(VL Ramos, Fulltimer in Malawi, Africa)
I praise and thank you, oh GOD, for bringing me to Madrid and allowing me to experience the recent World Youth Day. By YOUR grace, I have seen, heard and experienced YOUR beauty, glory and majesty in Spain. YOU know very well how much thankful I am because of YOUR kindness and goodness. My heart is bursting, and a fire is like burning inside me. I did not deserve to be in Madrid, but it was purely because of YOUR grace that I was included. Out of my happiness, I wanted to hug and kiss YOU, my Father. Because of YOUR love for me, I have experienced great things. Thank YOU, LORD, for bringing me in this life changing journey.
LORD GOD, YOU made my experience of my first World Youth Day perfectly awesome, extraordinarily wonderful, and amazingly remarkable. But YOU know very well that I only copied these adjectives from the dictionary, for I cannot describe the experience of YOUR greatness. No words can explain YOUR glory. The splendor of YOUR presence has never missed to make me speechless.
It was part of YOUR great plan, my LORD, for my goodness and holiness, for me to be in YOUR loving presence in the WYD. YOU have brought me there where I have witnessed YOUR mighty deeds in my life and in the lives of my friends and of the millions of pilgrims. YOU have engraved YOUR Words of hope, faith and love in my heart, which had led me to the deepening of my love for YOU and my conviction as your child and missionary. YOU have also put a big awe in my heart by showing YOUR power and majesty, which had given me more desire to praise and honor YOU.
How happy I am that YOU have granted my simple childish dream to be a pilgrim of the World Youth Day. How privilege I am that YOU are a Father to me, who only desires the goodness of YOUR children. YOU have made sure that I receive more than enough. YOU have lavishly blessed my heart. YOU have allowed me to know YOU more and to learn YOUR ways more.
YOU are indeed a GOD of many surprises, my LORD. It was also part of YOUR plan that I celebrated my 27th birthday last August 9, in Paris, France and Madrid, Spain. I have celebrated it in two countries in one day. Awesome! This is one of the best birthday gifts I have received from YOU. But YOU did not end it there; YOU have just surprised me again by granting a wish that I have desired – to be with my friends from the Philippines, after not seeing them for 11 months. YOU never fail to give me something special in my birthdays. And YOU are the most special gift that I have received, more than anything.
Oh LORD, YOU do not stop from loving me. As YOUR love embraces me, it transcends any experience, material things, and wealth here on Earth. YOUR grace surpasses anything and YOUR mercy is overflowing. Nothing is better than to be with YOU.
YOU have brought me to the awesome place of Sierra de Fuentes, in the diocese of Coria, Caceres. YOU have shown me the beauty and goodness of YOUR creations. They all reflect YOUR unmatched beauty and goodness. YOU have given me new friends from my sub-group and from Sierra de Fuentes. YOU have helped me to build new friendship and deepen the old ones. YOU have allowed me to appreciate and enjoy their presence. I have enjoyed the great food of Spain (especially their cold summer drink “gazpacho”). YOU have allowed me to gaze at the panoramas and climb hills and big rocks. I have felt YOUR care and generosity. Being with the Spanish has greatly influenced my life and faith. YOUR warm and joyful presence was among us. I saw YOU smiling during our tours, swimming breaks and every time we were in the dining room, enjoying YOUR abundant food and having joyful conversation. There was a language gap. Very few of them know English and I only know 5 Spanish words. But YOU filled the gap with YOUR love. It was by YOUR grace that enabled me to laugh with them, sing with them, and dance with them. YOU also reminded me that the best language is the language of love.
YOUR love has also brought me to the shrine of the Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal. YOU have brought me there to be more attracted to Our Dear Mother. Never did I imagine that I would be able to visit her shrine, this soon. It was very much unexpected and I was really surprised. YOU have wanted me to have a deeper devotion to Our Lady of Fatima. I have felt her loving presence and I believe that she was talking to me during the Holy Eucharist. “Come to me, my dear one”. I have heard these words several times. She has taught me how to have a deeper devotion to her. It was YOU, my LORD, who led me to the beautiful sanctuary of Our Lady. I have seen the tombs of those who were devoted to her, the now-beatified siblings Francisco and Jacinta Marto and their cousin Sister Lucy. YOU also led me to the underground chapels so that I can be with YOU alone in the Adoration Chapel. I was truly inspired by the things I saw. The inspiration has made me desire to learn more about the messages of Our Lady of Fatima, and hoping that by YOUR grace, I may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, for YOUR own goodness and glory.
