It’s that time again! At this moment in time (when I was handwriting this), I’m sat on Copacabana Beach in our group with lots of other people! There must be millions of other people here and I’m sure there’ll be an official count at some point.
I’m going to attempt to do what I did last time in Madrid – give a live account of what’s happening as much as I can! I just hope I can do it justice… I’ll start writing properly when it really gets going, but in the meantime, there’s fantastic music playing, keeping everyone entertained!
Two great big cheers have just gone up – the Pope’s helicopter has landed! And another cheer, lasting slightly longer this time. It’s really windy here at the moment and obviously we’re right by the sea so it’s quite cold too! He’s in the Popemobile now, getting ready to drive through the Fort down Copacabana Beach. I can’t see any part of the screen, so I really have no idea what’s going on (which is not brilliant for you – I’m sorry!) However, the atmosphere’s really picked up now and chants are happening all over the beach. Everyone’s so excited – it’s really loud here at the moment!
Ooh, the sound system’s trying to kick in and there we go, it’s working perfectly now! People are still standing up in front of me, so I’m assuming he’s now on his way down the beach. Beautiful music playing and I’m reliably informed that it’s the music that was in the Hovis advert! We’re quite close to the Windsor Atlantic Hotel, which is where Prince Harry was staying when he came to Brazil.
I can see now! Thank you! And, yes, he’s making his way down Copacabana Beach to the stage, which isn’t horrendously far from where we’re camping. The stage is lit beautifully – all kinds of blue. Everyone seems to love the Pope! He’s blessing everyone he can. And he’s just got off the Popemobile! What a remarkable man! Honestly, the cheer that went up when he did that was so deafening! He’s back on board now, and people are throwing flags and other things into the Popemobile and Pope Francis is doing his best to catch them all. He’s taking his time and not letting the driver rush – he wants to spend as much time as possible with the people, his people.
The WYD Cross is now on stage, awaiting the Pope’s arrival, who is still blessing everyone in sight! Helicopters are all over the place, filming and making sure everything is as it should be. He’s stopped again, to bless a child, I think. Now moving again. Everyone’s sat down so everyone else can see what’s going on, which is really good! Especially for you who’s reading this. I’m really hoping that I’m actually able to read my own writing when I type this up, as, at the moment, I’m writing in really bad light, but I’m sure it’ll be fine (and, as it turns out, it’s not as bad as I thought)!
We’ve been here since about half 8, so we’ve been on the go since 6am, but no-one cares about that at the moment – we’re all just so excited he’s here again! He’s a real inspiration for young people in the Catholic Church and I thank God for choosing Pope Francis as St Peter’s next successor..
He’s off again! I’ve never known anything like it! He really is the People’s Pope! There’s shots of young people on stage wearing their nations’ flags, obviously in preparation for something. People are applauding, but I have no idea what for, so I’m attempting to join in anyway, which is a little bit difficult while I’m writing too! It might be that he’s got this far up the beach and is just next to us, but I’m not convinced and I’m not going to squeeze through the thousands of people to go and find out. Wow, the beach looks packed full! They’ve just streamed an aerial shot from one of the helicopters and you can’t actually see the beach, just this mass of people. He’s at Medical Point 3, which means he’s close to us at Point 2! I’m listening out for the cheers and screams, but I can’t hear them just yet! The helicopter is also pretty close. The music’s stopped – I don’t think anyone was expecting Pope Francis to take this long. And it’s started again – it’s so relaxing listening to it here on Copacabana Beach.
I can just about hear the cheers over the music, which means he’s really close now! Everyone’s sat, just waiting in anticipation for him to draw closer to the stage and then start the Vigil of this WYD in Rio 2013. The camera flashes are amazing! There’s so many! Here he is!! Everyone’s standing up to try and get a glimpse of him, including me, and our group is chanting “Papa Francisco”. He’s right alongside us now on the road obviously – people are clambering all over the fences and gates to see him! It’s amazing! It’s so loud, I’m shouting in my head as I’m writing this! Everyone’s on their feet and cheering, clapping and making loads of noise to show how much we love our Pope! He’s going down the last stretch of Copacabana Beach now and the Popemobile, as normal, will drop him off at the centre of the stage, so he’s only got to climb the last flight of stairs to get to his seat. However, I think he gives the impression that he’d climb infinite amounts of stairs in order to please the people of the Church! He’s walking¬ He’s not let the Popemobile go on stage! What a fabulous man! He’s very unpredictable, but in such a good way.
