Year of Youth 2018

5 Pieces of Advice From JPII for World Youth Day

Last edited 27th July 2016

5 Pieces of Advice From JPII for World Youth Day

Imagine millions of Catholics everywhere you turn. Flags flying, chants echoing through the streets, Pope Francis buzzing through the crowds. Imagine the zeal for Christ, the palpable presence of the Holy Spirit in the air, the celebration of the Catholic—the universal—faith.

That’s World Youth Day in a nutshell.

Whether or not you’re making the pilgrimage to Krakow, Poland, this summer, there is plenty to be done to ready yourself for the celebrations. And there to help you through it all is St. John Paul II, who grew up walking the very streets upon which pilgrims will soon worship. From the support of his Polish faith community, his vocation was nourished, and from his undying commitment to young people, the first World Youth Day was born. As WYD returns to his homeland, there is no doubt his intercession will inspire pilgrims everywhere.

So let’s look at what advice he’d share as we prepare to enter into this beautiful experience.

1. Seek Christ

“It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is He who provoked you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise…”

Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II, witnessed this thirst for fullness as a young man growing up in Poland. Facing the death of his family, Nazi occupation, the forcible halt to his university studies, and more, Karol experienced his fair share of darkness.

However, there was still the light of beauty—the light of Christ—within him. Karol continued to seek Christ, even amid the bleak reality of his country’s situation. Finding time to pray amid his manual labor, secretly entering into priestly formation, and trusting in God’s mercy despite the bloodshed of the the Nazi regime, the young Karol continued his pursuit of happiness each day.

The world, he saw, could be a cruel place. But that was no reason to despair. Rather, he ran even more fervently toward Christ, where the light always outshines the darkness.

We, too, face the cruelty of a broken world. We see far too much violence and far too little love. But let this not leave us broken or desolate, because in this darkness, Christ’s hope can shine even more brightly. This world is dark, but His promise of happiness is stronger.

2. Be not afraid

“Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

With these words, St. JP2 brings to mind Jesus’ calling of the first disciples in Luke 5. These ordinary fishermen, after trusting the Lord’s instructions, catch more than they could have ever imagined, and respond by leaving everything at that instant to follow Him.

Christ’s call for us is no different. He can do more than we could ever imagine with our lives if we only trust Him. These first disciples took a risk and changed the world…and we have the potential to do the same. Just look at St. JP2, a normal Polish man who changed history with a simple “yes” to the Lord’s plans.

Christ is calling us to go deep, and to do so fearlessly. The God of the universe is bringing us into union with Him in a special way this World Youth Day. He is speaking to us, calling us to do bold things. Are we listening? Are we willing to put out into the deep?

3. Totus Tuus

With his motto, Latin for “totally yours,” St. JP2 reminds us of the fruits of Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary. Our Lady of Czestochowa and Marian devotion, as a whole, are closely intertwined with Poland’s tumultuous history.

John Paul II’s faith in Mary’s protection is written across his life, from growing up in Poland to surviving a would-be assassin’s bullet—and everywhere in between. He looked to her as a model of surrender to God’s will, and recognize her role as the one human who resided closest and most intimately with the Lord.

Mary knew both the joy of God’s splendor and the desolation of His cross. By looking at God through her eyes of faith, we can more fully learn to give ourselves over to Him. By mourning at the cross beside her, we can more fully understand the weight of Christ’s sacrifice. So let us not forget to look to her always, trusting that she will bring us closer to the heart of Jesus.

4. The power of today

“The future starts today, not tomorrow.”

If there’s anything WYD can remind us, it’s that we, as youth, have the power to change the world. But that doesn’t start once we graduate, once we get a job, or once we’re old and wise. It starts now.

Christ is speaking to us in a unique way. We have zeal and energy that can be offered up to Him here and now.

As 1 Timothy 4:12 reminds us, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”

The world needs who we are, not who we are going to be.

5. Go be saints

After struggling with Parkinson’s Disease and declining health, as Pope John Paul II lay on his deathbed in 2005, he heard the chants of young people gathered in St. Peter’s Square to pray for him. His last audible words, it was reported, were a remarkable nod to the youth for which he had such undying love:
“I sought you out, and now you come to me. Thank you.”

St. John Paul II devoted his life to youth—to us. Perhaps we were too young to remember his papacy, but I pray that we never forget his words:

“Young people of every continent, do not be afraid to be the saints of the new millennium! Be contemplative, love prayer; be coherent with your faith and generous in the service of your brothers and sisters, be active members of the Church and builders of peace.”

St. John Paul II is expecting great things of us. Let’s not let him down. Sainthood, here we come…

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