“Keep the hope”


Rio de Janeiro, 24 July 2013

The first day passed in full swing, both for the Holy Father and for the youth here in Rio de Janeiro. While Pope Francis took himself off to the national Sanctuary of Aparecida dedicated to Our Lady of the Conception, catechises took place in hundreds of places around the city, in the various languages of the young participants. This was a moment where Bishops and youth could meet each other, both being companions in this special trip. 

“Keep the hope” was the Holy Father’s invite during his homily in Aparecida: “How many difficulties are present in the life of every individual, among our people, in our communities; yet as great as these may seem, God never allows us to be overwhelmed by them. In the face of those moments of discouragement we experience in life, in our efforts to evangelize or to embody our faith as parents within the family, I would like to say forcefully: Always know in your heart that God is by your side; he never abandons you! Let us never lose hope.”

In Aparecida, Pope Francis entrusted WYD to Mary: “Remain here, among your children. But also come with us and remain by our side, above all when our cross is at its most heavy.”

In the afternoon the streets were ablaze with the cultural and spiritual parades organised by the youth themselves, in the “festival of the youth”: music, theatre, art, as well as prayer, vigils, reflections, hundreds of ways to find oneself in the most diverse languages. Meanwhile, Pope Francis returned to Rio de Janeiro, to the hospital of Saint Francis, a refuge for drug addicts and the homeless, run by the Franciscans.

“We extend our hand to whosoever is in difficulty or to who has fallen into the darkness of addiction, perhaps without knowing how, and we say to them: You can raise yourself up again, it is tiring, but it is possible if you want it”: these were the words of the Holy Father during his visit. Addressing himself to those present - the health workers and guests who were their for rehab - he added: “Dear friends, I would like to say to each one of you, but above all to those who have not yet had the courage to begin their journey: You are protagonists of the assent; this is the essential condition! You will find the hand outstretched by He who wants to help you, but no-one can make this assent in your place.”

From here, Pope Francis directed his attention to the young Italians and the young Brazilians with Italian roots that are having this celebration together in the Maracanazinho stadium: “Trust in Christ, listen to Him, follow in His footsteps, He will never abandon us (...) Tomorrow at Copacabana it will be the occasion to deepen ourselves in this truth that illuminates our lives.”

Tomorrow evening, the Copacabana beach will be host to a new important step in this WYD: the youth welcoming Pope Francis. 

Holy mass in the Basilica of the Shrine of our Lady of the Conception of Aparecida

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