Here we are: days away from the start of World Youth Day 2011! Bags are packed, and thousands of people are on the move to Madrid.
I am one of those extremely blessed young people who get to make this faith-filled trip. This will be my first time attending WYD, and I am extremely excited to be going. It is one of those goals that have been on my list of “Cool Things to Do” for a long time.
Why do so many young people want to make a trip like this? Upon reflecting on why World Youth Day is such an intriguing event, here are some of my thoughts:
Pope Benedict: We recognize that he is the one appointed by Christ to lead the Church, and we have deep respect for his leadership. The Catholic Church founded by Jesus Christ has 2,000 years of history and has always held the same clear, consistent teaching on the dignity of the human person.
Pope Benedict challenges us to understand the meaning of life and say “Yes” to God. Here is one of my favorite quotes of his:
“The person who abandons himself totally in God’s hands does not become God’s puppet, a boring ‘yes man’; he does not lose his freedom. Only the person who entrusts himself totally to God finds true freedom, the great creative immensity of the freedom of good. The person who turns to God does not become smaller but greater, for through God and with God, he becomes great; he becomes divine; he becomes truly himself.”
Universal Church. WYD Madrid already has more than 500,000 participants registered for the event, and at least 193 countries will be represented. The word “catholic” means universal, and, at WYD, I will get to participate with young people from all over the world in a public testimony of faith: in our belief in the true presence of Jesus in the holy Eucharist, in the teachings of Christ and his Church.
Catholic Community. As human beings, we need community to support who we are and what we believe. The Holy Father wrote about this so beautifully in his message for 2011’s WYD:
“We do not believe as isolated individuals, but, rather, through baptism, we are members of this great family; it is the faith professed by the Church which reinforces our personal faith.”
Pilgrimage. I thought this little definition via WorldYouthDay.com sums it up well:
“A pilgrimage is a journey a pilgrim makes to a sacred place for the purpose of venerating it or to ask for heavenly aid, and, ultimately, to come to know God better.”
The whole goal behind WYD is to come to know God better — and to be able to share with others about our relationship with him! For all of us making this journey, I pray we come back ready to set the world on fire with the truth of our Catholic faith. Please pray for us.
See you in Madrid!
Rachel Howell, the Register’s customer-and-administrative-support representative,
is blogging about the faith-filled events of World Youth Day 2011 from Madrid.
She is traveling with a group of first-time pilgrims from her parish in Alabama.