Thankfully, this morning was a relaxed one. Our group headed to Parque del Buen Retiro. This is the park in Madrid where the confessions are taking place. Rows of little white confessionals are fully staffed and in constant use by the pilgrims. It is a beautiful and relaxing place.
To the delight of some of our group, we even got to go on a little rowboat ride! That was a joy — to be in the sunny, beautiful city of Madrid out on the water, with scores of other boats full of other WYD pilgrims. Laughter filled the air as youth from many different countries tried to row the boats and not run into each other. Here at this park you can check out the vocational booths and talk to many of the Church’s religious in attendance. All of the religious in full habit wandering all over the city (even in boats!) is one of the coolest things about WYD. They are such a wonderful witness to the youth.
Next, we headed over to the Love and Life Center, which is held at Palacio de los Desportes. The Knights of Columbus, along with the Sisters of Life, have done a fantastic job of staffing the center with all of the Catholic world’s “stars.” Mother Mary Agnes Donovan is the founder of the Sisters of Life. She said that the core of WYD is to see the universal Church. That is what makes it so dynamic.
We heard talks by Curtis Martin, the founder of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, Archbishop Charles Chaput, and Carl Anderson of the Knights of Columbus, among others.
At 6pm Madrid time we attended EWTN’s Life on the Rock, hosted by Father Mark Mary and Doug Barry. It was a fun show, more like a party than anything else. They had an enormous panel of speakers, all dynamic and full of wisdom for the youth. Some of them were still youth themselves. These amazing young people reminded us that faith should be an outward sign: that we should show the people of Spain the joy of faith when we are on the metro and around the city — and when we return to our own countries.
The Register’s own World Youth Day correspondent Jesuit Father Matthew Gamber was featured in one of the show’s segments. Make sure you check out this amazing show on EWTN (tomorrow Aug. 18 at 9pm, Aug. 19 at 9am and Aug. 20 at 1:30am; all times Eastern) or on EWTN’s YouTube channel.
To my delight, we stopped at a little sandwich shop on our way back to the hotel, and I had chorizo for the first time. This is a tasty Spanish sausage which is a must-have if you ever visit Spain!
Tonight we are getting plans together for the big day tomorrow — the arrival of Pope Benedict! All the city is abuzz with anticipation, and the tired but happy teens are getting even more excited.
More from Madrid tomorrow!
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.