The Holy See
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ROME 15-20 AUGUST 2000

“We would like to see Jesus” (Jn 12, 21)

The context

1. World Youth Days (WYD), from the first to the most recent – Rome (1984), Buenos Aires (1987), Santiago de Compostela (1989), Czestochowa (1991), Denver (1993), Manila (1995) Paris (1997) – have proved to be providential events, occasions of grace for countless young people, privileged times for rediscovering and professing faith in Christ, for strengthening communion with the Church, and feeling called to become involved in the new evangeliza tion of the world. These Days have been missionary and pastoral events of primary impor tance, stimulating in the Particular Churches renewal of youth ministry, with far reaching ecclesial, spiritual and cultural objectives and contents.
Now this gift of God is placed by the Holy Father at the heart of the Great Jubilee which celebrates the two thousandth anniversary of the incarnation of Christ, so that the young generations, to whom belong “the future of the world and of the Church” may encoun ter in a new way Christ who awaits them thus “make their own contribution to his presence in the next century” (Tertio Millennio adveniente 58).

The Rome WYD in 2000 intends to be an experience of faith, understood and lived in the spirit and with the significance of the Jubilee, in order to be the Jubilee of the “Young Church”.

The word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us” (Jn 1,14)

The theological framework

2. The theological basis and central inspiration of the WYD is taken from the theme chosen by the Holy Father: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1,14).

This statement found in the fourth Gospel, and indeed the whole prologue of the same Gospel in which it is situated, describe the salvation which comes from God, absolutely necessary, inconceivably gratuitous and generously given. The incarnation of the Word marks the beginning of the redemption of humanity and of the universe, which is completed in the Paschal mystery of death and resurrection and with the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Reading our faith we grasp the divine economy or plan of salvation as it mysteriously unfolds:

  • Jesus Christ, Word of the Father, made Man, is God’s greatest gift to humanity: “God so loved the world as to give his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life (Jn 3,16).
  • Christ is at the same time man’s most authentic response to God, since he is the Son obedient to the will of the Father, from his incarnation to the total giving of self on the cross: “You prepared a body for me…then I said: God here I am. I am coming to obey your will (Heb 10,5-7).
  • Christ does not keep the Father’s love and mission for himself, he shares it with all those who believe in Him. On Easter evening he says to his disciples: “As the Father sent me, so am I sending you”; and he gives them his Spirit for a new life, free of sin and evil (cf. Jn 20,21- 22).

So a wondrous circle of missionary communion, animated by the Holy Spirit involves and moves the history of humanity: the Father gives the Son to the world (cf Rom 8,32); the Son responds to the Father giving himself completely to Him for us (cf Jn 19,30); the disciples, sent by Jesus, carry the Gospel to all peoples, knowing He is with them, to the ends of the earth. (cf Mt 28, 19-20).

3. The Church recognizes herself in this dynamic of “gift-response” and she lives it under many aspects.

  • She expresses it visibly and in public in the journey of faith and Christian life (for example with the catechumenate), markedly through the consignment and conscious acceptance of the Symbol of faith; she celebrates it every Sunday, the day of the Lord, and weekly Easter day.
  • She places it as the foundation of her missionary vocation, to involve all men and women in the joy of the gift and the responsibility of the response: “You received without charge, give without charge” (Mt 10,8).
  • She lives it in the constant exercise of forgiveness, welcomed and offered to all. In the awareness that the concrete possibility of sin consists in a wrong response – rejection or infidelity – by man to the great gifts received from God, the Church knows that every believer in Christ is exposed to sin because of human fragility: “He was in the world… and the world did not know him. He came to his own domain and his own people did not accept him” (Jn 1,10-11).

4. Closely connected to the general theme and a consequence of it, is the primary idea and core of the whole Day: recognizing and living faith as a gift-response to God in Jesus Christ, the word made flesh.

