Friday, August 05, 2011

dead horses and WYD...

... not to beat a dead horse, and WYD has been "done" to death, but I really want to hear from people who have actually attended one of these hurrahs.

I'm going to be frank here, looking at the videos on YouTube, the event looks more like a Life Teen mass on steroids.... with acid. All three of which I am adamantly against.

The videos that circulate the internet don't look like anything Catholic I've ever seen. There is nothing liturgically recognizable I can even discern. In fact, it hardly qualifies as a religious or spiritual function at all. At best, they remind me of the evangelical rock concerts my Pentecostal friends would drag me to. Yeah, those were supposed to change my life as well.

I don't know. Tell me what you think.



In all fairness, this particular video was uploaded to YouTube in 2008 and uses footage from 2002; almost a decade ago. Maybe things have changed significantly in that time. Maybe not. That's why I am asking you.

However, the whole phenomena begs the question; why do people think teens and young adults are simply incapable of practicing their faith without a party atmosphere. And what's all this hog wash about it fostering vocations... as if no one ever considered a vocation prior to the inception of WYD.

I give more creedance to young people taking pilgrimages to shrines, and other locations of Catholic importance, than I do of these party atmosphere events where Eucharistic Adoration is ... well, just look at it. Appalling.

Like Hilary stated; "If you have to say, every time, that it's "not Catholic Woodstock," it probably is."

40 comments:

Badger Catholic said...

If I got to pick the dance style to hear the gospel danced to, I think I'd pick robot style.

"Awkward" is defined as these youths doing the same thing in 30 years.

I hope Michael Voris brought his drum set.

Charlotte said...

All I know is that the SSPX newspaper (is it called the Wandered? - I might be wrong about the name)) routinely has paid ads for DVDs you can buy that tell you all about how WYD is a terrible, out-of-control, sinful, secular event filled with the horrors of rock, immodest clothes, and irreverance.

The Crescat said...

Badger, you just composed three of the most perfect sentences.

Cruise the Groove. said...

"All I know is that the SSPX newspaper (is it called the Wandered?"

Charlotte:

The SSPX newspaper is called "Regina Coeli Report" and they do not usually report on WYD.
They report on Catholic Pilgrimages, as Kat has alluded to., such as the Chartres Pilgrimage or the Auriseville NY Shrine of the North American martyrs.
You are probably referring to "The Wanderer" which is not an SSPX publication, but a Catholic one nevertheless and yes they have reported on the abominations that go on at WYD, which do occur.

Terry Nelson said...

I've heard that Michael Voris is persona non gratae - or something like that.

Hey - I once saw a photo of a nun doing the boogie-woogie-bugle-boy dance with a shirtless male youth at the Paris WYD.

It's just a phase the kids go through. Like rock-concerts and raves and that kind of stuff.

And yes Kat, I crack myself up.

Ms Jackie said...

I went to WYD in Toronto. It was nice but not something I would go to again. I never saw anything crazy. There was adoration tents, confession all the time and everyone was well-behaved. The negative side was at the Papal Mass I couldnt see or hear anything including the homily (however we were at the very back of the field lol). All and all I dont really see the harm in it. If there are teens misbehaving, its a minority and should not be held against the vast majority of well bahvaved kids.

The Ironic Catholic said...

I haven't been. But my husband went to three (Denver, Paris, and Toronto), once as a pilgrim, twice as a journalist (yeah, he used to do that). He was deeply touched by them, and I think the key was--all these beautiful, diverse people together in one place to adore God. What an amazing sight. He has said he was esp moved by Paris, because even the secular hoity toity Parisians seemed to be touched by the joy of these young people.

Also, I suspect that there is an important element you can't get through YouTube--the reality that this is a pilgrimage, and the action of the Holy Spirit through that reality. God blesses pilgrims. Period. You can sense that where you are there, perhaps, but it doesn't really transmit to YouTube.

Stella Orientis said...

