Saturday, August 20th-Sunday, August, 21st
The past 48 hours have been a whirlwind of emotions, culminating World Youth Day 2011 in an unimaginably high spirit of enthusiasm and hope.
At 9:15 am on Saturday morning our group head out to make the 5 mile hike to Cuatro Vientos, an airport outside of town where the vigil would be held that evening. That night everyone would sleep outside and then wake up to attend mass with the Pope on Sunday morning. Carrying backpacks stuffed with our next three meals, sleeping bags and pads, we prayed the Joyful mysteries of the Holy Rosary and sang the Chaplet of Divine Mercy…For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world… We also joined in signing praise songs with other groups walking along side us. Making friends with some fellow Americans from California, we got lost with them a few times during the hike; don’t we all lose our way in life occasionally, knowing though that the Lord will always come after us like the lost sheep, just as he did through the helpful volunteers scattered all over to help direct the crowds.
Arriving at Cuatro Vientos at noon we maneuvered around masses of people all gathering to honor the Pope andreceive his words and blessing. We left our things in section D8 where we would be sleeping that evening and then proceeded to stuff our pockets with food, water, a journal, cards, and anything else we would want for the rest of the day. Next stop was to claim our seats in front of the stage where Pope Benedict XVI would lead a vigil celebration that evening and we would not return to our backpacks until 11pm. Our group, fortunate to receive tickets for the front section of seats, secured the seventh row in the second bunch of seats, front and center from the stage. As we waited for the Pope’s arrival at 7pm, the sun’s heat beat down on us but we were all just so pleased to be sitting down, it was a blessing to see how much we take for granted in our ordinary life, something so simple as a chair. We also may take advantage of how present Our Lord is to us each and every day. We may not always make us of his love for us, believing that we can do it on our own, but nothing can be done without the power and love of God.
Throughout the afternoon, several bands performed and pop culture music was played on loud speakers. It was purely fun the many times the whole community of youth stood up on our chairs, waving flags, singing, and dancing along to these songs we were all familiar with, uniting us into one body, one family. As we had these 6 hours to spare, my friend and I who are working on a documentary film about World Youth Day had a lot of time to go around and meet with youth from several countries. Asking why they came to WYD and what they believed to be the significance of the youth in the Catholic Church, we had the opportunity to interview two young adults from Ethiopia, several girls from Canada, two English guys, an Aussie, and others. At one point we talked to a brother and sister from Southern France. The sister answered our questions in French, and though we had no clue what she was saying, it was clear to see she was quite hyped up and enthusiastic about her faith. The excitement and emotion that came through in her eyes, hand motions, and tone of voice was absolutely powerful. It makes me smile now, remembering how alive this young women was. This is the spirit of the youth in the Church, the spirit that we are all hear fighting to renew in the world.
Written by: Elizabeth Lent, Junior at University of Notre Dame and parishioner at Little Flower in Bethesda
Photos by: Elizabeth Lent