Rome (Italy). On 21 November 2021, on the Solemnity of Christ King of the Universe, the XXXVI World Youth Day is celebrated.
The Day, traditionally lived on Palm Sunday, takes place for the first time on this Solemnity at the wish of Pope Francis, who wanted to relaunch WYD in the local Churches. In the Message entitled “Get up! I make you a witness to what you have seen!” (cf. Acts 26:16) invites young people to “take part in this spiritual pilgrimage that will lead us to celebrate World Youth Day in Lisbon in 2023”.
In the “Pastoral Guidelines for the Celebration of World Youth Day in the Local Churches” by the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life, some ‘key points’ at the heart of the celebration of WYD are highlighted:
May World Youth Day be a “feast of faith”
Through Eucharistic adoration and moments of celebration, of encounter with Christ and with God’s mercy, young people must be able to live “a living and joyful experience of faith and communion, a space to experience the beauty of the Lord’s face”.
May World Youth Day be an “experience of Church”
Aspects to be taken care of in the realization of the Day are listening to and involving young people, so that “they can experience ecclesial communion and grow in the awareness of being an integral part of the Church.” For this, it is necessary “to find adequate times and ways so that the voice of young people is heard within the existing structures of communion. … Let us not forget that they are the young face of the Church!”.
May World Youth Day be a “missionary experience”
WYD is an opportunity to live a missionary experience because, as Pope Francis says, “youth ministry must always be a missionary ministry.” Through moments of public evangelization, experiences of voluntary service, free service, and self-giving, young people can become protagonists in the proclamation, “Their very presence and their joyful faith already constitute a ‘living proclamation’ of the Good News that attracts other young people”.
May World Youth Day be an “occasion for vocational discernment” and a “call to holiness”
A fundamental dimension of WYD is that of vocations, in which young people can understand that God first of all called them to life, that He continually calls them to happiness, to know Him, and to listen to His voice. “At the basis of every vocational choice there must be the even more fundamental call to holiness. WYD must make the call to holiness resound in young people as the true way to happiness and self-fulfillment”.
May World Youth Day be a “pilgrimage experience”
Since its establishment in 1985, thanks to an intuition of St. John Paul II who wished to accompany young people on this journey of faith and hope, WYD with its annual and triennial stages in local and global realities, has been transformed into a real pilgrimage “through space – from different cities, countries, and continents to the place chosen for the meeting with the Pope and other young people – and a pilgrimage through time – from one generation of young people to another who ‘took up the baton’ – which profoundly marked the last thirty-five years of the Church’s life.” The young people of WYD are, therefore, a ‘pilgrim people‘ who ‘walk together’ towards a goal, towards an encounter with Someone, the only one capable of giving meaning to their existence, the God made man who calls every young person to become His disciple, to leave everything and “walk behind Him”.
May World Youth Day be an “experience of universal fraternity”
Diocesan WYD must be an opportunity for all young people to meet, not just Catholics, “the diocesan/ eparchial celebration of WYD can be the right time to bring together and talk to all the young people who live in a given territory, beyond d their beliefs, their vision of life, their convictions. Every young person must feel invited to take part in it and welcomed as a brother/sister.”
On 21 November 2021, Pope Francis presides over the Holy Mass on the Solemnity of Christ the King in St. Peter’s Basilica, on a journey with many young people from the world to whom, he says in his Message:
“I hope that all of us can experience these stages as true pilgrims and not as ‘tourists of the faith’! Let us open ourselves to the surprises of God, who wants to make His light shine on our path. Let us open ourselves to listen to His voice, also through our brothers and sisters. In this way we will help each other to get up together, and in this difficult historical moment, we will become prophets of new times, full of hope!”.