Wherever you go in our country you see the big '€œM'€sign for McDonalds. Today I saw a sign on a bench seat, by a roadside '€œM'€“ 2 mins'€.‚‚  It is always so simple, and yet so effective.‚‚  You are easily tempted to drive the two minutes to sample something from this worldwide chain of fast food.

I think from time to time '€œIf only we could market our faith and church as effectively'€.‚‚  We certainly would have our young people coming in droves.

The WYD Cross came to our Diocese in the week July 10-17.‚‚  The Cross is a simple, yet powerful sign that we'€™ve had for 2000 years.‚‚  The next issue will be totally dedicated to the Journey of the Cross and Icon in our Diocese.‚‚  I trust that the impact of this once in a lifetime experience we had in our Diocese will continue through the whole of our lives.

It took the genius envision of Pope John Paul II to unlock for us again something of the meaning of the Cross. This almost 4 metre high Cross was in St. Peter'€™s for a whole year in 1983.‚‚  John Paul declared that year a Jubilee Year of our Salvation.‚‚  It was 1950 years since Jesus'€™ saving death for us all.

In that year the Pope decided to invite the young people of the world to Rome for a big Youth Day. Sceptics said that they wouldn'€™t come.‚‚  In the following year of 1984, 350,000 young people came!‚‚  At the end of the gathering the Pope gave the Cross to them and said, '€œTake this to the whole world as a sign of God'€™s love for humanity'€.

And they did.‚‚  The rest is history, and history will document that no other one object has been gazed upon (let alone prayed before and touched) by so many millions of people from every corner of the earth.

It'€™s on occasions like this that I would like to be God who knows our hearts and knows how the Cross would have affected so many people of our Diocese in different ways. I had the privilege of journeying with the Cross right throughout the Diocese to Port Hedland.‚‚  I took part in all the liturgies and events organized so well by generous and keen people.‚‚  It was easy to observe how so many across the whole spectrum of ages were affected.‚‚  Some actually recounted their moving experiences to me.

What it did for us all was, as I said before, unlocked again something of the limitless meaning of Jesus and His Cross.

The Cross has become so much part of our lives and this is wonderful.‚‚  We have the Crucifix/Cross in our churches, schools, hospitals and homes.‚‚  So many of us wear it around our necks.‚‚  I wear a small one on my clothes and as a Bishop I have a big one '€“ the Pectoral Cross.‚‚  While we are comfortable with the Cross and are proud of it, at the same time isn'€™t it so easy to become accustomed to it, so that a lot of its impact at times is lost on us?

For many reasons '€“ the huge size of the Cross itself, the wonderful Pope who gave it to us, the millions of people (on sad occasions as well as happy ones) who have venerated and prayed before it, this Cross has meant so much to many.

A few days after the Cross had left Port Hedland parish I was speaking on the phone to the Parish Priest, Father Des Reid. He was speaking about the positive experience it had been for Port and South Hedland. In a sentence he said, '€œThe people here were just so grateful that the Church had brought this powerful symbol of goodness and hope to them'€.

The Icon of Mary in recent years now accompanies the Cross.‚‚  In it we see Mary holding Jesus who, in turn is blessing us.‚‚  I'€™m sure that Mary played her part in leading us to her Son in this special time.

Around Australia a Message Stick from the Aboriginal people of Sydney now accompanies the Cross and Icon.‚‚  It is a message of goodwill and an invitation to come to WYD. While a quarter of a million will take part in the week and perhaps a half a million will take part in the final Mass at Randwick, most of us cannot.‚‚  I'€™m sure though that many will witness much of it on television. Nevertheless the Journey of the Cross and Icon through our Diocese has given us all an experience of a very special bi-product of World Youth Day.

A young Aboriginal lad, Darcy, who carried the Message Stick into the Geraldton cathedral and around the town in procession, at the end of the day said to his mother, '€œI am just so proud to be a Catholic Mum'€.‚‚  I'€™m sure he echoes the sentiments of many of us.

The Journey of the Cross in our Diocese and around Australia has helped the Cross as it were, come alive again.‚‚  May we keep looking at the Cross or Crucifix with new eyes of faith and love.‚‚ 

The Cross is also in other people'€™s lives and our own in many ways. When it is so, may we also see with the eyes of faith that Jesus is truly there as well with His love and strength.

Bp Justin Bianchini