When I was not yet in Madrid for the World Youth Day proper, I have already received more than enough grace from YOU, my GOD. But YOU said to me, “This was just the appetizer; the main course is up ahead. Enjoy it!” YOU wanted me to lose more myself within YOUR promise.
By the power of YOUR Holy Spirit, YOU allowed me to be with my friends and a million of other pilgrims. I was with them in prayers, celebration and giving YOU honor and praises. YOU have gathered us as one big Catholic family to be in YOUR presence. YOU have allowed us to listen and learn from YOUR enriching Words during the Catechism sessions and celebrations of the Holy Eucharist. YOU have given us opportunities to cleanse our souls through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Thank you my LORD, I have got the chance to visit several old but beautiful churches in Caceres and Madrid. They were truly amazing and breathtaking; the beautiful architectural designs were flawless. But nothing is more amazing and breathtaking than YOU alone. Nothing compares to YOUR flawless beauty. What I really liked was the chance to be able to talk and adore YOU in these churches despite the busy schedules and many plans. I felt YOUR warm presence and I heard YOUR Words repeatedly whispering in my heart. “YOU are unworthy, but YOU are counted”; “Do not be afraid”; “I know very well the plans I have for YOU and it is for your goodness”; “I will let YOU see my greatness in Spain”; “Behold, I will teach YOU My ways, I will mold YOU in the kind of person I wanted YOU to be”; “I am with you, always”. YOU have given me more affirmation and assurance; YOU are my only affirmation and assurance, oh LORD.
YOU blessed me so much during the Days in the Diocese (DID) in Caceres, and YOU blessed me even more in Madrid. I have met inspiring Catholics who possess great knowledge and wisdom from YOU. Through them, YOU have encouraged me to embrace more the teaching of YOUR Church. YOU have motivated and inspired me to continue to strive more to live a chaste and holy life.
I have anticipated that I will experience great things during the event but these were more than I have imagined. I have received countless of blessings, grace that cannot be measured, and love that goes beyond anything and surpasses everything.
I have only asked from YOU, my God, to be a pilgrim of the World Youth Day, but YOU have given me more than what I have asked for. YOU have given me this rare opportunity to see the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI in person. The first time was during the opening ceremony in Plaza de la Independencia, but I have seen only his back. I was disappointed, but YOU allowed me to realize that it was also part of YOUR plan to be like that and YOU were just teaching me to desire more to see him. It was a purification of my intention. I have prayed to YOU that I would be given another chance to see the Holy Father face to face. YOU granted my prayer during the last day of WYD at Cuatro Vientos. The desire was strong that I decided to go to the stage from back most part of the airfield where we were staying. I crossed thousands of pilgrims, met different nationalities and finally reached the stage as close as possible. I have seen the Holy Father face to face at 30 meters away. That was the closest one that I can. It may not be as close as I wanted it, but still, I was very much inspired by his presence. I have felt his aura that had given me some kind of inner peace and happiness. Thank you LORD for I have beheld YOUR presence in the person of the Our Holy Father.
The scenes at the Cuatro Vientos were breathtaking, extraordinary and jaw dropping. I felt like I wanted to stay because it was a mountain top experience. The 42 degrees burning heat of the sun was nothing, the long walk and dusts did not separate me from experiencing YOUR tremendous and overflowing love. Everything was worth it. I would be willing to sweat again, get darker under the sun, inhale the dusts through my nostrils, make sacrifices and undergo sufferings just to behold YOUR presence and experience YOUR love, grace and mercy, again and again. It was a mountain top experience!
But YOU have asked me not to stay, but to go down the “mountain” and tell these stories to as many people as I can, to as many places as I can reach. YOU have instructed me not to keep for myself all the things that I saw, heard and experienced during my journey in the World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid. Thank you, Lord, for everything that YOU have done for me. My journey still continues and it is not towards Madrid anymore, but towards holiness, towards YOU.
Thank you, my LORD!
By YOUR divine grace, with the teachings of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, with the guidance of YOUR HOLY SPIRIT and by the intercession of Our Dear Mother Mary, may I be able to treasure these blessings and share it to many. This, I pray. Amen.