>March 26, 2010
Rocca di Papa, Rome
Yesterday was amazing.
We went to the Vatican to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of World Youth Day! We were on the stage, a few feet from Pope Benedict XVI! It was an amazing experience.
This wasn’t the World Youth Day itself. We will be coming back on Palm Sunday for the celebration of World Youth Day (when the WYD is not out of Rome – every three years – it is celebrated on Palm Sunday in Rome). We will wear our National Costumes, and hopefully sit near His Holiness again.
It is a good thing we didn’t wear our costumes last night! The night started at 6PM with some singing and dancing. And the Pope didn’t come out (on his Pope-mobile) until about 8:30PM. At that time, it was freezing already! We got our beanies out and our sweaters, and lit the candles we were given (which were for later in the program, but we lit them for heat). The Pope’s stage has heat lamps on its roof. How cool is that?
There were questions from the youth of Rome and Lazio (those were the areas invited for this event), and the Pope answered them. It was all in Italian, so I have no idea what he said.
When it was over, he got into his Pope-mobile, and passed (again) in front of us. He was literally maybe 3 feet away from me. I was taking pictures, and when I looked with my eyes (instead of through the camera), his nearness just struck me. I was overwhelmed with awe and happiness and a sense of belongingness. He truly does make you feel loved, just be his presence.
We had breakfast with Myanmar, the Emmanuel Community, Switzerland and Italy.
The whole morning was in Rocca di Papa with speakers on the vocation to love and about marriage. It wasn’t as heavy and theological as the day before, but was more experiential. The speakers were not priests, either. One was the founder of Shalom community in Brazil (“Life as a vocation” by Moyses Louro de Azevedo Filho), and the other was a couple from the Notre Dame Movement in Quebec, Canada (“Matrimony, a sacrament of spousal love and a way of holiness” by Martin Bergeron and Ginette L’Heureux). There was a Mass before all that celebrated by Cardinal Antonelli (President of the Pontifical Council for the Family).
Over lunch, we met Fr. Eric who is the head of the Youth Section of the PCL. And he said it was a shame that there are no speakers or resource people from Asia. Our speakers have been from all over the world, and there will be some speakers from Africa as well.
The different discussion groups presented their output, and one interesting feedback was that the usual marriage issues that are presented (like “Is it still relevant?” etc) are usually Western problems. So a lot of the Oriental countries were saying that those aren’t issues that they are faced with. They don’t see that (and other issues) as problems. That was very interesting! There are still a lot of bastions of good values out there.
We got to the Vatican at about 3:00PM. And we were given a private tour of the Vatican (it was closed to the public that day). The administrator, Cardinal Ruini (I think), welcomed us and gave a brief background of the things around us. Then we got a tour – care of the San Lorenzo Ruiz Center.
And the rest of the night, as I mentioned, was amazing.