We are putting together a spread of pictures from World Youth Day for the NC Catholics magazine. If you have pictures taken on a digital camera (not cell phone) you would like us to look at, send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Deadline: tomorrow, 5pm!
Dear Parishioners of St. Luke the Evangelist,
I regret that I am not able to address you in person, but immediately after returning from Spain, I left Raleigh to start my college career at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. I returned from my World Youth Day pilgrimage on the 22nd of August having completed one of the most incredible and inspirational journeys of my life. Thank you parishioners of St. Luke for assisting and enabling me to go on this journey, you were in my heart and prayers. The hundreds of prayer intentions you graced me with were with me every step of the way, and they now all sit at the feet of Our Lady of Lourdes with a perpetual candle burning brightly for them in her grotto. As I prayed for all of your intentions I asked for some message or lesson to bring back and share with all of you. The message came in a strange and unexpected way.
On the last days of World Youth Day, the pilgrims walk to a site where the Holy Father holds an overnight vigil of adoration and the World Youth Day closing mass. Saturday afternoon the Diocese of Raleigh pilgrims set out for the airfield where the vigil would be; half of us took a metro, and the other half, of which I was a part, walked the eight mile path through the mountains and in 105 degree heat. It was a grueling but beautiful walk.
About a mile from the airfield we receive a call from Patrick, the leader of the group that took the metro. He told us that the field was dangerously crowded, he feared for the safety of the group, and had decided to leave the airfield. There was a miscommunication among those working at the gates and un-ticketed pilgrims were being allowed to enter the ticket-only event. The result was two million people in a location with space and provisions for 700,000 people. The vigil had become a kind of Woodstock where there was neither food nor water, and the crowds were so thick our group inside couldn’t move, much less stake out a place to bed for the night. Patrick surveyed the situation and the desperateness of the crowds, and decided to leave the vigil for reason of safety. I cannot express the heartbreak, frustration, and anger this caused all of us, for we so dearly longed to have this vigil and mass with our Holy Father. We regrouped outside the field where the decision to abandon the vigil was finalized and we turned around to head back into Madrid. I never did get to have mass with Pope Benedict XVI.
The next morning we went to a local church for Sunday mass, and it was in the priest’s homily that I and the rest of the group found meaning in the ordeal we had suffered. Father spoke of the pilgrims, acknowledged all we had endured, and then asked why. He said a true pilgrim would not endure the hardship for the sake of the experience, or the people around them, or even for the Holy Father, that rather a true pilgrim would only be concerned with the pursuit of Christ. He knew hundreds of thousands of us never made it to the airfield and he said that a true pilgrim would remain joyful and determined in his pursuit of Christ. He then reminded us that the Pope was not the pinnacle of the pilgrimage, that the Sunday mass was. The Holy Eucharist was where pilgrims would find their fulfillment, not in the beautiful vigil with Catholic brothers and sisters. After mass we found out that no pilgrim at the papal mass received the Eucharist because wind and lightning had destroyed all of the Communion stations during the night. Had we pursued the experience of the vigil rather than the beauty of the mass the next day in this local church, we would have never received the Holy Eucharist. We would have missed Jesus Christ in our pursuit of something beautiful, the Pope, but far less important than our pursuit of Christ. The priest’s message was to pursue Jesus in the way He has us pursue him, not in the manner that we assume to be best. The pursuit of the vigil with the Pope was a holy one, but it was not one that would end in Christ. The pursuit of the will of God was one that landed us in a position we did not understand nor see as good, but was indeed good, holy, and filled with Christ.
So the message I received is this:
“Follow the will of God, and direct all thoughts, actions, and intentions to Him for love and pursuit of His holy presence. Humbly accept and pursue the will of God above your own, even when it makes little sense. He is a God of integrity and promise, who has pledged to love and take care of you. Pursue Him restlessly in all things, especially in the sacraments.”
May God Bless and keep you parishioners of St. Luke, with courage and trust in Christ.