I’ve got the English translation on the radio now, so I can tell what’s going on and what people are saying. He’s now greeting clergy – priests as well as Bishops and, of course, the Cardinals. A massive cheer from the crowd goes up and the cheer “Esta es la juventude del Papa” is making its way across the beach and it’s great to hear and join in with! There’s millions of people here to greet him.
And he’s finally sat down! now we can begin. The first thing is that there’s something being built on the stage but I don’t know what yet. The music’s really picked up and is driving forwards – it’s getting the energy of the pilgrims up after a very long day of just waiting. It looks like a building of some kind. There’s a man apparently introducing what’s going on. It sounds very metaphorical, going off what the English translation is saying. He’s hoping that we all find the power of faith at this WYD. He’s reminding us of St Francis of Assisi – he answered to Christ and rebuilt the Church. We need to love the person next to us, those we can reach. If the Gospel’s not proclaimed, then we’re not doing our mission properly.
Actors, dressed as Franciscan monks, have just appeared on stage and are about to perform. They’re breaking bread and eating together. The stage has gone red now and the actors are continuing work on the building. They’re putting a roof on now, apparently.
There’s a testimony happening now – a young man who turned to drugs and away from family and away from God. A ‘black sheep’ story. His mother didn’t trust him, which had a huge impact on him. He started dating a woman who dealt with black magic and to cut a long story short, she ended up having an abortion, which made him really question his life. He got forced to go to church by one of his friends and he turned back to the Church. He’s stressing the importance of confession. Apparently, he asked his parents for forgiveness and told them he loved them. He’s begging us to do the same with our parents.
Another testimony now. He’s saying it’s challenging co-operating with with each other’s faiths. He is living for the announcement of the Gospel. God has touched his heart through simple things and that’s helped his faith grow and has also helped him to become a better priest.
It’s so busy here , all I can see is people, every way I turn! It’s a shame as there’s the people who have a space who can’t see what’s really happening, due to those people standing in our temporary pathways, but I’m sure it’ll work out! At least, I hope it does!
Ooh, an English song! That’s always nice to hear! “Life goes on”, it does indeed. As I look around, people seem to be enjoying it – it’s a very good song. He’s a Caribbean singer apparently and while then song is being sung, the building work continues. It’s back to the big band music now – it’s really heavy on the bass side of things. Suddenly, it’s stopped. A single bell rings three times. There’s two more people just come on stage, performing another, much slower, much more meditative song.
Another testimony is telling us how he heard the voice of God in a silence at the WYD in Madrid 2011. Ooh, the crowds have gone, so we can all see now! The stage backdrop is currently showing a moving sky with clouds. It’s so gorgeous. He says that he was burgled just before paying for WYD this year and he ended up being shot. The paramedics arrived within a couple of minutes, which he says was the work of God. His parents were told that he wouldn’t live, but yet here he is! He’s telling us to look at our crosses that we were given in our Pilgrim Packs. The Holy Father is also looking at his cross. The man giving the testimony has asked for silence and he’s pretty much got it. He’s just asked us to raise our crosses and is asking the Holy Father to bless them for us. “Pray for me”. The music playing now is more like a dance piece than anything else and indeed they are dancing on stage – it looks amazing!
This testimony is by a female, whose mother had a stroke as well as other illnesses and this turned this woman, who was very young at the time, to crime. She had an experience when she was 12 years old and this changed her life. She now believes in God and is Catholic. She left “forbidden things and behaviours” and she managed to pray to God and her mother started to become better. She’s said that she won’t ever get tired of telling people her story.
This building must be a church – a cross is being placed on top of the building. The cross has now been lit up. The choir is singing in Latin, so everyone has a chance of understanding it. A soloist is now singing the prayer attributed to St Francis in Portuguese, paying tribute to the Pope’s choice of Papal name. That song got a warm round of applause as it finished.
