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!
A World Youth Day Testimony by Raine Eguico, Live Pure Movement Fulltime Pastoral Worker
What’s over? That beautiful experience called World Youth Day Rio 2013.
Gone are those times when I just walked and walked, only to find out that the blocks in Brazil are not that short-distanced as that of Manila. Gone are those times when I tried my best to understand what my host families are trying to say because they only speak Portuguese while I only speak English. Gone are all the “movements” from one place to another, with food or without food, “movements” of the famous Samba that Brazilians enjoy day in and out and “movements” from the deepest recesses of my heart that I simply cannot take control of.
What else is over? My long-time search for love.
Who doesn’t search for love? Everyone does. This is very basic. I just didn’t expect it to come at a time when my heart could have had a “better” posture coming to the World Youth Day. But then God proved me all wrong. When I thought I could have had a “better” posture of heart, He told me that it’s just the “right” posture I could ever have. Yes, it may be basic, but God brought me back to square one and at square one, life was never the same.
During the first few days of the World Youth Day, I heard myself praying to God “Lord, all I want is to be loved and to love,” and I honestly caught myself in tears most of the time. I was too much consumed by this prayer that I didn’t realize that there are a lot more important things to pray for than this specific intention.
Thankfully, God spoke to me through a priest who gave me the Sacrament of Reconciliation. He said, “You know, sometimes, it’s not about “being loved,” but simply “to love,” because in loving others, you also get loved in the process. Then I had a change in mindset. I had a change of heart. I had a beautiful letdown – a beautiful letdown that allowed me to just surrender everything to the Lord and allow Him to love me beyond my masks, labels and boundaries. And it didn’t stop there. My open heart also allowed Him to love His children through me, for my heart was finally ready to be consumed by all that He is.
The defining moment was the Prayer Vigil at the Copacabana Beach. It was a tourist beach no more. It was “Sea of Galilee” where everyone there was called by Jesus and just amazed by His Holy presence. What better moment can there be than that of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, the direct successor of St. Peter to whom the Church is entrusted, holding Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and presenting Him to all the people of different races gathered in prayer? It was a perfect silent moment for everyone. It was a perfect silent moment for me.
I was in tears the whole time. The downward movement of my tears just couldn’t be stopped. I was humbled, silenced and consoled. I heard God tell me “What more are you searching for? Isn’t this moment enough for you?” Everything just made sense. The ache within me finally made sense.
My search for love is finally over. The love I’ve been searching for is right there, in front of me. I knew from the start that God is love. That is very basic, but I realized that there’s a huge difference between knowing it from the head and knowing it from the bottom of my heart. Just when I thought I know “God is love” too well, I was totally wrong. For this love is no ordinary love. This love is a Person. This love is a Person who is unstoppable. This love is a Person who especially revealed Himself to me in Brazil through the people He allowed to be my family! This love is my One True Love who keeps reminding me everyday that my long search is over because He is here with me; He is here within me.
It’s over. Yes, the World Youth Day is over. Gone are the long walks, the challenging chats, the “movements,” and my long-time search.
I’m now ready to move on to the next chapter. I’m now ready to move on from “searching” to “longing for Him” everyday. I am blessed to be where I am now. I am blessed to be here in His love.
From here, I shall follow Pope Francis’ advice: “Go. Do not be afraid. Serve.”
By His grace, I will go, will not be afraid and will serve.
Above all, I will love…for I now know too well that I am loved, no matter what.