Jesus, the Reason for World Youth Day
the plane, I attempted to look past all of the excitement and realize
why I was on this journey. Why did I come? What did I expect to gain
from this pilgrimage? Was I spiritually prepared?"
By Justin Hall
in The Compass, March 30, 2009, vol. 4, issue 6.
Photo: Justin is in the second row from the bottom, in the center.
experience at WYD Sydney 2008 is very hard to describe in words, but it was
indeed amazing to say the least. It hadn’t been long since I entered the
Catholic Church that past Easter Vigil, which was the greatest decision I had made.
So there I was, a relatively new Catholic, on the plane heading to Australia!
Before then, I had not EVER been out of the country, except for a little trip
over to Canada
from time to time. This was extremely exciting for me, and I was thrilled. But
on the plane, I attempted to look past all of the excitement and realize why I
was on this journey.
Why did I come? What did I expect
to gain from this pilgrimage? Was I spiritually prepared?
thought about it more and more, I knew I had come not to go sightseeing or just
to have fun, but to encounter Christ in a new way. Hundreds of thousands of
people were all gathering in one place…for one reason…Jesus! We were coming to
deepen our knowledge, spirituality, and faith in the Catholic Church. The
thought excited me. I did not know what to expect, although I had seen pictures
and video clips from previous World Youth Days.
We first went to Melbourne,
Australia for Days in the
Diocese, which was a great experience and spiritual preparation for WYD in Sydney. Each morning we
would have morning prayer, Mass, and catechesis. Then we would head to
different events and do some sightseeing, concluding the day with evening
prayer. Many wonderful memories come to mind when thinking about Melbourne. From summiting
to the top of Eureka Tower (tallest
building in the southern hemisphere), to learning how to play Australian
football (footy). What an extraordinary place, and what kind people. They will
arrived in Sydney,
we began to feel the atmosphere change. There were many more Catholic youth
walking the streets now, and we could see them arriving by the multitudes. This
is when I personally began to realize how “universal” the Catholic Church
We spent our days in Sydney doing roughly the same schedule as Melbourne, but with much more events to
choose from. I was blessed enough to attend a chastity talk given by Jason and
Crystalina Evert, and even had the chance to meet them afterwards. Despite the
large amounts of people swarming him, Jason still took time to talk with me for
a few moments and even asked me questions, ultimately taking a photo with my
girlfriend Jessica and I.
Afterwards, I also was able to
attend a talk given by Christopher West, who is well known for his continuing
work with John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body”. Those were two major
highlights of my WYD experience, I must say. Yet, I can’t describe the emotions
I was feeling at the candlelight vigil, the evening before mass with the Pope.
It was so peaceful and so wonderful to pray with Pope Benedict XVI, the actual
Vicar of Christ.
But sadness began to set in after
the Sunday morning mass, knowing my pilgrimage was coming to an end. But when
Pope Benedict announced the next WYD was in Madrid, Spain
in 2011, it gave me something to look forward to. Lord willing, I will
DEFINITELY be in Madrid for the next WYD and I recommend it to anyone who wants
to better unite themselves with Jesus and His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic
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