Saturday, 24 September 2011

Days Thirteen and Fourteen

We were given the choice of going to Mass at 7:30 on the Monday, and so Marie and I decided we would go, as a nice way of rounding off the pilgrimage. We gathered in the room we had Mass the night before, and it was lovely to see so many of us up and joining in the celebration of Mass. We then had a lush breakfast, there was so much stuff on offer it was crazy, but it was so good.

Then we had to go and get our bags and bring them down to the lobby. Slowly the word was disseminated that Jonny had left his passport in the safe at the hotel in Madrid. Hannah decided that she would go and help him look for it and lo and behold it was in the first pocket of his suitcase that she looked in! It certainly had everyone in the group checking that they had their passport and that it was in the right bag!

We all piled onto the coach and began the long journey up to Calais. But instead of putting on the Sound of Music and getting it finished Fr Phil put on Karol. It was a shame because I don't think one person saw the whole film because we were all still shattered.

We finally stopped at a service station for lunch in France. It was so expensive in there so my lunch was some pasta, some madelines and diet coke. The woman who served me was really unfriendly, and I was quite miffed by it all. After eating our food, we were back on the coach, said a cheeky decade, and watched Sherlock Holmes, before we stopped again. Yet again the services were really expensive and I made do with some very insubstantial food. At this services I found a make your own egg mayo kit, which was very strange. You got a boiled egg and a sachet of mayo...weird!!

The coach drivers were doing their hardest to get us to Calais in time for the 12:45am ferry. Whilst journeying on we passed Rouen Cathedral, said another cheeky decade, did diaries, did two quizzes, watched the end of Sound of Music (finally), and got some sleep until 1am when we had to get out and go through border control. I was asked by my less than cheery guy, where we'd been.

We all got back on the coach quickly and headed to the ferry. We were told that we wouldn't be getting a ferry until 3:20am, which made everyone groan, but luckily for us we managed to get on the ferry that was just closing boarding. Although we did leave one of the Leeds coaches behind in the process.

The cafe was beckoning and I ended up getting some lovely beans on toast. It certainly hit the spot. After this we didn't have much time before we were docking, just before, Rory led us with a few songs which was great.

We then got back on the coach, after saying goodbye to Sophie Barrett, and gave Andrew and Peter our gifts, of a bottle of whiskey, and (on my suggestion) a diocesan shirt each. We then said our goodbyes to them because it was quite clear that when we stopped to let them off and get our new driver, we would all be asleep, and we were, I don't even remember the coach coming to a stop!

We made our way to Norton Caines where we had breakfast and we said goodbye to Rachel. After we got back on the coach we all wrote in cards for Fr Aiden and Fr Bob before we got to Knutsford where me, Sophie Benson and Amelia got out.

Sophie's parents kindly gave me a lift to Manchester airport where I got the train down to Swansea, finally getting in about 5pm. And there ends my wonderful pilgrimage to Madrid.

Day Twelve

I surprisingly managed to sleep quite well and woke up at 7 to the dulcit tones of Fr Phil telling everyone it was our last chance to go to the loo. After packing up I ventured off and discovered that the burst pipe leak was 100 times worse, and ended up with wet muddy feet. Luckily, it was already quite warm so they did dry quite qucikly.

When I got back to camp, I managed to swap one of my polo shirts for a Mexican one. That was very much down to Alan and I was so chuffed because it is a great t-shirt. We all then grabbed our stuff and walked towards one of the exits. After we got there and Fr Phil gave a few announcements we were aloud off, and so Lizzie and I went off to swap some shirts. We ended up swapping some shirts with some American's. Didn't get the shirt I wanted but it's still cool.

Laura and I then went on another search to find people to swap with. We found some portuguese people to swap with, and I got a Chinese shirt, which I was over the moon with. Laura later got the kind of shirt that I would have preferred but I was just so happy to have a Chinese shirt and it had the guy's name in it so now whenever I see it or wear it I will pray for Anthony. Laura managed after a lot of persuasion to get a Brazilian shirt, though they were rather reluctant. Lizzie tried her luck, but they didn't want to swap another one.

I also met some Syrians, some Macedonians, some more Chinese people and we also found some people from Hereford who had lost their group, and we managed to reunite them.

Before we knew it Mass had started and so we all re-gathered and attempted to partake in Mass. We read the readings and then the decision was made that we should leave. So, like a bunch of pack horses we gathered all our stuff together and made our way to a tube station. Fr Phil kept driving us forward and it was really hard for a lot of us to keep up. We finally got to the station and filled an empty carriage. We were travelling from one end of the line right to the other, but we managed to keep our spirits high, even through all the exhaustion, heat, and people insisting on cramming onto an extremely packed train.

