Lots of enthusiasm, to say the least! This was my experience of the pilgrims of this Archdiocese who will be setting off this week for World Youth Days in Panama. We gathered Saturday afternoon to celebrate Eucharist in a final moment of preparation, and at the end of mass I invoked a special blessing upon them to send them on their way.
They are enthusiastic, yes, but also deeply and prayerfully serious about this pilgrimage. As well they should be! World Youth Days are moments of encounter with the Lord Jesus in the mystery and communion of his Church. It is a joy for the young pilgrims to be together with hundreds of thousands (!!) of their generation, who are enthusiastic about their Catholic faith. It is thrilling to be in the presence of the Holy Father. At the heart of it all is an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. This personal meeting with the Lord at WYD has had an enormous impact over the years since the first International WYD in Buenos Aires in 1987. Countless vocations to priesthood, religious life and Christian marriage have been attributed to what takes place at WYD.
We can expect the same to arise from this year's event, particularly in light of the theme chosen by Pope Francis for the gathering: "I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word. (Lk 1:38)." These are the words by which the Blessed Mother gave her assent to the divine summons communicated by the angel Gabriel. They remain the perfect expression of the "yes" that lies within the heart of every disciple of the Lord.
One of my favourite paintings of the Annunciation. It is by Henry Tanner and is dated 1898. I have it as the desktop background on my laptop.
Let's be sure to keep our Archdiocesan pilgrims in prayer while they make this faith-filled journey. We can all look forward to welcoming the new enthusiasm they will surely bring to the mission of our local Church.