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Marist Bulletin - Number 187

 

The singer Roberto Bignoli talks about the World Youth Day
23.03.2005

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The World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany is fast approaching. Once again, this will represent for so many young people a significant part of their own journey in faith. The Christian singer, Roberto Bignoli, has had the joy of taking part in several World Youth Days as an artist in past years.
Roberto, who carries a handicap, has lived through the experience of poverty and sickness since he was a child, has passed through the experiences of drug-taking and jail… then his encounter with Jesus that changed his life radically, putting him on a new path.
We asked him some questions.



What memories do you have of your participation in previous World Youth Days?
The first time that I participated in a World Youth Day was in 1997 in Paris, with a series of concerts in various squares, fairs and stadiums. In 2000, in Rome, I held a concert at Tor Vergata for the volunteers of the World Youth Day. In 2002, in Toronto, I took part in a long tour that concluded with a performance at the vigil with the Holy Father. In all the World Youth Days, the thing that struck me the most was the presence of so many young people united for an ideal.
Not all are diligent participants in a religious reality or movement, but they seize this occasion to live a new experience of interior enrichment. I have always seen a great deal of respect and love for the Holy Father. The young people welcome him sincerely and enthusiastically, because they see in him an authentic witness to Love, Hope, Faith in Jesus Christ and the Gospel.

What significance can the participation in this meeting with the Pontiff have in the life of a young person?
I believe that no one can remain indifferent in front of a presence that is so involving. The Pope succeeds in entering directly into the depths of the heart. I have seen young people moved, laughing, showing attitudes of great solidarity and sensitivity, the joy of being together and of sharing their own experience of life and faith together with others.
All of this has to leave some signs. There are those who cultivate them and those who prefer instead to wait, holding them as small treasures inside of themselves. There are also those who are embarrassed to show what they have felt or perceived. But, you can be sure that a seed of hope has entered the heart of every young person.

When you listen to the Pope, what do you feel?
I listen to the Pope and it seems to me that I am listening to a good Father. A grand “dad” for all the young people! I have had the grace to have met him four times in my journey, and each occasion was very emotional for me.
I have noticed in him a strong supernatural presence. His eyes full of light, his smile and his face communicate so much of his authentic spirituality and his presence is truly one of grace and love. You feel welcomed and you feel included. But, above all, you feel loved for who you are.
It is as though the Pope sees inside of you and says to you: I love you because you who you are. This is truly what the young people feel and experience during the World Youth Day. The Pope succeeds in radiating the infinite love of Christ.

How are your concerts a time of dialogue with young people?
I like to describe them as concerts-testimonies. They are not limited to only songs, but they also include the story of my life experiences and of conversion. Often, after a concert, some young people come along to speak to me and real dialogue takes place between us. Sometimes marvellous, unexpected things happen. For example, I remember one occasion that touched me very much. It was after one of my concerts at the jail at Panama. The detainees were all young boys between the ages of fourteen and twenty. At the end, these young men wanted to pray together with me. They showed very clearly that my testimony was important for their situation and to confront problems with greater hope.
In general, the encounters with young people do not occur after the concerts. Many write to me by e-mail. With many a friendship is born, which continues even today.

Can music really help young people and offer them a message of hope?
Today, music is considered as a great means of communication, in that it reaches the heart of so many young people. For this reason, I believe in proposing songs that have meaningful content and values.
Personally, I strive to reflect the themes of the Gospel, or to remember the importance of solidarity or of prayer. In small steps, I try to help young people to understand that they do not live on bread alone, but that there is much more in the life of every person.

In your last CD “Ho bisogno di te” (I need you) you speak of your “companions on the journey”. Who are they?
In my life, I continue to have a stronger experience of the presence of Jesus and Mary: they are my companions on the journey. With this song, I hope that all who listen to it would realise how God is present in their life every day. It is also an invitation to be faithful to him and to allow him to accompany you because it is He who “colours the story of the world, who takes on our poverty”.

Why sing?
Through music, I try to sow some seeds. And if God wants, they may bear fruit. This is the meaning I try to give to my artistic activities, together with my manager who is God.

Thanks Robert and… see you in Cologne.

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