By Most Rev. Richard W. Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton


This picture shows one of the panels on the holy door at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. I have always loved it, and it speaks beautifully of the Good Shepherd reaching out to save the lost. That's the reason for hope.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Oh, to Have Their Energy!

The Energizer Bunny has nothing on a World Youth Day pilgrim. Theirs is an enthusiasm that does not diminish. Anyone following WYD 2013 will have seen reports of the unnaturally inclement weather these days. Although the body gets wet, nevertheless the spirit is in no way dampened. The streets, subways, buses and so on are filled with pilgrims easily identitied not only by their distinctive T-shirts, but also - and even more so - by their singing, laughing and dancing. Of course, this reaches fever pitch in the presence of the Holy Father. They loudly proclaim themselves to be the youth of the Pope, who has quite evidently won their hearts.

But WYD is not just a story of visible emotion and fun. In fact, that is secondary for the pilgrims. Of primary importance for them is growth in faith as disciples of Jesus Christ. Bishops experience this firsthand, myself included, as we give sessions of catechesis. There we meet young people who want to learn more about their faith and who come with very serious questions. What is authentic prayer? How do I find a language and method to communicate the Gospel? What must I do to lead my atheist friends to Christ? What do you suggest to help me fall more in love with Jesus? How do I make sense of the horrible suffering and anguish of so many people when the Gospel speaks of a loving God? Our pilgrims love the Lord, his Church and the gift of faith. Their deep desire is to know it better so that they can truly embrace the theme of this year's gathering: "Go, and make disciples of all nations." The Bishops here share a real admiration for our young people and are very proud of them. Without question, we are receiving far more from them than we are giving.

From the heights of the mountain called Corcovado, the famous statute of Christ looks down upon the city. The outstretched arms symbolize his universal embrace and welcoming invitation to find life in him. The pilgrims show us the joy that awaits those who accept this invitation and turn to the Lord. They are a great gift to the Church and world.