So here we are in Madrid. After another long journey weve made it to our final destination. And wow the atmosphere is electric!!!!
There’s chanting everywhere, people saying hola to everyone no matter where your from or who you are and of course everyone and it is absolutely everyone is willing to share there thoughts on the faith and what it means to them.
Having been here only a few hours now ive already got that exictment running through me and I know its a feeling that is echoed in the other Portsmouth diosece pilgrims, all of them are raring to go and cannot wait for the Pope’s arrival on Thursday. It’s such a rare mix of people out here and everyone is willing to chat and you should be surprised if no-one comes across to you to do so; in fact only an hour ago I was talking to a group from Australia all whom were keen to know more about England and of course what our faith meant to us and of course it was the same in our case.
It really is beginning to turn up several notches on the excitement dial and WYD heart beat in Madrid sure is beating faster by the hour!
Day 6: 15th August – Orange Group
We are now adjusted to Spanish time with people using the free time in the middle of the day for its intended purpose – a siesta, otherwise known as a nap. However, those with enough energy to spare after a very active first few days headed to a nearby outdoor pool to cool off and make use of the showers!
In the evening, our hosts organised an amazing concert of Spanish music and dancing. Some attempted to copy the dance steps and ended up doing dome impressive ballroom dancing, whilst others decided the Macarena approach was better and proceeded to engage a large group of followers of various nationalities. It was also a great opportunity to swap items with the other groups. The highlight of this was that we managed to gain an Italian cowboy style hat in exchange for a bottle of ketchup. This Italian clearly felt passionate about the red stuff! (And we clearly did not…)
Another conquest for our team was the persuasive bartering for a German hat that Lewis managed to succeed in. They didn’t seem to want to give in easily, as they love their hats! But, after a while, and a lot of negotiating, the German gave in and Lewis got his hat!
The following say was the last in Zaragoza, so in the morning, there was a farewell Mass, which was incredibly hot! Although it was much longer than a normal Mass, due to numerous translations of some parts, it was a nice end to our time in Zaragoza.
We are now very excited for what awaits in Madrid!
For now, it’s back on the coach… Again….
The Orange Group – The Tangos
On Monday 15 August we had a Service of reconciliation, the parish group from Pimlico led by Canon Pat Browne joined us as well. Canon Pat also led the music for the service which from where I was sitting was enjoyed by all and added that extra special something. Jamie said to me after the service that the music was of great help as it allowed him to focus himself more on Jesus and the sins he was confessing.. The service was led by Bishop Alan who also gave the homily at the service. It was a great way to kick off the week for World Youth Day.
I am still confused to this day as to why we still call it World Youth Day even though it lasts just under week from the opening mass to the final mass with Pope Benedict XVI? So, back to the topic in hand, this service was a chance for us to clear a burden that we may all have carried with us to Madrid those sins we have. Bishop Alan said to us that it was a great way to cleanse ourselves in preparation for the days ahead.
Confession would allow us to take more from WYD and absorb a lot more of the message from the Pope. This service was important link in the chain of events that help us build up to the final papal mass and our spiritual journey throughout this week.
So back to the event itself for me personal I found it deeply refreshing but not just in the spiritual which is indeed important. I felt mental refreshed as I was able to confess all those things I wanted to bring to God to ask for his forgiveness. I think one thing that really came across for a lot of people was that reconciliation service was emotionally draining for them. However we shouldn’t look on that as a bad thing as like me I have not been to confession in a while so may have had a lot to ask forgiveness for.
What a wonderful day I’ve had today. I was picked up at the airport by my host family, Antonio and Marisol and 3 of their 5 adopted children. They are a truly inspirational family who are very open about their faith. Thus we spent much of the day talking about God and our faith experiences – and how our lives have been shaped as we search for God.
They took me to Alcalá de Henares, a town which is east of Madrid. There we met another one of their friends, Eduardo, who used to work for the local Bishop – he was lovely too. He took us around the town and showed us all sorts of interesting buildings such as the houses where Santa Teresita de Jesus and San Ignacio de Loyola lived and the place where famous writer Cervantes was born. He also showed me the palace where Christopher Columbus met the Spanish king and queen before he set off to discover America! This is a stunning town full of history.
As we entered some churches, I was stuck by their beauty and I began to think that Spain is a great location to host World Youth Day. There are just so many plusses: the food, weather and heritage, and greatest of all, their people who are doing their utmost to give everyone such a big welcome. As an example, Eduardo is voluntarily getting up at 5am on Tuesday in order to make 300 sandwiches for some of the pilgrims.
I am loving being able to chat to Spanish people and i have found that they are as excited about WYD as we are.
Day 3 was a very relaxing day, so I haven’t got very much to write about it. We stayed on the beach until 3 in the afternoon and then went to the Cathedral to meet other pilgrims from Sweden, Chile, China, Canada, Mexico and Australia. Some of the pilgrims shared their stories with us. A pilgrim from China told us about the difficulties of being a Catholic in China because many of the Christian beliefs are contradictory to Chinese teachings. For example, Christians often speak of an afterlife but in China it is considered to be unlucky to discuss death.
After the service in the cathedral ended, we explored the town and found some beautiful churches in the old part of the town. Later that evening we returned to the cathedral to have dinner with the other pilgrims. The atmosphere was much the same as the previous night in the Seminary with the Italians as we were singing, dancing and exchanging stories with each other.
The next day, all the pilgrims from San Sebastian went to the Spanish town of Loyola which was the birthplace of Saint Ignatius who founded the Jesuit Order. After we arrived, we had Mass outside the Basilica. After this there was more singing and dancing, and even a water fight as we were all queuing for lunch. After lunch, a group of Italians showed us a game where we all had to lie in a straight line on the ground with our arms in the air, while people crowd surfed over us from one end of the line to the other. We also attempted to do a human pyramid but were unfortunately only able to do 3 rows!
In the evening we had a festival which had lots of act from different countries showed us dances and songs. Our group had an act with two people performing an Irish river dance. After the festival ended we had an International Rosary service. For those that don’t know what this is, it’s a service where we pray with rosary beads. This was done in several languages and went on for over an hour.