Holy Land to Madrid WYD Blog List
Madrid - week in review
Bethany Lentern, Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta Schools WYD Coordinator, reflects on the pilgrims' week in Madrid...and the moment she touched the hands of the Pope.
The week has been incredibly busy, hot, crowded, hot, noisy, hot and did I mention hot? A number of our pilgrim are struggling with the heat and with no surprise. Luckily, we have two doctors with us who've been life savers in keeping us all in the best possible shape.
So to sum up the week, on Monday we left Israel. We started off with Mass in a church that was simple yet beautiful. It was surrounded by ancient olive trees and very peaceful. After this we learnt our flight was delayed by two hours (which later became three hours) so they took us to an Elvis-themed restaurant which was clearly not used to serving 175 people at once but did remarkably well. After this, we made our way to the airport which, as expected, was a nightmare. We had to have our passports checked, then our checked baggage scanned, then several of us (including yours truly) were questioned and had our bags checked. Mine was because of my bible.
Once they asked if I had a book and I said yes, they asked what, I said a bible it was all fine.
After this we checked in, they had to take our bags (backpacks are luggage) to be checked, then clear customs. It was quite a process!!!
The part I found somewhat ridiculous is that their system is to put a sticker on your bag when your passport is checked and then keep scanning it as you process the system. If it falls off, you have to start over.
Oh well, what's travel without some airport drama?
We finally got to our accommodation in Madrid after 2am then had to distribute keys, bags, passes, etc. The good news is we had a minor sleep in as our first event was the Australian Gathering at midday.
With 4,000 Australians it was quite a party. I saw a few people I know which was incredibly exciting.
Tuesday afternoon was the Opening Mass. It was much crowded than I thought the first main event would be. I heard later on there were between 1.5-2 million. After Mass, Jonathan and I went to visit the cathedral which was closed, (before 10 and in Spain during WYD? I don't know what’s going on there) bumped into some Parramatta pilgrims, and found a random flash mob style dance thing happening. It was most entertaining to watch.
Wednesday morning the group went to catechesis then all over the city.
I spent the day at my Papal Arrival rehearsal. We arrived at 11:30 and learnt we would be there till 7pm. We wound up finishing at 6pm, but had spent all but one hour in the sun rehearsing our clapping, standing, walking, waving, etc. The good news is I can clap like a pro now.
The frustrating bit was if we moved to the shade they told us to move back to our 'first position' which was in full sun of course. We would then stand and wait for them to work out what they were doing.
At the end of the day I was wrecked, a lot of the other pilgrims there didn't have water with them or sunscreen so I was trying to share mine without running out myself.
Thursday morning the group went to catechesis, I went off to get my accreditation and enter lock down for the Papal arrival.
With four Kiwis and three Aussies representing Oceania, we were to be joined with reps from each continent in front of an arch, with one delegate from each continent standing where the Pope would walk in.
After we got there in the morning we were transported by bus to one place, walked to another, then another, then to Puerta alcala (alcala gate) to rehearse (again!) and believe it or not, they changed what we had to do. Let me tell you, this caused a lot of confusion!!!
Finally, we finished rehearsing, went to one backstage and ate, went to another backstage and sat there for a few hours. We then moved again to Puerta alcala at 4:30pm and cooled our heels there for a while.
While waiting we started a few Mexican Waves with the crowds, danced, got an Aussie group to scream out ‘Aussie Aussie Aussie’, the Benedicto chant and another one that roughly translates to 'we are the young people here to support the pope'. Of course we also had some 'Viva el Papas' thrown in for good measure.
Meeting the Pope 'instilled in me a great sense of peace, energy and spirit'
As you may be aware when the Pope walked past we actually got to meet him.
We were originally told this wouldn't happen, so it was an incredibly crazy but overwhelming moment. I had my arm grabbed and was just shoved forward.
They had made me wear the cork hat and then when I went to take it off they wouldn’t let me. Maybe they were trying to make me look Australian?
What can I say about meeting our Holy Father? His hands are way unbelievably soft, his smile is infectious and when he smiled at me, it felt as though I was the only one he cared about at that point in time.
His eyes are amazing, very peace-filled and he just seemed to glow with the Holy Spirit. In many ways, it was like Sr Hilda from jamberoo (one of the shiny people) but even more than she is.
After meeting him I found myself moved to tears, I was just so overwhelmed by this gentle, simple man who had to ask for directions on where he was meant to walk, laughs quietly, takes time with young people, had the Pope Mobile windows open despite the recent protests, etc.
Meeting him was incredible. I felt sick all day Wednesday, worried I'd stack it (let's face it, how often I fall down stairs, walk into furniture, etc) or something else stupid. Meeting him instilled in me a great sense of peace, energy and spirit.
I often hear testimonies from young people who talk about these incredible spirit filled moments and sometimes I wonder if they really are that great and if you really do feel that way. The answer is yes.
After he met us, all we walked after him to the altar where we got to stand next to the cardinals and watch what happened.
A friend from the international youth forum last year was involved in the liturgy. He's from Palestine and I’ve loved hearing more about Catholicism for him in his life. It was amazing to see him be a part of this incredible day.
I made it home by about 11 or 11:30pm after battling some insane crowds. I was helping the Indian representative, Asha. She lives in the USA, in a small town in Texas and wasn't coping with the crowding so worked out how to get her back to her group, got her on a train with me, managed to get a seat for her, etc. Her eyes were just getting larger and larger. It was the worst train crowding I've ever seen (including WYD05!).
This morning we headed off to catechesis. We had a few sick people who I brought home early, we're trying to help them rest up before the big sleep out tomorrow. This evening the group went to via cruces. For all the sick and injured, we prayed the stations while watching the TV broadcast.
