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Pope Francis has announced his prayer intention for the month of August 2023, which focuses on the ongoing World Youth Day (WYD), which is currently taking place from 1 – 6 August in Lisbon, Portugal. The Holy Father “invites young people to set aside their fears and embark on a joyful journey to bear witness to Christ in our world.” The Church aims for this 38th World Youth Day in Lisbon to empower young people with the inspiration and guidance to express and share the teachings of the Gospel in their day-to-day routines.

The Church should not be considered “an old people’s club any more than it is a youth club.” It is not for older people or youth exclusively. If it is only for older people, it will not persist or stay alive. Holy Father quoted what Saint John Paul II believed: living with young people can make you feel young. Therefore, the Church requires young people to remain youthful so that the Church doesn’t “grow old”. The Church invites all our young people to take on leadership roles and reach out to more young members to inspire their faith. The Church always desires to be more vibrant, youthful and compelling, now more than ever.

The Holy Father has chosen the theme: Mary Arose And Went With Haste (LK 1: 39-40) for this year’s WYD. Upon hearing that her elderly cousin Elizabeth was pregnant, Mary didn’t hesitate to offer her support, despite being in the early stages of her own pregnancy. Hence, it is vital for young people to undertake a joyful journey of witnessing Christ in our world by helping and serving others, as we take inspiration from Mother Mary and learn from her example.

The Holy Father hopes “to see a seed for the world’s future” during the WYD in Lisbon. In a world where love reigns supreme, we have the ability to recognise that we are all fellow brothers and sisters. The Pope expressed his desire for “a joyful world” where no one is afraid of witnessing the Gospel. As Christians, it is essential to spread the joy of the Gospel to the world. Without joy, we may not be seen as credible and people may not believe our message.

The youth are both the present and future of the Church. The Holy Father invites the Church to pray for young people worldwide this month. After the challenging experience of the COVID-19 pandemic and social isolation, he wants the “seeds” which have been planted during the WYD to bear fruits for the world’s future and persist in a youthful spirit in the Catholic Church.

We pray that the convoy of 148 young people from the Malaysian Church returns safely. We also pray that they foster a sense of hope and inspire other youth members in our parishes to strive for a joyful and lively Church across our nation from time to time.

“Jesus, Himself eternally young, wants to give hearts that are ever young… True youth means having a heart capable of loving, whereas everything that separates us from others makes the soul grow old…” (Christus Vivit, Christ is Alive, no. 13).

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