“Stand up. I appoint you as a witness of what you have seen (cf. Acts 26:16)” is the theme of the Holy Father’s Message to young people on the occasion of the 36th World Youth Day 2021, to be celebrated next 21 November in local Churches around the world.
The Message, signed by Pope Francis on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, is part of a series of three messages to accompany young people on the journey from the 2019 wyd in Panama to the wyd to be held in Lisbon in 2023, focusing on the word “arise”.
This year, young people are invited to meditate on the conversion of Saint Paul, who went from being a “persecutor-executor” to becoming a “disciple-witness”. Re-reading the episode of Damascus, a turning point in the history of the Apostle of the Nations, the Pope guides young people to the discovery of God’s unconditional love for every man. “The Lord”, writes Francis, “chose someone who was persecuting him, completely hostile to him and his followers. We see that, in God’s eyes, no one is lost. Thanks to a personal encounter with him, we can always start over again. No young person is ever beyond the reach of God’s grace and mercy”.
Pope Francis also offers some practical advice on how to “arise” and “to bear witness” before all those other young people whom they will encounter on today’s “roads to Damascus”, including: “arise and testify to the love and respect it is possible to instil in human relationships”; “arise and testify that lives of failure can be rebuilt, that persons spiritually dead can rise anew”.
This year, for the first time, at the diocesan level, World Youth Day will be celebrated on the Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe.
The Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life has recently published a booklet on Pastoral Guidelines for the Celebration of World Youth Day in the Particular Churches (http://www.laityfamilylife. va/content/laityfamilylife/en/GMGpastoralGuidelines.html), on which inspirations and experiences of the past wyd are collected in order to make the celebration of this “Youth Day” even more fruitful for the local communities and for ordinary youth ministry.
The next international edition of wyd will be celebrated in Lisbon in 2023 with the theme: “Mary arose and went with haste” (Lk 1:39).