WYD: No “flash in the pan”, but an extraordinary instrument for evangelization

So exciting to know that despite growing unbelief and secularism across the globe, again, hundreds of thousands, indeed, likely two million young people will gather this coming week another faith-building and life-changing experience during World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain.

The excitement is fever pitch, as youth and young adults from all over the planet arrive into Spain and lodge in homes, schools, gyms, hostels, and hotels across Spain. Young people from Spain and from every continent, alongside their adult chaperones, are already beginning to experience some of the many events and experiences planned for them during this amazing week: from cultural exchanges to service projects; from catechetical moments with their bishops to Masses, Confessions, and other prayer and spiritual encounters; from entertainment and touring to long days of walking and talking, dancing and dining, having fun in a Christian atmosphere of joy and gratitude for the Faith. All these meaningful and fun activities will undoubtedly fill their hearts and minds with memories that will last – and become tools that will deepen their faith and their commitment to the Universal Church upon their return home.

Indeed, every World Youth Day is meant to be a moment and a means of evangelization, a crucial part of the new evangelization of the young. Vatican Radio (08-13-2011) draws our attention to this fact in these words:

Spain has welcomed young people from around the world to its 68 dioceses, while in the capital Madrid finishing touches are being put to the centres for catechism, prayer and reflection that will be held by 270 bishops from around the world in 30 languages.

WYD Madrid 2011 promises to be “a kind of Pentecost”, for a Europe plagued by a deepening crisis and a nation in need of renewal, in the words of Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, one of the main organisers of all 26 editions of the global Catholic youth gathering:

“World Youth Day in Madrid is very close now. An important ecclesial event, for the youth of the Church, a fascinating testimony of faith, full of enthusiasm and missionary zeal. The world today – especially Europe – is in urgent need of such testimony. Nevertheless, the fruits of each World Youth Day in the life of young people depend on how they prepare for the event and how they follow up on it in the ordinary youth ministry of the diocese. If these elements are missing, you run the risk that the WYD experience becomes e a proverbial “flash in the pan”! Pope Benedict XVI insists that every World Youth Day should mark a new beginning for youth ministry … And fortunately this awareness continues to mature in the lives of many local churches. World Youth Days have now become an integral part of the pastoral care of the Church towards the younger generations”.

“The post-modern world is going through a difficult and deep crisis. Relativism creates a dangerous vacuum of common values and meaning. The post-modern culture is a “liquid” culture with no fixed points of reference and – consequently – produces rootless people, who are deprived of safe and sound foundations in their lives … In this situation, especially among young people, there is a growing need to find real roots in their human and Christian identity, for a foundation on which to build their lives. And the World Youth Day in Madrid aims to be a clear and persuasive answer to those needs of people today: that the foundation exists and is a living Person who has a name, Jesus Christ!”

“Spain is like a vast laboratory where the serious problems and challenges of post-modernity have manifested themselves with particular force. Such as the phenomenon of secularization, the trends towards a radical secularism, the laws of the State which are clearly opposed to natural law (the right to life, the nature of marriage and the family) … and even the serious problem of the economic crisis, such as youth unemployment, which is constantly on the increase… Without doubt, Spanish society is hungry for hope, it urgently wants to find prospects for the future … And in this very challenging environment today, the Church of Spain – thanks to World Youth Day – is called to rediscover its prophetic vocation and a new evangelistic courage”.

Pope Benedict XVI’s invitation to World Youth Day is addressed to all young people worldwide. In his Message for World Youth Day in Madrid, the Pope writes: “I would like all young people – those who share our faith in Jesus Christ, but also those who are wavering or uncertain, or who do not believe in him – to share this experience, which can prove decisive for their lives. It is an experience of the Lord Jesus, risen and alive, and of his love for each of us”. Over the past 25 years, World Youth Day has proved to be an extraordinarily efficient instrument of evangelization of the youth, who are the also main protagonists of evangelisation.

Moreover, the experience of World Youth Day cannot be limited to those who can afford the long and often expensive journey. The young people have created a Solidarity Fund, in order to provide financial assistance to their peers from poorer countries to meet the expenses. Young people from wealthier countries have offered 10 euros each. It is thus a Fund – managed by our Council – which has allowed us to meet the needs of young people most in need of financial assistance. But this is not enough! The television and internet can help young people from distant countries to attend the event in real time. Our Council has urged, therefore, the various local Churches, ecclesial movements and new communities to organize events that make use of these tools. And the result so far achieved is encouraging! World Youth Day can now be experienced in real time and in a capillary way in many environments, helping young people to live this unforgettable experience of faith”.

http://www.news.va/en/news/wyd-no-flash-in-the-pan-but-extraordinary-instrume

We pray for all pilgrims in Madrid. We pray for their safety and well-being. We pray that this experience will be life-giving and life-changing for each of them. We pray that their presence, the presence of Pope Benedict XVI, the “presence” of Blessed John Paul II, and the Presence of the Lord at World Youth Day may have a lasting impact on the people of Spain.

And we pray for ourselves: that as we follow the various news updates and comments, videos and photos posted online, and follow the events on TV and radio, we too may appreciate the importance of this historic moment and be renewed in our desire to engage, with fresh commitment, in the new evangelization called for by popes for the past 25-35 years: one that is “new in fervor, new in methods, and new in expressions.”

May the Lord find us willing and ready to do our part to ensure that the Gospel is proclaimed in a convincing and compelling manner to all the baptized, as well as to the unchurched and other believers, and all men and women, young and old, are invited into the Body of Christ, the Church, so that all men might come to the knowledge of Christ and be saved.

Read previous and upcoming blog entries for more information on the new evangelization, and regularly visit our new evangelization website for resources and tools. (The website is currently being redesigned: www.archsa.org/Evangelization)

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