World Youth Day Pilgrimage, Part Four: MADRID

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Highlights of our three days in the Spanish capital:

  • Praying the Way of the Cross on Friday evening and hearing Pope Benedict speak to us for the first time! I was really moved by his words about suffering:

“Christ’s passion urges us to take upon our own shoulders the sufferings of the world, in the certainty that God is not distant or far removed from man and his troubles.  On the contrary, He became one of us ‘in order to suffer with man in an utterly real way — in flesh and blood … hence in all human suffering, we are joined by One who experiences and carries that suffering with us…'”

You can read the Holy Father’s whole address here.
  • Singing hymns of thanksgiving under the stars
  • Running into a priest-friend of mine from the States (remember Fr. Timothy?) on the metro. With 2 million pilgrims running around Madrid, imagine the chances!
  • Walking the 5 km or so to the Cuatro Vientos airfield (and enjoying it!) as we watched pilgrims from all over the world marching and clapping and joyfully singing, “each of them in their own native language” (cf. Acts 2:9)
  • Finding a group of friends from my mission year – some of whom I hadn’t seen in over 2 years! – in the multitude of 2 million pilgrims at Cuatro Vientos. What a precious gift, straight from the heart of Jesus!
  • Listening to the Holy Father greet his “dear young people” in 7 different languages
  • Adoring our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament with the young Church and our beloved Shepherd. Hearing all those voices singing “Tantum Ergo” was, for me, a little glimpse of what Heaven will be like – when we will praise God with one voice…
  • Camping out under an escalator (yes, on the floor) in the Barajas Airport. I know it sounds miserable, but we were just happy to be somewhere warm and dry, away from all that crazy weather!
  • Mass in the airport chapel with lots of other pilgrims. We sang impromptu hymns in Spanish, Italian, Latin and English – another beautiful experience of unity in the Body of Christ.
  • Running into yet another friend from my mission year in the airport! I have no doubt that the Lord arranged all these “chance meetings” with loved ones at WYD. He knew how much seeing them would refresh my soul!

Madrid was, in a word: unforgettable.

Click here for Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.

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