Bishop Demetrio Fernández of Córdoba, Spain, reflected on the upcoming World Youth Day (WYD) in Lisbon, Portugal, in his recent weekly letter, saying that young people “don’t need reefers, condoms, or alcohol to experience an unforgettable joy.”

Noting that WYD imprints an evangelizing impetus on children and adolescents, the bishop said: “It does them a lot of good to sing, dance, adore the Lord, go to confession, and participate in the Eucharist. That is, having a good time precisely because they are Christians.”

It’s also a positive thing, he said, for those who attend WYD “to see a universal, young, dynamic Church, living these days of communion and encounter with other young people from all over the world, being welcomed by the dioceses as if they were their children.”

The theme for WYD 2023 in Lisbon is taken from the Gospel according to St. Luke: “Mary rose up and went with haste.”

Fernández noted that after the announcement to the Virgin of the miraculous conception of Christ and that her relative St. Elizabeth was pregnant, “Mary didn’t stay at home peacefully savoring the angel’s message, but rather she got up and left without delay to lend a hand.”

“This gesture of Mary sets the tone for this WYD in Lisbon 2023,” he explained.

A time for vocations

Fernández focused on the emphasis on vocations at WYD since “Jesus Christ continues to call young people, he counts on them to build his Church and renew the world.”

This invitation can take place for many “through the path of Christian marriage” since World Youth Days “are places of encounter, self-knowledge, commitment,” where “many courtships have begun or have become definitely firmed up.”

More in Europe

Many others “[God] calls to the consecrated life,” Fernández explained, in a commitment to “be with him exclusively” and to follow him in “poverty, complete chastity, and obedience. It’s religious life, which is so needed by the Church and which does humanity so much good,” he emphasized.

“Many others,” the bishop said, “are called to the ministerial priesthood, to prolong Jesus in the sacraments, especially in the Eucharist and forgiveness, in order to accompany the holy people of God.”

And so the bishop encouraged all participants to face the “unavoidable question,” which is: “What plan does God have for me, to make me happy, to serve his Church and the world today?”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.