Written By: Lawrence Lam
There are critics of WYD who think that this is the church honouring perpetual youth in the secular sense. It’s instructive to look at the contents of World Youth Day itself and see what is being touted when we say we celebrate Youth.
My takeaway from the two WYDs has been a determined belief on the part of our church leaders that young people have the energy to not be infantilized when it comes to taking on the faith. Rather that watering down the Tradition of the Church, WYD assumes that young believers have the capacity to take it all in and adopt the responsibility to put its implications into practice.
JP2 said to us in Toronto: “Only Jesus is the true Master, only Jesus speaks the unchanging message that responds to the deepest longings of the human heart, because he alone knows “what is in each person” (cf. Jn 2:25). Today he calls you to be the salt and light of the world, to choose goodness, to live in justice, to become instruments of love and peace. His call has always demanded a choice between good and evil, between light and darkness, between life and death…Allow me, dear young people, to consign this hope of mine to you: you must be those “builders”! You are the men and women of tomorrow. The future is in your hearts and in your hands. God is entrusting to you the task, at once difficult and uplifting, of working with him in the building of the civilization of love.”
For the Church, Youth implies the strength to step up to take on the high demands of answering God’s call. The determination that was demonstrated by an 82 year old pontiff who managed to walk himself down a set of steps from an airplane instead of his usual elevator. That inspired a crowd of almost a million to exclaim “Pope is Young! Pope is Young!” at Downsview Park 14 years ago.
The World Youth Day program includes 3 days of solid catechesis where it was instilled in us that following our Faith we could move mountains. Peace on Earth and a true sense of fraternity was demonstrated in the streets of Toronto just as it was in Krakow.
Francis took on the objection directly at Campus Misericordiae this past WYD: Jesus is not the Lord of comfort, security and ease. Following Jesus demands a good dose of courage, a readiness to trade in the sofa for a pair of walking shoes and to set out on new and uncharted paths. To blaze trails that open up new horizons capable of spreading joy, the joy that is born of God’s love and wells up in your hearts with every act of mercy. To take the path of the “craziness” of our God, who teaches us to encounter him in the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the sick, the friend in trouble, the prisoner, the refugee and the migrant, and our neighbours who feel abandoned. To take the path of our God, who encourages us to be politicians, thinkers, social activists. The God who encourages us to devise an economy marked by greater solidarity than our own. In all the settings in which you find yourselves, God’s love invites you bring the Good News, making of your own lives a gift to him and to others. This means being courageous, this means being free!”
It’s unavoidable to be in Krakow and not see the results of Catholicism firing on all cylinders: the sufferings of Maximilian Kolbe and Sr. Faustina, and the persistence of Fr Jerzy Popiełuszko or Karol Wojtyla had the power to change the world in epically consequential ways.
Word is getting out that in the “Mercy Centre” catechesis site, the liturgical music sung by the choir I was part of was a revealing display of music in the true Catholic tradition – sacred polyphony and Gregorian chant, in addition to some contemporary reflective pieces, rather than the typical musical pablum found in the average parish back home. Here we had again a direct example of the confidence of WYD organizers’ belief that the young pilgrims don’t need to be infantilized. In fact the 15,000 young people ate it up and acknowledged its beauty even if it may have been somewhat foreign to their church experience – at WYD, what isn’t foreign in one way or another? Their priests were so encouraged that they will probably look to re-introduce Catholic traditional music into their liturgies back home, just as Taize music at WYD 2002 experienced a Canadian surge.
And to make it all stick, the Cardinals sent the pilgrims home with a goodbye gift in the form of a DOCAT: a downloadable app presenting Catholic Social Teaching in its fullness.
Whoever thinks that World Youth Day is simply a Catholic Disneyworld that may simply provide a temporary lift in morale has not had a serious encounter with a returning pilgrim whose life was set in an ever new direction to be an instrument into His work to renew the face of the Earth.
If publishing article online please attribute source Serviam Ministries with link to original article.