Last July 13, our CFC-FFL missionaries left for Brazil to attend World Youth Day. For each of them, it was an experience of a lifetime!
This year’s World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was something amazing and unexplainable. As I write this reflection, I am really having a hard time and I don’t know exactly why. The experiences that I had were things that I never thought of, were the encounters that I never prayed for and were new relationships formed that I never asked for. In short, my WYD experience this year was really overwhelming that my heart and mind cannot contain the joy and that words can never fully explain how it made a huge impact on me. Oh how I wish I could find words. Every time I find words to explain, they all seem to be an understatement. And I think that’s how the Jesus experiences are in our lives: sometimes unexplainable. Unexplainable that words aren’t enough, the mind cannot fully grasp and that only the heart can comprehend.
Of course, my first World Youth Day (which is in Madrid last 2011) would always have its own magic and will have its special place in memory. It is unfair to compare the two World Youth Days because the experiences, the people, and the learnings are different from one another. Two different countries from two different continents and celebrated by two different Popes.
First, the relationships that I had and that I have. Brazilians are the best! They are like us, Filipinos. They are very warm, welcoming and hospitable. They are just amazing ! My host families in Surui and in Rio made me feel that I am part of their family; that I am one of their sons. It felt like I had a real family in Brazil. My new friends, the young people of Brazil, are my new siblings! They are wonderful. And I must say that I am part of the best sub group. My CFC SFL brothers and sisters are unbelievable! They all thought me to just simply love.
Second, my faith. I am blessed that I saw Pope Francis. He just moved all of us into a kind of revolution that would tell the whole world about Jesus. He reminded and encouraged us not to be afraid and ashamed in proclaiming God to all the people that we encounter. And what is more astounding is that he did not just preached in words but also in his actions. He made sure that he’ll have more encounters with people than with the media by waving his hands at us, kissing babies everywhere. He made sure he’d stop at young people, smile and wave at us, and even drink from someone else’s drink. Celebrating faith and Catholicism with him and with some 3.7 million young people from all around the world was just moving and empowering in declaring how great God is to the whole world.
And third is about my vocation. I have encountered a lot of inspiring stories of different vocation from married to consecrated life. I met a lot of seminarians and priest who are very much happy and contented about their present lives and for me it is very moving and inspiring. I’ve also encountered married couples and parents during my whole stay in WYD who are blessed with their families and partners in life. Meeting people who found their true purpose in life affirmed me that true happiness and contentment in life can be found in God and in following His plans for us.
World Youth Day 2013 is my awakening and re-awakening at the same time. It is awakening to me because of God’s affirmation for my vocation in life. It is also re-awakening in the sense that I should be even bolder in proclaiming Him through my missionary work and by building genuine relationships with the people around me.
World Youth Day 2013 once again changed my life. And that is an understatement.