World Youth Day will be held from August 1 to 6, 2023 in the Portuguese capital with the theme "Mary arose and departed without delay".
After years of pandemic, this event will gather hundreds of thousands of young people from all over the world. Registrations are open and the Pope was the first to do so.
1. Learn from Mary. In 2019, in an audience with hundreds of children, the Holy Father confessed "what happens to spoiled children happened to me: don't you like soup? Two dishes, don't you like to travel? You will travel a lot... in fact, during your travels you meet a lot of people, good people and you learn a lot". His first trip was to the south of Italy (Lampedusa) where he changed his mind: "after Lampedusa I understood that I had to travel".
Francis has made 41 trips and Portugal will host Francis for the second time, after his visit in 2017. If the first one was marked by a slogan of Marian identity ("We have Mother"), this second one has as its motto "Mary arose and departed without delay".
Apostolic journeys serve to reform the Church, placing the peripheries at the center, to seek new paths of evangelization, where Mary - and in Portugal, the Virgin of Fatima - is the great teacher.
2. More than a summer storm. WYD has an eminently spiritual purpose, and means nothing more than "an encounter with God".
Francis has high hopes for the impact he can have on the attendees. To give you an idea, during WYD 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, many people noticed that there was a church located under the statue of Christ the Redeemer and for 45% of the participants it was the most impactful event of their lives.
The experiences of past editions (Panama, Krakow, Rio de Janeiro and Madrid) show that WYD multiplies the spiritual fruits in the Church: greater participation in Sunday Mass and confession; more decisions to correspond to one's vocation. And among the thousands of volunteers, many continue to collaborate with their dioceses in social activities.
3. Don't forget Jesus' phone number. In a pre-WYD audience in Panama, the Pope recalled that "we all have Jesus' telephone and we can all connect with Jesus. He is there, he always has space, always, always! He always listens to us because He is like that, close to us".
The logistics of an event can distract us from the essentials, from moments of adoration, from participation in Holy Mass and from the possibility of getting back on the phone with a good confession. These are the best fruits. A great ecclesial event resembles the Gospel episode of the Wedding at Cana: the guests at that feast in Galilee left happy, but the organizers were sure that it did not depend on the talent of the bride and groom's organization.
4. Enjoy with your friends after the pandemic.. In his message for WYD 2023, Francis recalled that "recent times have been difficult, when humanity, already tested by the trauma of the pandemic, is torn apart by the drama of war".
The solution seems to be Our Lady's model of service, who with her visit to her cousin "reopens for everyone, and especially for you, who are young like her, the path of closeness and encounter". The Pope asks us to be in a hurry to put the needs of others above our own.
5. Make bridges. An alliance between young and old is necessary, so as not to forget the lessons of history, to overcome the extremisms of this time. The age difference between the Pope and those attending this event seems to have been overcome: more than 1 million young people are preparing to listen to an 86-year-old man.
Francis calls us to build bridges with people of other generations or who think differently, to know how to live delicately with the different charisms of the Church.
Henrique Monteiro, editor of ExpressoPortugal's most important weekly newspaper, acknowledged: "I, who am not a Catholic, think it is great that WYD is coming to Portugal and that they are celebrating youth, peace and harmony. This is the spirit of fraternity and tolerance, proper of a secular state, which is opposed to the dogmatism and sectarianism of those who do not respect others."
Building bridges: this is the great challenge. A symbolic fact in this regard: the closing ceremony of WYD will take place under the largest bridge in the European Union (12.3 km) in the eastern part of the Portuguese capital.
6. Imitates Isabel's hospitality. Faith and vocation open us to others, even to their most human and material needs, in order to make the world more welcoming for all, with special attention to the most vulnerable. "It was not enough for Jesus to look at us from afar, he wanted to be with us, he wanted to share his life with us".
From Mary's encounter with her cousin arise those words that millions repeat daily in the Hail Mary What prevents us from serving? Constantly looking in the mirror, contemplating one's own image, getting caught up in social networks.
Bishop Américo Aguiar, the bishop responsible for WYD in Lisbon, recalls another challenge in this regard: this will be the first WYD that will include the generation of digital natives, people who were born in the digital era, with the internet. We have to think about how we can welcome them so that they feel at home in the Church".
7. Sign up! The Holy Father did so on October 23rd during the Angelus. Registration can be made through the following website lisboa2023.org.
The Organizing Committee provided a series of services such as lodging, food, personal accident insurance, transportation and pilgrim kit. Now it is up to you, your group or your parish. It is also possible to sign up as a volunteer.
It's time to get up and go fast because there are 10% discounts for registrations through December 31, 2022.
Author of the chapter "Jornada Mundial da Juventude (JMJ) 2023 em Lisboa" of the Portuguese version of Austen Ivereigh's book "Como defender a fé sem levantar a voz".