The Blessed Difficulties of WYD

Suffering and Joy: One of the great things about WYD is the suffering (in part described below). Since this is a pilgrimage, suffering gives you the opportunity to more closely unite yourself with Christ on the Cross, our only hope of salvation. Accept this cross with JOY. Be willing to suffer any difficulty to encounter Jesus Christ with His vicar on Earth, Pope Benedict XVI. Be aware that joy comes from Christ and is internal, not external (based on comfort).

Walking: Be prepared to walk 15K (10 miles) every day. From early in the morning until probably after midnight (in Madrid), you will mostly be on your feet or sitting on the ground. On Saturday, August 20th, pilgrims will walk from the city to a chosen destination, in the heat of the day, to be with our Holy Father that evening… and walk back Sunday afternoon in the same heat. Accept this cross with JOY.

Heat: Madrid will be a hot and sticky desert in August. You will be outside for large parts of the day. Despite this situation, you are asked to dress modestly in summer clothing. Accept this cross with JOY.

Crowds: WYD anticipates well over 1,000,000 pilgrims for the final events. The streets, Metros (trains), and venues will be very crowded. Expect 10 people to be in your personal space on the Metros. Accept this cross with JOY.

Food: WYD food is hit or miss… mostly miss, but it’s food no matter what it looks like. Eat it and smile. Lack of food is another common experience at WYD. Lines are usually very, very long (90 minutes is not unusual), venues run out and spend time trying to get more. Breakfast is small, lunch is large but not until 2pm – 3pm, and a light dinner will likely be at 10pm – 11pm. Don’t complain… look around. The Spanish survive just fine on this schedule. Accept this with JOY.

Sleeping: Simple lodging is usually in a schoolroom, parish hall or gym… on the floor… and there is no air conditioning. If you choose simple lodging, bring a floor mat, or better yet, a cheap inflatable pool raft. You can use this on the final vigil as well. However, don’t expect to sleep much at the vigil. Spaniards love to stay up late, singing and dancing (all night). They will probably calm down just before sunrise, giving you a couple hours to sleep before Mass begins. Accept this with JOY.

Missed connections: Group travel has it’s own difficulties. Expect at least one late bus, train or plane. Also expect your group to be late and miss some connection as well. Bring a hacki-sack and whip it out at times like these. It’s great group therapy. Accept these with JOY.