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
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.
Locate cultural activities, catechesis, and restaurants nearest you
Madrid, August 4, 2011.- Over the course of the next several days, the famous saying “All roads lead to Rome” could be replaced by “All roads lead to Madrid”, as it will be the city hosting World Youth Day this upcoming August 16 to 21.
In order for all young pilgrims from every corner of the planet to get the most out of this World Youth Day, a map has been designed that marks the locations that will host cultural activities and catechesis sessions. This map will also help young people locate the nearest restaurant where those with WYD registration covering meals can use their meal tickets.
There will also be a language option to help them find the catechesis and cultural activities being held in their own language.
More information, such as the locations of various information points and where the main events with the Pope are being held, will soon be available.
The interactive map is available HERE
I’ve finally started packing. My suitcase is filled and the rest of my essentials are scattered everywhere around my room. A challenge that I’ll be facing starting tomorrow is my family. My mom and I are going on World Youth Day, but my dad is not. So not only will we not be seeing him for those ten days, we wont see him starting tomorrow because he’s leaving on a business trip, and gets back about an hour after we leave. He leaves a few days before we get back, and is gone for another week. So all in all? 3 weeks without my family being together. Hopefully we’ll be able to stay in touch through this journey to Christ.
Ok, this being my first blog EVER, I think it fair to warn y’all that I have a very bad habit of writing whatever tends to pop into my head, and how I would most likely say them. That being said, these blogs are most likely going to be very lengthy. However, that could be a good thing…I think.
To “kick off,” I figured it would appropriate to describe how and when Travis and I were giving the opportunity to attend such an amazing “Adventure” at World Youth Day, in Madrid Spain.
Well, it all started about two years ago when my family was stationed in Prattville, Alabama. It was during this time when the thought of going to WYD was more of a vague idea rather than a finalized plan (It was soon left in the forgotten past). However, about a year later we heard from some friends that the Raleigh Diocese of North Carolina was taking a large group to WYD. This, unfortunately, was during the time we lived in Virginia. At this time we had no inclination that we may or may not be moving back to our beloved home in NC. The idea of attending WYD was once again– forgotten. About two months after our happy move back to Hampstead, NC my mom approached us with the question of whether or not we would like to join the Raleigh group to WYD. Of course we would be put on the waiting list, due to our very very late entry. With that in mind: I decided “Why not?” feeling that if I didn’t think about it I wouldn’t be so disappointed when told that we would not be able to go.
On the Eleventh of July, some good friends of ours from Rocky Mt., NC, were visiting us (as well as having the intent to steal some UVB rays from the sun) at the sandy beaches of Topsail. These are also the very friends who not only were going to WYD, but were trying very hard to help us get on the trip. Shortly after their arrival, Mrs. Love received a phone call. All I know is that she was talking and running around the house with my mom for a long time. Then, all of a sudden, I got a tap on my shoulder, and as I turned around to face my mother handing me my passport, she said, “Your going to need this.” Honestly, I had nooooo idea what she was implying. So after about three minutes of my mom smiling at me, while I sat there stupefied, trying to figure out what was going on, it hit me; I WAS GOING TO WORLD YOUTH DAY IN MADRID, SPAIN!!!! At first it came out as several of the same question, “Really, we’re really going, and this isn’t some kind of sick joke???” After being reassured several times it sank in that I was indeed going!
It wasn’t until the excitement settled down a notch, when the realization of $6,500 hit us, and that we only had about four weeks to raise that much, where-as everyone else had three years. However, Travis and I have been truly blessed with wonderful selfless family and friends, and we can hardly find words to describe our gratitude toward every single one of them. It is because of them that we not only reached our goal, but everyday the mail brings more and more donations that will go towards food, trip insurance, phone rent, and so much more. As we have mentioned before, your special intentions will be in our prayers, as well as all of our seminarians, and whoever may be discerning the religious life.
I think that is about it. Oh, and do you believe me now, when I said that I tend to write/talk too much?? Haha! Well, there are four more days till take off, and I still have a lot of packing to do. So I will leave you for now, and I hope you all will be following me during this upcoming pilgrimage at Lourdes, Avala, and Madrid.
Special contest launched for pilgrims and would-be pilgrims…
Five lucky young people could win a chance to be part of the group of pilgrims who walk with the Holy Father through Madrid’s Puerta de Alcalá during the official welcome ceremony on Thursday August 18. Puerta de Alcalá is an 18th centry gate that used to be one of the main access points to the city. It is today one of the symbols of Madrid and it is where the Holy Father will be officially received and welcomed to the city.
Another 50 young pilgrims could win VIP seats on the altar at the Vigil at Cuatro Vientos on Saturday August 20.
Even those young people who can’t make it to Madrid have a chance to participate in this contest. Ten youth from around the world will win an official WYD 2011 Madrid Pilgrim Backpack and other items from official WYD store.
To participate youth must fill in the on-line application form on the official WYD Facebook page and then try to accumulate the most points possible. Points can be accumulated by connecting one’s twitter profile to the official WYD twitter profile, or by “liking” the WYD app on the Facebook page.