Eventually we got on the coach and made our way to Vittoria. Everyone was shattered and I think everyone must have dozed off numerous times on that journey. Whilst we were awake we did some evaluations and we also shared the things that we had enjoyed the most, it was great to listen to all these things. Later on we put the Sound of Music back on...but it was on for all of about 5/10 minutes because we then began the approach to Vittoria. So we were destined to need yet another day to finish off the Sound of Music!

Lo and behold, just like in Valladolid, the road the coach needed to go down to get to the hotel, so we had to divert ourselves, but it was nowhere near as bad as in Valladolid and we were at the hotel shortly. The hotel was beautiful, and I feel like the best was saved til last. We were told that the Leeds coach had suffered a punctured tire, so we would have the hotel to ourselves for a while. We then treated ourselves to the best showers ever...simply because we had slept on an airfield the night before. We then went down to the lobby for 8pm to meet everyone for Mass, and it was so lovely to look around the lobby and see so many smiling faces. Everyone looked beautiful, and really relaxed.

Mass was yet again really lovely, even though I was really tired and things weren't really processing, it was great to have that time together. Fr Augustine did a fantastic homily, only because I was so tired I don't really remember the content, I just remember thinking it was really good and funny too.

We then had food and all us special diet people had to sit on one table, though there were so many of us we had to be on another table as well. It was quite funny actually because they wouldn't give me the normal dessert because I was one of the special diets so I was given a bowl of melon. However, John Paul and I swapped very quickly because he couldn't eat it because of his egg allergy and I could :) We were sat with the coach drivers and it was a highly entertaining time with them. I had a good chat with Peter, and they had us laughing a lot.

We then went and chatted in the bar for a while, and enjoyed being in a clean environment, before I headed to bed exhausted from the fun of the day.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Day Eleven

We were afforded a lie in today which I took full advantage of before we had to be out. As Marie and I were packing we put the TV on and saw some of the seminarian Mass, sadly there was no sign of JP, Daniel or John. It later transpired that JP and Daniel were outside and John was at the back.

The rest of the group met at 10:45 for a brief update before we clapped in the Bishop. We then had a cheeky Diocesan photo with him which was nice. Lizzie and I then joined the music group for Mass. Weirdly I had woken up with Majesty and then Zaf said that we would be starting with it. Mental!

Our bishop did a lovely job of Mass and told us that the clergy all really appreciated us young people, and how we were the missionaries of the Church.

After Mass, we all rushed off to find food and go to the supermarket so we'd have supplies for the vigil. Because Foyer's Hollywood took so long getting our order together we were late back, but so were lots of people so it wasn't too bad.

We then all grabbed our vigil stuff, gave the keys back to reception, and got on the coach. We were then taken as far as it was possible to get us to the vigil, but before we knew it we had to get out and walk. It was baking as we walked towards the air field, and Fr Phil was keeping us going at a rate of knots. We eventually made our way to just outside Cuatro Vientros and then Fr Phil went mad at the people who didn't have a hat on!

We finally got in and already thousands upon thousands of people were there. We began to walk to our designated zone, and as we were walking a fire engine came along and the firemen sprayed us with water. It felt so good, and so many people had their arms up taking in the water. We were soaked but it was amazing! It certainly made me feel a lot better. We finally made it round to D3, passing quite a few people who had fainted, only to be told at the entrance that we weren't allowed in because it was full! So we had to find somewhere else to set up for the night. Fr Phil suggested F3 so we went towards there, and as we did there were a lot of volunteers carrying this girl who was completely out of it and even had a tube in her throat. As they passed, her arm scraped against mine, I wouldn't be surprised if that girl had a dislocated sholder after that!

We got into F3 and after people had a row with Fr Phil they agreed to move forward so we could get in behind them. We started putting our tarpaulin out and then another row ensued with another guy. In the end we just had to try and ignore that man and get settled. I sat and ate an energy biscuit, which really did give me more energy, and then Ruth and I headed out on an adventure to find some water. In the scrum of people trying to get water, we met a guy from Zimbabwe who chatted to Ruth for a little while, and some people from Brooklyn. We ended up singing Beatles songs and I had so much water in my arms it was crazy!