Having attended the last WYD (Sydney) in 2008 I can tell you that what you have seen is true and not true. Many of the events throughout the week (including some of the catecheses) struck me as a stopgap for the predominantly uncatechised youth in attendance. When the bishop delivering catechesis wasn't vague and incomprehensible, a layperson was retelling stories of great personal significance to herself but none to the audience.

And yet, there were also bishops (notably from Africa) who were ferociously devoted to the Faith, the Church, the Holy Father, and the sound instruction of youth. They took seriously the responsibility of answering the questions asked during those catechesis sessions and my only wish was that ALL of the bishops did the same.

The liturgies and paraliturgies were also a mixed bag. During the catechesis sessions (segregated by language) Masses were of a distinctly "low" character; I even heard in English the "Aboriginal Our Father". This seemed to be a transliteration of the well-known prayer into a kind of English creole, sung to obligatory drum and guitar. On the other hand, the public Stations of the Cross around Sydney was clearly executed with skill, care and devotion. There was not a dry eye to be seen among the thousands of pilgrims.

Never before or since have I seen so many people, regardless of age, kneel in adoration of the Eucharistic King. Nor line up for confession. I will never forget being unable to see beyond the sea of young Catholic heads, singing and laughing, nor the chance to welcome Catholics from places like occupied Vietnam to my home country, where for the first time they can see the Faith lived freely.

We packed an ordinary suburban train carriage chanted the Salve Regina, the seminarians of Sydney chanted solemn Lauds in Latin and the major liturgies (of both Cardinal Pell and the Holy Father) were dignified and reverent.

Yes, there is absolutely a party atmosphere, and why not? WYD isn't a mediaeval penitential pilgrimage, undertaken to remit grave mortal sins. The world NEEDS to see a myriad young, happy Catholics on fire for Christ and obedient to the Holy Father.

And if even a majority of WYD pilgrims are effectively baptised pagans who think the Holy Trinity is "Jesus, Mary and Joseph", where else in their lives will they see so many habited religious, dutiful young priests and openly Catholic peers? Where else will they hear the Holy Father speak, and perhaps even listen to him?

Since 2008 I have heard a lot of the criticism about WYD that we never saw in Sydney, and seeing the footage can certainly resonate with it. Nonetheless, from my own experience I can only imagine that either Pope Benedict has had an amazing corrective effect on WYD or the selections criticised were always minority expressions and WYD has always on balance been a force for good, with select whackos spoiling it for some.

Johnny Domer said...

I think I would give the most credence to young people who take pilgrimages...to their local church to go to daily Mass/pray before the Blessed Sacrament. If there's any setting wherein a reliable, well-founded vocation to the priesthood would be inspired, it would be in the regular practice of a life of prayer, not some expensive, one-off, emotion-overload experience where half the time you're wondering if that cute girl in your youth group thinks you're cool.

Dymphna said...

Bottom line: how many vocations have come out of WYD and how many attendees are still serious Catholics today? I keep hearing about all the good WYD does but I've yet to see concrete proof. I'd also like to see someone besides John Vennari, (who hates all forms of music created after 1948 and therefore comes off as a bit of a crank), go to WYD and make an honest assesment.

Hilary said...

"credence"

My first and only WYD was Toronto, and that only because I happened to move there six months before. I went there to go to work for the national pro-life political lobby and one evening while sitting about after Vietnamese with some pro-lifer friends from various national organisations, we put our heads together and realised that none of our groups had been contacted by WYD organisers about including any pro-life materials or displays.

Our efforts to insert the Church's teachings on the sacredness of human life from its beginnings to its end, were heartily blockaded, thwarted and obstructed by WYD organisers from the start.

It tells you all you need to know both about the Canadian Church and about the ... shall we say, ethos, of WYD, that the life issues have only now begun to get a nod.

Good old Novusordoism.

smk from NE said...

Agrees completely w/ Stella Orientis. She hit the nail on the head. I've been to Denver and Paris - both as an adult sponsor. Really believe the good outweighs the bad. And as for vocations, SEVERAL of our diocesan priests attribute their vocation - conception or growth - to JP2 and WYD. Don't let the YouTube culture make you beleive there is nothing deeper. There is MUCH solid and orthodox.

