A lesson from Pope Benedict, dinner with the U.S. bishops

By Sara Angle
One in a series

MADRID — Most of my day was spent waiting hours for the arrival of the pope. I was told that some pilgrims arrived at Plaza de Cibeles for the pope’s entrance over 8 hours before he was expected!

If there is one thing I have learned at WYD thus far, it is to practice the virtue of patience.

The anticipation was palpable all through the day at Cibeles, and to pass the time people were playing cards, taking naps, doing the Macarena, throwing beach balls and doing the wave. I had to remind myself I was at WYD, not a college football game!

The long awaited moment finally came, and the party-like atmosphere faded into solemnity as Pope Benedict took the microphone to address the pilgrims. After greeting everyone in 6 languages, there was Gospel reading and then the pope spoke about the reading in Spanish.

His words were poetic and careful, but powerful. He advocated turning to the Bible as the source of truth, saying, “There are words which serve only to amuse, as fleeting as an empty breeze; others, to an extent, inform us; those of Jesus, on the other hand, must reach our hearts, take root and bloom there all our lives.”

I thought this was such an incredible explanation of how the Bible should fit into our everyday lives, and give us the ability to “build on solid rock.”

The hours of waiting were over quickly, as the welcoming celebration with Pope Benedict lasted exactly one hour.

After the ceremony, I received an unexpected but welcome invitation; the chance to attend dinner with the 64 U.S. bishops that are in Madrid for WYD.

One of the big things about WYD is encounter God through encountering others. At dinner, I sat beside the bishop of the Diocese of Austin and though our conversation was not profound, it was lighthearted and congenial. I felt that connection that WYD is all about, and after a long day of waiting, I could simply sit and enjoy the presence of those around me.

On a final note of the day, I would like to say that despite many media reports about WYD protestors, Madrid is not running rampant with anti-WYD advocates. Although I have heard some talk of people witnessing protestors, the presence of Christ is much stronger this week than any opponents. Even if there are protests, the chants of “Benedicto!” are drowning them out.

Sara Angle, 21, is a senior at Villanova University and has written for CNS from Rome and Washington. She enjoys traveling and soaking up the culture of her surroundings, be it through food, fashion or faith, and looks forward to covering WYD for CNS — from the big events to the off-beat adventures. Sara loves reading and writing (but not arithmetic) and dancing like no one is watching. You can also follow her on Twitter @CatholicNewsSvc. She’ll be using the hashtag #SaraInMadrid.

Inspiration in Madrid — Tony Melendez and Pope Benedict

By Emma Luigard
One in a series

MADRID — Today will always stand in my mind as one of the greatest days of World Youth Day. Not only did I meet people from all over, but I got to see the pope and an inspiring performance.

Tony Melendez. He’s a singer and guitarist, sounds pretty normal right?

Well here’s the catch: He has no arms, so he plays the guitar with his feet. Tony shared his devotion and love of God with us. He got us to not only listen but participate by singing and dancing along. Tony is an inspiration not only because of the physical obstacles he’s overcome but also because he chooses to spread the word of God in a way that truly touches the heart.

Pope Benedict XVI arrived today and once again I found myself shoulder to shoulder with millions of strangers. We waited three hours for the pope to arrive but there was never a dull moment. We danced with fellow pilgrims to a drum beat provided by another pilgrim and mingled with Brazilians, Italians, Germans and others.

When Pope Benedict finally arrived the air was filled with cheers in many different languages. Seeing the pope — even if it was only on the Jumbotron — was by far my favorite part of the day. His presence here in Madrid with truly uplifting.

Emma Luigard, 16, will be a senior at Elizabeth Seton High School in Bladensburg, Md. The member of St. Bernadette Parish, traveling with St. Camillus Parish in Silver Spring, said she is “excited for World Youth Day because it will be full of cultural and religious experiences.”

Seeing the pope ‘takes my breath away’

By Emily Anderson
One in a series

MADRID — No matter how many times it happens, seeing the pope takes my breath away. I am sitting in Spain, with teens I love, celebrating a faith I love and I am paid for it. Excitement does not describe the feeling here! Joy is what is happening all around. Teens and adults alike living in the light of Christ! The Holy Father is finally here and it feels like I am right at home! God is good!

