The success of the World Youth Day in Krakow has been worldwide. At such a difficult time in Europe, when all forms of aggregation or protest are a source of worries, we have witnessed the largest mass rally of the last few years, without the slightest problem.
Pope Francis collects another excellent result against the famous prophets of doom who foretold a catastrophe. Young people have rejoiced in this spiritual adventure, guided by their only true reference point, Jesus, and comforted by His Vicar to plunge themselves in the “Adventure of mercy” to build bridges and break down walls, helping the poor, those who feel lonely and abandoned, those who no longer find meaning in their lives. The thirty-first meeting of this important festival of Catholic youth, whose topic was “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy”, took place in the homeland of its founder: St. John Paul II. In a kaleidoscope of events, with hundreds of thousands of young people, it had started last Tuesday, on July 26, with the opening Mass in Blonie Park, and continued with the arrival of the Holy Father on Wednesday 27.
Some of the salient events were the Way of the Cross on Friday and the Prayer Vigil with the Pope on Saturday, which culminated in the final Mass on Sunday, at the Campus Misericordiae. During his visit, on the agenda of the bishop of Rome there were not only the appointments with young people and meetings with the authorities, but also a visit to the Monastery of the Black Madonna of Jasna Gora in Czestochowa, on the occasion of the 1050th anniversary of the baptism of Poland, as well as a visit to the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy, which hosts the image of Christ, the way He appeared to Faustina Kowalska.
Remarkable and moving was also the hug to the little patients of the Krakow pediatric hospital and the silent prayer in Auschwitz and Birkenau. The many points of reflection during these days have provided a great opportunity to give new impetus to the fundamental path of unity of all believers in the bosom of the Church. In a world that is experiencing its fragmented third world war, not because of religion but for power, Francis invited people to “let themselves be transformed by the Gospel”, to promote a culture of encounter, respect, understanding, and mutual forgiveness.
Too often, young people are attracted by the insistent “voices” of those who transform other people into objects, “disposable” things, needed only to meet their own needs and desires. These people do not see the others as unique individuals, children of God, who must be appreciated and loved. Our young people, distracted and bombarded by the “alienating vertigo of false illusions that lead nowhere,” have a tendency not to pretend much. They do not give their best, do not raise their eyes, and do not dream. Young people who do not dream are already “retired” and “walk with their sad faces, as if their lives had no value.”
Often, authentic contact and the testimony of the poor make this disillusioned, indolent, and indifferent humanity understand the meaning of life. Christians themselves, despite all the fine words, in practice teach younger generations – in most cases – that happiness coincides with prestige or ownership of as many goods as possible! Let us not make the mistake of transferring our children false deities, which cannot but lead to death!
It is clear that there is a very close link between the ills that afflict the institution of the family and those of the society as a whole, such as shortage of jobs, economic difficulties, educational emergencies, and a crisis of politics and values. At present, a widespread decline embraces areas that in the past few years we have defined as unimaginable and inviolable. Faced with a utilitarian culture, individualist and consumerist, which corrupts the fabric of society, we need changes, radical changes, and everyone is called to contribute to build a better world.
It is vital to rediscover the value of sacrifice and self-donation, in the sign of gratuity, in healthy shapes such as volunteering. Being in the service of others, especially in the service of the weakest and most disadvantaged people, is a source of great wealth. From this point of view, young people in the world already provide a wonderful example of generosity and we must continue to appreciate their gift. Let us help children, parents, and spouses to accept and love one’s vocation, learning in mutual respect and in the ability to feel the joy of sharing everyday life.
Now, Bergoglio has announced the next appointment in Panama in 2019, with one of his effective slogans, because it is close to the concerns of young people, but also nice and practical: “You cannot answer Jesus with a text message… young people, do not let your soul to become anesthetized.”