This summer we saw another World Youth Day – this one a double celebration because, in this Jubilee Year of Mercy, it was held in Poland, the home of St. Faustina, to whom the Divine Mercy messages and devotion were entrusted. And, not incidentally, also the home of the initiator of World Youth Day, St. John Paul II.

By now, amazing as it is to realize, many of those who participated in the earlier World Youth Days are middle-aged, but the trajectories of many lives were altered by this special experience of Christ in his universal Church. We might ask ourselves why subsequent popes have chosen to continue holding and – by their presence – shining a spotlight, on this recent tradition that calls young Catholics from all corners of the globe to congregate together.

Some people consider these gatherings to be little more than a “Catholic Woodstock,” attracting young people to what in the late 1960s would have been termed a “happening.” This ignores, however, the genuine spiritual fruits for great numbers of Catholic young people, the hundreds of priests hearing long lines of confessions, the changed lives, and in the case of many priests ordained in the last couple of decades, the number who trace the beginnings of their priestly vocation precisely to an experience of World Youth Day.

Read more at The Catholic Thing.

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