We managed to get enough water to share out for everyone, and then got back to the others. They had kindly laid out my sleeping bag as this adventure for water took over an hour. Sadly I was on the edge of the tarp near to the guy who was going nuts about it all and also a massive ants nest. A little while after this the group leaders came back with the food. My veggie stuff was interesting to say the least. They had given us microwave meals and a veggie burger. Everyone was very kind though and gave me all sorts of things out of their bags that they didn't like or want.

Not long after this the Pope began his journey to the air field, and as he did the storm clouds were gathering. We quickly tried to get our stuff into bags to be protected from the rain and before we knew it the thunder and lightning show began. It was fork lightning on a huge scale, the storms surrounded us before it began to pour and we were told to get ourselves and our stuff under the tarpaulin. It ended up being really scary and Lizzie and I said a decade of the Rosary and then Marie, Laura, Lizzie and I said two more.

The rain abaited for a while so we all got out from under the tarpaulin, where all we could hear was screams from the people around us, and we were addressed by the Pope before we had adoration. The screens, or at least some of them, had gone off and the sound was affected for a while, we got it back after a while, but it was clear that others couldn't hear or see anything, because there was still chatter, singing and dancing.

Still we adored Christ and were blessed by the Pople, and the Blessed Sacrament was removed before we had more rain, and were again under the tarpaulin. There was a beautiful firework show to round the night off. After a little while the rain stopped and we got ourselves ready for bed. As I lay down, it rained a little bit so I put my rain jacket over my face and tried to get comfy. I had to get up in the middle of the night to go use the loo, and it was amazing how many people were still up and singing. One of the water pipes had burst and was creating a rather large pool. We got back and went back to sleep again.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Archbishop Dolan's Homily 19/08/11

'My job is to preach the good news. Here's the good news: there's no collection today!'

There are 350 priests, 50 bishops, and 10 deacons here today. If this Mass doesn't work then we're in trouble! It's amazing to see so many of you enthusiastic about the Mass.

In the Gospel we hear the last words of Jesus. It's an evangelical commission, a missionary mandate to go out to the world. St James took it so literally he came to Spain. St Peter also took him very seriously, he is the prince of the Apostles, and he went to capa mundi, Rome, where he became Pope. How blessed we are to be in the presence of the successor of Peter.

The pivotal teaching of John Paul II is the theology of invitation. The supreme task of inviting is what we are charged with, to invite others to Jesus. We're in an invitation business. This invitation is free. We have as sacred responsibility to know and love Jesus. According to John Paul II 'The Church never imposes, the Church only proposes.' We invite people because we believe that it is worth people's attendance, something that will sustain and excite them. The Church affirms everything that is good in humanity. When we invite people we are saying we will be there too. It is important that we make sure that we're burning passionately for Jesus and his Church. We will also never give up on inviting people, we will keep renewing the invite. We're in the company of a million young people who have taken up the invite to follow Jesus.

St Paul, although not with the Apostles when Jesus gave the commission, really took the invitation and missionary charism very seriously. He also came to Spain. Mary is the patroness of Spain after her vist to St Paul - she thanked him for bringing the flesh of Christ to Spain, and thanked him for giving a human heart to her son again. No wonder the Spaniards have such a great love of Mary.

Catechesis 19th August 2011

Maggie and Bob McCarthy

They told us that they were working for the De La Salle Brothers at the moment. The asked us to imagine what it must have looked like from space, seeing this mass migration of people to Madrid for this event. They told us that our tradition is filled with the saints who challenge us in our faith. Our community of saints remind us to be witnesses of faith.

On Holy Thursday Jesus washes feet, and breaks bread, he comes to us.  The cross marks us as followers of Jesus. Are we more loving, peaceful, forgiving, joyful, compassionate, and courageous? If we want to combat the big issues we need to be people of Eucharist and justice.

Archbishop Dolan

Archbishop Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, said that he was asked if he was nervous about speaking to so many young people and he said 'I'm not nervous because Jesus told us to not be afraid.' He told us he would be speaking on being a witness to Christ in the world. He told us how much the bishops love us, are proud of us and that as young people we are a huge catechesis to the bishops.

The result of being planted and built up in Jesus is that we are to share Jesus with others. By its nature, faith in Jesus is contagious, we're busting to share it with others.

St James and St Paul came to Spain itching to tell others about the faith and the people who had passed it on from generation to generation. Whn Columbus went exploring in the Eighteenth Century the king and queen of Spain told him the first thing he was to do was to spread the faith. So when he got to the Americas the first thing he did was plant the cross in the soil.

