During the past week, we've joined with millions of other young people to celebrate World Youth Day week in Madrid. Some of the events have included daily Mass, catechesis, and presentations from international speakers such as Jason Evert, Christopher West, Cardinal Pell and (of course) Pope Benedict XVI!
Yesterday afternoon (about 2pm) we trekked the 13km walk from our accommodation to Cautro Vientos, a military airport which had been setup for the final pilgrim gathering. The crowds were so huge that we actually had trouble getting in the gate - I waited outside for about 3 hours before a thunderstorm hit & the gates were opened at last. By the time we got to our allocated section, it was about 11pm. Just in time to unpack the sleeping bags, and get rained on again.
Well, as we're so often reminded, we are pilgrims, not tourists! The whole experience of sleeping out for the Prayer Vigil with the Holy Father is something I missed in Sydney. It was great to meet all the other international pilgrims - and I even managed to swap my Aussie flag for a Spanish one!
The final mass was very moving, with some music which I'll be putting on my MP3 player if I can find it anywhere. We picked the musical styles of Hans Zimmer, John Williams, and other soundtrack composers which was interesting. None of those composers had any part in the writing - just sounded like them.
The Holy Father's address was inspiring. You wouldn't think it's easy to silence a group of 2 million+ young people, but when the Pope started speaking, everyone stopped to listen - even when he was speaking in a foreign language!
As you can probably imagine, it took a lot of time to get out of the venue after the final mass. We waited around for a couple of hours, and then the trip home involved a lot of walking (in the hot sun) and traveling on packed metro trains. It wasn't as bad as it could have been, though - and remember, we're pilgrims not tourists!
There are so many stories to share from the Holy Land, and World Youth Day itself. The schedule has been so packed I haven't been able to blog as regularly as I had hoped. Later this week though, I'll try to get my thoughts together, and chronicle some of the stuff we've been up to during these days. But for now - Adios, and Good Night. Viva el Papa!