In our second Rise Up catechesis session today, we heard from Archbishop Anthony Fisher, of Sydney, Australia, who taught us that we need to become great lovers and really live in communion with each other. He continued by telling us that Jesus loved with commitment, reminding us that Jesus said “as I have loved you, you must love each other”.
The Archbishop told us that we need to listen and talk to each other to be friends, so we need to do that with Jesus if we want a relationship with him. He finished off by saying that Jesus is God’s love song, sung for all humanity and our love must be like his. The session then finished with a Q&A followed by Mass before we headed off to lunch.
After we finished eating, we set off for the World Youth Day welcoming ceremony for the Holy Father, Pope Francis. There were crowds and crowds of people from all over the world. The energy and atmosphere to see the Pope was electric. Some of the youth of the diocese managed to get good footage on their phones of the Pope coming past.
The ceremony continued with songs and praise, the main one being the anthem for World Youth Day, “Há Pressa no Ar” – “There’s a Rush in the Air” - with many pilgrims joining in with the actions of the chorus. The Pope then gave his opening speech to young Catholics, starting off by saying that we were not only invited to Lisbon by our priests and youth leaders, but by Jesus himself and he asked us to give thanks to him.
Pope Francis went on to tell us that the Lord has called us by name, called because we are loved and that we, as his youth, must make room for people even if they feel like they have made mistakes, as all are welcome into the church of God. Pope Francis’s speech was awe-inspiring and truly powerful, really getting through to the heart of each pilgrim.
Pope Francis finished his speech by reminding us to do these things. Firstly, to call on each other by name and remind each other of the beauty of being loved and treasured, and secondly to ask questions of Jesus, staying connected to him and to his love, in order for our joy to increase.
Today the sun was again shining down on the pilgrims from our diocese. It greets us with enthusiasm and excitement for the activities of the day.
We headed down to the underground metro station – where it was significantly cooler. The journey continued towards the English-speaking catechism venue. The loudness, laughter and joy could be heard and felt everywhere. The music projected across the audience, making spirits lively and energetic. Pilgrims were able to mingle and make new friends across the world and were able to exchange gifts or souvenirs from the country they were from. This allowed them to create lasting memories as well as learning about the culture and religious views from all over the world.
After that, we headed towards the Campo Pequeno bullring complex, where local Portuguese foods are served. This was also the time for us to relax and pose some intriguing questions to Fr Luke and Fr Pablo. The festivities continued long into the afternoon, where we gathered with hundreds of thousands of pilgrims in the King Edward VII park to watch Pope Francis’ opening speech.
The highlight of the day, after waiting for a long time, was watching the open car of Pope Francis up-close passing by. The Pope was welcomed with elation by everyone. The presence of the Pope did not disappoint and the happiness and friendliness can be felt everywhere. This beautiful experience will be definitely stay with me forever.
Pictured above is Pope Francis at the welcome ceremony for him at World Youth Day. Picture by Keith Morris.rcdea.org.uk
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