Our call today is to be missionaries. Four ways we can be missionaries and being evangelists, so being salt and light are: charity, joy, hope, and love for the Church.

Charity: What captivated people from the beginning of the Church was the love the followers had for each other. The love and charity for God was so profoundly deep, passionate, and consuming that they would rather die than deny Jesus. Tertullian: the Blood of the Martyrs is a great witness. Catherine Doherty, set up houses of hospitality throughout Canada, she would welcome the poor in and then they would live in community. She was called to one house which was having a lot of conflict in it. She told them they were going to have to close it, and the people asked her why, and who was going to help the poor. She told them the government could do it but they were called to do it with love, and charity, and if we can't do that then we go out of business. We are called to this life.

John Paul II's idea on the law of the gift tells us that we are at our best, how we are meant to be, and most notably human when we give ourselves away to another human. That's the law we are called to obey.

Joy: Joy is an infallible sign of God's presence. A french philosopher, when he was a student at a Catholic University in Washington DC used to help in a hospice for dying AIDS patients.
He asked to go in on Good Friday and went around with the cross for the patients to venerate it. A man was calling to him to come over, and he was told by the sisters of charity that the man was dangerous, and advised him not to go over. However, he told them he had to go over, 'you walk in front of me', and the man did venerate the cross. On Holy Saturday the sisters told the archbishop that the man was close to death and wanted to be baptised. The archbishop went to him and asked him why he wanted to be baptised and he said, 'the sisters are so full of joy, they got it, I don't, I want it now and I want it for eternity, I want to be baptised.' So he was baptised.

Mother Teresa said that we should always think JOY: Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last.

Hope: No coincidence that Pope Benedict's first encyclical was entitled spe salve. We have a critical need of hope. This God keeps his promises. The archbishop was the chair of the Catholic relief service that went to Haiti. He went to the rubble of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and there in the middle of the mess, untouched and unscathed there was the cross of Christ. Thousands of people were there clamouring to touch the cross of Christ. They still had hope. 'Their hope is resiliant, they'll never give up.' He said this in reference to the people of Haiti. Our missionary zeal comes from our hope. Cardinal Von Thuan from Vietnam had a cross and ring that was made out of electrical wire. He was in communist prison for 11 years and the only thing that kept him going was his hope. On the day he was released the guards gave him the cross and ring as a gift and said to him 'You never lost your hope.'

Passionate love of the Church: John Paul II said that the love of Jesus, and his Church must be the passion of your lives. Jesus is alive, powerful, teaching and accessible in and through his Church. A theist believes in God, a Christian believes in Christ, a Catholic believes Jesus Christ is alive in his Church. People tell us they want spirituality without being religious; we say no can do, that's impossible for a Catholic. Jesus and his Church are synonomous, see when St Paul is on the Road to Damascus, and Jesus said 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me.' This is because Jesus and his Church are one. It is no wonder that he used such beautiful imagery to teach us about the Church. At times it is difficult to love the Church but the Church is Christ and he is true God and true Man. He was most God when he was crucified. The Church is the bride of Christ. The Church is the body of Christ; at times it is attractive and at others it is ugly but it is still the mystical body of Christ. A show of that loyalty and allegiance is a great strategy of evangelisation.

When he was the Archbishop of Milwaukee, there was a beautiful old parish and the decision was made that it had to be closed. The people were very good about it and he celebrated the last Saturday night Mass. It was a beautiful Mass, and all that was left was the wooden structure of the Church as the other things had been taken elsewhere. The people of the parish wasked if they could bur it to the ground, and offer it as a sacrifce to God, rather than it standing there abandoned. After Mass they went outside, said the Creed and then the voluntary fire service set the fire. They all then departed. The following day the archbishop was going passed the ruins and the Church had completely burnt to the ground. The only thing that was left were nails stacked around the foundation. People were taking the nails as souvenirs abd he asked for one. Those nails held the building together, like the nails of the crucifix held this Church together for the last 2000 years. It is strong and by still loving we show the nails off because the nails of Jesus keep the Church together.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Day Ten

On the way onto the coach to go to catechesis, I asked Andrew if he was having a good time and he told me that he and Peter saw the Pope yesterday, just near the hotel! Was rather jealous of them seeing him realtively up close.

We made our way to the love and life centre again and today we found that the Sisters of Life were not there today because they were at a Mass with the Pope. Instead we had a married couple, called the McCarthy's. They seemed lovely and were excited to be there with us, sadly just not quite as charismatic as Sr Bethany Madonna.

