Sr Catherine writes:
The sense of pilgrimage has not waned as temperatures continue to climb here in Lisbon, making our days out a bit of a penance, especially for those of us in habits!
The day started with our final time of catechesis with some of the other English-speaking pilgrims at which well-known American Bishop Robert Barron was speaking. In the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, he delivered an inspiring talk on prayer: how God desires and chooses us. He gave us a rather unique analogy of God as a helicopter, “who wants to land in our hearts… the only problem is the landing area is all cluttered. Prayer is clearing this landing ground”. He also reminded us that prayer is what we are made for, a conversation between friends.
It was a fitting talk to have as Pope Francis led the Way of the Cross before hundreds of thousands of young people in the afternoon. A powerful reminder of how much God truly desires to have that relationship with us. My group also managed to get in a visit to the Shrine of St Anthony, built on his birthplace, along with Lisbon Cathedral.
To round off another busy day, some members of the group, myself included, managed to get tickets to a concert with the likes of Matt Maher and Israel Houghton in a football stadium with thousands of other Christians. A particularly special moment was when Johnanthan Roumie, the actor who plays Jesus in ‘The Chosen,’ series, led us all in prayer, especially remembering Pope Francis. It was then a frantic but successful run back as we tried to catch the last trains of the day. In spite of the late hour there was a great sense of joy amongst the pilgrims with one group even doing a dance routine whilst awaiting a train. After a busy day hopefully all will sleep well ahead of our night in a field on Saturday!
7.20am – time to get up. I go down stairs to be greeted by an orchestra of food ready to be eaten. Unfortunately I could not eat it all as I had to be out by 8am sharp to go to catechesis. It was led by Bishop Robert Barron. I’m a huge fan of the bishop and I’ve seen more of his podcasts and videos than I could count. So it’s fair to say I was pretty excited to see him. The event kicked off with a Eucharistic procession where Jesus led the way for all His priests and He was placed on the makeshift altar.
Bishop Barron began his talk on prayer and the thing that struck me is that he described contemplative prayers as being silently presented to the God who continually creates us. After his talk came adoration followed by Mass. Mass, even though it was less exciting than the talk, was the pinnacle of the event where everything good we had heard and would hear that day came to its fulfilment in the Consecration of the Blessed Sacrament. Jesus was truly present.
With the Mass over, I snuck to the back of the stage and swiftly shook hands with Bishop Barron and scooted off to lunch with our own Bishop Peter. Myself and group of six others then spent the rest of the afternoon with Bishop Peter marvelling at the Portuguese architecture down in the old Roman district. We headed into the Basilica of St Anthony of Padua and the Cathedral of Santa Maria Maior to pray and see the beauty of these houses of God and they were ineffably marked by His presence.
Afterwards we walked around the city listening to the all the different languages of the people of the world. We even managed to stop for ice cream courtesy of the bishop. All this and it wasn’t even 5pm! We all headed back to the hotel for a well-deserved rest.
Keith Morris reports:
A dramatic theatrical portrayal of the Way of the Cross in front of an estimated 800,000 pilgrims took place in the Edward VII Park during the evening preceded by a tour by Pope Francis in his popemobile so that the crowds could see him close up.
During his homily Pope Francis said: “Jesus is the Way. In the Gospels, we most often find him on the road. He never stays put, but goes to the public squares, to the shores of the lake, to the mountains, to the Temple… He has nowhere to lay his head. The Lord does not let himself be conditioned by people’s expectations, by how they expect him to act; his words and actions are direct and speak to the concrete reality of their everyday lives. He keeps moving; he shows concern for those around him; he stops before those who suffer and yet continue to hope. He feels compassion for the weary, and he reaches out to those in pain. He stops to listen to each person’s story, and tenderly cares for all before resuming his journey. Jesus’ public life is one of constant journeying; indeed, his whole life is a journey.
“The cross that is present at every celebration of World Youth Day is the icon of this journey. It is the sacred sign of the greatest love of all, the love with which Christ wants to embrace our lives. The cross shows us the true beauty of love,” said Pope Francis.
Pictured above is Pope Francis at the Way of the Cross at World Youth Day. Picture by Keith Morris.rcdea.org.uk
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