‘Rise up’ to pursue joy, even when you’re tired, pope says at World Youth Day vigil

S The crowd waits for Pope Francis' arrival to lead the World Youth Day prayer vigil with young people at Tejo Park in Lisbon, Portugal, Aug. 5, 2023. (Photo by Lola Gomez, CNS)

By Justin McLellan, Catholic News Service

[LISBON, Portugal (CNS)] — After many of the 1.5 million young people gathered in Lisbon’s Tejo Park waited for hours in near 37C weather to participate in the World Youth Day vigil with Pope Francis Aug. 5, the pope asked them, “Have you ever been tired?”

Even when tempted to “throw in the towel” or stop along the journey of life, the pope said, the young people must pick themselves up and walk toward joy.

“Joy is not hidden, it’s not kept under key, we have to look for it,” he said, “and that is tiring.”

Yet, Pope Francis urged them to “rise up” when they fall along the path toward joy.

Before the pope’s improvised speech, synchronized drones flew over the massive crowd, which extended across both banks of Lisbon’s Trancão River, forming messages that read “Rise Up” and “Follow Me” in different languages.

After a lengthy tour in the popemobile among the pilgrims, Pope Francis listened to two testimonies from people who talked about how their experience of faith formed their youth. Marta Luis, 18, from Mozambique, told Pope Francis how her home province had been ravaged by a civil war and how her family had to leave her village due to a terrorist attack.

While they were sleeping in a forest after they left their home, “we didn’t sleep the whole night, but we prayed the Hail Mary and the Our Father,” before trekking to another province where they reached family members and were taken in by a local parish.

“Amid so much suffering, we never lost the faith and hope of rebuilding our life,” she said.

Pilgrims had begun filling the park in the morning. Many young people waited as much as nine hours to see the pope, but they remained in high spirits playing games, singing songs and doing the occasional wave.

“Sunscreen and water” were the keys to resisting the Lisbon sun, said Mary Grace Quinlan, 28, from Missouri, who was among the first lined up to see the pope. She told Catholic News Service she was struck by the pope’s message during the official welcome ceremony for World Youth Day when he urged young people to know each other by their names and not only their virtual or online personalities.

Almost all the pilgrims near the stage planned to spend the night in the park to save their spots for the papal Mass the following morning. They sprawled across the park on yoga mats and inflatable camping mattresses, some in tents or under makeshift cover from tarps.

After the pope’s speech, the 1.5 million people in the park fell into silence for eucharistic adoration, hymns of praise and benediction.

Only reading the first few words of his prepared remarks, Pope Francis put down the text in his hand and spoke openly with the young people.

“Do you like soccer?” he asked the audience to a loud applause. “I like it,” he said with a smile, noting that “behind every goal there is much training, behind each success there is much training, and what can I do in life? Train myself.”

But the pope added that “there isn’t any course on learning how to walk in life,” but rather that its learned from parents and grandparents, teachers and friends.

Pope Francis urged the young people to look within themselves and find the “roots of joy” that exist within them, roots planted by the people who have touched their lives.

“We come from roots of joy, and we can be roots of joy for others,” the pope said. “Not a joy of the moment, but a joy that gives roots.”


© OSV News / Our Sunday Visitor, Inc. 2023 – from CNS Vatican bureau, used with permission

The word “PACE,” peace, is seen in the crowd gathered as Pope Francis recites the rosary with young people who are ill at the Chapel of Apparitions at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fátima in Fátima, Portugal, Aug. 5, 2023. (Photo by Lola Gomez, CNS)

Pope calls for new Marian devotion at Fátima: ‘Our Lady in a Hurry’

By Justin McLellan, Catholic News Service

[FÁTIMA, Portugal CNS] — Before 200,000 pilgrims at Fátima, many of them with tears in their eyes, Pope Francis called for a new Marian devotional title — “Our Lady in a Hurry” — to describe how Mary hastens to care for all her children.

