I really like the logo for this year’s World Youth Day gathering in Madrid:
I also like a lot of the writing and reports I’m seeing from pilgrims. Patheos’ own Tim Muldoon’s piece is a very fine exposition of the hopes and faith that lie behind the celebrations that some too-quickly dismiss as “Catholic Woodstock”:
In making a pilgrimage to WYD, then, we seek a deeper and a greater hope, one that does not fall prey to the silly trading of power from one generation to the next. We seek the faces of others who, like us, reach out beyond the limitations of human attempts to create utopias, toward a God whose message of hope is inscribed within our hearts, and whose offer of meaning even amidst suffering is the only satisfaction of our deepest desires. Our guide in this pilgrimage, Pope Benedict XVI, has written:
His love alone gives us the possibility of soberly persevering day by day, without ceasing to be spurred on by hope, in a world which by its very nature is imperfect. His love is at the same time our guarantee of the existence of what we only vaguely sense and which nevertheless, in our deepest self, we await: a life that is “truly” life. (Spe Salvi, 31)
A life that is truly life: that is what draws us. And this is no selfish desire. Today my students are spread out all over the Iberian peninsula, serving in various ways: cleaning beaches; working with the mentally and physically handicapped; living with those experiencing urban poverty; being with children and the elderly. They do not seek an escape from the harsh realities of life. They wish instead for a transformed vision of life that enables them to enter these harsh realities with joy. For they understand that such a transformed vision is, to use an image of Saint Augustine, like cleaning out a jar filled with vinegar in order that God might fill it with honey.
You’ll want to read the whole thing; it’s been picked up by the WaPo, with some nice pictures added, like this one, by Andrea Comas, at Reuters:
Note the clever construction of these confessionals; those uncomfortable with face-to-face confession may enter from the back and there is the screen by the priest’s face.
Tim is also updating from Madrid at his page:
The transformation of a city into a place of shared pilgrimage has changed the very feeling of public space. I am with a group of 15 Boston College students, and around us are countless other groups of similar size. We see each other as neighbors, and feel comfortable in public spaces with each other in ways unthinkable on the usual streets of Manhattan or Los Angeles or Atlanta. Today, on this hot August day, many have simply plopped down in this park where I write and taken a siesta in the shade.
The unusual sights include disproportionate numbers of habited religious, many themselves young; rows and rows of confessionals in the streets; throngs in churches, making them look like rides at Disneyworld; random groups sitting and praying together in streets, in parks, in churches, everywhere.
I remember the August heat of Madrid, where my husband and I paused for a day, last year, on our way to Rome. A shady siesta is a smart thing!
More from Madrid: the Catholic Herald says Madrid will never forget these scenes of devotion:
In the middle of London’s equivalent of the Strand both young and old packed the streets, dancing, singing, chanting and, moments later, kneeling in humble reverence to adore God and prepare for their hero, Pope Benedict XVI.[…] Given the courage and wisdom that Benedict XVI showed during his visit to Britain, I doubt the Pope will waste any time in using the incredible demonstration of faith by the young to remind the current government that the Church is integral to the character and values of Spanish democracy.
Get Religion notes that press coverage up to now has focused on “costs and protests” but that’s par for the course. Recall the pre-event coverage of nearly any Catholic gathering focuses on costs and protests, or problems in the church. Before Benedict’s trip to the UK, the coverage made it all sound so dire, one expected disaster-upon-disaster, and instead, the trip was an unqualified triumph for both the pope and faithful.
I’ve spoken to many young religious who say they first heard the call to serve while in the crowds, noise and silences of WYD. Deacon Greg brings us a whole family that came to be, via WYD (we don’t talk enough about the vocation of marriage). Thank God for the internet, by which we can see things with our own eyes, and read the thoughts of the people, there, rather than rely on the sometimes jaded, sometimes plain-old prejudiced, press.
Check Pat Gohn’s column, in which she looks at some of the origins of WYD, and notes:
During WYD there will be over 121 hours of continuous prayer in more than 300 communities and 40 dioceses in Spain.
And near-constant opportunities for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. I still get chills recalling the stillness of 80,000 people adoring Christ with Pope Benedict in the United Kingdom, last September.
UPDATE II: She entered the monastery on the same day Benedict XVI was born, and never again stepped outside, but now she’s leaving the house, just to meet him! Remarkable.
UPDATE III: Fr. Barron’s WORD ON FIRE team is posting from Madrid as well!
Bad Catholic has posted very little since hitting Madrid. I wonder what he’s up to?