Pope Benedict on the big screen at the night vigil
I should probably explain before I start blogging properly – I started writing this down in my notepad just before the Pope arrived for the Vigil last night and I’ve written exactly what I am seeing and thinking to try and give you an idea of the excitement and feelings of the general group, so please forgive sentences not making sense, or things being missed out, or things jumping around a bit. Enjoy!
At the moment, the Holy Father is on his way to Cuatro Vientos to celebrate a night Vigil. There is literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people here. It was really sunny earlier, so much so that we nearly had one person go to hospital with sunstroke! Plus, all of us have been burnt somewhere or other, although the water fight between myself, Fr Martin, Julia and Hannah was really refreshing! However, now, it looks as though we’re in for a proper thunderstorm! Oh, make that thunder and lightening as well!
Everyone is very excited – the hosts are encouraging people to shout and sing and dance and, my goodness, are they obliging! If I stand up, I can actually see the stage where the Vigil will take place. From where I’m sat, I can see hundreds of people, a random kite, loads of flags from around the world and the potential firework display, of which there will be a picture put up in the gallery that I’m going to make on here.
We’re all waiting in anticipation for the arrival of the rain, I mean, *ahem*, the Holy Father, who should be here in a very few minutes! The group next to us have just started singing and dancing, and appear to have used one of our songs that we taught people in Zaragoza! That’s what WYD is all about though.
He’s here now! “Benedicto!” is being chanted all over the place – everyone’s standing up, watching the big screens to see exactly what the Pope is doing. The atmosphere’s electric (literally, with the lightening!) The music’s started, so out come the Magnificats, given to us in our Pilgrim Packs. There’s cheering and a general hubbub of excitement has come over the airfield. Three of our group, Leah, Pete and Ciaran, were lucky enough to get seats from three rows from the very front. The WYD hymn is being sung now – “Firmes in La Fe” (Firm in the Faith) and I’m singing along as is everyone else! It’s brilliant!
“Esta es la juventud en Papa!” is another chant that’s everyone knows and is being said at the moment.
With the cloud cover has come darkness, although it looks set to end with the sun coming back over the horizon, so we might not get wet after all! There’s a lovely echo going on, as we’re within earshot of around 4 different speakers. Scrap that – I just saw a bolt of lightening! And another one! Over the back, I can see another Union Jack and I’m thinking just how lucky we are to be as close (ha!) to the front as we are. The WYD hymn’s ended and the Pope has sat in his chair. Everyone’s going crazy! Such an atmosphere here, we’re trying to find the English translation on the radio. Think we just have. People are sitting down, the Pope is meeting a few young people.
It’s started. The Pope blesses us. I’ve just got my copy of the Magnificat out so that I can know what’s going on. The procession from the Cross to the Light is happening and “Firmes en La Fe” is playing prayerfully in the background. And it’s finally started raining! Out come the waterproofs and umbrellas and any other means of staying dry. Wow, just like England! Oh, I’ve just read the words to “Firmes en La Fe” on a page of the Magnificat and apparently, they’re not the same as we learnt! Oh well, I’ll keep singing it the way I know it! And the thunder starts… It’s going to be an interesting night! At least it’s cooler now! I’m now hiding underneath Fr Martin’s roll mat! Sound system appears to have gone down – oh wait, it’s back! Ignore that bit…
Here comes the Gospel reading now. And the storm starts – it’s a mad rush to get under cover and keep important things dry, including my notepad! The Holy Father is now delivering his homily, though we can’t hear a thing – it’s really windy and the sound’s down again. Can’t seem to see him either, as he’s being covered up by an umbrella! It’s nearly stopped raining, so Fr Martin and I are no longer hiding under his rollmat – the temperature has cooled right down now and everyone’s happy again, singing, chanting and cheering. We can almost hear the Holy Father now! Just hushing everyone up – or trying to.
Can’t quite believe that everywhere I look, there’s more and more people! It’s the largest gathering I’ve ever been to – it’s simply incredible! We’re all here for one reason as well, which makes it all the more special – we are, as young Catholics from around the world, celebrating the fact that we are Catholic and we are having a huge party to allow the world to realise that. Not all teenagers are the yobs that make it on to the news. Most of the ‘good’ ones, as it were, are never seen on the news, because the press simply aren’t interested, as it’s not a ‘stereotypical teenager’, which is so unfair on the majority of teens.
Anyway, back to the Vigil and singing “Firmes en La Fe” again! 4th time tonight, maybe? We still have no idea what’s going on, we don’t know if benediction’s happened or not, because we really cannot hear!
I can’t believe I’ve just done that – I’ve had to put my WYD hoodie on! It’s Madrid, in the middle of August! This shouldn’t be happening! Ooh, the sound’s working again! Think I’ve found where we are, but I’m not too sure! Ah – at the benediction point now. People seem to be getting the idea that if they can, they should really been kneeling down. The music that’s being played and sung is lovely – such an awesome choir tonight, who are doing us Catholic singers and musicians proud! Really reflective – it’s very moving. I wonder how our three at the front are finding it? The quietness of 98% of the people here shows just how important Catholicism is to the world, even though there’s only around 2% of the world’s Catholics here at this moment in time. The Holy Father says a prayer, allowing for a period of adoration before benediction. A round of applause ripples through the pilgrims here at Cuatro Vientos after the Holy Father finishes a prayer. Wow, we’re now singing “Tantem Ergo” – I always love this part and it’s absolutely stunning, maybe even more so than the Papal visit to the UK last year, when the same thing was happening. Benediction.
It’s raining again now, but the fireworks were absolutely breathtaking! It’s been such a fantastic evening. Now all we can do is hope and pray that the rain will go away. Typically, the sound is working again, but that’s OK! These things happen! That seems like it for tonight, so I will start writing again tomorrow morning! Now to attempt to get some sleep in the mass of thousands of people in our section!