I am back home after a really wonderful pilgrimage
celebrating the twentieth World Youth Day.
God again proved Himself to be a faithful
and powerful God. Overcoming problems, transforming
difficulties into graces, loading us with
surprises, constantly teaching us that his
plans are better than ours. He is awesome!
We had many challenges that we had to overcome.
He did it all. Even the financial situation
that, to put it mildly, was extremely critical,
in some way or another was swept away!
We lost one passport, one luggage, two boys
(just for two hours!), one airlines ticket,
one coach broke down, one of us was really
sick, quite a few twisted their ankles on
our way back from the vigil, we slept very
little... the normal hassles and difficulties
of the pilgrim. And yet! And yet! The youth
were so happy and enthusiastic... dancing
(literally) their way through the journey.
Pilgrimage has long been seen as a metaphor
for life itself: a life filled with a succession
of problems which all pale into insignificance
as the journey ends at the celestial City.
We were 244! Coming from Guam, Saipan and
Hawaii. Archbishop Anthony Apuron was with
us all the way. "One searches God to
find him with more sweetness, one finds him
to search him with greater ardor", Saint
Augustine once said. This is what we wanted
We told the youth only two things before
we started. One, was the basic rule of the
pilgrimage namely NOT to grumble, and secondly,
to be prepared for the surprises of God.
This put us in a very positive attitude all
along. The youth edified me by their enthusiasm
In Manila we were greeted with leis; we felt
like children of a King! The brothers were
so kind and they prepared a wonderful program
for us… A long flight through Brunei and
Bahrain. Then in Europe, we had the opportunity
and the gift to spend a full day evangelizing
in Prague under the rain - so many tourists
and local were just staggered at the joy
of these youth. 'Do not be afraid to announce
the gospel on the rooftops', Pope John Paul
II said once. This is what the youth from
Guam, Hawaii and Saipan !
In Krakow we had the chance to have a personal
meeting with Archbishop Stanislaw, who was
the secretary of the Pope all during his
pontificate. We were in Auschwitz - how much
pain. We celebrated the Eucharist in the
Sanctuary of Divine Mercy and Mother Superior
handed a first class relic to the Archbishop.
We celebrated another rousing Eucharist at
the Infant of Prague Church.
And so on, and so on…
The meeting with the Pope was wonderful.
The first time to meet this Pope! His speech
was really full of Gospel fire.
"Obviously books alone are not enough.
Form communities based on faith! In recent
decades movements and communities have come
to birth in which the power of the Gospel
is keenly felt. Seek communion in faith,
like fellow travellers who continue together
to follow the path of the great pilgrimage
that the Magi from the East first pointed
out to us. The spontaneity of new communities
is important…" said the Pope in a strong
voice during the Vigil. The atmosphere at
the Marienfeld with one million youth was
The next day another climax with the meeting
of Kiko and Carmen and Father Mario, the
initiators of the Neocatechumenal Way. 100,000
youths took part in the meeting, at which
50 bishops were present. "I always knew
you were many, but I never realized you were
so many!!!" Archbishop Rylko, President
of the Pontifical Council of Laity told us.
The kerygma was powerful. One of the most
moving moments of the event was a procession,
with an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
accompanied by 1,150 priests and students
from Redemptoris Mater seminaries. Over 4000
youth expressed their desire to become presbyters
or join a monastery.
I am now in Malta. The youth are still on
the planes travelling the long journey back.
I am sure they will arrive tired but energized
to continue their adventure with Him who
has proved Himself again so faithful. "Let
us go forward with Christ and let us live
our lives as true worshippers of God! Amen!"
were the final words of the Pope in Marienfeld.
We all now know that real happiness consist
in what the anonymous Russian described in
the beginning of his book, A Pilgrim's Way.
"By the grace of God, I am a human person
and a Christian; by my actions, a great sinner;
by my condition as a pilgrim without a roof,
of the lowliest species that goes wandering
from place to place. My possessions are a
sack on my shoulders with a bit of dry bread
and a Holy bible that I carry under my shirt.
No other thing do I have".
"The strength of the pilgrim is his
return" Cardinal Scola, Patriarch of
Venice told us in Bonn… I am sure that God
will prove again to be noble in our weakness.
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
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