It finds in the consignment (“traditio”) and re-consignment (“redditio”) of the Symbol (Creed) one of the highest and most expressive forms both of the Church’s public profession and of her witness to the world. The different stages of the Day which culminate in the Vigil on Saturday evening and the solemn closing celebration of the Eucharist will be inspired by this purely biblical, historical and ecclesial “icon”.

Christ searches for young people - young people encounter Christ (Cf TMA 58)

The pastoral framework

5. Understood and lived as “consignment and re-consignment of the faith” the WYD expresses effectively its significance through the different aspects by which it is charac terized within the Great Jubilee:

  • As a whole it is an intrinsically missionary event: the love of the Father renews in the Spirit the gift of the Son to the youth of the world, stimulating them to make a free and serious choice, sending them to carry this “good news” to the millenium which is about to begin: “Something which has existed since the beginning, that we have heard, and we have seen with our own eyes; that we have touched with our hands, the Word who is life (since life made itself visible, we have seen it and we render testimony), we are telling you (1 Jn 1-3)
  • It becomes a marked experience of conversion, reconciliation, pardon and joy as we pass to the third millennium through Christ, door of salvation.
  • It is nourished by a single moment of grace: the encounter with the living memory of faith, represented by the apostles Peter and Paul and the early martyrs of the Church.
  • It receives directly from the hands of the Pope the mandate to return the faith received with commitment for a coherent life of witness and proclamation of Christ in the world.
  • It enters the story of each young person as a singular evangelical announcement of peace, freedom, hope to carry with us as we cross the threshold of the third millennium with this gift for humanity of the future.

In brief, the “Jubilee” and “Rome” represent for the young people an opportune time and the place for a unique Christian experience: faith manifested in some way as the invocation of their desires and questions, is drawn and given at the source of Christ the Saviour, it is professed at the tombs of the apostles and martyrs, it is confirmed by the Pope who re-consigns it to the young people so it may become the substantial motivation of their life and hope, and so they become its courageous witnesses and announcers in the third Christian millennium, throughout the world, in every culture, to all creatures.

6. The WYD, with its meaningful jubilee significance, must not appear foreign to the world of youth, because it is not foreign. In fact “with the incarnation the Son of God united himself in a sense to every human being” (Gaudium et spes, 22). This is why “Jesus Christ is the principal way of the Church. He himself is our path to the “house of the Father” (cf Jn 14,1ss) and he is also the path to each human person” (Redemptor hominis 13).

In these two thousand years the Word has truly become incarnate in every people, culture and tradition. He has placed his “tent” in every nation of the earth and calls every man and women to open their hearts and lifes to him. Within the dynamic of the WYD every young person is called to rediscover and renew the great events in the journey of faith begun and lived in their own community: in the family, the parish, church associations etc., with deep gratitude to God, joyous sharing of gifts and full participation in precise commitments:

  • The memory of faith received in one’s own local Church and lived as an event of unity and communion in the universal Church, now becomes clear and conscious and receives from the Pope, the successor of Peter, confirmation of truth and communion.
  • Everyone makes a humble and sincere confession to God of his or her weaknesses and sins, asking sincerely for forgiveness, experiencing the Father’s mercy.
  • Everyone is invited to express unconditional acceptance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ according to the faith of theChurch, while travelling specific paths of faith, animated by the resources of the young people themselves, such as perception of new problems of life, the search for new reasons for living and believing, the use of new language and signs, courage to make decisions, a sincere gift of self in favour of the poor and the oppressed.
  • The renewal of consignment of the faith is welcomed with a solemn commitment to re- consign it full of fruits (cf Jn 15,18), bearing witness to all, in particular to young peers who, although anxious to open their life to the transcendent, cannot find suitable answers in the culture in which they are immersed. This missionary responsibility will be lived as “The beginning of the Good News about Jesus Christ” (Mk 1,1) in the third millennium, imitating Jesus in everything among all people, taking responsibility for the questions, the aspirations, the needs of others, guiding them to Him through proclamation and witness of charity.

