Going into World Youth Day, I did not have many expectations. I knew it would be a fun, blessed trip, but I really did not know the extent of what I would experience. Our first stop was in Lourdes. I figured that I would like Lourdes, but had no idea of the impact it would make on my life. I did the 33 day consecration to Mary and was able to say the final consecration prayer in the grotto at Lourdes on our last day with our whole group. It has always been difficult for me to surrender my life fully to God with complete trust. On this day, I was able to consecrate myself to Mary and by doing this, surrender everything to Him through her.
Next came World Youth Day in Madrid. Every night, we gathered with over 1.5 million youth, all there for the same reason. Everywhere we went, we would see people with flags from their different countries. The first night that Pope Benedict arrived, we were all lined up and down the streets. Flags were waving, people were cheering. When we were waiting for the Pope to get there, everyone was screaming, "Benedicto!" and "Esta es la juventud del Papa!" (This is the youth of the Pope!). Sometimes back at home, living out your Catholic faith can be hard, especially when there aren't many people your age doing the same thing. It can be lonely and discouraging. Being at World Youth Day with so many others your age, desiring the same thing, excited for the same reason, really helps to increase your faith. I realized that we are not alone. I can go anywhere in the world and I will find the Church. No matter where I am, I have support, I have my faith, and I have people who will help me live that out. No other church in the world can do this.
The last event of World Youth Day was the all night vigil at Cuatro Vientos. It was hot, dirty, then rainy and cold. Despite all the hardships that came with this pilgrimage, we received so many graces. There were almost 2 million youth at Cuatro Vientos. It was crazy and loud, but the moment that the Eucharist was brought out for Adoration, 2 million people were completely silent. We all fell to our knees in Adoration of our Lord with Pope Benedict XVI. The Pope gave us several messages. First, that he was proud of us. On the last day, he told all of us that he is counting on us. He is counting on us to bring back the gospel, the message, the grace that we received from World Youth Day. He also told us to not let him down. How powerful and beautiful a message. Pope Benedict XVI is counting on us to bring about the new evangelization. To be hope, love, and light to a world that desperately needs it. This message is the same for all of us, still over a month later. We must bring Christ to a world in need, Pope Benedict XVI is counting on us!