Your Brother in Christ,
Yesterday we were walking to dinner in a common plaza when we found ourselves turning around and retreating from a huge anti-pope mob. We know (and the Pope certainly knows) that there are people who are against the Catholic church, our Pope, and how it effects the economy. Being told to stay in our hotel for the rest of the night and hearing police planes above us, we were nervous of what could happen, but we knew that God was there for us and my roommates and two other girls prayed and just talked until about 2 in the morning. In the morning we got up and went to breakfast with everyone (as opposed to whoever gets up) and the Bishop. My church decided to go to a talk on The Theology of the Body which required taking a metro and walking a ton. The highlight of that event (other than the information) was the fact that I bumped into one of of the staff members from a mission trip several of us went to a month ago! We finally got back to the hotel and relaxed for about ten minutes, then we went to save a seat for us to see the POPE. We all cheered for the Pope as we saw him driving down the road to where we were, shouting ¨VIVA EL PAPA! VIVA! VIVA!¨ He spoke beautiful words in every language he knew to be attending, and I shared a radio with a friend to listen to the English translation. All I can say is, it was impossible to comprehend. In the midst of all the madness that happened yesterday, we managed to have such a blessing today. It was a life changing experience to see our own Pope, to shout ¨Benedicto!¨ repeatedly, and just put myself in Gods grace. It was a great day.
Hey all! I have not been able to post for a little while, we have been super busy!
Lourdes was beautiful, we got to see the stations of the cross in life size and it was amazing. It is so important to remember all the time the sacrifice Jesus made for us. Mass in the grotto was cool too; it was in many languages but it was still very clearly mass.
Madrid has been crowded and crazy, but moving. It’s awesome to be totally focused on God for this time, and with other people too! The other groups are fun to see. If we spot them we all ask where they’re from and take pictures with them. The WYD opening mass was a little hectic but we’re all doing great. What was worse were the Anti-Pope protesters. However, we are all safe and the police in Madrid are on it! We’ve been reminded that Jesus was persecuted too.
Today we’re going to a talk with Jason Evert (a chastity speaker) and then to welcome the Pope to Madrid! We were also reminded to pray lots and have prayer buddies to pray for each other.
That’s all for now, we’ve gotta get to some talks! God bless you!
Lauren G, 15
Our pilgrimage began with a journey to Lourdes. The pilgrims and I were deeply moved with the faith that was so evident in this sacred place. I had the unique privilege of celebrating Mass with a brother bishop at the grotto at which our Blessed Mother appeared to Saint Bernadette. Our pilgrims and thousands of others from around the world were present. Later that day we celebrated Mass for the Vigil of the Assumption and then participated in a candle light procession. The sight of so many people demonstrating a deep devotion to our Blessed Mother is an experience I will always remember. In addition, seeing the number of seriously ill people at Lourdes touched my heart. Dedicated volunteers brought them to the liturgical services and to the holy water at Lourdes. I am confident that miracles took place right before us as the Lord touched those in need with His healing love and gave them strength, grace and perseverance. It is a reminder of the call we all have to lead others, especially those in need, to Jesus!
We also made a trip to Avila and learned about Saint Theresa, a Doctor of the Church. Her writings, the example of her life and her great commitment to prayer greatly assist us in our call to holiness.
We have been in Madrid since Monday evening. The opening Mass for the pilgrims was on Tuesday evening and it was a joyful and beautiful celebration. Today, we had a diocesan Mass at Saint Michael Basilica followed by a catechesis session. Later in the day, there was a vocation fair that included testimonies, concerts, talks and a Holy Hour. All the pilgrims were reminded that an essential step in discerning one’s vocation is to be still and quiet with the Lord, for he truly speaks to our heart!
There is much excitement in the air as we await the arrival tomorrow of Pope Benedict XVI. One young man said to me, “I am so blessed to be a Catholic and to know how much the Holy Father loves his young people. “ I am sure that all the pilgrims gathered in Madrid will soon echo those same words.
May God bless and protect Pope Benedict XVI and all the pilgrims who have gathered to be with him.
This evening there was some excitement in Madrid as groups of protestors took to the streets protesting the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI. This protest started as most of the nearly 700,000 pilgrims were around the city eating dinner. The Madrid police force was able to quickly separate the protestors from the pilgrims and in the preliminary reports no major incidents were noted. All of our pilgrims from Raleigh are safe and sound.
