All those who have participated in a World Youth Day, bring many strong memories of all the moments they lived. It is a meeting made of meetings at any time. The meeting with thousands of young people from all over the world. The meeting with the community who welcomes us and the meeting with the Pope. All these meetings lead us to something bigger, more true and more important: the encounter with Christ! In all these days relationship between the youth and Christ and his Church is the background the discourse. This year, in Panama, the hand of Mary guided us with the theme: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38). All the messages of Pope Francis during the World Youth Days are such richness and depth that they will certainly be worthy of our reading, re-reading, meditation and prayer. We leave you an “aperitif” with the selection of the 10 key phrases which, in our opinion, have characterized the pulse of these days.

  1. A disciple is not merely someone who arrives at a certain place, but one who sets out decisively, who is not afraid to take risks and keep walking. If you put your feet on the road, you are already a disciple. If you stay still, you have lost. Begin to walk; this is the disciple’s great joy: to keep walking. You have not been afraid to take risks and to keep journeying. (Welcome Ceremony And Opening Of WYD, WYD 2019)
  2. A love which unites is a love that does not overwhelm or oppress, cast aside or reduce to silence, humiliate or domineer. It is the love of the Lord, a daily, discreet and respectful love; a love that is free and freeing, a love that heals and raises up. The love of the Lord has to do more with raising up than knocking down, with reconciling than forbidding, with offering new chances than condemning, with the future than the past. It is the quiet love of a hand outstretched to serve, a commitment that draws no attention to itself. It is a love that does not put on airs, a humble love that gives itself to others with an outstretched hand. (…) Do not be afraid to love, do not be afraid of this concrete love, of this love which is tender, which is service, which gives life. (Welcome Ceremony And Opening Of WYD, WYD 2019)
  3. Mary found the courage to say “yes”. She found the strength to give life to God’s dream. This is what is asked of us today: Do you want to make God’s dream take flesh with your hands, with your feet, with your gaze, with your heart? Do you want the Father’s love to open new horizons for you and bring you along paths never imagined or hoped for, dreamt or expected, making our hearts rejoice, sing and dance? Do we have the courage to say to the angel, as Mary did: “Behold the servants of the Lord; let it be done”? (Welcome Ceremony And Opening Of WYD, WYD 2019)
  4. The young woman of Nazareth was not part of the “social networks” of the time. She was not an “influencer”, but without wanting or trying to, she became the most influential woman in history.  So we can say, with the confidence of children: Mary, the “influencer” of God. With just a few words, she was able to say “yes” and to trust in the love and promises of God, who is the only force capable of renewing, of making all things new.  And all of us today have something that needs to be renewed within. Today we have to allow God to renew something in our hearts. (Vigil With Young People, WYD 2019)
  5. Dreaming of a future means learning how to answer not only the question what I am living for, but also who I am living for, the one who makes it worthwhile for me to offer my life. (…) It is always possible to start again when there is a community, a warm home that enables us to take root, that provides the confidence we need and prepares our hearts to discover a new horizon: the horizon of a beloved son or daughter who is sought, found and entrusted with a mission. Through real faces, the Lord makes himself present. (Vigil With Young People, WYD 2019)
  6. Greatness is not only about acquiring the latest car or the newest gadget on the market. You were created for something greater.  The Virgin Mary understood this and said, “Let it be done!” (…) The world will be better when more people are willing and enthused enough to give birth to the future and believe in the transforming power of God’s love. (…) Do not be afraid to tell Jesus that you too want to be a part of his love story in this world, that you are ready for something greater! (Vigil With Young People, WYD 2019)
  7. You young people must fight for your space today, because life is living for today. No one can make promises to you about a day in the future. Your life today is today. Your taking risks is today. Your space is today. (…) You are the present. You are not the future of God, you young people are the now of God. (…) We may possess everything, but, dear young friends, if we lack the passion of love, we will have nothing. The passion of love today! Let us allow the Lord to make us fall in love and let him take us into the future! (…) Jesus is not a “meantime”, an interval in life or a passing fad; he is generous love that invites us to entrust ourselves. He is concrete, close, real love, today. He is festive joy, born of opting for and taking part in the miraculous draught of hope and charity, solidarity and fraternity, despite the paralyzed and paralyzing gaze born of fear and exclusion, speculation and manipulation. (Holy Mass For World Youth Day, WYD 2019)
  8. May our limits and weaknesses not paralyze us, let us go on ahead with our defects, we will correct them, so as to keep moving forwards. This is the beauty of knowing that we are sent, the joy of knowing that, in spite of every difficulty, we have a mission to carry out.  Let our limitations, our weaknesses and even our sins not hold us back and stop us from living the mission, because God invites us to do what we can and ask for what we cannot, in the knowledge that his love is taking hold of us and transforming us progressively. Do not be alarmed by your weaknesses, and do not fear when you see your sins. Get up and move forwards, always forwards.  Don’t remain fallen down, don’t close yourselves in, but go on ahead as you are, move forwards, because God knows how to forgive all things. (Meeting With The WYD Volunteers, WYD 2019)
  9. The things we pray over, we feel them and live them more profoundly. Prayer gives substance and vitality to everything we do. (Meeting With The WYD Volunteers, WYD 2019)
  10. Now is the moment when you are sent forth: go out and tell, go out and bear witness, go out and spread the word about everything you have seen and heard. And don’t do this with lots of words but rather, as you did here, with simple and ordinary gestures, those that transform and renew all things. Gestures capable of creating a mess, a constructive mess, a loving mess. (Meeting With The WYD Volunteers, WYD 2019)

S. Francisco Vilhena
Province of Portugal