It was very simple, but a way to make sure everyone was a part of this event. It has been amazing, hearing people's experiences make me so happy. We have a wonderful group here and they're all getting so much out of this experience. I'm loving Spain but can't wait to see you all again.
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25/08/2011Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta Executive Director of Schools Greg Whitby speaks with the Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, who reflects on WYD11 Madrid, Parramatta pilgrim Claire Brown, who was one of 12 young people selected to share a meal with Pope Benedict XVI during WYD…and captures the WYD11 chant of Parramatta's pilgrims...
Bishop Anthony Reflection
"We've just finished the pilgrimage of a lifetime," Bishop Anthony says.
"All of us go away from this with a sense that we are a part of something much bigger than ourselves…we are part of a universal Church brought together by Jesus Christ with his Vicar the Pope.
"We are coming back…to make Saints of all of Western Sydney."
Pilgrim Claire Brown on her lunch with the Pope
"It was a fantastic experience, an honour and a privilege to be in the presence of the Holy Father with youth from around the world. It's something that I will never forget," Claire says.
"He called us all to bring back to our parishes and our nations the love of Jesus Christ to share with the world."
Parramatta Pilgrims Chant
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Homily - In the name of Jesus Christ
Homily for Votive Mass of the Holy Name of Jesus Parroquia Santa Monica, Rivas-Vaciamadrid, Thursday 18 August.
It was at Antioch that they first called us ‘Christians’ (Acts 11:26). It was not a compliment. It was intended to humiliate us. It meant: these guys are so dumb they worship a human being called Jesus Christ who is really dead but who they think is alive (Acts 25:18-20). To be called a Christian was mockery; it could also be lethal.
Human beings give meaning to their world by naming things. Adam’s first task in the Bible was to classify the animals (Gen 2:18-20). He also named his wife, Eve (Gen 3:20). Names help us make sense, communicate and control; they give us power for stewardship over creation or destruction of it, for building relationships or tearing them down. We might tell children that “sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me”, but they know all too well how being called a nasty name can wound us.
Read Homily in full at the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta Site
Homily - Youth with a Mission
Homily for Mass for the Spread of the Gospel, Parroquia Sta Teresa y San Jose, Pza de Espana, Madrid, Friday 19 August.
“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” says Paul today (Rom 10:9-18), quoting the prophet Isaiah (Isa 52:7). Jesus and His apostles were pedestrians: as far as we know, apart from His Palm Sunday entry into Jerusalem (and possibly the flight into Egypt), Jesus never rode a donkey or horse. He and His crew criss-crossed the Holy Land on foot, covering great distances on poor roads, often in searing heat, sand, dirt. It might have been beautiful to hear their footsteps and know they were coming, but were their feet beautiful? More likely they were calloused, broken, dirty, disfigured, smelly – like those of a pilgrim rather than a foot model in a shoe advertisement!
Read Homily in full at the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta Site
Catechesis - Established in Jesus Christ
World Youth Day Catechesis for Thursday 18 August, Parroquia Santa Monica, C/ Rio Manzanares 2, 28529 Rivas-Vaciamadrid, Madrid.
Yesterday you talked with your catechising bishop, with each other and with God about Faith. I don’t know what you said or thought, what really struck you. We’ve all got our questions, especially about the big mysteries of God, creation and ourselves. To believe firmly in God is to believe that there is a meaning to the universe, a meaning that includes each individual person and their day-to-day lives. It means there is a Beauty, a Wisdom, a Guiding hand, a universal Law, an ultimate Truth, a Purpose behind the story of the universe and our personal stories. To grasp and hold on to this big idea, to have it planted firmly in our hearts, is called... Faith.
Read Catechesis in full at the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta Site
Catechesis - Witnesses to Christ in the World
Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP's World Youth Day Catechesis for Friday 19 August, Parroquia Sta Teresa y San Jose, Plaza de Espana, Madrid.
A recent English survey found many people had never heard of Moses or the Magi, thought miracles were magic and that the cross is a piece of jewellery. You probably know people like that. Many who still identify as Christian have little personal faith, don’t really know much about it, and live as practical atheists, that is, as if there were no god. Others, though baptised, no longer even identify with any religion. While we’ve been away a census was held in my country. About a quarter of the people or more will probably have said ‘No religion’ or else just left the religion question blank. Things might be different in your country: they might even be worse.Read Catechesis in full at the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta Site
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Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta Executive Director of Schools Greg Whitby captures the arrival of the World Youth Day Cross & Icon at the gathering of Australian Pilgrims in Madrid on Tuesday 16 August.
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The Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, delivered a World Youth Day Homily and Catechesis in Madrid on Wednesday 17 August.
Firm in the Faith by the Power of the Holy Spirit
Homily - Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit, Parroquia San Antonio
"At the altar of the Navicella in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome is an image of the encounter described in today’s Gospel (Mt 14:23-33). St Peter has started walking across the water but finds himself sinking.
"It’s as if he is a child learning to swim and the parent or swim instructor is using the old trick of moving further away as he makes his progress. Then he panics. He stretches out his arms towards Christ, saying, as we know, ‘Save me!’ Christ opens wide His own arms to lift Peter to the safety of His embrace."
Read Bishop Anthony's Homily in full at the Diocesan Site
Firm in the Faith
Catechesis - Parroquia San Antonio, Calle Bravo Murillo 150
"Nothing could bring together hundreds of young people such as are in this beautiful church and in churches all around this city this morning, from every continent on earth, except Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church.
"Even the Olympics can only bring us together as rivals. Here we are joined together by a glue called faith, more powerful than sport or music or politics or anything else that might bring people together."Read Bishop Anthony's Catechesis in full at the Diocesan Site
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