World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow, Poland, was an amazing, incredible and blessed experience. The atmosphere was so inspiring; from the many events and pilgrimage places we visited to the sight of so many other young people from all around the world sharing the same faith which was on display in so many different ways. However, we also can’t forget the Pope’s words. Below are excerpts from his speeches at the main World Youth Day events and hopefully these will encourage you, even if you weren’t there, to look up the full texts and read them in full prayerfully and be both inspired and challenged by his words.
Welcoming Ceremony, Thursday, 28th July
Jesus can give you true passion for life. Jesus can inspire us not to settle for less, but to give the very best of ourselves. He challenges us, spurs us on and helps us keep trying whenever we are tempted to give up. Jesus pushes us to keep our sights high and to dream of great things. You might say to me, “but Father, it is so difficult to dream of great things, it is so difficult to rise up, to be always moving forwards and upwards. Father, I am weak, I fall, and I try but so many times I fall down”… If you are weak, if you fall, look up a little for there is Jesus’ hand extended to you as he says: “Rise up, come with me”. “And what if I fall again?” Rise again.
Way of the Cross, Friday, 29th July
Where is God, if evil is present in our world, if there are men and women who are hungry and thirsty, homeless, exiles and refugees? Where is God, when innocent people die as a result of violence, terrorism and war? Where is God, when cruel diseases break the bonds of life and affection? Or when children are exploited and demeaned, and also suffer from grave illness? Where is God, amid the anguish of those who doubt and are troubled in spirit? These are questions that humanly speaking have no answer. We can only look to Jesus and ask him. And Jesus’ answer is this: “God is in them”. Jesus is in them; He suffers in them and deeply identifies with each of them. He is so closely united to them as to form with them, as it were, “one body”.
Prayer Vigil, Saturday, 30th July
Dear young people, we didn’t come into this work to “vegetate”, to take it easy, and to make our lives a comfortable sofa to fall asleep on. No, we came for another reason: to leave a mark. It is very sad to pass through life without leaving a mark. But when we opt for ease and convenience, for confusing happiness with consumption, then we end up paying a high price indeed: we lose our freedom. We are not free to leave a mark. We lose our freedom. This is the high price we pay. There are so many people who do not want the young to be free; there are so many people who do not wish you well, who want you to be drowsy and dull, and never free! No, this must not be so! We must defend our freedom!
Homily, Sunday, 31st July
God, on the other hand, is hopelessly hopeful! He believes that we can always get up, and he hates to see us glum and gloomy. It is sad to see young people who are glum. Because we are His beloved sons and daughters. Let us be mindful of this at the dawn of each new day. It will do us good to pray every morning: “Lord, I thank you for loving me; I am sure that you love me; help me to be in love with my own life!” Not with my faults, that need to be corrected, but with life itself, which is a great gift, for it is a time to love and to be loved.
Angelus, Sunday, 31st July
Each of you, for all your limitations and failings, can be a witness to Christ wherever you live: at home, in your parishes, in your associations and groups, your places of study, work, service, and entertainment… wherever God’s providence will lead you. God’s providence is always one step ahead of us.