Hand in hand with Maria, with an eye on Lisbon

The journey of the Virgin Mary to Aim-Karim to help her cousin Elizabeth is the background of the next Youth Day in Lisbon 2023. From this proposal we can draw some items that can help us when designing a pastoral and educational project for this course.

September 9, 2022-Reading time: 3 minutes

This academic year will undoubtedly be marked ecclesially by the celebration of World Youth Day, convoked by Pope Francis in Lisbon. The motto chosen by the successor of Peter on this occasion is "Mary arose and departed without delay" (Lk 1:39). With this, Francis proposes to the young people the attitude of the Virgin Mary as a model to follow when, upon learning that her cousin Elizabeth was pregnant, she hurried to the mountain to help her.

This ecclesial event that we will live from August 1 to 6, 2023, we have to prepare it as well as possible if we want it to bear maximum fruit. We have a whole year to do so. And the Pope points out a path to follow for all the educators who accompany the young people on this pilgrimage to the Portuguese capital: to propose the model of the young Mary on her journey to Ain-Karim, the village where her relative lived.

There are several milestones that we can take into account when planning an educational journey that prepares the hearts of young people for the great experience of the summer. The model of that girl who has just received the news that she would be the mother of God and her vital attitudes will undoubtedly be the best reference that we can propose and cultivate among our young people. I would like to point out some items that can help us when designing a pastoral and educational project for this course.


Mary receives the angel's announcement that she was the woman chosen to be the mother of the messiah, but she does not remain self-absorbed, but forgets herself and is attentive to what her cousin needs. This self-forgetfulness is a great proposal, clearly against the current, boldly revolutionary. It will be like background music all year long. Forget ourselves, stop navel-gazing, look up and discover the needs of others. 

Left in a hurry

Without delay, Maria goes to help her cousin. She doesn't dwell on abstract approaches, on ethereal or sentimental commitments, but gets down to work. We must encourage young people to jump off the couch, to detach themselves from the screen, to seriously engage with reality. And to do so by overcoming the laziness that always drags us to the most comfortable things. The road to Lisbon must be concretized in actions of help to others that take us out of our comfort and laziness. We must help our young people to concretize and put into action their desire to give themselves to others. 

The revolution of joy

As soon as Mary entered Elizabeth's house, the child she carried in her womb leaped for joy. Elizabeth intones a praise to Mary, whose unexpected visit fills the whole house with joy and gladness. And Mary herself breaks into song singing the Magnificat. Mary carries the revolution of joy wherever she goes. Our journey to Lisbon must be marked by that joy that is born of giving oneself to others. And it must materialize in a culture that brings a smile to our lips, that banishes complaint from our hearts, that becomes welcome and tenderness. Joy must be a hallmark of the Christian, as Pope Francis has been asking us since the beginning of his pontificate.

With Jesus in the womb

And a final milestone on this journey is to actualize the presence of Jesus in our lives. Mary carried him in her womb all this time. That is the motor of her life, that is the cause of the joy that overflows. With her, along the roads of Palestine, the first Corpus Christi procession takes place. To live from Christ, especially in the sacrament of the Eucharist, and to bring him to others, are also two milestones that we can set on our way to WYD. Taking care of our Eucharistic celebrations and carrying out in group some evangelizing action that helps others to meet Jesus will make us enter the school of Mary.

May we prepare well for this transcendental event and take advantage of this opportunity so propitious for evangelization that Pope Francis is offering us. And, by the way, it is so close to us this time, what a gift!

The authorJavier Segura

Teaching Delegate in the Diocese of Getafe since the 2010-2011 academic year, he has previously exercised this service in the Archbishopric of Pamplona and Tudela, for seven years (2003-2009). He currently combines this work with his dedication to youth ministry directing the Public Association of the Faithful 'Milicia de Santa Maria' and the educational association 'VEN Y VERÁS. EDUCATION', of which he is President.

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