Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Benedict XVI to the young people: "Communicate the joy of your faith to the others"
After yesterday's multitudinous Mass at Cuatro Vientos, the young MAGIS pilgrims are heading home
MAGIS, August 22 2011- The MAGIS pilgrims are on their way back home, tired but very happy. The majority of the 3,000 MAGIS pilgrims hosted in the Jesuit school Nuestra Señora del Recuerdo departed yesterday afternoon for their home countries. They went either by coach or, if they were going a longer distance, by plane; most of them will have to travel for many hours to get home. It has been a very intense experience that began on 5 August in Loyola and finished only a few hours ago with Mass with Pope Benedict XVI at Cuatro Vientos.
Since their arrival at the school in Madrid last Monday, the 3,000 MAGIS pilgrims have been participating in many of the cultural and pastoral activities offered by JMJ. Many of them have listed the catechesis of the bishops, the visit to the Exhibition on the Paraguayan Reductions, the Taizé prayer and the little sightseeing they could do in these days, such as visiting the Prado Museum, as highlights. On Friday they had an important appointment: the screening of the MAGIS film that has been recorded by a group of professionals from the beginning of this Ignatian experience. After the screening, pilgrims attended the Via Crucis that was celebrated in Paseo de Recoletos - it was a wonderful introduction to the religious and cultural traditions of Spain for young people from different cultures.
The last two days of World Youth Day were marked by more than a million pilgrims attending Cuatro Vientos aerodrome, in the heat, wind and rain. All the MAGIS pilgrims made their way from the school to the airfield on Saturday morning to be present at the Saturday evening Vigil and at the Mass presided at by the Holy Father. In his homily, Pope Benedict XVI encouraged them to share everything they have experienced during these days: "Your friends may want to see what has changed after being with the Pope and with thousands of youngsters. I would like to invite you to give a bold testimony of Christian life to others". "Communicate the joy of your faith to others", added the Pope.
These weeks have been a very intense time for many reasons. Mariel Rodríguez from Seville, explains how she found even in the rain a sign to "remain firm in the faith" and how she appreciated the neighbours of Cuatro Vientos throwing water from the balconies to help pilgrims to deal with the heat: "in the dust, in the heat - God was in the middle of all that and among the people indeed". Moreover, she points out that the most important thing that she is taking away from MAGIS is "a lot of confidence in God and closeness to Him". She was in a social experience, with elderly people with mental disabilities in Portugal, and she says that "finding God with them was really awesome!" Jesuit, Erwin Lazrado, coordinator of the 52 Indian pilgrims, told us while he was saying goodbye to some members of his group that MAGIS 2011 "was a great experience for the heart of all the pilgrims and a chance to get deeper in their faith". He says that the principal experience they are bringing back to their country from WYD is "the feeling of being united as one Catholic Church with the Holy Father." Fr. Erwin also points out the importance of the global experience for all of the pilgrims that came with him: "They are young people from rural areas who were chosen to participate; this has been the first time they have taken a flight and they have met people from different cultures...".
The Romanian coordinator, Florin Silaghi SJ, came to MAGIS 2011 together with 38 people who have already asked him to organize an experience like MAGIS for the occasion of the "National Catholic Gathering", to be celebrated next year in Romania. His highlights from WYD were, "the possibility to choose which cultural or spiritual events we preferred to attend" and also, "how much we have enjoyed the city". Their MAGIS experiences were in Malaga (entertainment on the street), Valencia (interreligious dialogue), Manresa (Spiritual Dialogue), and also some Faith and Culture experiences and pilgrimages.
This is how the MAGIS 2011 experience comes to its end: with thousands of reflections, experiences, memories, writings, new questions and some answers. And with a common experience of feeling that MAGIS 2011 has been a new, special and deep opportunity to live "With Christ at the Heart of the World".