Yesterday, 20,000 people protested World Youth Day at a local metro stop. Today, in droves, teens from all over the world witnessed that Christ is here, joy is here and that we are called to be light in the darkness! Muchas Gracias Papa! We love you!

Emily “Em” Anderson, 28, is the director of youth ministry at St. James Catholic Church in Falls Church, Va. She is excited to be traveling with seven teens and two other adults from her ministry. This is her second World Youth Day, having trekked across the world to Sydney with 10 teens for World Youth Day in 2008. She enjoys laughing, singing at the top of her lungs — rather badly — praying liturgy of the hours and planning her next party.

Don’t Stop Believin’: Serenades on Madrid’s Metro

By Emily Anderson
One in a series

MADRID — Our group of pilgrims has decided that “When the Saints Go Marching In” is a good American song! We sang that on the Metro yesterday, and some Portuguese joined us in “The Star-Spangled Banner.” As an experiment, we started to sing “Don’t Stop Believin’,” which, surprisingly, all the countries knew! Too funny!

It was a good end to a good, easy day. We joined up with another parish, heard some talks and enjoyed a live taping of EWTN and others going to a vocations fair. It was a fun way to spend the afternoon and hey, you may even get to see our pilgrims on TV! They loved every single second.

This morning we are at a packed session with Crystalina Everett as the keynote. Then we stake out our spot to see the pope! The Holy Father arrived today and we are soooo glad that he is here!

Emily “Em” Anderson, 28, is the director of youth ministry at St. James Catholic Church in Falls Church, Va. She is excited to be traveling with seven teens and two other adults from her ministry. This is her second World Youth Day, having trekked across the world to Sydney with 10 teens for World Youth Day in 2008. She enjoys laughing, singing at the top of her lungs — rather badly — praying liturgy of the hours and planning her next party.

Pilgrims will be in awe of pope today

By Sara Angle
One in a series

MADRID — Today the pope arrived at Barajas airport around noon, but he won’t meet with all of the World Youth Day pilgrims until 8  this evening, at Plaza de Cibeles for the welcoming ceremony.

I can’t help but think about how amazing this first encounter will be for pilgrims who have not been blessed with seeing Pope Benedict XVI before.

I was lucky enough to attend the weekly audience held by the pope almost every week during my 3 months in Rome, but I remember the chills I got the first time I saw him. It was only a day or two into my internship with CNS, if I recall, and there I was, standing in the press box at the pope. Inside, my mind was saying, “Oh. My. Gosh. That is THE pope.”

From the first time I saw the pope at the General Audience in Rome.

I hope that the pilgrims will be just as in awe tonight as I was the first time I saw Pope Benedict, and pray that I will have that same experience all over again.

Sara Angle, 21, is a senior at Villanova University and has written for CNS from Rome and Washington. She enjoys traveling and soaking up the culture of her surroundings, be it through food, fashion or faith, and looks forward to covering WYD for CNS — from the big events to the off-beat adventures. Sara loves reading and writing (but not arithmetic) and dancing like no one is watching. You can also follow her on Twitter @CatholicNewsSvc. She’ll be using the hashtag #SaraInMadrid.

High-fives and aching feet: Excitement builds

By Emma Luigard
One in a series

MADRID — Today, Aug. 17, everywhere we went we saw hundreds of kids making their way to whatever activity they were headed to. Cheering and high-fives were common even if we were in a train together or across the street from each other.

The pope arrives tomorrow and with Pope Benedict XVI here with us the enthusiasm and excitement will skyrocket. I can’t wait!

Yesterday was the official WYD kick-off Mass. We arrived four hours early to get a seat in front of the makeshift altar. It was incredible standing shoulder-to-shoulder with complete strangers and seeing millions of other people filling the streets on the Jumbotron.

By the time Mass was over my feet were aching and I felt like I couldn’t stand anymore, but none of that mattered because the excitement was so contagious. My favorite part of the day was the different people we met. From the minute we got downtown we were taking pictures and cheering with kids from all over the world.

Emma Luigard, 16, will be a senior at Elizabeth Seton High School in Bladensburg, Md. The member of St. Bernadette Parish, traveling with St. Camillus Parish in Silver Spring, said she is “excited for World Youth Day because it will be full of cultural and religious experiences.”

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