Anna said...

I've been to World Youth Day twice, in Cologne (2006) when I was 17 and in Sydney (2008) when I was 19. The second trip fostered my sister's vocation-- we met the Sisters of Life in Sydney, and she's now a novice with them. She'll be going to Madrid with them this summer. The priest who led our group to Sydney in 2008 traces his vocation, in part, to WYD in Denver (1998? or thereabouts).

Yes, the event always includes some LifeTeen-style Masses, but trust me-- that's not all there is. There are also reverent priests who lead their groups of pilgrims in the liturgy of the hours, who celebrate daily Mass with them, who make sure their pilgrims attend the best lectures (by Cardinal Arinze, Archbishop Chaput, etc). And although some "pilgrims" are there to party, they often get more than they bargained for: their more religious peers start evangelizing them and challenging them to think about their faith more seriously.

Check out the website of the largest English-speaking site, and you'll find a lot more than just LifeTeen stuff: http://www.wydenglishsite.org/wyd/index.html

The Ironic Catholic said...

I teach seminarians (minor sem--that is, college), NOT a liberal bunch let me tell you, and 90% are overwhelmingly positive about WYD. Some have indeed said it helped open their eyes to the vocation of the priesthood.

I like what Stella said.

Marie said...

One thing to be cautious with when watching such videos is that someone with a camera can go around and look only at the negative and portray it in a way that is disproportionate.

Undoubtedly abuses take place. People will do misguided things.

I would ask those who have been to WYD if what is represented in the video is what is seen out of the majority, or is it a minority.

Even a minorty is still scandalous, but it's also important not to paint an entire event in a negative light.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

I think the people who organise it seriously underestimate the young people to whom it is aimed. The people in charge are in their 50s and 60s, (always with a group of token "youth" gathered around) who will remain convinced that more guitars and clapping is what will draw The Young People in, and who react to traditional forms of liturgy (etc) as vampires do to sudden bursts of bright light. The Eucharistic adoration building at WYD Toronto was packed from the minute it opened until they kicked us out after ten pm. The lines for confession in the building attached to it were always long. In the vocations building, the girls were mobbing the tables manned by nuns in full habit, so much so that the plump old shorts-wearing New Age anti-nuns were quite miffed.

That being said, the crowds for "Fr. Stan" the rapping priest were loud and enthusiastic and the only drawback with the eucharistic adoration was that it was perpetually accompanied by a noisy guitar band.

The problem is that The Youth (TM) aren't being led towards anything better. The grownups aren't in charge.

Anonymous said...

I think that all the money spent on these events could certainly do more good elsewhere with the involvement of young people.

The suggestion of taking young people of pilgrimages is an excellent one and would teach them more about the Faith and the Church.

The Crescat said...

True, if you go out seeking the negative than that is what you'll find. The same for the positive.

Color me confused though, if you have to actively *seek* the positive to put a holy spin on it than that speaks volumes.

Rather or not the negative is the minority is also not an issue, in my opinion. At a Catholic event full of potential vocation seekers the negative should not be in existence at ALL. Not even a little bit.

Would I want my son to attend WYD. From what I've read here, no.

Ironic, you talked about WYD being a pilgrimage and suggested by the mere fact that youth were in attendance they would receive graces. 1) you have to be receptive and in the right place spiritually to even gain benefit from those graces; think seeds on un-fertile soil and 2)a pilgrimage is a holy spiritually self effacing event. I like Terry's post on pilgrims.

http://abbey-roads.blogspot.com/2011/06/pilgrimage-lost.html

Stella, I appreciate your comments and they were fair and even handed. No one can debate the goodness of Catholics from all over the world coming to celebrate being Catholic. We do it every Sunday in the mass.

You write; "Yes, there is absolutely a party atmosphere, and why not? WYD isn't a mediaeval penitential pilgrimage, undertaken to remit grave mortal sins."

A pilgrimage is a penitential journey to gain indulgences and remit sin by it's very definition. You can't change the meaning of the word "pilgrimage". In stating that WYD has an atmosphere not like a pilgrimage, you are admitting it is not one.

