'Months of fundraising, travelling to Luton for meet-ups, forms, passports, fear of the unknown (such as who the heck I will be sharing my bedroom with). It all seems like a lot of time and effort. We may find ourselves questioning what exactly we have got ourselves into?
But I want to encourage you. Being young and Catholic is difficult. But that is precisely why events like World Youth Day are so unique and are paramount to our spiritual growth.
Close your eyes and imagine this: you are standing at a World Youth Day event in a big park, squished and uncomfortable, surrounded by 2 million other young people from across the globe, all waiting with anticipation and hope to see our Holy Father, the Pope. All of a sudden a stir slowly rises and you see Pope Francis take to the stage and wave at us in his simple and gentle and loving way. Everyone screams. The chants are joyful and are unlike any concert you’ve ever been to before. He tells us how happy he is to be there, and that each one of us, by being present at World Youth Day, is witnessing with our lives to the love and mercy of God.
Moments like this will never be forgotten. You will always remember the way your stomach flipped at seeing Pope Francis or the sense of pride that grew within you when you proclaimed that you were a Catholic or the weightlessness of your heart when you received the Blessed Sacrament at the final WYD mass.
By virtue of being there each one of us will be playing a role in history. God uses men and women, especially young people, to be the arbiters of change; we are the way in which God changes the world. If we open our hearts to him at World Youth Day we will hear Him guide us and tell us where it is we are meant to be; - how it is each one of us can do His work on earth.
So, if nerves and apprehension build, let us remember that things will make sense once we are over there. Trust in The Lord. Let us try to let this experience shape us so that for years to come we will see it as a moment in which our very souls were touched by the mercy of God.'
- Laura Cullen