The World Youth Day (WYD) is an event organized for young people by the Catholic Church in every two or three years. World Youth Day was commenced by Saint Pope John Paul II in 1984 at the close of the Holy Year of Redemption, over 300,000 young people from around the world responded to the invitation of His Holiness John Paul II for an International Jubilee of youth on Palm Sunday in St. Peter’s square. This year World Youth Day is taking place in Krakow, Poland from 25th to 31st July.
World Youth Day is celebrated at a diocesan level annually and at a global level every two to three years at a distinct location. Every year the number of people attending the World Youth Day is increasing year by year. In the year 1995 World Youth Day closing Mass in the Philippines set a world record for the largest number of people gathered for a single religious event with 5 million attendees; a record surpassed when 6 million attended a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in the Philippines 20 years later in 2015.
There is a different theme every year for the same and is pre-decided. The theme for this year is,
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy
These lines are taken from the narrative of ‘Sermon on the Mount’; this is basically a series of statements explaining the blessed life of a human being. Blessed basically means having a joyous and happy life, this elaborates on the relationship of a human being with god makes him or her lucky. To be merciful is to display forgiveness to those in need, this includes that god expects mercy and not sacrifice. We are blessed if we are merciful because mercy is something God himself displays. If we present forbearance towards others, we will be able to get same in return. Also, if we exhibit mercy towards the people in need, lord in return displays mercy towards us. This explains the meaning behind choosing this theme for World Youth Day.
Interpretation of World Youth Day
People generally become curious to understand the perspective behind World Youth Day as large amounts of people flood the city streets. People find sounds of laugh and smile on the faces of people, crowds sings, and dances. With a sandwich of culture on culture and people on people proudly holding their flags and enjoying the moment of peace and celebration. A heterogeneous group of people greeting of another in peace, that’s the dream.
It is known as a fantastic spectacle presented by so many people gathering together on a common day at a common place. This is a way of rejuvenating the youth’s sense of values, it was at this gathering that the Holy Father entrusted to the youth what is now known as the World Youth Day Cross, to be carried throughout the world as a symbol of the love of Christ for humanity.
John Paul II left a legacy for the youth in his institution of World Youth Day, which Pope Benedict XVI has faithfully continued, carrying on the hope of His predecessor for the youth of the world, inviting them and commissioning them as Christ’s disciples to be faithful living witnesses.