Now that all of the little details are worked out (paying, where I'm staying, my worries about finding a flat for next year (my landlady offered me a discount for a second year so I'm not moving), etc.) I feel I would be remiss to not write a little about WYD itself and my personal reflections before heading to Spain.
A brilliant "brain-child" of Blessed John Paul II, WYD began in 1985 in Rome. JP invited the youth of the world to gather to join him in a period of prayer geared toward the young Church. Following that, every two - three years, there has been a gathering in some part of the world drawing thousands of Catholic youth and young adults.
I have had the privilege of attending WYD twice in the past: 2002 in Toronto and 2005 in Cologne. Toronto was simple because it's pretty much the backyard when compared to the whole world. Cologne wasn't much harder because my family was moving to Europe only a few weeks later so I went early. Both were incredible experiences. I desperately wanted to go to Sydney in 2008 but the flight alone was more than I could afford.
I am thrilled to be able to go to Madrid. Actually, thrilled doesn't begin to describe what I'm feeling right now. I found this video while looking up some WYD info and stopped to watch it.
Honestly, I cried.
I can't believe I was going to stay home. Especially when I am so close this time. WYD is unlike anything else I have ever experienced. Even the hugest Steubie conference is like a birthday candle when compared to the forest fire that is about to blaze in Madrid.
How can one describe the feeling? Surrounded by 100's of thousands of young adults all gathered for the same purpose: to unite in our common faith and love of the Lord. AND, to have Papa Ben there will us. Joining with pilgrims coming from literally, the ends of the earth: Alaska to Afghanistan (OK, I can't say with 100% certainty that there will be any Afghans ... but with 200 countries represented in Cologne, it really wouldn't surprise me!). And, it's different from a vacation. Honestly, I haven't taken a single minute to investigate any of the (I'm sure, amazing) sights in Madrid. No, this is a pilgrimage. We are going to meet Christ in Madrid. And His vicar: Pope Benedict. If there was ever a sign that the Catholic Church was instituted by God Himself, it has to be the papacy. No merely human office could have lasted 2000 years through so many wars, scandals, plagues, etc. Yes, there have been heart-breaking divisions. But the papacy remains. In Papa Ben, we see the representative of Peter - still holding the keys Christ gave him in Matthew 16:19. That's who is waiting for us pilgrims: Christ and His "right hand man" Peter.
How did I almost not go!?!?!
Will try to update but I'm making no promises until I see what the internet cafe situation is like. I'll be praying for you all. Please pray for me as well!