Vatican News, by Deborah Castellano Lubov: World Youth Day is an occasion to encounter Christ, grow in faith, and experience God’s tender love for all His children.
This was how Pope Francis assessed his recent Apostolic Journey to Lisbon, Portugal, for the occasion of the 37th World Youth Day.
The Holy Father’s comments came on Wednesday, at his weekly General Audience, in the Vatican, marking the first since his traditional July break, which took place in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, to provide some comfort amid the intense Roman sun.
At the Audience, the Pope reflected on his Visit and the great fruits it provided.
God, the Pope recalled, set in motion the young people’s hearts and steps, to go and find Jesus.
God is Father and loves all His children
World Youth Day, he stressed, is an encounter with the living Christ through the Church, “an encounter that makes one grow in faith and where many discover God’s call,” often “to marriage, to consecrated life, to the priesthood.
“For each and every person,” he said, “it is the joy of discovering that they are called, by grace, to be part of the people of God, a different people … sent to proclaim to all peoples the joyful Gospel of Christ: that God is Father and loves all His children.”
In a special way, he recalled the Blessed Virgin’s Mary’s presence during these days, and throughout history.
He especially recalled his time praying to her in Fatima, and her effectiveness whenever we speak to her.
“Mary is everyone’s mother; she never makes us wait,” he said.
The Pope said he prayed at the site of the Apparition, along with young people who are ill, “that God will heal the world of the diseases of the soul,” citing specifically “pride, lies, enmity, and violence.”
Present to encounter Christ
The Pope praised the great numbers, faith, and enthusiasm of the young people, recalling, in a special way, that the young people of Ukraine brought with them a very sorrowful account, an experience quite different than other pilgrims.
The Holy Father suggested that they, like many of the young people, were present at the World Youth Day “to meet Christ.”
He decried that wars continue, and in Ukraine, the fighting continues.
“World Youth Day showed us another world is possible,” he insisted, one without fear, isolationism, and weapons.
May Mary bless the young
In conclusion, the Holy Father prayed that the Blessed Virgin Mary may bless the young people of the world, and the Portuguese people, before leading everyone in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall in praying a Hail Mary.
He also thanked all those involved in the Journey’s organization and thanked young people who even traveled to Rome and were present at the General Audience.
The Holy Father’s visit to Portugal marks the first of three Apostolic Journeys between August and September.
On 31 August to 4 September, he will travel to Mongolia, making him the first-ever Pope to travel there. Later on in the month, the Pope will spend two days in Marseille, France, for an encounter about migration in the Mediterranean.
“Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Matthew 24:23-27.