Catholic beach parties have taken on a whole new meaning given that three million souls celebrated with Pope Francis on the famous Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro last week. The Pope, being acclaimed as a “Frock Star,” complete with sombrero, certainly knows how to party with the best of them. What a great opportunity for the youth of the world to participate in such an exuberant display of energy, emotion, and genuine spiritual fervor.

From the time of its inception, World Youth Day has resolutely gained momentum precisely to awaken in the next generation a sense of purpose and participation in the mission of Christ. Watching this gathering of the youth of the world in the name of Jesus Christ draws us all to a lively and energetic expression of faith in the Person of Jesus and an awareness of His reality and true presence in our midst.

Prayer, first and foremost, focused the attention of all participants on that spiritual relationship with Jesus. It was expressed in many different ways—but prayer activated the whole gathering and gave it purpose. Adoration of our Lord, present in the Most Blessed Sacrament, was pivotal and plentiful round-the-clock. The youth of the world came to be with and celebrate Jesus Christ.

Secondly, there was a sense of getting to know Him better. Bishops from around the world offered catechesis and teachings. In addition, talks centered on the WYD theme were given based on Sacred Scripture showing the relevance of the teachings of the Church. Specific topics relating to young people and various methods of personally encountering Jesus and introducing Him to others, were also brought to light. It was basic evangelization at its best.

Thirdly, of course, all of this was done with the Vicar of Christ, the Successor of Saint Peter, the Pope himself. Pope Francis certainly did not fail to ignite the fire of evangelical fire in the crowds at Rio.

Personal conversion, attention to and identification with the mission, and a powerful celebration of faith in action all done on the world stage with a few million brothers and sisters was a winning formula that stirred the minds and hearts of young people who wanted to know and love Christ. It was a great beach party, and we should all be proud of our Pope and his young friends who allowed us to share in it. If God wants, in 2016 we will see a gathering of the youth of the world feeling the presence of the spiritual father of WYD, Saint John Paul II, in Krakow. The planning has already begun …

Continue the celebration at Sunday Mass!

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