Pope Francis issued a video message addressed to all youths in preparation for the World Youth Day which will be held in Panama next Janurary. The theme of this year is based on Mary’s answer to God’s call: ‘I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word”.
In his message the Pope said that “Her words are a brave and generous “yes”. It is the positive reply of one who understands the secret of vocation ‒ to go beyond oneself and place oneself at the service of others. Our lives only find meaning in service to God and to other people.
“There are many young people, both believers, and nonbelievers, who when they come to the end of a stage in their studies, feel a desire to do something for those who are suffering. This is a strength in young people, a strength that all of you possess. It is a strength that can change the world. It is a revolution that can overturn the powerful forces at work in our world. It is the “revolution” of service.
“To be at the service of others does not only mean to be ready for action. It means also to be in conversation with God with an attitude of listening, just like Mary. She listened to what the angel said to her and then she responded. It is by relating to God in the silence of our hearts that we discover our identity and the vocation to which God is calling us. It can be expressed in different ways: in marriage, in consecrated life, in the priesthood… All these are ways of following Jesus. The important thing is to discover what God wants from us and to be brave enough to say “yes”.
“Mary was a happy woman, and this is because she replied generously to God and opened her heart to God’s plan for her. When God has a proposition for us, like the one he had for Mary, it is not intended to extinguish our dreams, but to ignite our aspirations. Propositions like this are meant to make our lives fruitful and produce many smiles and happy hearts. To respond to God positively is to take a first step towards being happy and towards making many people happy.
“Dear young people, take courage, enter within yourselves and say to God: “What do you want from me?” Allow God to answer you. Then you will see how your life is transformed and filled with joy.
“With the upcoming World Youth Day in our sights, I invite you all to prepare for it by following and taking part in the initiatives that are happening. They will help you on your path towards this goal. May Our Lady be with you on this pilgrimage, and may her example encourage you to be brave and generous in your response.
In the meantime the Vatican published the programme of the Pontiff’s visit to Panama.
Wednesday 23th, from Rome, Pope Francis will arrive at Panama’s Tocumen International airport. Following an official welcome, he will travel to the Nunciature.
Thursday 24th there will be a welcoming ceremony at the Presidential Palace followed by a meeting with state authorities and the diplomatic corps. Later in the day, the Pope will meet with the Bishops of Central America in the Church of St Francis of Assisi before opening World Youth Day at Cinta Costera.
Friday 25th Pope Francis will visit a youth center where there will be a penance service. In the afternoon he will attend a Youth Way of the Cross at the Cinta Costera area of Panama City.
Saturday 26th The Pope will preside over Mass in the Basilica of Santa Maria la Antigua where he will consecrate the altar of the Cathedral which has been newly restored. Following Mass, Pope Francis will lunch with young people. Later in the evening, he will participate at a vigil with young people at Metro Park.
Sunday 27th On this, the final day of his visit to Panama, the Pope will celebrate the concluding Mass of WYD at Metro Park. After the Eucharistic celebration, he will visit the house of the Good Samaritan followed by a meeting with WYD volunteers. Pope Francis will return to Rome that evening following a farewell ceremony at Panama International Airport.