World Youth Day – Part IV
In order to understand the size and potential power of a World Youth Day, conjure ‘the’ common Americana experience. Perhaps the only American born experience that even remotely approaches the immensity of a World Youth Day is a professional sporting event, or a very large concert. Many, if not all Americans, have at one point in their life attended one or the other. Now with America’s pastime being baseball, and the average capacity of ballparks near 50,000 people, let us use this image to dream. Now picture your last ballpark experience, then multiply that image by 40. This sea of people in your mind is what you begin to approach for the final World Youth Day liturgical experience, the closing mass!
*Addendum* Personally, Coors Field is the state of Colorado’s home ballpark, which can hold 50,454 people. Conceptualizing 40 Coors Field’s side-by-side brings the Church’s size and potential into perspective. But now imagine how many Coors Fields the Catholic Church would need to build to host the 1 billion baptized Catholics at Sunday mass every week? 20,000 in case you were wondering. I digress…
Read on: Without any hesitation at all, the best experiences of my life have been at World Youth Day. By God’s grace, I was blessed with the opportunity to attend Paris, Rome, Toronto, and Cologne’s World Youth Day growing up. No college degree or crash course on the faith could have taught me more about my Catholic heritage. Without a doubt, the power of attending one mass with two million people has helped fortify my love for Christ and the Church he founded upon the Rock.
Spreading the sea of the lay faithful is the Cross at the closing mass. The Cross pictured to the right was given to the youth at the first World Youth Day in Rome, in 1986, by John Paul II. Since that time it has journeyed millions of miles to remind all, of God’s love for us. As the millions descend upon ‘the fields’ for the final liturgy, this cross focuses the crowds and makes its way to the altar where the pope presides over the holy sacrifice of the mass.
Prior to beginning this four day series on World Youth Day, ambitions to encapsulate the experience into a compact, understandable, and succinct package was the dream. But it is just too good. Too much holiness in a single place. Too much passion for authenticity all at once. I mean think about it, imagine a communion line that is a half mile long people? That is holiness. That is faith! That is World Youth Day. Young (and chaperones too!) lovers of truth! True joy. Jovial hope for a better world when they leave that sea of pilgrims. If God can bring 2,000,000 young people to one spot from the death grip of this culture, then He can do anything! We face the darkest hours in the 21st century, and it may become even darker. For all who read this, consider attending World Youth Day. If you want hope for the future, an experience of authentic love that you can reference for the rest of your life, then go to World Youth Day, preferably the next one in Spain, 2011! Click on the picture below for the link to the website. God Bless, ‘rise, let us be on our way.’