5 Reasons to Pay Attention to WYD 2013

If you follow The Jesuit Post, you’ve seen us talking for a while now about our partnership this summer with the U.S. Jesuit Conference to cover Magis and World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro.

TJP Crew Atop Sugarloaf

From left: Sam Sawyer, Jason Welle, Eric Sundrup, and Brendan Busse.

Well, we’re here now — to the right, you can see our crew on top of Sugarloaf, though actually as of this writing we’re in Salvador, where the Jesuit Magis program which runs for about two weeks prior to World Youth Day kicks off for the pilgrims.

But if you haven’t been to a WYD before, and if you’re not going yourself this summer, perhaps you’re wondering: why does TJP keep trying to get me to pay attention to this? Sure, it’ll be a good experience for those who are there, they’ll sing a bunch of hymns and go to Mass with the Pope, and then they’ll come home, and that will be the end of it, right?

If you’re already convinced, then just go ahead and follow our @TJPOnTour Twitter account now for the full firehose of updates from us. Go ahead, you know you want to.

But if you need more convincing, let me offer you, a countdown of five reasons that paying attention to Magis and WYD is worth your time now, and will be worth your time this summer:

5. Rio, baby!

One of the great cities of the world, Rio’s going to be in the news a lot for the next few years, as it plays host not only to WYD, but with the rest of Brazil, to the World Cup in 2014 and then to the Summer Olympics in 2016.

Or, you know, for pictures like this:

Sun Setting, Seen from Sugarloaf

Sun Setting, Seen from Sugarloaf

4. “More than” just WYD: Magis

It’s not just World Youth Day — the Jesuits sponsor an integrated program of pilgrimage, spiritual formation, and international cooperation and companionship for the pilgrims before they go meet the pope in Rio. After three days together in Salvador, where Jesuit missionaries first landed in the New World, the pilgrims will split into a number of different “Magis Experience” groups. These groups, mixing together pilgrims of multiple nationalities and languages, will venture out across Brazil for experiences ranging from pilgrimage and spirituality programs to ecology and service immersions. We’ll have three intrepid TJP contributors along with some experience groups to report from the field.

If you’re still not convinced, we’ve got video explaining what Magis means (in fact, more than one video) and a rundown of what the Magis experience was like for one group at WYD 2011 in Madrid.

3. Bigger than the Beatles (and even Bieber)

World Youth Days have consistently been large events, and the closing papal masses have been some of the largest gatherings of human beings anywhere, ever (WYD features four times on the Wikipedia list of largest peaceful gatherings) . Even if Rio doesn’t set any new records, however, there will still be more than a million people getting together to focus on their faith and ask what God means to them. And we think that’s worth a little bit of attention, every now and again.

2. What will Pope Francis do next?

This will be Pope Francis’s first international trip, and he’s shown already shown himself to be open to improvisation. From his first days as pope, he’s been revising his schedule and bucking expectations — even to the point of choosing to live in the Vatican guest house instead of the papal apartments. So what will he decide to do at WYD in Rio? That’s the point: we have no idea. But whatever he does, you can be sure we’ll be covering it here at TJP.

1. Not just one week in Rio

World Youth Days are (a) not just one day, but instead about a week and (b) have effects that last far longer than the days themselves. WYD is frequently credited as a source of conversions, renewal of faith, and vocational discernment; there’s even formal research about it.

To put it bluntly: the effects of these days in Rio will be felt far past 2013. You have the chance to get in on the ground floor.

How to follow it:

Of course, we’ll post highlights of the experience right here on The Jesuit Post, and on our regular Twitter feed and Facebook page. We hope that those who can’t join us here in Brazil will be journeying with us in spirit!

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