Vatican City, 28 September 2015 (VIS) – Pope Francis' third message to the young, for World Youth Day (WYD), like the first two, is dedicated to the theme of the Beatitudes and is intended to accompany young people throughout the world on their long and challenging spiritual journey to Krakow, where in July next year World Youth Day will be held.
According to a press release from the Pontifical Council for the Laity, issued today, the WYD is a precious heritage left by St. John Paul II, and over the past thirty years it has become a powerful instrument of evangelisation of young people and a wonderful opportunity for dialogue between the Church and the younger generations. This spiritual adventure has already mobilised millions of young people from all continents. WYD has moved many of them to make big changes in their lives, and has led them to the discovery of a call, one that is an intrinsic part of being young: many are the vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life following each WYD, and many young people, after sharing this experience, have chosen to join with another as a couple in the sacrament of marriage.
In his message, the Holy Father remarked that the theme of the 31st World Youth Day places the event in the heart of the Holy Year of Mercy, and this makes it 'a Youth Jubilee at world level'. As the Successor of Peter reminds us, it is the third time that an international gathering of young people coincides with a Jubilee Year. It happened during the Holy Year of Redemption (1983/1984) when St. John Paul II invited young people from around the world for Palm Sunday for the first time. Then, during the Great Jubilee of 2000, more than two million young people from about 165 countries met in Rome for the 15thWorld Youth Day. Pope Francis says, “I am sure that the Youth Jubilee in Krakow will be, as on those two previous occasions, one of the high points of this Holy Year!”.
The Pope goes on to explain to young people how God revealed his mercy in the Holy Scriptures by showing his untiring loyalty and eternal love, always ready to forgive. In the New Testament, mercy is presented to us as“a synthesis of the work that Jesus came to accomplish in the world in the name of the Father […] Everything in Jesus speaks of mercy. Indeed, he himself is mercy”.
The Holy Father invites young people to have firsthand experience of the Lord's mercy. He says: “When I was seventeen years old, it happened one day that, as I was about to go out with friends, I decided to stop into a church first. I met a priest there who inspired great confidence, and I felt the desire to open my heart in Confession. That meeting changed my life! I discovered that when we open our hearts with humility and transparency, we can contemplate God’s mercy in a very concrete way”.
After explaining how God shows us his mercy, the Pope invites young people to become, in turn, instruments of that mercy towards others. He suggests a very concrete way of responding to this call: “I would suggest that for the first seven months of 2016 you choose a corporal and a spiritual work of mercy to practice each month”.
At the end of his message, Pope Francis renews his warm invitation to young people: “Only a few months are left before we meet in Poland. Krakow, the city of St. John Paul II and St. Faustina Kowalska, is waiting for us with open arms and hearts. I believe that Divine Providence led us to the decision to celebrate the Youth Jubilee in that city which was home to those two great apostles of mercy in our times. [...] At the Shrine in Krakow dedicated to the merciful Jesus, where He is depicted in the image venerated by the people of God, Jesus is waiting for you [...].Come to Him and say from the depths of your hearts: ‘Jesus, I trust in You’”.