I see there is passion there in the attendants and a genuine desire to learn more about the faith. But why wait for an annual event? It's like those C & E Catholics that show up and be all religious Christmas and Easter. Most of these kids are over 18 and adults so there should exist a desire and ambition to seek out what they are missing from their catechism every day.

I remain un-convinced.

Stella Orientis said...

I suppose I should exercise my right of reply, having been directly addressed.

I agree that WYD is not a pilgrimage in the sense you have defined. However, I also believe that "pilgrimage" need not be as strictly understood, and under a broader (yet still acceptably Catholic) definition WYD would fit in. The fact is, it was a brand new phenomenon invented by an unprecedented Pope to attract a jaded, unchurched generation of youth back to the Faith. By any fair measure, it is working.

I wouldn't dream of comparing WYD to the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, let alone the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem. I would also strongly resist the comparisons of WYD with Call to Action clown "Masses", or the Cardinal Schönborn balloon "Mass". WYD is made up of catechesis, pilgrimage (on foot), entertainment festival and pontifical liturgy. It's a novelty, but not a bad one.

I think most of the negative responses have also come from experiences predating the present Holy Father's involvement. I count only one experience besides my own from after Toronto (ie Cologne or Sydney), and in fairness we have to admit that this may be one of the most important matters of consideration. We are lucky in that Madrid's turn is right around the corner, and we can try to look at it objectively (ie before the hardened opinionists reach us). Read the Holy Father's addresses, watch the Stations of the Cross, forgive the youth for their ignorance of sackcloth and ashes.

I genuinely think that if Bl JPII had made WYD another penitential pilgrimage, untold numbers of vocations would have been stalled or stifled. The youth who make regular pilgrimages to their local church already have a solid prayer life, read the lives of saints and heed the Holy Father. WYD is for the 98% of once-Catholic youth who need that flame of faith re-ignited, and the results here in Sydney speak for themselves.

smk from NE again said...

One more thing to consider: MOST (yes, there are exceptions) youth, especially those not catechized or poorly catechized, would not even consider a strictly penetential pilgrimage, but will quickly go on a WYD type of pilgrimage. I heard one 'vocation story' where the young man admitted he went for one reason only: his crush was going, and he wanted to get to know her. Now, he's an ordained priest who attributes not only his vocation, but the start of a real faith journey, to WYD. Cat- maybe your son doesn't need a WYD type pilgrimage, but MANY do.

The Crescat said...

"I think most of the negative responses have also come from experiences predating the present Holy Father's involvement."

Yes, I had noticed that, which is why I wasn't too quick to condemn it 100% w/out speaking to those who've actually attended.

smk, you make a interesting point.

I wish there was some statistical data done. I would love to see numbers of those completely converted back to solid teachings or a active vocations.

I hate to come off sounding like the joyless curmudgeon. As a mom, I tend to be overly protective of our youth. They are our future.

Sancta Camerinus said...

They're "on fire for the Lord", but they've never cracked the Catechism or Sacred Scriptures.

Also, I wholly believe that this is NOT what Bl Pope John Paul II had in mind to happen, nor is it what Pope Benedict wants to happen in the slight.

The Ironic Catholic said...

What Stella said about defining pilgrimage.

For the record, I think the culture of death, relativism run amuck, the demise of any kind of moral compass...the church has to worry about these things a whole lot more than WYD, which I'd hold as more good than bad. My sense is most WYD participants are pretty involved and catechized, and have indeed "cracked open Sacred Scriptures".

I'd send my kids in a heartbeat (I may chaperone, admittedly).

BUT if I have any beef with WYD, it is how some parishes seem to make it the high point of the youth ministry year, forgetting that the high point occurs every Easter. Not a WYD problem as much as a "how do you use this opportunity" problem.

Smiley said...