“There are many Marian invocations,” told the crowd at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fátima Aug. 5, but one that is not common and should be comes from the biblical account of the visitation when Mary sets off to see her cousin who also is pregnant.

“It’s a loose translation, but where the Gospel says she set out ‘in haste,’ we would say she went out running,” he said; “she went out running with that eagerness to be present.”

“‘Our Lady in a Hurry,’ do you like that?” Pope Francis asked his fellow pilgrims. “Let’s all say it together: ‘Our Lady in a Hurry.’ She hurries to be close to us. She hurries because she is a mother.”

“Every time there is a problem, every time we invoke her, she doesn’t delay, she hurries,” the pope told the crowd, which was a mix of young people visiting Portugal for World Youth Day and thousands of locals who came from across the country to Fátima to see the pope.

From the front row of the crowd, Margarida Vieira from Portugal told Catholic News Service that her group of four arrived at 3 p.m. the previous day and spent the night to get a good spot to see the pope. Many pilgrims were sprawled out on yoga mats and in sleeping bags in the hours leading up to the pope’s arrival.

Pope Francis’ morning in Fátima, about 120 kilometres north of Lisbon where World Youth Day is taking place, marked his second visit to the Marian shrine. In 2017, he celebrated Mass there to mark the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fátima to three Portuguese children.

Fátima also has been connected to Pope Francis’ public prayer appeals for an end the war in Ukraine. In March 2022, just over one month after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the pope consecrated both countries to Mary’s Immaculate Heart, praying before a statue of Our Lady of Fátima in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Sister Lúcia dos Santos, one of the three Fátima visionaries, had said Mary requested that Russia be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart by a reigning pope to bring peace to the world. Previous popes had consecrated Russia to Mary’s Immaculate Heart in various forms but had never mentioned the country by name as Pope Francis did in 2022.

In Fátima, however, Pope Francis made no mention of war or peace in Ukraine or elsewhere, instead putting aside a prepared text to tell hundreds of thousands of pilgrims to invite Mary into their heart.

But Bishop José Ornelas Carvalho of Leiria-Fátima welcomed the pope and introduced the event by turning people’s attention to “the war in Ukraine and so many other hotbeds of conflict in the world, which weigh dramatically on the lives and futures especially of children and young people.”

Those joining the pope in prayer, he said, were mindful of “the maternal concern of the mother of Jesus, revealed here to three children, simple and poor shepherd children, during a bloody war,” World War I.

Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office, told journalists after the ceremony that when the pope prayed in front of the statue of Our Lady of Fátima “he prayed in silence and with pain for peace.” Bruni also noted that the fourth mystery of the rosary at the event was a prayer for peace.

The pope had been expected to offer a special prayer to Mary for peace after his remarks at Fátima, but instead the Vatican posted an abbreviated version of it on the pope’s Twitter account.

“To you, we consecrate the church and the world, especially those countries at war. Obtain peace for us,” the Tweet said. “You, virgin of the way, open paths where it seems that none exist. You who untie knots, loosen the tangle of self-centeredness and the snares of power.”

The day before his Fátima visit, the pope did not read two prepared speeches, instead improvising his remarks after joking that his glasses “aren’t working” and that he didn’t want to strain his vision.

Bruni told reporters, “There is no vision problem. Yesterday morning in the course of the meeting with charitable institutions there was a problem with the lighting that made a reflection on his glasses, and he wasn’t able to read.”

Speaking off the cuff “is not a vision problem,” Bruni repeated, but the “choice of a pastor in regard to the people.”

In the Chapel of the Apparitions, marking the exact spot where the three children saw Mary in 1917, Pope Francis prayed the rosary with 106 young disabled and sick people and six incarcerated youth.

The chapel, located in the center of the shrine, “is like a beautiful image of the church, welcoming, without doors, so that all can enter,” he said.

And at Fátima, too, Pope Francis noted, “we can say that all can come, because this is the house of the mother, and a mother always has her heart open to all of her children.”


© OSV News / Our Sunday Visitor, Inc. 2023 – from CNS Vatican bureau, used with permission