Under the care of the Discalced Carmelite Friars
JMJ 2011 proved to be a very interesting personal and spiritual journey. Arriving into Madrid from Paris it was evident within one hour of being in the city that God’s presence was in the air. My travelling partner (fellow parishioner Sam) and I arrived in Madrid, and within 10 minutes we were lost. Travelling with a lung infection causing a fever, being lost was not what we were hoping for on a 41 degree day, with luggage and no map. Fortunately, fellow pilgrims soon came and asked if we needed help and lead us to our accommodation. Upon arrival a doctor, priest volunteers and fellow pilgrims were waiting to take our luggage and get us comfortable. I was humbled by the care and efforts over the next few days to ensure I recovered, including daily visits from the priest bringing food and medication.
From the moment we arrived the spirit of youth, on a spiritual journey was so strong. What amazed me about both World Youth Day (WYD) events I have attended, is just how many young people around the world are fighting a spiritual journey, how many want to experience God, be touched by his presence but more importantly live their faith through action.
So many times in our youthful spiritual journey, we are convinced that outside of our youth parish community, no other young people, not friends, colleagues, acquaintances or even family can understand or support our journey. Above and beyond my own personal gains and experiences from WYD, the most beautiful gift is witnessing millions of youth, from all corners of the globe embracing Christ and living a sometimes hard but truly beautiful journey.
Keeping faith, understanding gospel, prayer, forgiveness and the commandments are very often a complex and challenging aspect of a young person’s life. Events like WYD reinvigorate pilgrims to keep on believing and challenging themselves to become better Christians and members of their communities.
Loving one another is our ultimate responsibility, and upon returning many pilgrims who have been recharged in faith, have decided to put their faith into action through many programs like Shopfront (a shelter for the homeless and socially disadvantaged), caring for the elderly or the disabled.
Close to 1.5 million youth attended Madrid.
The thought that many of them have returned home to service their communities has to make you smile. These millions of journeys are greatly assisted by the prayers we receive from all of God’s children, and as one of these younger children I thank you.