The Holy See Search




I. The meaning of the Apostolic Journey

World Youth Day: a particular moment in history

The XVII World Youth Day is the first international gathering of young Catholics in the twenty-first century. At the beginning of a new century and a new millennium, we are called by Pope John Paul II to put out into the deep, “to remember the past with gratitude, to live the present with enthusiasm, and to look forward to the future with confidence” (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 1). In the present world situation, marked by the threat of new forms of idolatry, the absence of genuine solidarity and fraternity, and the difficulties encountered by so many of our contemporaries in understanding the meaning of life and finding a reason for hope, we have been invited to this world-wide gathering of young Catholics in order to proclaim our faith in Jesus Christ, the light which shines in the darkness, the hope which triumphs over despair, the love that prevails over hatred and the life that conquers death.

World Youth Day: a particular place and setting

The XVII World Youth Day takes place in a young country about to celebrate the four-hundredth anniversary of the first permanent French settlement in North America. Canada is a country surrounded by three oceans: the Atlantic to the East, the Pacific to the West and the Arctic to the North. In the course of Canada's history, its coasts have welcomed people from many different cultures, making the nation a truly multicultural society. The Canadian people continue their long tradition of hospitality as they welcome thousands of young people to the shores of Lake Ontario on the occasion of the Seventeenth World Youth Day.

The city of Toronto is a microcosm of Canada's multicultural society, and is often called the most multicultural city of the world. Within the Archdiocese of Toronto alone, Mass is celebrated every Sunday in thirty-six different languages, an eloquent expression of what the Church has become ever since the day of Pentecost, when each person present could hear the Apostle Peter speaking in his or her own language. In this complex reality, the need for Christians to be “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” is widely perceived, along with the obligation to bear compelling witness to Christ before persons of different cultures who are in daily contact with one another. In the words of the Holy Father, it is “at the heart of a multi-cultural and multi-faith city” that those taking part in World Youth Day will be able to recognize, appreciate and experience for themselves the universality of the Church, which transcends every nation, race and culture (Message for the XVII World Youth Day).

The theme of World Youth Day

The pastoral program of the XVII World Youth Day is based on the theme announced on Palm Sunday 2001: “You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world” (Mt 5: 13-14). These words from the Sermon on the Mount are an incentive to bear witness in our daily life and in our various activities to the message of the Beatitudes (Mt 5: 3-12), the basis of the Christian life. Jesus' words are also an encouragement for all Christians, for they show his trust that men, women and young people in every age will radiate his presence in the world.


II. The Missal for the Apostolic Journey

The liturgical celebrations of the XVII World Youth Day are the highlight and the culmination of the entire event.

As is the case for all the Holy Father's travels, the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, in cooperation with local liturgical authorities, has prepared a special “Missal” for this Apostolic Journey.

The volume contains texts and rubrics for the three celebrations at which the Pope presides:

- the welcoming ceremony;
- the celebration of Vespers;
- the Eucharistic celebration.

The Papal Welcoming Ceremony - Thursday, July 25, 2002

The theme chosen for the festive welcome of Pope John Paul II to the World Youth Day in Toronto is that of the Beatitudes (Mt 5: 1-12). As the Pope arrives at Exhibition Place on the shores of Lake Ontario, the young people join in welcoming the Successor of Peter, who has been the inspiration and driving force for the World Youth Days ever since the beginning of his pontificate. The ceremony particularly emphasizes the Beatitude: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Mt 5: 9). The message of the Beatitudes needs to be heard loud and clear in these times of bloody conflict throughout the world. In the Beatitudes young people can find a blueprint for their Christian life - both as individuals and as members of a community - as well as a source of hope for the future. The ceremony highlights the different nations taking part, each represented by two young people, as a sign that the Gospel represents a leaven of peace and unity among peoples, and that the Cross of Christ has opened a new era of brotherhood. It culminates in the praying of the Our Father, which sets the Pope's visit in the broader spiritual context of World Youth Day, making all people brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ and children of the one Father.

The celebration of Vespers - Saturday, July 27, 2002

The Great Prayer Vigil led by Pope John Paul II on Saturday evening, July 27, is clearly inspired by the theme of the World Youth Day: “You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world” (Mt 5:13-14).

The assembly prepares for the arrival of the Holy Father by singing Litanies of the Saints and Beati, as a sign of its recognition that those who have gone before us are our elder brethren in the faith whom we are called to imitate. Pride of place is given to nine young men and young women designated by His Holiness as witnesses and models for the young people of the present time: Saint Agnes of Rome, Blessed André of Phú Yên, Blessed Pedro Calungsod, Blessed Josephine Bakhita, Saint Therese of Lisieux, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, Blessed Marcel Callo, Blessed Francisco Castelló Aleu, and Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, the young Iroquois known as “the Lily of the Mohawks”.

The Great Prayer Vigil has as its backdrop the celebration of Vespers, which features, in addition to several specific adaptations, the presence and the testimony of young people from the various continents. As the daylight fades, we call upon the Light of Christ to shine brightly amid our darkness. The Holy Father introduces the Lucernarium service. Nightfall is an appropriate time to open our hearts to peace, as the deepening shadows invite us to recall the evening sacrifice of Christ, who gave himself up for our salvation.

