Pope Francis at WYD Vigil: Joy is missionary and requires training

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As evening fell in Lisbon, young pilgrims gathered in Parque Tejo to celebrate the Vigil with Pope Francis on the fifth day of World Youth Day.

The location, installed in 1998 for Lisbon’s World Fair and adjacent to the Tagus River Estuary Nature Reserve, hosted the first part of the event, a stage performance, and a second moment dedicated to the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, with Pope Francis speaking to the pilgrims in between the two moments.

A transformative encounter

The initial artistic moment represented the story of a transformative encounter through contemporary music and dance.

The cast, members of Ensemble23, a group of 50 young people from 21 different countries, portrayed the vicissitudes of a girl caught up in a repetitive and distressing routine, allowing herself to be challenged by God. The encounter with the Lord changes her course of events, and the protagonist’s life re-flourishes step by step as she “contaminates” her peers with hope and joy.

The performance traced a parallel between the protagonist and the story of the Virgin Mary’s life, turned upside down by an encounter (the Annunciation), and thriving in sharing the joy she experienced, starting from her cousin Elizabeth.

Missionary of joy

The World Youth Day’s motto, “Mary set out and went with haste” (Lk 1:39), was at the base of Pope Francis’ address to the young pilgrims at the Vigil.

“Mary does something that was not asked of her, something that she really did not have to do. Why?” wondered the Holy Father.

He answered by quoting a passage from The Imitation of Christ: “Because she loved, and ‘whoever loves flies, runs and rejoices.’”

Setting aside his prepared remarks, the Pope spoke off-the-cuff to the 1.5 million young pilgrims assembled in Lisbon about our mission to bring the joy of the Gospel to all around us.

“Joy is missionary!” he said. “So, each of us has the duty to bring that joy to others.”

Roots of joy

Pope Francis went on to consider the roots of our joy, recalling that we too received a joyful Christian example from those who came before us.

“If we look back,” he said, “we recall people who were a ray of light for our lives: parents, grandparents, friends, priests, religious men and women, catechists, animators, and teachers. They are the roots of our joy.”

The Holy Father then invited the 1.5 million pilgrims in Tejo Park to close their eyes and recall the faces of those who have impacted our lives.

After a moment of silence, he urged everyone to do the same for others, so that they too might grow “roots of joy”.

Training ourselves to walk with Jesus

In order to offer joy to others, continued Pope Francis, we must first search for joy and train ourselves to be joyful.

He admitted that it can be tiring and difficult to be roots of joy for others. Even when we fall, he added, the important thing is to get back up and try again.

Pope Francis concluded his remarks to WYD pilgrims by reminding them of their duty to help each other up when they fall.

“Nothing is free in life; everything requires payment,” he said. “There is only one thing that is free: the love of Jesus. Therefore, with this freely-given love that we have received and with our desire to walk, let us walk in hope, look to our roots, and strive ahead fearlessly, fearlessly. Do not be afraid!”

“Nothing is free in life; everything requires payment. There is only one thing that is free: the love of Jesus.”

Source: vaticannews.va