It’s going to be HOT, and probably very uncomfortable. It’s going to be crowded, and there will be lots of scope for muddles and mishaps and adventures and confusion. But I’m hugely looking forward to it all: World Youth Day.
I’m travelling with a group from South London – one of several groups from different parts of Britain which will be en route to Madrid in August.
It took a while for Catholics in Britain to wake up to World Youth Day, and during the 1990s, when young people from other countries in Europe were hurrying off to cheer the great John Paul, to mix and meet with Catholics from many different countries, to experience the now-traditional night prayer vigil and the great Sunday morning Mass which rounds off the event…the youth of Britain somehow got left behind. But not any more. Britain will be well represented at the 2011 World Youth Day in Madrid, and your correspondent is going along to report on it all.
I’ve heard criticism of WYD from two sources: those who opposed it because it was a project of John Paul II whom they regarded as “too strict, too emphatic about morals, too…well…too Catholic!” and those who opposed it because they regarded John Paul a dangerous modernist! Both groups are looking a bit daft now. World Youth Day has made its mark as a major event for young Catholics, and has confounded all its critics. It gives young Catholics a chance to see the largeness and worldwide scope of the Faith; it opens doors and opportunities for communication across generations and nationalities; it shows the reality of a thriving Church with young priests and new religious orders; and, above all, it is an opportunity for united prayer with the successor of St Peter which gives glory to God.
The priest organising our particular WYD group organised a get-together in the parish garden over a barbeque and this has been followed up by information and emails. We’ve been given a reminder about the dress-code – no brief shorts or strappy tops, shoulders should be covered, obey commonsense rules on modesty. We’ve been warned about the heat – we’re sleeping in a church hall, and it will be stuffy, so don’t bring a thick sleeping-bag but just a mat and cotton covers. We’ve got information on travel arrangements, and there are extra trips like a visit to Avila (St Teresa). Someone is even compiling song-book. So we’re all set…