As the candles are lit and their light begins to spread, the assembly acclaims the presence of Christ in a number of different languages: Ukrainian, Mohawk, Korean, Russian, Japanese, Hungarian, Dutch, Slovenian, Romanian and Croatian.

Each of the Psalms is preceded by a brief introduction, and each ends with a moment of meditation which includes a witness by young people and a prayer.

Psalm 27 is a confession of faith and an acknowledgment of the power of God, our light and our salvation. Psalm 141 invites us to lift up our prayer to the Lord like incense, and to demonstrate our child-like trust in God who is our strength. The Philippians Canticle (2:6-11) reflects the faith and the prayer of the early Church as she contemplates the amazing grandeur of the mysteries of the Incarnation and the Redemption. Christ is indeed our Savior, true God and true man, born of the Virgin Mary.

The scriptural reading is taken from the First Letter of John (1:1-7). It proclaims that Jesus is the Word of God, who is the fullness of truth and the complete revelation of the divine mystery.

The Magnificat is preceded by an introduction which invites the young people to see in Mary the model of every true disciple of the Lord, called before all else to give thanks to God for his many wonders and for the gift of his covenant.

The intercessions, which commend to God's gracious mercy the needs of the Church and the world, are offered in German, Cantonese, Czech, Slovak, Mandarin and Filipino.

At the conclusion of Solemn Vespers, twenty-four young people are invited to come forward and stand before the Holy Father. Twelve of them carry lighted torches. Twelve others receive a portion of salt while His Holiness delivers the following exhortation: “May this salt remind you that you are called to be, for your lands, your cultures and your local Churches, salt which gives flavor, the wisdom of Christ”. The light from the candles of all the young pilgrims is an invitation for them to become, in the words of the Pope at World Youth Day 2000, the light of the world and the morning watchmen of the third millennium.

The celebration of the Eucharist - Sunday, July 28, 2002

The morning after - July 28, 2002 - at Downsview Park, the young people are invited to join the Successor of Peter for the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Together with the Cardinals, Bishops and priests present, the Pope confirms them in their faith, exhorts them to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, particularly among their young friends, and reminds them that tomorrow they will be leaders of society and the Church. He joins them in praying that, by their words and deeds, they will bring the flavor of the Gospel to society and that their lives will be so many reflections of Jesus, the light of the world.

At the beginning of the celebration, after the greeting of the Cardinal Aloysius Matthew Ambrozic, Archbishop of  Toronto, the Pope repeats the conviction he expressed during the World Youth Day held in Rome during the Great Jubilee: “You, young people, are the vitality and strength of the Church throughout the world”.

The introductory rites include sprinkling with holy water as a reminder of Baptism, in which every Christian is charged to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Salt and light are used in two particularly expressive rites found in the celebration of Baptism.

The scriptural readings (Is 58:6-10; Eph 5:8-14; Mt 5:1-2,13-16) offer a framework for Christian living and present a rich synthesis of the teaching which the young people are called to bring back from the XVII World Youth Day.

The intercessions of the Prayer of the Faithful, which remind Christians that they share in the priestly mission of Christ, are offered in the following languages: Lithuanian, Inuktitut, Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Vietnamese and Polish.

The Eucharistic Prayer is the first Eucharistic Prayer for large gatherings.

At the end of the Eucharist, during the Angelus prayer, two young people approach the altar carrying an icon of the Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus and the Adoration of the Magi. The icon, painted by the cloistered Benedictine Sisters of the Mount of Olives, was specially made for the World Youth Day in Toronto. This biblical image of people from distant lands who come, guided by the light of a star, in order to worship Christ (Mt 2:1-12) is an evocative symbol of the pilgrimage made by the young seekers after God from many countries who journeyed to Toronto, in union with the Successor of Peter, in order to ask the Church to help them meet the Lord, the Word of Life, to accompany them in their growth to human and Christian adulthood, and to sustain them in their daily witness to the Gospel.

At the end of the celebration, in the rite of dismissal, twelve young people approach the Pope, who entrusts to them the wooden crosses contained in their pilgrim bags: “Dear young people, the time has come to say good-bye: the time for us to return to our daily paths and, like salt which adds taste, to bring the flavor of this day to our families and friends, to our work, our studies and our leisure. The time has come for us to make today's message a part of our everyday life. In your backpacks each of you was given a wooden cross. Now is the time to put on that cross: look to it, and you will be the light of the world; learn from that cross the heart of the Christian life, and you will be the salt of the earth. As you journey through life towards the Kingdom, my Apostolic Blessing accompanies you always!”.


III. Morning watchmen of the Third Millennium

The present “Missal”, prepared by the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, is meant to accompany the pilgrimage of the Holy Father to Canada for the XVII World Youth Day. It is a guide to the different liturgies and an aid to a deeper understanding of the message of World Youth Day. May the young people of Canada and the whole world draw near to Christ, the light of the world, and accept the “stupendous task”, the vocation and the challenge of being “morning watchmen” (Is 21:11-12) at the beginning of the new millennium, heralds of the coming of that Sun who is the Risen Christ!

Canada, 2002


+Piero Marini
Titular Bishop of Martirano
Master of the Liturgical Celebrations
of the Supreme Pontiff