Young people want the authentic Catholic faith
World Youth Day (WYD) in Lisbon was an extraordinary event. This was my sixth WYD and I would consider it among one of the best organised. Such a complex, one-off event will have its organisational issues, and there were some. But the Portuguese did an exceptional job.
After the delay caused by the pandemic it was a question as to whether young people would respond to the invitation to meet the Pope in Lisbon. And they did.
It is truly inspiring that one and a half million young people gathered at the Vigil and the Mass with the Holy Father. This is testimony to the fact that in the Church there are so many young people who have a vibrant faith and a love for the Church.
Sometimes we can be discouraged that there seem to be so few young people embracing Catholic life. It is true that in Tasmania the numbers of young people active in the Church are small in number.
However, WYD is testament to the fact that the Church still has a message and attraction for young people.
What is clear from the WYD experience is that young people want the authentic faith and not a watered-down version. The Church does not have to go out of its way to try to be relevant.
It just has to unambiguously present the fullness and beauty of the Catholic faith.
It was a powerful moment, for instance, when the Blessed Sacrament was exposed on the altar at the vigil and a silence fell over the assembly. The young people knelt in adoration. There was a profound silence that was simply inspirational.
Young people want to get in touch with the sacred. They seek the transcendent. They want to be drawn into deep and contemplative prayer.
The attendance of young people at the catechesis events showed that young people are wanting the faith to be presented clearly and unambiguously.
Young people do search for the truth. They want to know what the Catholic Church teaches and believes. As one young priest said, “the young people want more of Jesus and more of Mary”.
Young people are looking for truth and something that they can base their lives upon.
Hearing of the impact of WYD on our 35 Tasmanian pilgrims confirms that it offers a powerful experience of the Catholic faith and provides inspiration to live the Christian life to the full.
World Youth Day can encourage us to make more effort to present the fulness and beauty of the Catholic faith to the young people of Tasmania.
The first task of the Church must be to help young people have a genuine encounter with Christ. It will be this experience that stirs them on in a willingness to be full and active members of the Church.