One word to describe day in Madrid: chaotic

By Emma Luigard
One in a series

MADRID — If I had to describe today in one word of would be chaotic. After attending catechesis this morning we started to head over to the Plaza de Cibeles for the Stations of the Cross, and that’s when the day got crazy.

When the train we were taking arrived it was crowded, but no one thought anything of it because a crowded train has been the norm. However, as soon as we got off we were swept into a sea of people.

We clung to each other’s backpacks as we moved through the crowd, pushing against the current of people. We fought our way to the exit, and getting out into the hundred-degree heat was like a breath of fresh air.

After much debate it was decided we would skip stations because, despite the fact that our adventure in the train station was quite exciting, it was one that we didn’t want again soon.

Tomorrow we leave early for the vigil! The walk will be long and the train ride exceptionally crowded, but it will all be worth it. Viva el papa!

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.”

Buen Retiro park: an oasis at World Youth Day

By Sara Angle
One in a series

MADRID — I wish I had discovered Buen Retiro park earlier! With so much going on, it’s impossible to see and do everything at WYD, and in Madrid itself. The week is so crazy though, with all the pilgrims and tons of events, that it can be overwhelming to find a bit of peace and quiet.

I find it hard to focus and contemplate with all of the chanting and hoopla of WYD, so I found the silence at Buen Retiro very calming.

The large park is home to the Vocations Fair and Forgiveness Festival (AKA confession.) I wandered around the Vocations Fair for a while, talking with people and checking out some of the booths. I was surprised that many of the booths were for lay people and promoting missionary work.

Each religious order represented at the fair had a fun way to present themselves, and I was drawn to visit the Claretian Sisters, who were teaching pilgrims how to pogo stick! It was one of the funniest things I have seen this week, other than a pilgrim carrying around a Super Grover stuffed animal and pretending it was flying!

I traded bracelets with Sister Maria Louisa, who loved the handmade bracelet I gave her as much as I loved the blue and black beaded bracelet she gave me!

Next stop for me was the Forgiveness Festival, where the 200+ portable confessionals were set up. It took me a while to find an English-speaking priest, but finally met a great man from England who was just as happy to have “an English girl,” as I was to find him. He had been hearing confessions all morning in Spanish, which he confessed (ironic!) was not perfect. “I’ve learned more Spanish verbs this morning than…” he trailed on.

On the way into the Forgiveness Festival, volunteers handed out booklets to pilgrims, reminding them about the importance of reconciliation, how to make a confession, what to consider before going to confession and how to carry out penance.

I whiled away my afternoon in Buen Retiro, a respite from the big city. Tonight is the Way of the Cross with Pope Benedict, and I can’t wait to see the parade-like event that will feature “pasos,” or floats, of life-sized wooden figures that are typical during Spanish Holy Week. The floats are a display of Spain itself, as they were made in different regions across the country!

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.

Sweet sounds of sisters singing

SAN LORENZO DE EL ESCORIAL, Spain  — Some of the world’s best musicians and singers have performed for the music-loving Pope Benedict XVI, but even he heard something special this morning in the courtyard of the Basilica of St. Lawrence.

At the end of his meeting with some 1,600 young religious women — most under 35 — he intoned the Lord’s Prayer in Latin and the sisters joined in. The pope and his aides — all men — usually lead the singing when the pope is with a large group, but the papal aides drew back quickly and the pope lowered his volume, letting the sisters’ fill the courtyard with their voices.

Music I’m listening to at WYD

By Sara Angle
One in a series

MADRID — Music is such a big part in WYD, with concerts of all types being held throughout the city as part of the cultural program, liturgical music filling the streets and singing and chanting heard constantly from the pilgrim groups.

Music is playing a personal role in my experience at WYD this week, with a special playlist I compiled for my trip to inspire and enlighten me.

I wanted to share with everyone what I have been listening to this week, and if you are so inclined, you can get in on this part of my journey, too!

Sara’s WYD Madrid Mix:

1. This Is Your Life- Switchfoot
2. Holiday In Spain- Counting Crows
3. This Is Love- Cool Hand Luke
4. The Gospel- The Dandy Warhols
5. Let It Be- The Beatles
6. God Moves Through You- Jason Mraz
7. Hold on- Toby Mac
8. Details In the Fabric (feat. James Morrison)- Jason Mraz

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.

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