Kat

There has been a change in WYD between the JP2 days and the BXVI days. A good example with the papal trip to the UK for the BEatification of John Henry Newman. The whole trip revolved around the Eucharistic adoration and the beatification mass. I saw it on computer and there was pin drop silence during the adoration. it was touching i would give a few body parts to be there.
I also saw WYD in sydney and it was the same it was very structured around the mass and adoration.
Our parish is taking a huge contigent of youth along with 3 of the preists to Spain this year. I will have first hand reports to share with you when they return.
I know 3 seminarians and 4 religious sisters who attribute their callings to WYD events in Canada. and these seminarians and sisters are of the traditional latin type now. so it is up to you about how you take it.
I think the boy at his age is too young but maybe in his 20s he might like it.
By the way WYD is a pilgrimage, you can sign up to the wyd web site and you get weekly reflections and tasks also how to save up for your own travel. I was planning on sydney but could not make it but i did enjoy those emails they were very good. A lot of how the wyd happens depends on the local bishops of the country. if you have loosey goosey bishops then you have a problem.

Smiley said...

I think WYD helps youth get this outlook

"Get rid of that 'small-town' outlook. Enlarge your heart till it becomes universal, 'catholic'.

Don't flutter about like a hen, when you can soar to the heights of an eagle."

The exposure to catholics of differnt nations, cultures etc helps youth to learn and love the Chruch the whole church.

Lisa said...

I attended WYD in Cologne (2005) and Sydney (2008). Both events changed my life and strengthened my faith.

I live in a country where Catholics are a small minority, and church life is, to a large extent, dominated by old people who complain a lot and find fault with everything in the Church.
Before I went to Cologne, I thought I was the only practising young Catholic in the world, or at least in my own country. But WYD made me realise that I was not alone, and I met wonderful Catholic friends there. Many of the young people in my diocese who are active in the church have benefited greatly from WYD. WYD in Sydney inspired us to found a local young adults group focusing on catechesis and prayer. I know several priests and seminarians whose vocations were helped along by WYD, and I know engaged and married couples who met at WYD.

WYD gives people the opportunity to experience Catholicism in a new, truly universal way. Participating in Church activities with hundreds of thousands of young people from all over the world who share your faith is a very powerful experience. And it all takes place in a profoundly joyful atmosphere, which gives people (participants as well as the population of the host country) a positive impression of the Church.

I agree with the Ironic Catholic, Stella Orientis, smk and Smiley. Please do not judge WYD on the basis of a few video clips! True, there are some awful "LifeTeen"-style songs during the masses before the catechesis sessions (and I hate the hand movements), but that is actually the only bad thing about WYD I can think of. The liturgies at the big events (the opening and closing masses, the Pope's arrival and the vigil) are celebrated in a reverent and dignified manner and have good (mostly classical-style) music.

It is very clear to those of us who have attended WYD that the whole thing is a pilgrimage* focused on Christ and the sacraments. I find it very strange to see Catholics complain about such a profoundly Catholic event centred on masses, confession and adoration, solid catechesis and excellent, inspiring addresses and homilies from the Holy Father.

I am really looking forward to Madrid!


*Oh, and of course WYD is a pilgrimage! Reconciliation and indulgences are always associated with WYD, and the lines for confession are long, so the penitential element is definitely there.

Sancta Camerinus said...

@Ironic Catholic,
I agree! The ones who haven't cracked open the Sacred Scriptures are the ones who are there just for the music and the "fun", but overall WYD can increase ones faith, if they know why they're there.

I don't see anything wrong with going....but I don't think the average WYD is celebrated like that in the video.

The Crescat said...

Stella, Ironic & Lisa et all;

I asked for opinions of those who actually attended and boy I got them.

It's easy for me to form a decision based on a few articles and internet videos but nothing helps more than testimonials of those who actually attended. I thank you all!

Hopefully as time progresses more positive news will come out and so will better videos. I don't expect fair spins from some sources, to remain nameless. But you who commented have nothing to gain or lose by providing honest insight.

Thanks again. I also want to thank everyone for their thoughtful courteous replies. Civility is aides in important discourse.

Gail F said...

I have not been there but I have talked with seminarians who led groups to the the last two and said they were fantastic.

