"Pope Francis has asked that young people see themselves as 'revolutionaries,' going against the tides of our culture in order to bring about the mercy, love and compassion of Jesus Christ to the world."
In particular, I know that I need to plan for my own travel, lodging, finances, and coordinate with the pilgrims with whom I am traveling. I'm pleased that we will have 118 young people from the great state of Alaska traveling to Kraków, Poland, for this year’s international celebration of World Youth Day. Quite a number of them are from the Diocese of Juneau.
In our diocese, we have a very dedicated pastoral minister by the name of Heather Shaw. She has done a phenomenal job in assisting the young people in fundraising for World Youth Day 2016. There have been a number of bake sales, raffles, and even a garage sale. As I celebrate the parish Masses, I am always promoting these fundraising events. In fact, I went through my entire residence one Saturday afternoon pulling together boxes of items for the garage sale we had. (I am grateful to Heather for offering me the incentive to do my spring cleaning.)
In addition to the physical preparation, there is also the spiritual preparation for World Youth Day. This is a pilgrimage like none other. Whether we are traveling internationally to Poland or celebrating stateside in the United States or elsewhere in the world, World Youth Day is truly a monumental experience in the life of the Church.
For the young people from the Diocese of Juneau, Alaska, this international pilgrimage is a privileged opportunity to journey from our small towns and villages to be with all the other pilgrims from around the world and to celebrate with Pope Francis, the successor of St. Peter.
In the midst of our physical preparations (such as taking an inventory of our finances, putting things in order for travel plans, and even cleaning out our closets for garage sales), let us not forget to prepare ourselves spiritually. This is something both Kraków-bound and stateside pilgrims can do in the weeks leading up to this summer’s events.
In order to prepare ourselves spiritually, we should always be mindful of our faithful discipleship in Jesus Christ by celebrating the Sacrament of Penance so that we can order our lives as faithful followers of Jesus Christ. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are called to be men and women of Word and Sacrament. In other words, offer your intentions for the success of this World Youth Day every time you celebrate Mass. The Eucharist is our opportunity to be in communion with the God who created us and gave us his only Son. Spiritual preparation should also include the integration of the Word of God into our lives. Spend some time with Scripture and let God’s words permeate your heart.
Pope Francis has asked that young people see themselves as “revolutionaries,” going against the tides of our culture in order to bring about the mercy, love and compassion of Jesus Christ to the world. In his address to the volunteers of World Youth Day, Pope Francis said,
"I ask you to be revolutionaries, I ask you to swim against the tide; yes, I am asking you to rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary and that ultimately believes you are incapable of responsibility, that believes you are incapable of true love. I have confidence in you and I pray for you. Have the courage to ‘swim against the tide’. And also have the courage to be happy”.
In order to do this, we are called to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Spend time reading sacred Scripture, spend time celebrating the sacraments, in particular, the sacraments of Eucharist and Penance. As much as the physical preparation is important, please don't go through this beautiful experience without preparing yourself spiritually.
Thirty years ago, St. John Paul II instituted World Youth Day in the Church. This year's pilgrimage is a landmark journey, focused on the homeland of St. John Paul II, the patron of World Youth Day. Let us pray through his intercession that he will guide our journey and help us to be the revolutionaries of God's mercy throughout the world.
For more resources on stateside and international World Youth Day celebrations, click here.
Since becoming Bishop of Juneau, Bishop Edward Burns has been an active member of the USCCB, the Northwest Regional Bishops Conference, the Alaska Catholic Conference of Bishops, and travels widely as a speaker and facilitator. He currently serves as Chairman of the USCCB Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People, the Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions, the Catholic Relief Services Board of Directors, and has been a frequent Bishop Catechist at World Youth Day events and a presenter at convocations, conventions and retreats nationwide.