sick and the poor." "We gather in gratitude for all of God's blessings and for all the ways in which God moves in our lives," Father Sullivan said. "What a witness was our beloved brother Solanus! He opened his heart to each person he met, he prayed with them, appreciated and loved them, and through him God moved powerfully again and again. Thanks be to God!" Cardinal Amato was the main celebrant and homilist for the beatification Mass, joined by Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron; Cardinal Adam J. Maida, retired archbishop of Detroit; Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley, himself a Capuchin Franciscan; Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, who is a Detroit native; and Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, among others. About 35 bishops, 400 priests and deacons and more than 200 Capuchins joined together in praise with 300 members of the Casey family, members of the Father Solanus Guild and thousands of faithful during the Mass. The altar, placed at midfield, was created originally for St. John Paul II's visit to the Pontiac Silverdome in 1987. To the right of the altar was a large painting of Blessed Solanus. It was unveiled to thunderous applause after the beatification rite, which took place at the beginning of the Mass. The music was provided by a 25-member orchestra and a choir of 300 directed by Capuchin Franciscan Father Ed Foley. The singers were members of parish choirs from across the Detroit metro area. The Casey family's Irish roots were reflected in the Irish hymns chosen as part of the music for the liturgy. Reflecting the diversity of the Catholic Church in which Blessed Solanus served, readings and prayers of the faithful were proclaimed in several languages, including English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chaldean, Polish and Tagalog. "His favorite sons were the poor, the sick, the emarginated and the homeless," Cardinal Amato said of Blessed Solanus, the Wisconsin-born priest with Irish roots and a whispery voice who served as a monastery doorkeeper in New York, Detroit and Huntington, Indiana, over his 60 years as a Capuchin friar. "He always fasted in order to give them their own lunch. He spent hours upon hours patiently receiving, listening to, and counseling the ever-growing number of people who came to him," he added. Once, the cardinal recounted, when the Capuchin Soup Kitchen -- which Blessed Solanus helped start during the Great Depression -- ran out of food, the friar simply prayed an Our Father, and a truckload of bread showed up. "When the people saw this they began to cry with emotion. Father Solanus simply stated: 'See, God provides. No one will suffer want if we put our trust in Divine Providence," Cardinal Amato said. "Witnesses affirmed that love, faith and trust were the three points that he always preached to people," Cardinal Amato continued. "Faith, hope and charity were for him the seal of the Trinity in our souls." Born Nov. 25, 1870, to a family of 16 children, Blessed Solanus spent his early years as a lumberjack, street car operator and prison guard before entering the seminary. After witnessing a violent attack in Superior, Wisconsin, he resolved to devote his life to God. Despite language barriers slowing his studies toward the priesthood, he was eventually ordained a "simplex priest," and spent the next 60 years greeting people at the monastery doors in New York, Indiana and Detroit, where he became a warm and familiar face to thousands seeking his counsel and prayers. Cardinal Amato garnered laughs when he acknowledged that Blessed Solanus had "one little defect in his life: In the judgment of his fellow friars, Father Solanus was a bad musician." "For this reason, after his first failure in the community, with simplicity and humility, in order not to disturb his neighbor, on Sunday evening he went to the chapel with his violin and played Irish religious songs in front of the tabernacle. The Lord listened to him patiently because our blessed was lacking in music, but not in virtue," Cardinal Amato said with a smile. By virtue of his beatification, Blessed Solanus can now be publicly venerated in Detroit and in Capuchin houses worldwide. Beatification is the last step before sainthood, which would allow Blessed Solanus to be venerated by the worldwide church. His feast will be celebrated July 30, the vigil of the anniversary of the friar's death in 1957. Among the hundreds, if not thousands, of healings attributed to Blessed Solanus during and after his lifetime, Pope Francis recognized the authenticity of a miracle necessary for the friar to be elevated from venerable to blessed after a review by the Vatican's Congregation for Saints' Causes was completed earlier this year. The miracle involved the healing -- unexplained by medicine or science -- of a woman with an incurable genetic skin disease, Paula Medina Zarate of Panama. She was only recently identified publicly and she was at the Mass. As it began, she walked up to the altar with a reliquary holding a relic of Blessed Solanus -- a small piece of bone taken from the friar's arm. Zarate was visiting friends in Detroit and stopped at Father Casey's tomb to pray for others' intentions. After her prayers, she felt the strong urging to ask for the friar's intercession for herself, too, and received an instant and visible healing. The miraculous nature of her cure in 2012 was verified by doctors in her home country, in Detroit and in Rome, all of whom confirmed there was no scientific explanation. Father Casey himself died of a skin disease July 31, 1957. During the presentation of the gifts, baskets of food were brought to the altar along with bread and wine, symbolizing Blessed Solanus' ministry to the hungry through the Capuchin Soup Kitchen and the Capuchins' continuing ministry today. After Communion, the congregation was invited to sing "God, Be Praised for Humble Service," a hymn commissioned in honor of Blessed Solanus written by Benedictine Sister Delores Dufner. In thanking Cardinal Amato and the Congregation for the Causes of Saints "for your devoted attention to the cause of Father Solanus' beatification," Archbishop Vigneron garnered loud cheers when he assured the cardinal that "the field hospital of mercy is open here in Detroit." "Your Eminence, when next