World Youth Day has officially begun and we are joined by Mike, Amina, Zulma, Jessica and Ana! Yesterday was the Opening Mass with Cardinal Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, and 150,000 of our fellow pilgrims. Today was the first of our catechetical sessions and Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, SJ (the first Jesuit Archbishop) spoke about our call to follow the Holy Spirit. When asked how we can try to be more holy in our daily lives--meaning after the WYD high fades and we return to "real life"--he said that we should strive for "sanctification in the midst of our world." This is very much the Ignatian idea of "finding God in all things" and looking for God in our daily lives, regardless of what we are doing at the time.
As I was thinking about this, I couldn't help but think back to yesterday's opening Mass. There we were--standing in what was, as far as I can tell, a giant parking lot surrounded by fences, people talking, laughing and singing, and a half dozen jumbo-trons--smack dab in the middle of a Mass with what seemed like a thousand priests, bishops and cardinals. On the one hand it seemed so ordinary and so secular (I was standing next to a big trash can). On the other hand it was amazing to see so many young people gathered together by a common faith and for the common purpose of worshiping God. It seemed like the perfect example of what Archbishop Prendergast was talking about when he said we should strive for holiness no matter where we are or what we are doing.
With all that has been going on so far, we can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!