I have found some wonderful excerpts, videos, links, recaps (thus far) of World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain! I personally know about 15 people who made it over there for the huge celebration of youthful Catholic faith. 15 people seemed like a lot at first, but apparently there are over a million youth rushing to Madrid right now. I couldn’t go myself, but the exuberance and the utter joy of the kids who are there is buoying me up daily. It’s heartening to see so many other young people understand that Catholicism is not just something your grandparents made you do, it’s not just a bunch of rules and “thou shalt not”s, it is greater and more beautiful than the secular media will ever portray. Why are such great hordes of youth flocking there? To catch a glimpse of an elderly German man in a funny car? No, they are there to participate in something that they have realized is greater than themselves. In this jaded world where self reigns supreme, our young people in Madrid are acknowledging to the world that they believe in a faith that went before them and will continue after them; a faith that has withstood the test of time and the fury of the gates of hell. They come to see Pope Benedict not for his Popemobile but for his father’s heart and his leader’s speech. They come seeking a path through the morass of moral relativism and into the firmness of truth and humility. Perhaps they come so that through Pope Benedict they can gaze back to Peter, the rock on which Christ founded his Church, the unbroken, guiding line of Scripture & tradition. This is the meaning of World Youth Day, I think: a bold proclamation to the world, of faith in Jesus Christ by those on whom the future rests.
– The official World Youth Day Madrid website has a complete schedule of the events, day by day, and even has a countdown to the Pope’s arrival at the Barajas Airport on Thursday! They also have lots of great articles, including an explanation of how Our Lady of Almudena came to be the patronness of Madrid. The Madrid Seminary and other monasteries around the world have joined forces for 121 hours of non-stop prayer during the week of World Youth Day.
– Father Tim Finigan says: “For those outside the Church (and indeed for many inside it) the spectacle of a million young people going to Madrid to see Pope Benedict and publicly witness to their Catholic faith, is hard to understand.” and then links to an article in USA Today by Anna Williams.
Anna writes: “At first glance, studies such as Pew’s 2010 report “Religion Among the Millennials” seem to indicate that young Catholics (age 18-29) exemplify their generation’s tendency toward religious indifference. To wit, they are less likely to attend Mass weekly, less likely to pray daily, and less likely to consider religion “very important” than Catholics 30 and older. Yet the millennial Catholics who do practice and value their faith are doing something odd: They are spearheading a resurgence of traditional Catholic liturgy and disciplines that their parents and grandparents had largely abandoned.” (Emphasis mine.)
– The Catholic News Agency gives a good summary of the Opening Day Mass and homily by Madrid’s Cardinal Antonio Rouco Varela. During the homily, he said: “World Youth Day inspires a new encounter with the Lord…. He is the only one who can understand you and lead you to the truth giving life that never ends, to give you happiness, true love.”
– Here is an article by Archbishop Chaput (who, coincidentally, was recently made Archbishop of Philly!), about his experience in Colorado for World Youth Day ’93: “Cardinal J. Francis Stafford, my friend and predecessor as archbishop of Denver, hosted World Youth Day in August 1993, and he still likes to tell the following story. One of his staffers had just moved to Colorado from a much larger and higher crime city on the West Coast. The man was driving his family home late one evening, when the street— four lanes wide—was suddenly blocked by a huge mob of teens swarming out of the dark. As urban panic kicked in, and he threw the car in reverse, his wife helpfully pointed out that the kids were … singing a Marian hymn. The “mob” turned out to be hundreds of French World Youth Day pilgrims walking back to their parish sleeping quarters. It was a moment of grace—unexpected, implausible and beautiful—and similar moments of grace happened again and again all over the city during those extraordinary days.”
– Father Robert Barron is over in Madrid for the celebration, and posting recaps on his Word On Fire blog.
– The Sisters of Life have a World Youth Day blog!
– As usual, Whispers in the Loggia has a good recap and some pictures.