Thursday, August 18, 2011

Viva el Papa!

Another day full of dirt, heat, fatigue....and GRACE. What a gift was today. We again gathered in the morning after another night with our dear host families, and headed off to our morning catechesis session in the Love and Life Center. However, when we got there, it was full and we were not able to enter. The Lord had other plans....
Therefore, we decided to go back to visit the dear Visitation nuns again to see if we would be able to celebrate Mass in their chapel, since we could not enter the other. Beautifully, the Sisters again opened the doors of their convent and chapel to us. Upon our arrival, it was evident that the Lord intended it that way to begin with. On the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we celebrated a votive Mass of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in preparation for the consecration to the Sacred Heart the Holy Father will be leading the youth in making at the Vigil this weekend. Very powerfully, we were celebrating this Mass in the convent of the Visitation, the order of St. Margaret Mary, to whom was given the revelation of the Sacred Heart; a painting of this revelation was the prominent background of the sacntuary in the chapel. Therefore, we were able to celebrate an intimate Mass in this beautiful chapel together. It was a profound and moving Mass, a gift for all our hearts.

Following Mass, we picked up both lunch and dinner to then quickly head down to Cibeles Square to reserve a place for the papal welcome ceremony in the evening. We found a place along the way where believed the Holy Father would pass. The afternoon was very hot, as we were out in the sun, and very dirty, as the people and crowds increaded.....however, we joyfully offered all to be present for our dear Holy Father. As the afternoon progressed, they began spraying the crowds with water, and eventually the fire department brought out the fire hoses and began spraying the crowds all the way until the time the Holy Father arrived. Despite the heat, intense crowds, and dirt, everyone was in joyful spirits in anticipation for the arrival of our "Papa." 

Finally, the moment arrived....the Holy Father arrived! First, we watched on the big screens as he entered the city in his pope-mobile, being greeted by great crowd lining miles of city streets. He stopped at the gates of the city, for a ceremony in which the mayor of Madrid presented him with the keys of the city. Then he continued on to enter Cibeles square where he was greeted with roars by well over a million youth.....and we prayed he would come our way. And then much to our great joy, the pope-mobile turned and headed up the street our way! We roar increased as he came closer, and the crowds pressed us in. But we were right at the edge of the barrier, some in the first row awaiding our Shepherd. Finally, he passed by, just feet in front of us, waving and greeting us! What a jubilation! And the joy only increased when we he turned around and came back by us again! Some of the students found themselves crying with unexplainable joy.....

After passing by the jubilant youth who welcomed him with joy and open hearts, he passed back into the square, and commenced a welcome ceremony and a Celebration of the Word. After greeting all the pilgrims, each in their own language, the Gospel of Matthew, about building our houses on rock and sand was read (Mt 7:24-27), and the Holy Father followed this with an address, in which he exhorted us all to build our hearts and lives on the rock of Christ; to seek truth always and to be willing to live by it. What powerful words he offered us by which to direct our lives. May we live by them and thereby become a loving balm to

his heart and those that will follow him. After receiving a final blessing, we watched the Holy Father leave the square to chants and cheers, full of great love and affection.

What a powerful encounter it finally be able to greet our beloved Peter. All the difficulties of the day faded in the light of this joy. Everyone was deeply touched by the loving encounter with their Papa. What a connection and union of hearts we experienced between him and us. What joy he had in his smile as he waved to us one last time. We have deep gratitude in our hearts for all he is and all he chooses to carry for the sake of us his children. May we, just like today, always be willing to stand by and be present with and for him....even when it is difficult. We love you, Holy Father, and are proud to be your faithful children! 

Viva el Papa! Esta es la juventud del Papa!