During his numerous speeches in Krakow, Poland, Pope Francis looked out on a sea of young Catholics from every corner of the world — including an estimated 2 1/2 to 3 million at the closing Mass of World Youth Day. In those crowds, he saw the future of the Church, and he gave them their marching orders.
“Following Jesus demands a good dose of courage, a readiness to trade in the sofa for a pair of walking shoes and to set out on new and uncharted paths,” he told pilgrims during the July 30 prayer vigil. And later in the same speech: “The times we live in do not call for young ‘couch potatoes’ but for young people with shoes — or better, boots — laced. The times we live in require only active players on the field, and there is no room for those who sit on the bench.”
In his July 27 catechetical session at Tauron Arena in Krakow, Boston Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley also encouraged the young faithful that they would be
rewarded for living a life of mercy.
“Sometimes we think we are doing God a favor when we do a work of mercy,” he said. However, “only by making a gift of ourselves will we find fulfillment, happiness and salvation.”
In an event that started off on a somber note after the news spread of the killing of French priest Father Jacques Hamel during a July 26 Mass, World Youth Day culminated with millions sharing their love of Christ and his Church. As the pilgrims prepared to leave Poland, Pope Francis told the audience at the closing Mass that their work was just beginning.
“When it comes to Jesus, we cannot sit around waiting with arms folded; he offers us life — we can’t respond by thinking about it or ‘texting’ a few words. ... We can say that World Youth Day begins today and continues tomorrow, in your homes, since that is where Jesus wants to meet you from now on.”
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