There is still a strong atmosphere of good will in Madrid and our pilgrims are enjoying the events, the religious experiences, exploring the city and meeting new friends from around the world. Please continue your prayers that the presence of the pilgrims will change the city with our witness of faith and love. All the pilgrims continue to lift up the intentions of the Diocese of Raleigh as we joyfully await the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI tomorrow afternoon! You will be able to watch this event live at 6:30am eastern time by clicking on the live streaming link above.
Our pilgrims are now at the opening mass!
You can watch the mass live HERE
Just an hour or so before we leave for the airport, and I’m getting excited! I don’t quite know what to expect, but God will have something amazing planned. I’m looking forward to seeing so many other people (especially kids my age) who share in the Catholic faith. It’ll be cool to pray with so many others in solidarity! I’m also super glad my roommates are nice and can’t wait to hang out with them!
More later when we get there:) God bless!
Well here goes! My first attempt at blogging. I can’t promise you it will be entertaining or funny but rather a first hand recap of my experiences on this trip of a life-time to Madrid, Spain for World Youth Day. Just 3 days to go and I am already feeling tired from the mental preparation for the trip, the planning, pre-packing, packing, unpacking, repacking. So many decisions to make! Should I wear skirts, shorts (over the knee), pants, long shorts or short pants? Which shoes? Let me tell you, this has been the topic of discussion amongst our little group from St. Thomas More for at least 6 months! We will be doing a lot of walking and have been warned (rather strongly encouraged) to bring very comfortable shoes. So, take a break cute sandals and bring out the tennis shoes and Clark sandals with air vents and lots of cushion. My feet will thank me later.
As with the other chaperones on the trip, many of us are leaving behind some part of our family, whether it be a spouse, as in my case, or 4 children and a husband, as in Georgie’s case. There are bills to pay ahead of time, laundry to do (so we have clothes to pack), frigs to clean out, desks to clean off, school supplies to get (school starts just 3 days after we get back!), sports practices to get to, pets to arrange boarding,…you get the picture.
Regardless of all the preparation and planning to get to this point that we plotted and planned a year and a half go, I am truly looking forward to this journey and pilgrimage. A friend of mine at work said that maybe it will light a fire in my faith. Though I feel I already have a strong faith, I think we all get to a point in our lives where we need that extra “umph”. We sometimes need to step away from the everyday normal to see the big picture, to see if we are on the right path and to gain some focus. I don’t know what to expect and have no real expectations other than to be tired, somewhat overwhelmed, completely open to experience new things, HOT, and somehow knowing I will be changed from this trip.
I take this trip with my daughter, Emma (who is also blogging at tendaysinspain.wordpress.com), 3 other lady friends and 7 other kids from St. Thomas More along with a great group of pilgrims from the Diocese of Raleigh. Please keep us all in your prayers as we make this journey as we will keep you in ours especially during our visit to Lourdes, France.
On Saturday August 20, 2011 Pope Benedict XVI will consecrate the pilgrims of World Youth Day to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. With this act it is intended to accomplish the aim of every World Youth Day: that young people be brought closer to Christ. As we prepare for this consecration through catechesis, prayer, and pilgrimage we ask that you pray this novena with us for a continued outpouring of grace upon the Diocese of Raleigh. We will begin praying the novena below on August 11, 2011 and end on August 19, 2011, the day of the consecration.
Thank you in advance for your continued prayers for our group!
Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Download a copy of the prayer here: http://www.xt3.com/library/view.php?id=493&categoryId=42
1) O my Jesus, you have said:
“Truly I say to you, ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you.”
Behold I knock, I seek and ask for the grace of…… (here name your request)
Our Father….Hail Mary….Glory be to the Father….
Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.
2) O my Jesus, you have said:
“Truly I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.”
Behold, in your name, I ask the Father for the grace of…….(here name your request)
Our Father…Hail Mary….Glory be To the Father….
Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.
3) O my Jesus, you have said:
“Truly I say to you, heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away.”
Encouraged by your infallible words I now ask for the grace of…..(here name your request)
Our Father….Hail Mary….Glory be to the Father…
Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.
O Sacred Heart of Jesus, for whom it is impossible not to have compassion on the afflicted, have pity on us miserable sinners and grant us the grace which we ask of you, through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, your tender Mother and ours.
Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy; hail, our life, our sweetness & our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve; to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning & weeping in this vale of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us; & after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.
V./ Pray for us, O holy Mother of God,
R./ That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, pray for us.