Rome (Italy). On 26 November 2023, on the Solemnity of Christ King of the Universe, the 38th World Youth Day is celebrated in the local/particular Churches.

Rejoice in hope” (cf. Rom 12:12) is the theme of this WYD 2023, while They that hope in the LORD will run and not grow weary”. (cf. Is 40:31) is the theme for WYD 2024. The two World Youth Days that will be celebrated in the local/particular Churches, will mark the path of preparation for the Youth Jubilee which will take place in 2025, whose motto is “Pilgrims of hope”. Meanwhile, with the themes of these two WYDs, the Holy Father invites young people to delve deeper into the meaning of Christian HOPE and to bear witness with joy that Christ is alive.

Where does this joy come from?

In his Message for the Day, Pope Francis responds thus:

“Rejoice in hope” (Rm 12:12) is an exhortation from Saint Paul to the community of Rome, which finds itself in a period of strong persecution. And in reality, the “rejoice in hope” preached by the Apostle, arises from the paschal mystery of Christ, from the strength of His resurrection. It is not the fruit of human effort, ingenuity or art. It is the joy that comes from the encounter with Christ. Christian joy comes from God Himself, from knowing that we are loved by Him”.

The center of the World Youth Day celebration is Christ. Pope Francis presents Jesus as the point of reference for every young person to follow. “Christ himself is for us the great light of hope and guidance in our night, because He is ‘the radiant star of the morning’.” (Christus vivit, 33). The Holy Father reminds young people and invites them to “nurture hope” with prayer, with daily choices, and to “light the torch of hope,” which is Christ. “From Him, from His resurrection, our life is illuminated. With Him we see everything in a new light”.

The Pope ends the Message by inviting young people to share the hope and joy of the Risen Christ:

“Cherish the spark that has lit up in you, but at the same time, give it: you will realize that it will grow! We cannot keep Christian hope to ourselves as a beautiful feeling, because it is intended for everyone. Stay close in particular to those friends of yours who may appear to be smiling, but inside are crying, lacking in hope. Do not let yourselves be infected by indifference and individualism. Remain open, as channels through which the hope of Jesus can flow and spread in the environments where you live”.

He invites everyone, especially those involved in youth ministry, to review the Final  Document of the 2018 Synod of Bishops (Young people, Faith, and Vocational Discernment) and the Apostolic Exhortation Christus vivit.

In fact, attention for young people cannot be separated from attention for Christ. Young people need to feel that every Daughter of Mary Help of Christians cares for them, takes care of their worries and problems, their aspirations and hopes, communicating the certainty that Christ is alive and lives among them.

One of the most beautiful ways to celebrate Christ alive among them is precisely the celebration of World Youth Day at a local and international level. Every WYD is a “pilgrimage experience”. Today the synodal approach of the Church is that of an active movement and prophetic action. The annual and local youth celebrations should therefore be a pilgrimage experience, on an even deeper level, as participants walk together across different generations, perspectives, and cultures in mutual exchange.

The celebration of the local WYD is also an opportunity to motivate and welcome all those young people who are looking for their place in the Church and have not yet found it. It is therefore an opportunity to have greater attention and to approach intentionally and with renewed vigor those young people who find themselves on the margins and peripheries of society.

The celebration should be an experience “for young people” and “with young people”. In the realities of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians it can be an opportunity to celebrate in different ways the protagonism and commitment of young people and a relaunch for them in the commitment to be joyful heralds of the Good News that Christ is alive.

There are two fundamental characteristics of Salesian Youth Spirituality that emerge from the Message for this 38th WYD: hope and joy. Pope Francis invites us to be seduced by the “joy of the Gospel”, the true interior joy that is born from faith in Jesus Christ, whose death and resurrection is the ultimate reason. Experiencing this joy leads to living a life with the same style as Jesus, as Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello did.


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