During the previous few days, youth leaders and young people from different countries joined in an international online meeting entitled “From Panama to Lisbon − called to missionary synodality" held from 18 to 22 November. The Mass in the Vatican was followed over the internet.
Among the participants at the virtual meeting were Sara Cascais and João Correia da Conceição, members of a group of young Portuguese connected to the TA through EDIW. They gave us their impressions.
Artisans of a better world
To be a young Christian is, in a way, to be a dreamer. We dream of the future, of goals to achieve, of true happiness and perfect tranquillity. Above all, we dream of a better world, a more humane world, one that is more attentive and more missionary.
So, when so many young people from so many different parts of the world come together, even if only virtually, then you are overwhelmed with a wave of hope, fellowship and communion. We felt that there was something uniting us, something greater than ourselves.
It was at that moment that we realised that our greatest dream is to be missionaries! Mission is difficult, and we are surrounded by challenges and trials that must be overcome. However, when we are together we feel this guiding strength with more intensity.
During the virtual international meeting “From Panama to Lisbon − called to missionary synodality”, that strength was revived with a desire to build something better. We felt the longing to follow the One who really guides us.
The meeting provided us with opportunities for useful exchange about preparations for the next World Youth Day, and it opened the way to make connections with young people from different countries. They were days of learning because everyone had something to share, something to reflect on and something to dream about. Furthermore, the shared times of prayer highlighted its importance in daily life and in the preparation of the biggest youth event in the world. There were also the logistic and organisational aspects which were discussed and worked on so as to ensure that all the pilgrims who come to Lisbon will have a good experience.
In short, it was a time of revitalisation that gave us an opportunity to think about how we want to welcome the pilgrims to Lisbon and above all how we can bring Jesus to the hearts of those who have not yet met him.
Our Path of Conversion and Hope
If St Augustine were living in our era, and if he had been invited, as I was, to participate in the International Meeting “From Panama to Lisbon...”, a four-day meeting that brought together people from all over the world in a year of restrictions, he would have had the opportunity to see that his dictum prevails. Ama et fac quod vis!
Love and do what you want... let us understand this. It expresses the strength of freedom as a Christian concept. It requires love, which is true freedom, the vocation of human beings to put charity into practice as Christ did. This energy often emerged throughout the sessions. The energy of synodal and missionary youth is being highly esteemed at this time and is so badly needed. Like Paul of Tarsus who was intrigued by the success of this new religious option, we are lifted high through conversion. This freedom is sublime because it is an absolute priority and well worth saving.
We do not need to know what we are hearing in order to understand the message and to feel it. It is here that the love of Christ that unites us is recognised as a means to be close. It is another way of speaking and of being understood. People may say that the concept of synodal youth is an adaptation to the modern world by a Church that has not always been interested in the issues of the moment but that now repents. It is the opposite. It is the strengthening of the original idea. If we are running away from anything, it is from a time that does not invite inclusion, intellectual intelligence and love. WYD, by its very nature and configuration, defends and promotes these with a view to perfecting the society we now have. Social friendship is the answer to which Pope Francis invites us. Fratelli Tutti is the encyclical of the 21st century.
WYD 2023 in Lisbon is our way to Damascus as we pass from “I” in solitude to “we” in solidarity. We await it with the certainty that getting to know God, living according to the Gospel and defending the social doctrine of the Church is a responsible path.
Everyone expressed their gratitude when saying goodbye in the short space that came at the end of the virtual meeting. It was an opportunity to encourage each other and to feel the urge to keep going in getting to know ourselves and each other. As it says in the Gospel, how does it profit us to gain the whole world if we lose our soul? (cf. Mark 8:36).
João Correia da Conceição
WYD in Lisbon was supposed to take place in 2022 but it was postponed by a year due to the pandemic. Recently the theme and logo for this meeting of the Church with young people was published. The theme is taken from the Gospel of Luke, chapter 1 verse 39: Mary arose and went with haste.
The central feature of the logo is a cross traversed by a path where a silhouette of Mary appears. It is an invitation to set out, like Mary, to be at the service of a more just and kinder world.
The website of this World Youth Day was also recently presented. It contains information and resources to allow people to participate from now until the event takes place. Access the website by clicking on the logo.