Get Inspired By: World Youth Day 2013

Until I come up with a better name, the forthcoming series of inspirational collections will simply be known as “Get Inspired By” posts. Let me know if you want these to continue!

This Sunday was World Youth Day 2013 in Rio de Janiero where millions of young Catholics from nearly every nation danced, prayed, sang, and laughed with Pope Francis. There are plenty of ‘summary videos’ published by major news networks, but as a former World Youth Day pilgrim, I know the most fun is at the grassroots. Here are some fun, lively videos, as well as photos and quotes to inspire you this week.

The next time someone tells you the world is going to “hell in a handbasket,” show ’em this post.

What has the Cross given to those who have gazed upon it or touched it? What has it left in each one of us? It gives us a treasure that no one else can give: the certainty of the unshakable love which God has for us. A love so great that it enters into our sin and forgives it, enters into our suffering and gives us the strength to bear it. It is a love which enters into death to conquer it and to save us. The Cross of Christ contains all the love of God, his immeasurable mercy. This is a love in which we can place all our trust, in which we can believe.  – Pope Francis, during World Youth Day 2013 Way of the Cross

Pilgrims walk (and SING) home after the Way of the Cross


The young Brazilian Felipe Passos moved the hearts of three million World Youth Day participants, including Pope Francis himself, when he told the story of how he became bound to a wheelchair and discovered “the Cross.”

Felipe, 23, spoke at the World Youth Day prayer vigil July 27 at Copacabana Beach.

He told how at the end of the past World Youth Day, held in Madrid in 2011, he made two spiritual promises. He promised to stay chaste until marriage and to work hard so his prayer group of Ponta Grossa, in Brazil’s southern state of Paraná, could participate in this year’s World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro.

With few resources, Felipe and his friends began saving money by working several hard jobs at the same time that they prepared themselves spiritually: praying, adoring the Blessed Sacrament, fasting and doing works of solidarity.

Then a horrible thing happened.

“In January of this year, two days before turning 23, two youths entered my house, armed, to rob the money we had gathered with so much sacrifice,” said Felipe. […]

Felipe saved the savings of the group, but received a gunshot wound that almost ended his life.

“I was clinically dead, I had several cardiac arrests, and the doctor told my parents in the hospital ‘this boy has no hope,’ but I’m here and my community is here because of God’s mercy,” remarked Felipe.

In front of a shocked crowd and in front of Pope Francis, who looked at him attentively, the Brazilian told how he was in coma, breathing through a tube, while his community offered prayer intentions and sacrifices so he would heal.

Finally, when he became conscience, the first thing he did was ask for the Eucharist and after receiving it, he recovered rapidly.

But Felipe, who was then bound to a wheelchair, stated “this is my cross, the cross the Lord sent me to come closer to him, to live more openly his grace and love.”

When the three million youths broke out clapping, Felipe interrupted them.

“Silence!” he said. “Let’s listen to the Holy Spirit!”

The 23-year-old then asked each of the youths present to take the cross they had hung around their neck, to hold it and look at it.

Felipe invited them to meditate in silence on the questions: “What is the cross that the Lord has given me? What is the cross that he wants me to carry for his love?”

Everyone present, including bishops and cardinals, contemplated their own cross around their neck. The wheelchair-bound young man’s words created a unique moment of profound silence along the entire Copacabana beach. – Read the full story at Catholic News Agency

Matt Maher leads all present at Vigil singing, “Lord, I Need You” from footage by Vatican Television Center

Pilgrims settling down for the night after a long Saturday — the ultimate sleepover! Instagram by Luciana, a Brazilian WYD pilgrim.


Closing WYD 2013 Mass – Instagram by Fr. Michael Silloway, from the priests’ section


Where does Jesus send us? There are no borders, no limits: he sends us to everyone. The Gospel is for everyone, not just for some. It is not only for those who seem closer to us, more receptive, more welcoming. It is for everyone. Do not be afraid to go and to bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent. The Lord seeks all, he wants everyone to feel the warmth of his mercy and his love. […]

Jesus does not leave us alone, he never leaves you alone! He always accompanies you. And then, Jesus did not say: “One of you go”, but “All of you go”: we are sent together. […]

The opening words of the psalm that we proclaimed are: “Sing to the Lord a new song” (Psalm 95:1). What is this new song? It does not consist of words, it is not a melody, it is the song of your life, it is allowing our life to be identified with that of Jesus, it is sharing his sentiments, his thoughts, his actions. Pope Francis’ homily for World Youth Day Closing Mass

“A Revolution of Love” Instagram by Jeffrey, a WYD pilgrim




  1. Hello!
    Is there any place where I can find a full English translation of the testimony from Felipe Passos? Do you know Spanish or does anyone know spanish who could listen to the official video of the Saturday vigil on youtube and give me an accurate translation? The little bit of translation that I did hear was very inspiring to me and I was just hoping to get a translation of the whole thing. Thank you!

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