|WYD 2011 MADRID
The participants are sent to share the Good News!
Some say 1.5 million, others 2 million... Whatever the numbers, the powerful effect was felt by all the participants at the concluding events of the World Youth Day – Madrid 2011. On Saturday evening, the participants gathered at Cuatro Vientos, a military airport near Madrid, for a prayer vigil with the Holy Father. When a sudden storm came up, with strong winds and driving rains, the spirit of World Youth Day would not succumb. After a short interruption, the prayer vigil continued. At the moment in which the Blessed Sacrament was placed in the magnificent monstrance brought from Toledo, everyone present entered into deep silence in prayer of adoration. Sunday morning, the crowds were still there having persevered through the night. Many more came to take part as well. Pope Benedict XVI celebrated the closing Mass, and in his homily, he said to all the participants:
“We cannot encounter Christ and not want to make him known to others. So do not keep Christ to yourselves! Share with others the joy of your faith. The world needs the witness of your faith, it surely needs God. I think that the presence here of so many young people, coming from all over the world, is a wonderful proof of the fruitfulness of Christ’s command to the Church: “Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation” (Mk 16:15).”
The week was a superb celebration for all. The Augustinian participants took part in all the activities of the week, and in addition, they were given the opportunity to join in additional moments of friendship and prayer with the groups that came from the Order’s parishes and schools around the world.
The week-long exhibit on the life and thought of St. Augustine, sponsored by the four Provinces of Spain, was a great success, visited by many (not only the Augustinian groups). The purpose of the exhibit can be discovered and summed up in the words of Pope Benedict XVI: “When I read St. Augustine’s writings, I do not get the impression that he is a man who died more or less 1600 years ago; I feel he is a man of today: a friend, a contemporary who speaks to me, who speaks to us of his timely faith... St. Augustine encourages us to entrust ourselves to this ever-living Christ and in this way find the path of life.”
On Saturday, the Prior General presided at a Eucharistic liturgy in which many young people took part, along with Augustinian religious men and women, celebrated at the parish “Our Lady of Consolation” in Mostoles. They packed the church, and in several languages the participants were invited to look for ways in which they could deepen their relationship with Christ by deepening their knowledge of the Word of God, and by building up an authentic spirit of community with all people in the Church and in the world.
The Augustinians of the monastery of El Escorial had a particularly significant moment with Pope Benedict on Friday, August 19th. The Pope went to El Escorial, first for a meeting with young religious sisters, in which many Augustinian sisters, along with 1600 consecrated women from all over the world took part. Then, in the Basilica of the royal palace, the Pope spoke to young university professors, and he encouraged them to fulfill their important role with these words: “I urge you, then, never to lose that sense of enthusiasm and concern for truth. Always remember that teaching is not just about communicating content, but about forming young people. You need to understand and love them, to awaken their innate thirst for truth and their yearning for transcendence. Be for them a source of encouragement and strength.”
At the end of his talk to the professors, the Pope was greeted by the Prior General, the Prior Provincial of the Province of Madrid, and by the local prior of the monastery community. Gifts were exchanged – the Holy Father presented the Augustinians with a magnificent mosaic of the patron of El Escorial, St. Laurence. And then the Holy Father greeted the Augustinian Friars who were present. A video of the Pope’s visit to El Escorial is available here:
The excitement and activity of the 2011 World Youth Day has concluded. But the spirit of the event, a truly enriching experience of the universal Church, will continue, as the participants return to their homes and share with others all that they lived during the week. And many are already looking forward to the next World Youth Day, in Rio de Janeiro in 2013.