Wednesday August 17, 2011
Today started with an 8:45am wake up after a much needed seven hours of sleep and a light Spanish breakfast, before heading to the Viva la Vida! Pro-Life Youth Festival. Organized by the Irish, the conference showcased many Pro-life Programs throughout the world (England, USA, Poland, Canada, Australia, Austria, New Zealand, and Ireland were all represented). The speakers’ main theme centered on the importance of using images to proclaim the evil of abortion, as they have proven to be extremely effective. The goal of each group was to end abortion, totally and completely: First by changing public opinion, and then the law. Currently, many speakers said, society uses people and loves things. We are acting completely backwards. Interspersed between the presentations, several bands performed and the crowd got more riled up each time.
Highlights included a talk by Lila Rose, founder of Live Action, who dedicates her life to ending abortion and investigates Planned Parenthood’s facilitation of child abuse through undercover operations (check out her videos on YouTube!) The band L’Angelus was also a hit! A combination of Cajun fiddle tunes, saxophone pop, and New Orleans R&B, these four siblings put on quite a show that got the audience off their feet to say the least! It was not long before their younger 9 and 5 year old sisters, 7 year old twin brothers, and mother came on to perform as well—such a powerful expression of family and life.
After the conference, we made our way (extremely slowly due to increasingly massive crowds) to the Parque del Retiro. The metro was just insane…picture included…but it just goes to show how many youth there are out there living the Catholic Faith. Ole!
Exiting the metro we immediately come across a church and went inside to take a peak and say a prayer. The contrast from the crowded and noisy streets to the air conditioned and serene church was significant. It felt as if God was reminding us to take a hiatus from our busy lives and make that quiet time for Our Lord. Just so happens the priest needed an English version of the WYD pilgrimage book and we had one. Mass was starting in 10 minutes. I bet you can guess what happened. The mass was beautiful, and in English! The Lord is always leading us to where he wants us to be and He certainly had a plan for us today.
At the park we stopped for ice cream (a necessity of course), stood in the shade from the hot sun while watching a youth pep rally and band (the spirit never dies down, wherever you go), and made friends with some Italians who fervently tried to persuade us to trade our American flag for theirs along with every other patriotic item they had. After a solid 20 minutes of friendly argumentation, we decided to meet at the same spot at 3pm on Saturday to exchange flags, story to be continued…
After finally making it back through the crowded metro to our host’s home, we quickly changed into a clean and sweat free pair of clothes before heading back to town for dinner. Exiting the Puerta del Sol metro stop around 8:20pm, we stumbled upon a march of protestors against the pope. Now this is something I would rather not include but I believe it to be significant to the heart of the youth here today. Despite lines of police separating the youth from the protestors and blocking two major streets, every country seemed to have a group of youth praying and shouting, “Benedicto, we love you!” Through the difficult trials, we do not back down.
The night ended with a spectacular performance of Flamenco dancing. Every step, every facial expression is done with intention. The little things which these talented dancers do make the show so full of passion. It is in some way a metaphor for our own lives—we must do what we do with a true passion for the glory of God.
I would like to end with a brief prayer Lila Rose said in her early teens and shared with us. “Lord, use me. Use me to work for Your glory and to fulfill Your plans for me.”
Good (3am) night!
Written by: Elizabeth Lent, Junior at University of Notre Dame and parishioner at Little Flower in Bethesda
Photos by: Elizabeth Lent