We’re clapping and apparently on stage there is “Go and make disciples of all nations”, which is the theme for this WYD. It’s very quiet on stage all of a sudden. Not any more! The Pope’s talking! The preliminary events had been the story of St Francis of Assisi. The Lord needs you young people for the Church. He’s calling each of you to follow in His Church and be missionaries. He’s calling all of us, but not at the same time, so you need to listen out for Him in your heart. The true Campus Fidei is not a geographical place, but it’s each one of us. Please, let Jesus and His word enter your lives. Let Him do it and and let His word grow. He’s asking us if we are distracted. Do we welcome Jesus with enthusiasm, but let Him fall by the wayside occasionally? We cannot be false Christians. Let’s look into our hearts. Offer a piece of of land (meaning us) to Jesus and let a seed of Jesus enter your hearts now. God will look after you and help it grow. God asks us to be His disciples. He’s moved on to talking about sports now – we have to practise just like a football player, otherwise we simply won’t get any better. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – that’s what Jesus is there for, to forgive us. Prayer, sacrament and helping others. He’s just got everyone to repeat that phrase. Brilliant! We’re never alone – we form a family that are walking the same path. He’s got such a good rapport with the crowd! He’s asking them questions and making jokes! I’m not sure if that’s scripted or spontaneous. He’s got them absolutely captured and everyone’s loving it. He’s said we are the ones to change the Church and somehow, he’s making it really personal. Don’t forget – you are the field of Christ. And a huge round of applause to show our appreciation for the words of wisdom our Holy Father’s just given to us.
Our group’s now having a good dance to this upbeat song! The stage lights light up the whole beach and my word, does it look spectacular! People are starting to move now around us - I don’t know if this is the end or not, as I can’t see again! But that’s OK, everyone’s enjoying themselves now.
Quiet time now, applause, not sure that’s happening. Oh, the dancers are leaving the stage and the Pope has gone to prepare for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The music that was playing when the Pope was in the Popemobile, making his way down Copacabana Beach, is playing again. The Blessed Sacrament is is on its way to the altar. Different music now. There’s lots of people kneeling down. There are tents that have been set up across the beach, so that if people want to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament, they can without having to fight to the front. They’re asking for a period of silence, which most people are happy to comply with. Actually, I can only hear the whirring of the helicopter blades, which is amazing in this open space and with this many people here. It just goes to show that we’re all here for the same thing and it unites us as one. How beautiful this moment is. It wasn’t this long in Madrid – what an effect the Pope has had on on the people. Everyone’s stopped moving and doing anything, in order to show their respect for this most Blessed Sacrament, which is essentially the heart of our faith.
The silence is broken by speech, but it’s not being translated, so I can’t tell you what is being said. Another English song. People are moving again, but, oh my goodness, how powerful that was! That really touched me and I’m sure I won’t be the only one who felt that. The silence of millions of people is louder than anything! These prayers are being prayed in different languages. Each prayer is being followed by a song. Ah, I’m understanding this one! A particularly strong Aussie accent.
Oh wow, an organ is playing. Everyone’s on their knees again. It’s definitely the moment of Adoration now – a bell is ringing out across the beach. It’s so wonderful to see everyone and kneeling together. Another song follows. We’re all clapping for some reason and singing “Alleluia, receive the power of the Holy Spirit”, which our group knows and loves. A beautiful rendition. Salve Regina being sung now. “Jesus Christ, You Are My Life” now, which we know very well and we’re clapping along. It’s great that the people who taught us that song are sharing this experience right with us here on Copacabana Beach in the same area!
There’s now what seems to be a marching band that sound amazing! I’m involved in a few marching bands myself, so I can tell that this is good! The Pop’s just left the stage, so that’s the ‘official’ bit over. Now, apparently it’s musical entertainment and the bagpipes have just started playing! It’s Brazil’s Navy Marching Band playing Scottish music – I can’t figure it out either!
I think that’s it for tonight, so I’m going to wrap up now and call it a night. I will do the same again tomorrow for the Final Mass of WYD Rio 2013.
I hope this has given you an insight in the atmosphere that was present on Copacabana Beach and I hope you enjoyed reading this one!