you speak with our beloved Holy Father, Pope Francis, please let him know that we are grateful beyond measure that he has judged our beloved Father. Solanus worthy of the rank of blessed," Archbishop Vigneron said. "Assure His Holiness of our filial affection and loyalty and tell him that we are committed anew to imitate Blessed Solanus by witnessing to the good news of Christ's mercy." - - - Stechschulte is managing editor of The Michigan Catholic, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Detroit. - - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Natalie Hoefer, The CriterionBy Natalie HoeferINDIANAPOLIS (CNS) -- The sound of more than 20,000 teens screaming and singing along with racuous music of Christian hip-hop band TobyMac was loud. The sound of the same number of youths in silent prayer was deafening. These external and internal forms of praise formed bookends to the opening general session of the National Catholic Youth Conference Nov. 16 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. After two hours of music, entertainment -- including cultural dancing by the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Movement -- and an entrance procession of banners from each diocese present, the participants were greeted by Indianapolis Archbishop Charles C. Thompson. Although each person came "from many dioceses, many states ' and with many titles," he said, "we are first and foremost children of God. And that God who knows us desires to be known by us. ' God wanted us to know him ... through a personal relationship with a human being, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. "We are beloved children of God, called by name, claimed by Christ," he continued, referring to the conference theme of "Called." "We begin this NCYC weekend by embracing that reality of who we are." Chris Stefanick, an internationally acclaimed author, speaker and founder of Real Life Catholic, used humor and life experience to speak about the reality of who we are and of God's love for each person. He spoke of the "love story" upon which the Catholic faith is founded. "When you remove the love story, what are you left with?" he asked. "Rules that we have to follow. Rituals that we're not sure why we keep them alive but they take a lot of time. Doctrines that have nothing to do with your life. That's how the world has come to see Catholicism. ' The world has forgotten the love story, and so often we've forgotten the love story." That story, he said, "begins very simply with the words '(I) believe in one God.'" So many youths today chose not to believe, he said, including an atheist who once told him that belief that God created the universe "is as stupid as a kid coming down on Christmas morning and, seeing presents under the tree, thinks, 'There are presents, therefore there must be a Santa..'" "You say there's no God?" Stefanick asked. "That's like a flea not believing in the dog. That's like a kid coming down on Christmas morning and seeing presents under the tree and saying, 'Oh look! Presents! They must have exploded themselves here!' ' Just so, the universe did not put itself here, and the more we learn about the universe, the more it shouts to us about the existence of God." And because God's love created us, he said, no other form of love will satisfy. "We feel so small in this world," he told the crowd that came from as far away as Hawaii and Alaska. "We feel so insignificant in this universe. "I think God looks down from heaven and says, 'You are huge next to all this.' As big as a mountain is, can it know someone? As big as an ocean is, can it make a choice? As big as a galaxy is, can it choose to love? No, but you can. ... You're a huge deal!" But because of human rejection of God, Stefanick continued, sin and brokenness entered the world. To applause and shouts of "Amen!" he modified the words of John 3:16 to note that therefore, "'God so loved you that he gave his only Son.' Whoa. '" This love story -- which continues in the sacraments, Stefanick noted --"doesn't just show you who God is. It shows you who you are." ' " 'Who am I?' 'I'm precious.' 'What am I worth?' 'I'm worth dying for,' " he said in a solo dialogue. "' Sin is not your name-Jesus gives you your name. And what is your name? 'Beloved.' I don't matter because of who I am-I matter because of whose I am. I'm not somebody, I'm somebody's. I'm precious and I'm worth dying for. This is the best news ever." He encouraged the crowd to use their will to "say 'yes' to the love that created space and time and perpetually invites us to himself." Father Joseph Espaillat, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, who was one of the evening's emcees, led the more than 20,000 present through a period of silent prayer to close. He suggested using the word "pray" as an acronym to guide their prayer -- "P" for praising God, "R" for repenting of sins, "A" for asking God for needs rather than wants, and "Y" for yielding to his will It was this prayer time more than any of the evening's other events that most affected Abby White of the Diocese of Covington, Kentucky. "I thought it was really powerful," she said of the quiet time. "I like saying that you're sorry to God. It's been awhile since I've been to confession, and I really want to go to confession this weekend. I felt like that [prayer time] empowered me to want to go." While Abby has attended NCYC before, Garrett Randel of Seneca, Kansas, was exuberant with the joy of one experiencing the event for the first time. "I thought it was really cool," he said of the opening session. "The speaker was really inspiring. I thought it was one of the best experiences I've had in my Catholic faith." Caitlin Dusenbury of the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan, couldn't agree more. The NCYC first-timer's eyes lit up and a smile brightened her face when she spoke of her experience that evening. "I really like it so far," she told The Criterion, newspaper of the Indianapolis Archdiocese. "It's impacted me a lot. I've never seen so many Catholics together. "The highlight for me was Chris speaking. 'It's not who you are, but whose you are' -- that quote stuck with me." - - - Hoefer is a reporter at The Criterion, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.- - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.