Millions of ordinary people do all sorts of extraordinary things simply because they love God. It’s the witness factor of the great things people do for the love of God that brings more people to the faith. We serve, pray, give, share, help, heal, bless and teach because we love God. And, we travel thousands of miles, operate on little sleep, get filthy and dehydrated in over-100-degree heat to pray in languages we don’t understand. All, because we love God we do these things. When it comes to Christian witness, I really hope we are known by our love.
I’m at World Youth Day in Madrid. Sister Katie, from my community, and I are here going through the events with the crowds of youth from everywhere, literally. We’ve been in Madrid for a couple days now and the entire time I have been in awe of the joy and energy that is vibrating through the crowds. Cheers, chants, and songs of Alleluia unite youth of different languages, races and homelands. No matter where we’re from or what we do in ordinary times, we are all here because we believe and we love God. The power is big because, well, there’s 2.5 million of us, I’ve heard. No one is too comfortable with any part of it, I am sure. But everyone seems to be thrilled to be adventuring through the fun of faith exploration.
This witness is quite a counter-reaction to the youth riots in the UK. Here young people are crouching on the sidewalks praying the divine office, reading scripture and praying rosaries. People are giving witness talks on street corners and others are singing songs of praise. There’s garbage on the streets under the crowds, but there is no violence, no crime, no looting, no riots.
In fact, only kindness seems to be common here. It’s easy to strike up conversations with people from anywhere and rejoice about the simple things that unite us. I’ve met people from every continent and more countries than I can track. I’m giving away gifts from my community and then grinning as I later see people standing around reading brochures about my my life while they wait in lines or ride the metro.
Last night streets were blocked off and people crowded into every open space possible to be able to participate in the opening mass. We were about two blocks away from the plaza where the mass was held watching on a screen (and we had a really good spot compared to most). We sat on a grass median for more than two hours waiting for the mass to begin. Here is a picture of how things looked from our spot.
Mass was awesome. Here is a video so you can see the entire liturgy, much better than I was able to!
I am loving this; I am loving it here. And, I am loving the experience of witnessing young people united in Christ’s love, celebrating the goodness of God. My prayers is all the waves of love that stir through the people bring more people to Christ who is love.
Thank you for praying with us as we continue on our pilgrimage, all for the love of God. Amen.