Monday, August 22, 2011

Random (and final) WYD thoughts

  • As I pack and prepare to leave Madrid (not for home, but for Toronto en route to the annual general meeting of Catholic Christian Outreach in Ottawa) I have mixed feelings. World Youth Day was simultaneously everything I hoped and feared, and it will take some time to process.
  • One thing stands out: I'm more convinced than ever that the Eucharist must be the center of all our efforts to keep young people connected to the Church. Specifically, WYD (and Youth 2000 in Ireland) have me thinking that Eucharistic adoration is the way to a deeper understanding of, and participation in, the Mass. Can we not do more of this in the parish?
  • Serendipity abounds at times like this! Today was frustrating: the events are over, but the museums are closed, and the cathedral packed with pilgrims. I wandered unsuccessfully looking for a church in which to pray. Feeling a bit sorry for myself, I headed home--only to bump into Archbishop Miller on the street. He bought me a nice lunch!
  • Many lessons learned from the youth. Here's one: As we trudged (and I mean trudged!) from the Cuatro Vientos site yesterday, I noticed one of our group carrying a large green garbage bag, along with several heavy bags of food, so asked if I could take it from her. I carried it for an hour or so before asking what it contained. Turned out she'd collected sleeping bags and tarps abandoned around our sleeping area so she could give them to homeless people she'd spied around our hostel. Ditto all the food.
  • On a similar note: while we were sometimes as crabby with one another as ordinary tourists (I rather fear these young parishioners now know me better and like me less!), in times of particular discomfort or disappointment, there was never a grumble to be heard.
  • We also had a few laughs, some from the speakers, others from behind the scenes. When the ultra-jovial Archbishop Dolan of New York spied one of his seminarians carrying boxes towards him after Mass, he exclaimed "Doughnuts?!" When the young man said, "Pizza," the archbishop put his arm around his shoulders and said "Just perfect... Monsignor," as they headed down the hall.
  • While giving an address in the large sports stadium, Archbishop Dolan looked up at the large TV screen above him and said "Oh, I really do have to lose weight!" And then motioning to the wide sash around his ample waist (held in place by Velcro), he added "If this baby blows, it'll take out the whole front row!"
  • It was also rather funny to see the Pope's white beanie sail (and I mean sail) through the air when the storm blew up.
  • One of my friends is a priest not known for his love of clerical dress or for dressing up, period. He says he'd have certainly come to WYD if he'd known he could have got a photo of me at Mass with the Pope--unshaven, unwashed, and in the clothes I'd worn to bed!
  • Apart from the sight of crowds beyond imagining, one particular image stands out: the young religious (Sisters, Brothers and priests). They were numerous and extremely visible in their religious habits. Reports of the end of religious life may have been premature; the revival, however, seems to be mostly with newly-founded communities, with the interesting exception of the Dominicans. Both male and female branches were very well-represented, especially Americans.
  • Sorry this is rather rushed, but I haven't time for editing. Perhaps this is the great attraction of Twitter! By the way, I made my debut on Twitter yesterday, when one of our pilgrims tweeted that I would be distributing Holy Communion at the cathedral. Thousands came when this message was swiftly passed along. (Just kidding.)
  • Thanks for reading; over and out.

1 comment:

  1. I hope someone got a photo of you at Mass with the Pope--unshaven, unwashed, etc.!

    I'd pay for that picture! It also makes me think of what most of the apostles and disciples probably looked like 90% of the time.