World Youth Day 2011: A time to be built up in Christ


Next week hundreds of thousands of young Catholics will gather in Spain to celebrate World Youth Day 2011.

In an age of increasing secularism and on a continent known for its Christian roots, they gather under the Pauline theme of “Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith” (cf. Col 2:7). There will be religious formation to the assembled young people including 260 sessions of catechesis in 30 languages during the six day celebration of the Catholic faith and Mass with the Holy Father as well as ample opportunities to meet with fellow pilgrims as they pray and worship together. Cardinal Stanis?aw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, emphasized that it is "an extraordinary experience of a Church that is a friend to the youth, which places herself at the service of the new generations. It is an experience of the Universal Church which embraces the entire planet, a young Church, full of enthusiasm."

There is a continuing crisis of faith upon the European continent in particular in the host country of Spain where the Socialist government has introduced a radical agenda to secularize the nation especially targeting the young through the educational system. At the center of this crisis of faith and truth are the millions of young people who make up a new generation desperate for a stable point of reference upon which to build their lives. There is no doubt that the youth of this generation need a moral compass to navigate their journey through life. For in a consumerist age which attempts to sell them the message that all ideas are equally valid and that truth can never be absolute, they are the chief targets of the deceptive purveyors that sell secularism, immorality and relativism.

Too often youth including much of our Catholic youth buy into this dictatorship of moral relativism and lead lives of instability and moral confusion as they live out the latest fad or indulge in the newest style of thinking. In his message to the participants of World Youth Day 2011, Pope Benedict XVI reminds them: “As young people, you are entitled to receive from previous generations solid points of reference to help you to make choices and on which to build your lives: like a young plant which needs solid support until it can sink deep roots and become a sturdy tree capable of bearing fruit.” Indeed these young saplings need to discover the deep roots of the Christian message, a message of God’s love, if our world and our church are to continue to bear good fruit.

In this age of sweeping skepticism and radical secularism our young people deserve a time like World Youth Day to celebrate the love and the truth of Jesus Christ. As hundreds of thousands of them bask in the light of Christ next week in Spain, they stand in striking contrast to the darkness of evil and the deception of moral relativism that seeks to lure them into lives of moral confusion devoid of meaning, truth and love. In a recent poll, 9 out of 10 youth interviewed consider their principal reason for going to the WYD is to have a new experience of faith, to spread the message of Jesus Christ, to express their commitment to the church and to satisfy their spiritual anxieties. We hope and pray that celebrating their faith together with thousands of fellow travelers from the four corners of the earth these young disciples of Christ will indeed return home: “Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith.”