On Sunday, July 20, Pope Benedict XVI will be in Sydney, Australia, celebrating a Mass with 500,000 young people from all over the globe. This Mass will be the culmination of three whole years of preparation for World Youth Day 2008 (WYD).
Ever since the event was announced in 2005, people have been getting ready. Organizations have been putting together tour packages. Hotels, stadiums, railways, and airlines have been working out logistics. Web sites have been launched, invitations have been issued, and families have been preparing to host pilgrims.
In the midst of this flurry of activity, Pope Benedict has been preparing as well. In three letters to young people—written in April 2006, January 2007, and July 2007—the Holy Father has been laying the spiritual groundwork for World Youth Day—and for all of us. In these letters, Benedict asked young people to read Scripture (2006), to love one another as Jesus loves them (January 2007), and to receive the power of the Holy Spirit (July 2007). And in this, our special World Youth Day issue, we want to explore these themes as well—in articles that are addressed more to young people than our average reader.
Our first article looks at how the truths in Scripture can set us free. The second article focuses on how we can experience Jesus’ love for us—a love that moves us to love each other. And our third article looks at how we can receive the Holy Spirit, and how the Spirit can empower us to become ambassadors for Christ. In the back of the magazine, you will find one young woman’s witness about how World Youth Day has changed her life, a story about two of the patron "saints" for this year’s WYD, and a hopeful and challenging message about staying pure until marriage.
Seek the Lord. If you are a young person, you know that the world offers many different ideologies and philosophies that hold out hope and promise happiness but do not deliver. The articles in this magazine present Jesus’ ideology—the only philosophy that we believe can bring true fulfillment and happiness where it counts, deep down inside.
When Jesus walked the earth, young people seemed to flock to him. He was like a giant magnet filled with love—and he still is. He will draw you to him if you let him. So give Jesus a chance to come into your life. Talk to him; pray to him; tell him you want to have a relationship with him. Let him do the rest.
I was a college student, just eighteen years old, when I was touched by the Lord. That experience was the best thing that ever happened to me. It changed my whole life. I am convinced that if you encounter Jesus, you will be moved to give your life to him as well. You will see that he is the only one who can fill your deep inner longing for truth, self-worth, and most of all, love.
If you are a parent or grandparent, try to evangelize the young people in your life this month. Take your cue from Pope Benedict’s letters. You may even want to give them this magazine! Who knows what wonders God will do in their lives?
May God bless you all, and may he bless the 2008 World Youth Day.