Day 1: Arrived in Dsseldorf, north of Cologne
This day consisted mostly of traveling and waiting around to get registered. Because this was all of our first time in Germany, there was some confusion, especially since our group got a lot larger. We met up with more people from Youth Arise (www.youtharisena.org), a school of evangelization in Tempe, and some other Americans added up to over a hundred people in our group alone. There was a group from Pennsylvania who brought a priest with them, Fr. Scott, who was so great. We all celebrated mass in the registration part with our backpacks supporting the altar. It was great. We got to put up our sleeping areas. We are staying in this huge empty warehouse in Dsseldorf, with thousands of other countries. There werent any showers nearby, and the closest ones, you had to pay a euro to take a shower. It was crazy. So we all stunk for a while. It was a lot cooler and rainier in Germany than I had planned on, so that was kind of a bummer. I just have never seen so many people all together, from all over the world, and they are all Catholic! We went into town for dinner and got Middle Eastern food, Falafels, they are similar to Gyros. These German guys kind of harassed me. Its great not knowing any other languages. It was kind of scary.
Day 2: Welcoming Mass
Since the beginning of WYD officially started yesterday…we began the day with no showers and group prayer and made our way into Dsseldorf with the new Youth Arise folk. We stopped at the church here in town. They had adoration (most churches have it going on) and a replica of the Shroud of Turin. That was the first time I had actually seen any form of it up close. Then we made it through the massive crowds, and I mean massive crowds of people to get to lunch. The food is pretty decent here. Although, I have never eaten so much bread and mushroom spread and seafood spread before. And then all 20,000 if us staying in Dsseldorf (people were spread out all over Cologne, Dsseldorf and Bohn, due to the large numbers of people) went to this arena near where we were staying and hung out, waiting to celebrate a Welcoming Mass. It was so overwhelming to see that many people gathered together, about 200 countries were represented and it was crazy to watch the flag procession. Until you experience it, you really have no idea how big our church is, actually, how universal it truly is. My heart was just blown away at the amount of people that were there. Even though it kind of bothered me, just how the Mass seemed less intimate because of the number of people, I realized that mass is about community and giving peace. And we were able to give peace to all those countries. And mass happens also within ourselves…and its up to us to make that happen. There was a lot of grace there, especially with all the bishops present! There is so much going on and its neat to meet so many other Catholics from other countries.
Day 3: Pope on a boat
Today we all ventured down to the Rhine River in Cologne, after fighting crowds at the train station and the jam packed train ride there, we got to relax on the banks of the river all day. He was supposed to speak at the Cathedral than hop on a boat and tour the banks of the river. So we got to see him from afar waving to the crowds on the front of the boat (very Leonardo-ish). It was a good day for fellowship. As we were leaving the park, I got stopped by a British News Reporter. He asked me what I thought of the Pope and if I thought he would continue the WYD’s. It was great, I got to evangelize to the world and represent America!
Day 4: Jim Caviezel
We made it to very few sessions at WYD because they were all spread out and the crowds were insane. But we did get to hear Jim speak about The Passion, and his wife was there as well to speak on a Catholic marriage and pro-life issues. It was so great to hear them together and Jim is a very powerful speaker. My favorite quote from him was With Mary as your shield, it sends Satan and his henchman back to Hell! Then we all got to watch The Passion together and then pray the Sorrowful Mysteries together…I prayed with Jim Caviezel! It was a powerful experience.
Day 5: Pilgrimage to the Vigil
We got up early and made an awesome pilgrimage to the field to where the Pope was to celebrate the Vigil with us. Getting off the train, we were a human parade through this small German town. It was so cute. All the people were waving to us from their houses and we walked to the field. It was really cold and over cast that day too, but it never rained. It was in a way, a cloud of protection for us pilgrims. There were 2 million of us there that day in a field. It was like Catholic Woodstock. Wow, so many cultures, so many countries, so many languages…our church is just so vast, its beautiful. I tried not to let myself get distracted during our time there because of the chaos. But I realize why I was there, who I was there for and what I was there for. We all were like lost sheep, looking for our Shepard….that night we found him.
Seeing the Pope talk about Adoration and what an amazing Sacrament it was so beautiful. Then seeing him, the vicar of Christ, kneel before the Eucharist just brought so much peace to me. This is our Catholic faith! And to see it proclaimed by the Pope confirms my solidarity in it, in Church unity…the night we slept outside was frigid and bone chilling but worth it. Mass with the Pope the next morning was an amazing end to our pilgrimage. Bringing the Church all together was simply wonderful.
…the power of Trials
…the Transformation of hearts
…the Unity among young people
… the Destruction of evil
…brings the Triumph of Truth and Love…
THIS is the Peace the world needs.