YES. is the acronym for the Youth of the EDSA Shrine. It is a lively and vibrant group of young people who belong to the family of the EDSA Shrine. The youth have a contaminating joy and enthusiasm. They have the power that springs from within them that lends life and vigor to those who see them. I am proud of our youth at the EDSA Shrine.

Last Holy Thursday, Pope John Paul II reminded us, the priests of the Church, to show particular love for the youth. He said: “There are the young people who in that most delicate period of life choose their path, their vocation, and set out to form new families or consecrate themselves to the Kingdom of God by entering the Seminary or an Institute of Consecrated Life. The priest must be very close to young people. At this stage of life, they often turn to him for the support of his advice, for the help of his prayer, for wise vocational guidance. In this way, the priest experiences how open and dedicated to people his vocation is. In coming close to young people, he is meeting future fathers and mothers of families, future professionals, or, at any event, people who can contribute their abilities to the building of tomorrow’s society. Each of these many different vocations is close to his priestly heart, and he sees each one as a particular path along which God guides people and leads them to Himself.”

The Youth of the EDSA Shrine perhaps represents the many youth groups in the country who continue to live the joy and life that Pope John Paul’s visit left with us in 1995. More than a year after the celebration of World Youth Day (WYD) in our country the feeling of exhilaration continues. Not in the same full burst that characterized the week with the Holy Father in January 1995, but in a palpable and lingering way that somehow brings to mind a vivid recollection of the highlights of that memorable event.

If the young people are being felt more and more in the Church, it is in their participation in the liturgy. The visit of the Holy Father and the celebration of the 10th World Youth Day brought about a revitalization of the celebration of the liturgy in the local church.

Through the unexpected but certainly blessed acquiescence of the Holy See to the suggestions on innovations in the elements of the liturgical rites, the local church has seen a more vivified form of worship. During the liturgy, the youth sings with full force, with much bravura and energy. They are unabashed in their expression of joy and cheer. There is dancing, too, with grace and calculated movements, drawing more attention to the highlights of the various liturgical cadences and movements. The alleluia is expressed in an exuberant swing of hands, lifted to the heavens in bodily praise. The offertory becomes a procession of open-hearted giving, hands outstretched, pointing to the sacrificial lamb who offers himself.

All this has been interwoven with the deep symbols and elements of the local culture. The native horn that calls to the people to worship, the bamboo torch that lights the rural darkness, the clay, the shell, the local flowers. The liturgy has become, for the youth, after WYD, an expression of their being Filipino, of their being youth.

The young people have imbibed more the rudiments of liturgical worship and the essence of the rituals. They are encouraged to cultivate their creativity in expressing their faith. At the EDSA Shrine, last Holy Week, we saw the youth dancing, singing and dramatizing the gospel message. They were admirable.

The spirit-filled visit of the Holy Father and the remarkable celebration of the 10th World Youth Day in our country made us stand at the crossroads of our faith, as Filipinos, even as citizens of Asia and the world.

What is the image of the youth that persists to this day? WYD has “youthified” the local Church. No longer are the youth to be in the background, patronized but not taken seriously. No longer would they be in the periphery. The youth count; they have their value and worth.

The youth are challenging us. Let us continue to come together in faith and love, the love that Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection have given to the world. The youth fill us with the spirit and the fire to “TELL THE WORLD OF THIS LOVE, THE GREATEST LOVE THE WORLD HAS KNOWN,” and to bring this love to everyone.

Y.E.S. I love you.

Jesus Our Light

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