Meeting Jesus in the silence
HERE we present extracts from the diaries of British World Youth Day pilgrims, which first appeared on our website. Pastor luventus returns next week.
Days in the Diocese: ■ On Thursday the Days in the Dioceses programme started with the official welcome liturgy in Melbourne's Catholic cathedral, packed with pilgrims from all over the world stopping in Melbourne before travelling on to Sydney for World Youth Day.
We were told that approximately 22,000 young people from all over the world would be passing through Melbourne, and walking around the streets it was easy to believe. Pilgrims carrying their national flag would walk past on the opposite side of the street and we'd shout out in welcome to each other. Unfortunately there was a limited number of tickets that we could get for the welcome liturgy, so only about 12 of our group made it, but those of us that went came back buzzing. The atmosphere was incredible, with barriers of language and race being crossed as people gathered outside the church, dancing and singing and praising the Lord together.
The Archbishop of Melbourne led the service, and we sang hymns, frayed and read scripture together before worshipping Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
In his sermon the archbishop talked about the theme of World Youth Day this year "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses" (Acts 1:8), saying that "God's personal love" for each one of us "is so strong and so perfect that it needs to be shared". Jesus's love "encircles all the facets of our lives", meaning that we can bring everything to him all our joys, our sorrows, the seemingly insignificant frustrations we may face on our journeys to Sydney -everything. We are not doing our own work but
God's, and he will not abandon us. As we sang World Youth Day's "theme song" to close the service, stranger embracing stranger in love and joy, I think we got a taste of what World Youth Day is all about, and what next week in Sydney will be like.
■ Atheists with signs saying things like "Don't just believe, think!" stood outside on the bridge facing the crowd of Catholics on their way to Mass. and after a conversation with a couple of them it became clear that they were convinced that everyone who believes in God has either been indoctrinated from birth or is just very weak, both intellectually and emotionally. Several people from the group tried to start some friendly discussion, recommending John Paul ll's Theology of the Body to the people handing out condoms and holding signs saying things like `The Pope. is wrong! Condoms save lives!" The encouragement and strength offered in the Mass, once we finally got in out of the cold evening, was needed by all.