World Youth Day, Lisbon 2023 was truly been a WYDay of words. While the main theme
prompted us to reflect on the verbs "to arise" and "to go with haste," many other words jumped out at me as well. I heard many, but would like to offer my top ten. Last week
we began with the first five. Here now, are my key words #6 to 10, not just for our WYD experience, but for our path as Christians on our way to Heaven.
At the Closing Mass
, the Holy Father said:
The second verb is to listen. On the mountain, a bright cloud overshadows the disciples. And what does it tell us, this cloud from which the Father speaks? “This is my Son, the Beloved… listen to him!” Listen to him. To listen to Jesus, that is life’s secret. Listen to what Jesus is saying to you […] Listen to Jesus; otherwise, even if we set out with good intentions along paths that seem to be of love, in the end those paths will be seen as selfishness disguised as love. Be careful of selfishness disguised as love! Listen to Jesus, for he will show you which paths are those of love. Listen to him.
Mother Teresa was famously asked what she said when she prayed. She answered, “Nothing. I just listen.” The interviewer then asked what God said to her when she prayed. She answered, “Nothing. He just listens.” This is extremely profound. In this world we live in, where there is so much noise and distractions, let’s remember that God has given us two ears and just one mouth. In prayer and in life, we need to listen at least twice as much as we speak.
And after we listen, we must do what He says.
If we listen, we will know how much we are loved. At the Papal Welcome Ceremony
, Pope Francis said that we are called by Jesus because he loves us. How many people don’t know that they are loved? How many never feel loved? How many don’t feel that they are worthy of love? We are God’s beloved. There are 7.8 billion people in the world, and God loves you as if you were the only one: You are God’s beloved. I believe that the root of the crisis pf addictions, depression, anxiety, and hopelessness is that we don’t feel loved. We must remember that Jesus has called us because he loves us. That is why we go: to share God's love with others; to let them know God loves them!
At the Papal Welcome Ceremony, Pope Francis went on to say:
At the beginning of the story of our lives, before any talents we may have, before any shadows or wounds we might bear within us, we are called. Called because we are loved. In God’s eyes we are precious children, and he calls us each day in order to embrace and encourage us, to make of us a unique and original masterpiece whose beauty we can only begin to glimpse.
He concluded by saying:
Dear young friends, I encourage you to reflect on the beautiful fact that God loves us. God loves us as we are, not how we want to be or how society wants us to be. As we are! He calls us with our faults and failings, our limitations and our hopes in life. That is how God calls us. Trust, because God is a Father and a Father who loves us.
If you don’t remember anything you’ve read here today, at least remember this: You are loved. You are God’s beloved.
This was the word for Day two. In Portuguese the word is PRESSA
. In English we can also say, “rush,” as in “what’s the rush?” The theme song for Lisbon 2023 is “Há Pressa no Ar”
(there's a rush in the air). This is a reference to the fact that Mary went in haste – there was a rush or sense of hurry in the air. In the message introducing the theme for Lisbon 2023
, Pope Francis cautioned us about always rushing or being in a hurry. This can be distracting and negative. However, there is a healthy “hurry.” When we hurry to bring Jesus to someone, or “rush” to help others, stand up for justice, or rush towards joy, peace, kindness, or any virtue or fruit of the Holy Spirit, we are exercising a healthy hurry. And definitely, we must always “hurry” towards Heaven.
on Saturday, Pope Francis jokingly gave Mary a new title:
Mary has many titles, but we can think of another that we could add to them: “Our Lady who runs”, every time there is a problem; whenever we seek her aid, she does not delay, she comes to us, she hastens. She is “Our Lady of haste.” Do you like that? Let us say it all together: Our Lady of haste. She hastens to be near to us; she hastens because she is our Mother.
And so, as we go along the path, with a listening heart, welcoming others, letting our joy shine forth, we must go in healthy haste, like Mary.
Many of us can still hear Saint John Paul II’s booming voice shortly after his election: "Non abbiate paura!”
Do not be afraid. A variation of this message is found in Scripture some 360 times. Fear is the biggest enemy to love. We must not be afraid; we must have courage. At the Papal Welcome Ceremony
, after telling us that God loves us, Pope Francis said: “Don’t be afraid, take heart, move forward, knowing that all of us are 'mortgaged' by the love God has for us. God loves us. Let us say it all together: God loves us.”
At the Closing Mass
, after reminding the pilgrims not to be afraid and having them say those words out loud, Pope Francis said:
Dear young people, I would like to look into the eyes of each of you and say: Do not be afraid. I will tell you something else, also very beautiful: it is no longer I, but Jesus himself who is now looking at you. He knows each of your hearts, each of your lives; he knows your joys, your sorrows, your successes and failures. He knows your heart. Today, he says to you, here in Lisbon, at this World Youth Day: “Have no fear, take heart, do not be afraid!"
It is clear that in order to go and do all the things we’ve been reflecting on here, we have to first arise, get up. But I leave it to the end because this really was the key word for the whole week. The meaning of “arise” was made clear to me during the Stations of the Cross on Friday, as the Cross, literally arose from level to level until it arrived at the top of the stage structure. At the Vigil
on Saturday Pope Francis reminded us of something very beautiful he has also said in the past:
In the art of climbing the mountain, what matters isn’t not to fall, but not to remain fallen. When we see any friends of ours who have fallen, what are we to do? Lift them up. When we need to lift someone up, or help them, do you notice how we are to do it? We look down on them. That is the only time, the only time that we are allowed to look down on others, when we are offering to help them up. Yet, we often see people looking down on us, or over our shoulder, from above! How sad. Instead, the only way, the only situation in which it is permissible to look down on others is... well, you tell me, out loud: to help them up.
We are called to rise up, but also to help others arise and not forget that it is Christ who “arises” within us.
Pope Francis left pilgrims with this last image about how we "arise" in his address to WYD volunteers
As many of you know, to the north of Lisbon is a place, Nazaré, where it is possible to see waves of up to thirty metres high, which attract surfers from all over the world. In these days, you also have faced a real wave: not of water, but of young people – like you, who have poured into this city. Yet with God’s help, with great generosity and mutual support, you have ridden this great wave. You are really courageous! Thank you! I want to tell you: carry on, keep riding the waves of love, of charity. Be “surfers” of love! This is the task that I entrust to you: that the service you offered for World Youth Day be the first of many waves of goodness. Each time, you will be carried higher, closer to God, and this will let you see your path from a better vantage point.
And so we arise, after listening, going along the path, letting our joy shine forth, with a welcoming spirit, hurrying with a healthy haste to bring that joy and Good News to others, with courage, knowing that Jesus and Mary journey with us. There, in a nutshell is the Christian walk.
I’d like to conclude by squeezing one final word:
In Portuguese the word for “Thank you” is OBRIGADO
. Before the Angelus Prayer
on Sunday, Pope Francis said: “Obrigado
not only conveys a sense of gratitude for what we have received but also the desire to give in return.” My mother used to say that the best expression to say thank you was in Portuguese because it literally translates to “I am obliged to you.” When we give thanks, we offer to give back. Let’s also not forget that the meaning of the word “Eucharist” is “thank you.”
We have received much. Let us arise and go with haste, following Pope Francis' words at the beginning of his Angelus address, to “share and to give, to bear witness joyfully and eagerly to the good that God has poured into our hearts."
Every week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching: [email protected]