Sunday, July 20, 2008

WYD: Farwell Sydney and Hello Madrid

Well, WYD 2008 is over. Three years of planning, praying, preparing for and then a short week of memories. However, these are the memories that last a life time, that change a life, that have the power to alter many lives.

The flags of over a hundred nations, the dress and languages of the world, the sacred liturgical dance of the aborigines of Australia and the people of Fiji and other nations, the music and the unity, oh the unity. All of this will be remembered by those who attended and those who observed.

What will also be remembered is a Pope who addresses difficult issues directly: clergy sexual abuse, climate change, intolerance, poverty, all these issues were met head on by the Successor of Peter.

However, when the feast of stimuli is put aside, when the issues of the day are placed in context (as important as they truly are) what will stand out most is the gift of the Holy Spirit, unity. 600,000 people at the Final Mass. 600,000 pilgrims touched, moved, and now ready to share the Good News with the world. World Youth Day is not a concert pretending to be a Praise and Worship service. It is not an event disconnected from the rest of the Church. It is a well-planned, prayed over, integrative occurrence that connects peoples of various generations, nations, cultures and walks of life with one another to better serve the Church. That is worth celebrating.

I spent the week following two major events, the Global Interfaith Conference in Madrid Spain hosted by the King of Saudi Arabia and WYD in Sydney Australia. I founded it meaningful, powerful that these two events occurred at the same time and I referred to it as an “Axis of Hope”. When Pope Benedict XVI met with over 40 religious leaders of other faiths I made the connection to the goals of King Abdullah. Imagine my surprise last night as I was watching the Final Mass of WYD 2008 and the Pope announced his pick for the 2011 World Youth Day, yep, Madrid Spain! The Axis of Hope continues.
Peace and all good,

Final Mass: WYD 2008

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