This was made up for by Archbishop Dolan from New York, who had charisma in abundance. He was awesome, extremely funny, and so enjoyable to listen to. It was by far the best catechesis we had because he put his personality into it. At one point he caught himself on the big screen and exclaimed, mid sentance, that he needed to go on a diet! The way he said it was hysterical. He talked to us about how we are missionaries. It was very captivating.

In between catechesis and Mass, as the stage crew were setting up, this German guy managed to somehow get onstage and aquire a microphone. He said 'Praying with the Pope in the day, and sex, drugs, and rock and roll by night. Shame onyou!' The mic was then ripped from his hand and he was escorted out. To begin with in response the crowd booed and then we began chanting the name of Jesus. I told Fr Phil about it after and he said that it was a good challenge.

We had Mass, and the praise band that was there earlier were doing the music today due to the choir being out at Mass. It was quite a nice change. Archbishop Dolan told us that there were 350 priests, 50 bishops and 10 deacons celebrating this Mass with us today. He spoke about St Peter, and St Paul's zeal for the faith. Our final song was fun to sing and the chorus went: 'We'll shout it out loud from the rooftop, we won't be quiet, we've fallen for you hard and we can't stop, we won't deny it. No, no, no (and the no's went on for a while with everyone punching the air with every one).'

After Mass we got on the metro and went to find food near to the hotel. Some of us went to the buffet place across from the supermarket. It was really good especially not having to eat chips! We went to the supermarket and Laura and I got a newspaper each, headed back to the hotel and got ready to meet for evening prayer at 5:30pm.

When we met up it turned out that the other groups hadn't made it back to the hotel area for food, but had been wandering the streets of Madrid. They were not happy bunnies.

Evening prayer was lovely. It was really nice to spend that time altogether in prayer, just our Diocese. I think it was a great way to begin our evening together. After prayer we were going to make our way to a park to watch the Stations of the Cross on a big screen. But then Fr Phil thought it might be better for us to go back to the love and life centre, and after they would be having Eucharistic Healing.

So we got on the metro and managed to get there just in time, and sat in the well of the stadium, where the priests would sit for Mass. We then got the live transmission through. It wasn't what I expected because I thought the paseos would be moving, but instead the WYD cross was taken to each one. This was quite beautiful though, to see the youth of the world take the cross to see the journey of the cross 2000 years ago. It was amazing, and the statues were so lifelike I was fooled by the first one thinking that they were people. We saw all the stations but the live feed cut before we had the chance to see the final one for Mary.

We then were meant to have lectio divina, but the people that were running it talked all the way through it, and had us singing too. It didn't work. They also wanted us to use silly putty but that seemed useless too, all you had to do was play with it.

We then were led into adoration, I'm pretty sure that it was Fr Emmanuel from Youth 2000 that did the introduction. We listened to the story of the haemorraging woman and then the Blessed Sacrament was brought in. A bishop then talked to us about what was going to happen and how important adoration is.

After a short period of adoration, the Blessed Sacrament was processed around all of the well of the stadium. It was beautiful and when they brought Jesus down the aisle nearest to me, I didn't want him to pass by, but stay near to me.

I left there with a real sense of peace and then we headed to the train station. We met some people down there from Oregon and I swapped a badge for a little angel tile. Then I swapped a peg for a badge from Malaysia on the train. And once we were back to the hotel it was time for bed, after a bit of packing.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Archbishop Miller's Homily 18/08/11

Each of us has a name given to us by our parents. Our names are precious to us. In Jesus' time names were meant to describe some aspect of the person. This is not much different today. Once you know someone's name then they are no longer a stranger, it is a gateway to friendship.

Today's Gospel tells us how Jesus got his name. Neither Mary nor Joseph picked it. God had it all sorted. They angel told Joseph to name him so that he would have a connection to him. Jesus is the Saviour and he will carry out his mission because he is Emmanuel, God-with-us.

In a world filled with empty ideologies the name of Jesus is a source of life for those who believe. There is no other name under which we are saved than Jesus. We cannot save ourselves, Jesus is the one saviour of mankind.

We know and believe that salvation is mediated through Christ. Jesus' name is at the heart of Christian Churches worldwide, also at the heart of Christian prayer, and it inspires love of the least of our brothers and sisters.

The name of Jesus Christ is also your name. The name of Jesus Christ brings salvation and life as well as struggle. Our mission is to make Jesus' name known to everyone. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Archbishop Miller then finished his homily by quoting from Pope Paul VI's pastoral visit to Manilla 40 years ago.