I would send my kids in a minute, if I could afford the tickets to Rome! My parish is ignoring it, as it ignores anything to do with young people -- including our Archdiocese's retreats. As a result my kids don't want to go because they don't know anyone going, and think the only kids there will be nuts. Whereas if we had a group going they would go just to be with their friends.

Is that the best reason they should go? No, but it is the reason many kids do things, and the ONLY reason some kids do things. I belonged to Young Life AND a Zionist youth group when I was in high school, just to hang out with my friends. My parents didn't mind and I thought and talked a lot about God. I know they were both part of what led me back to the Catholic faith in the end.

Anyway, back to WYD: The seminarians I know vote yay.

Anonymous said...

It has been said before but it needs saying again that the whole WYD phenomenon was the express creation of Blessed JPII who was himself an actor, an entertainer and narcissist. He basked in these silly circuses where he predictably was the focus. Due to this phenomenon, this mindset, Roman Catholic kids have now become parents themselves with a vacuous, distorted grasp of Roman Catholicism. They in turn transmit to their own children the corrosive message they manage to remember (if they bother) from all the fog and noise.

Badger Catholic said...

Kat, I save all my best comments for your blog.

Anonymous said...

Several of Mother Angelica's nuns and many Sisters of Life credit a WYD with opening them to the idea of religious life. It's easy to criticize everything, but we have priests and nuns who first heard the call in all that noise. I think I will not criticize. As Jesus said when the apostles were complaining about others preaching in his name, "who is not against us is with us."

berenike said...

I went to the WYD in Rome, against all my own inclinations, on the advice of a sane and devout friend of my own age. We had one dodgy catechesis from some bishop, with a priest in the background making enormous thumbs-down signs at every point the bishop got wrong. Most of the music at the papal liturgies was crap, during the last Mass the Italian group next to ours barely crawled out of their sleeping bags (and then they were mostly in bikinis, so it was just as well really). There were probably some other crap things going on, but I didn't notice them, or have forgotten.
But it was a fantastic experience. Rome prayed. I would second what Smiley said. The sheer relief and happiness of being with other Catholics, of being normal. The prayer. Amazing amazing experience.

This from someone who loathes the whole enthusiastic mass popular yoof wotsit, and loathed it then. Hilary is, I am reliably informed, only moany and crabbit online - I am like that in real life, and I loved the JPII WYD in Rome.

Amanda said...

I was at WYD Toronto 2002 when I was 13 and I enjoyed meeting Catholics from around the world. Other than that, there is a lot of partying and dancing while the prayerful aspect is very charismatic.What I remember most vividly was the rapping Franciscan!

To be honest, I didn't have a bad experience camping out the night before the Papal Mass; it was a good way to meet good Catholic people. Although since then I definitely have had better experiences meeting Catholic youth, in more spiritual atmospheres, by going to pilgrimages.

If ever I would consider going to another WYD, I would definitely go with Juventutem knowing that there would be plenty of traditional Mass, lace and grace.

berenike said...

Here's a bunch of Karen (yup, that's right, the ethnic group for the defence of whose rights James Mawdsley was jailed in Burma some years ago) youth en route to Madrid.
KTOTV.

We are all Catholic first, and then Norwegian or Mexican or Fijian or ... and WYD brings this home, something that remains for the rest of one's life. We are one giant family. One might never see those people again, but you have met them, and you know that somewhere in Papua New Guinea or Luxembourg or the Dutch Antilles or Singapore, those people are living out the faith until we all meet in the valley of Josephat.

Sabine said...

I was at the World Youth Day just because it happened to be in Cologne, where I work.
I've never taken the faith very seriously until World Youth Day. My pastor asked me if I could pick up two pilgrims who came from Poland. We became friends immediately and the two talked over with me to attend some events, and wow, I mean really. The first time I went to confession for the first after 20 Years or something. And I met the first time really Jesus. It was great, it changed everything.
But not only me but also for many others. It brought back the Eucharistic adoration. A few young people have long been talking to their pastors, until they were ready because we really did not do something like this. As my Cardinal Archbishop learned that there was a group of young people, who tried to Eucharistic Adoration, he gave them - among other- the cathedral. Now there is a monthly Eucharistic Adoration night in the Cathedral and over a thousand people come each time and there are long lines at the confessionals. Meanwhile, there are more than 20 cities that have joined in the Republic and in neighboring countries and new cities added each year. So it is not only about what the pilgrims take from WYD, is is what they bring to the cities.

