Day Freaking Threeish

It’s been difficult to think of a meaningful post to post, simply because the events of World Youth Day are still two days away, and we feel as much like tourists as pilgrims. Or perhaps pilgrims doing touristy things. That’s it. We visit awesome places – Avila, Sagovia, Toledo, Cordoba, Madrid – we see the sights, taste the food, drink the sangria, make foolish American mistakes, but we are always noticed as pilgrims, as kids-here-to-see-el-Papa; as Catholics. And so we’ve had some experiences worth writing about.

Nick has been gathering intentions of the people we interact with in a composition book, and ends most inane conversations with a somewhat alarming, “Is there anything you’d like us to pray for?” A waitress informed us that she was a ‘pecador’ – a sinner – which we assured her was a great reason to have folks pray for her, and so she cautiously wrote her name down in our book, with a look I am obligated to describe as bemused. A lady described by our bartenders at ‘Muuu’ as a “woman who drinks too much when she should go home” was furious at us for describing ourselves as pilgrims. A pilgrim, she said, is someone who walks until they can’t anymore, like she did on the road to Santiago de Compostela. They certainly didn’t blog. We argued with her good-naturedly, and realized she was a remarkably brilliant and perceptive woman, full of a Catholic heart, and a spiritual sensibility about her that enabled her – even in her very drunken state – to name some of our insecurities and faults. But she was filled with an acute awareness of her own sins, and she alternated between describing herself as a good Catholic and as a ‘bruja’ – a witch. So into the book she went. There was the beautiful shopkeeper in Cordoba, who admitted that she had been avoiding Mass so she could work more, and seemed ashamed. There was a man at a bar called ‘El Hangar’, who our friend Elsa steered us away from, describing him a radical. Which of course only prompted us to hear him out. Between his Nazi-Pope theories and general Dawkinism, I have no idea the affect we had. But I liked him simply because he looked like the kind of man to start a red-flagged communist revolution, short, dark-haired…all very Dr. Zhivago. There was the woman who looked like a prostitute who I gave a rosary to. The beggar Daniel talked to. The woman running the till at the grocery-store. The sword-seller (sword-seller?) in Toledo who was furiously proud of never being divorced, and wanted us to pray for his 30-year marriage. He said “we fight, maybe she leaves for a while, but we never call lawyers.” Priests, old ladies, atheist kids; our book is a wide-cast net.

But of course, there is resistance to our presence. I was handed a pamphlet protesting the government spending on foreign ‘pilgrims’ (quotations theirs) bemoaning the fact that the government had spent 50 million on a private visit by the Pope in a time of economic recession. (This did not take into account that his visit was public, for the Pope is a Head of State, or that the World Youth Day pilgrims are expected to bring in over 100 million euros in profit for Spain, or that Spain is an officially Catholic country, but the general anti-Catholic sentiment was notable.) There was a small march in central Madrid, protesting ’500 years of oppression’ by the Church, perhaps referring to Ferdinand and Isabella’s grand ‘go home’ to the Jews and Moors of Spain. (Goodness, the politics are crazy here, the drunk lady I mentioned earlier only refering to Muslims as puta Moros – I’ll let you translate that yourself.) But overall the reaction is one of either positive greeting, or a sort of shock. A shock that the Church is so alive, a shock that Americans teenagers would spend all their money to see one old man. So a good shock.

There is so much more, and I hope I will recall it all for you. My posts drag ever so slightly behind my experiences…I’m excited to put up the video about our – rather frightening – experience in central Madrid. I cannot wait for World Youth Day to start – my kingdom for an English Mass – and I miss my girl back home, who I will not see until Thanksgiving, for I am going straight from World Youth Day to Franciscan. But life is very good across the ocean. Now adios, cigars call me.

  • Anonymous

    Awesome post! Make sure you wear your pink shorts while using your new fan for a magnificent European effect. Check out Our Lady of Mercy for an English Mass while in Madridhttp://www.ourladyofmercy.info/

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01658116461483425280 Brandon Vogt

    LOL "The YOUCAT. This is not a video sharing site for felines. No."

  • Anonymous

    Hey, Bad Catholic–My daughter is there, with the Community of St. John pilgrims…This is pretty amazing! What an opportunity, and what a unique viewpoint you are bringing to this experience. I love your book of intentions idea–I think I am going to steal this and use it in my everyday pilgrimage through life! Peace be with you–almost there!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17624589296171657699 egosumbarb

    So glad to hear more. I wish I was there! Could you do me a favor and put some of my intentions in that book. I got a few people I am praying for and any extra help would be appreciated. Thanks!Praying for you all!

  • Anonymous

    Love the videos you've been posting- it seems like you're having an amazing time there. God Bless your journey!- Rachel

  • Laura

    I'm really worried about you spending so much time in bars, stay away from the sangria!!! (kidding, sort of, haha)It sounds crazy when you describe all the people you have met… Waiting for youth day!

  • http://www.findingsomethingbetter.wordpress.com Rose

    The last few seconds of the video made me laugh out loud! :D I linked back to it on my blog to share the awesomeness of WYD and magical backpacks.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03325576300752777588 Annony11

    No fair… I didn't have a Pope manga in my backpack :( That's what I get for registering the week before, I suppose. Not making that mistake for Rio 2013!


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