After Benedict XVI drove through the crowd in his Popemobile, we could actually see him walk on stage. He gave an opening prayer as the youth continued its energetic cheers, again and again… “Esta es la Juventud del Papa!” A group of youth carried a life size cross across the stage while the audience quieted in reverent anticipation of the Pope’s words.
Sitting all day under the heat of the sun, we were hoping to be blessed with shade to cool ourselves and water to quench our thirst. As the vigil approached, threatening clouds appeared and youth murmured about the approaching rain storm in fear that it would soak our sleeping bags (lying out in our assigned sleeping zone).
Then it began to drizzle. The crowds erupted into cheers, not relenting in their enthusiasm for God and the spirit of Catholic youth. It continued to rain harder, and the high winds forced the Pope to take cover under the stage. The youth cheered louder and louder; they would not give up. We were all fighting against this act of the devil who was trying to prevent our celebration of faith, The Holy Father, and God the Father. Well we won. The Pope addressed the Youth, “Say a little prayer and then maybe the rain will stop.” Hail Mary’s in all languages scattered the crowd, “…Salve Regina, Madre de Dios… In minutes the rain had stopped. It was a miracle. I felt completely engulfed in God’s love.
Though the rain did start up again, this was the climax of World Youth Day.
Pope Benedict XVI prepared the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and everyone knelt in adoration of Our Lord for some time. It was powerful to see the juxtaposition of the Pope with the actual presence of God himself. We had all been cheering and praising our Pope, but God our Savior is the true omnipotent being we are honoring.
The rest of the night was spectacular. Renewed by the spirit of the youth and of Our Lord, we slept happily (though a little uncomfortably) on a sandy dirt ground among fellow believers. Waking up to a gorgeous sunrise and Mass with the Holy Father, the experience could not have ended any better. As a friend and I sprinted with our backpacks after the final blessing to the metro in order to catch our plane home, thoughts about what we had just witnessed were running through my head…
Wow, that was crazy. I just saw the Pope, like with my naked eye, no big screen needed or anything. What am I supposed to make of all this? I sure hope I make my flight… I don’t even know what to think right now, I guess I am just so overwhelmed by the amount of faithful Catholic youth out there. And we talked to so many people who were so energetic about sharing their faith. That one French girl was really geared up, so cool! I am so blessed to have been able to come here, wow, thanks God. And that rain, amazing! This will be a week I will never forget.
God bless you all and thank you so much for your prayers!