Sarah said...

I went in 2002, and called it "Catholic Woodstock" because I couldn't think of a more succinct way to explain "four awesome days of hanging out and singing and praying with thousands of my new BFFs AND THE POPE!!!" Seeing so many Catholics in one place gives you a glimpse of what heaven must be like.

Sure, there were some silly programs to fill the random hours. (I remember some "vocation celebration" concert thing keeping us from falling asleep at the vigil camp out.) But our group just ignored those. Like an outdoor music festival, you can pick from several events going on at once.

No matter the musical trappings, you cannot deny the amazing grace that comes from making a pilgrimage of this nature. God touched my heart in ways I had never expected. I thought I would have a fun time, take some cool pictures of the Pope - I never imagined THIS would be the time to finally overcome my scrupulous conscience.

Also, never before had I seen so many nuns in one place. Enough said.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little late to the party but thought I would chime in since you asked for feedback from those who have been there.

One thing that is forgotten here is the amount of spiritual preparation (catechesis, retreats, recollections, etc) that some, if not most, pilgrims do before embarking on the actual pilgrimage. My own preparation was not that good, but for some, it can be as long as a year.

I went to WYD in Sydney 08 and have very wonderful memories from there. The first that hits is the universality of the church. The Church is indeed Catholic. At various times, we found ourselves chatting randomly with a priest from Cologne, a pilgrim from Poland, sang and danced with other pilgrims from Germany. Chatted with nuns from Kiribati, got told by a Missionary of Charity nun to consider the religious life. There are so many random moments of grace.

Yes, there are some dodgy elements in some of the masses, and there are some groups that might be a little more wacko, but I only saw very few of these. For the most part, the catecheses that I received was good.

From the outside, the local bystanders also gave us positive comments. Some said they have never seen this great a gathering of youth that behaved so well. One lady randomly approached my group and told us how beautiful it was that we were there as pilgrims. Another lady on the train gave us parting gifts on the day after the final mass. I think this event also inspires random acts of kindness.

It is not that we are incapable of doing all these or experiencing such grace within our ordinary circumstances. But sometimes, God's voice is drowned out, and oddly enough, in this WYD atmosphere of celebration, we hear God again and feel the spark of the divine.

In 08, they also had a vocations expo for 3-4 days and I was amazed when I visited it. I learned about so many of the different congregations and lay ministries there are in the church and was particularly awed by the Divine Mercy nuns that were there. In Australia, I read that after WYD 08, there has been a rise in vocations to the priesthood there.

And finally, there is that special unity that you feel when you are with the Holy Father. The youth needs him and loves him and this is a perfect opportunity for him to reach out to them. The secular world as well, who sometimes find it so easy to give up on the young, needs to see these joyful, youthful faces.

So forgive my long rambling. Basically, if I had the money and time to go for WYD in Madrid, I would have done so in a heartbeat.

- C

berenike said...

I forgot to say - I was in Rome again about a month after the 2000 WYD, and the difference in the city was astounding. You can't imagine how wonderful it was to be in Rome when the churches were full of little groups praying the rosary, or before the relics of the saints, Masses going on at different altars, happy pilgrims all over the streets ... I love Rome, that next visit was most remarkable, and I've been four or five times since, but those days in August 2000 were exceptional.

berenike said...

I remember walking back from Mass on the closing day. About 40 degrees (C), blazing sunshine, and we had kilometres of tarmac and concrete to traipse through. Little Old Ladies stood by windows and balconies and poured water on us to cool us down - I remember especially two who had made holes in a poly bag to make a sort of shower.

I used to daydream about WYD in Edinburgh. What a boost to the native Catholics. I imagine it was something the same for the Romans, Colognialists, Sydneyites, ...