In this way each young person comes to see that life, daily living filled with aspirations and often marked by disillusionment and pain, becomes a place of encounter with Christ, who is watching, loving, and inviting them to follow him, to serve the vast world of the poor and the unhappy, the young ones first of all, with the resources of the many natural talents and graces received and which this Jubilee manifests and confirms: “Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him and said: <There is one thing you lack. Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven: then come and follow me” (Mk 10,21)

“And you who do you say that I am?” (Mk 8,29)

The operative framework

7. The dynamic of the consigning and re-consigning of the faith, is present and inspires all the stages of the WYD, from its preparation to its celebration in Rome. In this regard it will be kept in mind that WYD 2000 takes place in Rome, city-shrine where the living memory of the apostles Peter and Paul and the martyrs and confessors of the faith and the presence and the teaching of the Pope speak directly to those who come here on pilgrimage. The place itself is for the young people a “living catechesis”, to be opportunely valorized. Rome then, the Pope’s diocese, is not only a collection of memories and records, it is a living ecclesial community, which is preparing to welcome in 2000 young people from all over the world for a reciprocal exchange of gifts.

  • The preparatory phase: the young people are invited to learn about the memoria fidei in their own Particular Church and open themselves to the unity of the faith and the missionary dynamism of the universal Church, to compare it with the today of history and identify the new urgent challenges to their life in Christ and in the Church and to their own missionary witness.
  • Catechesis in Rome: two of these proposed by the Bishops, according to the traditional formula, in the mornings of the three days prior to the Vigil, in different venues in the city, will invite the young people to reflect on the proclamation-consignment of personal faith and on the ecclesial dimension of the faith received; the third catechesis will assume the form of a penitential pilgrimage towards the St.Peter’s Basilica through the Holy Door, sign of Christ: “I am the gate: anyone who enters through me will be safe: he will go freely in and out and be sure of finding pasture” (Jn 10,9). This Jubilee day, which will be lived by groups of young people in turn, according to a specific set programme, will include a penitential celebration with the possibility of individual reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, contact with the signs of memoria fidei of the Roman martyrs, prayer and professio fidei at the Tomb of the Apostle Peter, the fatigue of the pilgrimage which helps to live our waiting in the hope of the definitive encounter with the Lord.
  • Proposals for meetings and spiritual and cultural experience: will be organized every afternoon and night in churches or other set places by parishes, movements, groups etc. The day before the Vigil, there will be a celebration of the Stations of the Cross which will take place, for a certain number of the young people from the Roman Forum to the Colosseum, for the others, in different quarters and places in Rome.
  • The Vigil: during the vigil the dynamic “consigning/re-consigning” the faith will be expressed through the dimensions of narration – on subjects such as the memory, fidelity and newness of faith in Jesus Christ, giving voice to witnesses to the faith in history and of today: Mary first of all, the Apostles Saints Peter and Paul, the saints and martyrs of the Church of Rome and of the Church in Italy in particular - ; of dialogue between the Pope and the young people about their questions and expectations in regard to the faith on the threshold of the third millennium; of celebration to re-consign to the young people the faith and its expression in the different languages proper to the world of youth.
  • The final celebration of the Eucharist: in this celebration will be rooted and expressed the grace and missionary commitment of “traditio-redditio” manifested in the Pope’s solemn mandate to the young people. This will be the culminating moment of the whole Day, because he will consign to the young person, in the Word and the Sacrament, the centre of the Church’s faith, that is the living and ongoing presence of the Word made flesh, Saviour of the world, “the only way to the Father” (Tertio Millennio adveniente, 55). The Eucharist is also the source from which springs up the response of faith lived and proclaimed to all: “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again”. (Roman Missal, Eucharistic Prayer).

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Briefly, the WYD 2000 intends to be a moving and involving experience of consigning and re-consigning the faith, whose protagonists will be young people with all the force of novelty and future which they express and testify in the Church and in the whole world.