What has World Youth Day 2016 been like? What experiences have I had? The pilgrimage to World Youth Day has been very influential in my life so far, as I have learned so many things about global expressions of Catholicity.
The main reason I decided to sign up for WYD was to explore the world and my faith by myself.
All of the stops in Italy, including Florence, Siena, Assisi and Rome, were so much more than just seeing the pretty churches and the spectacular views. Learning how these churches have made an impact on people’s lives and how the ancient past traditions are now interacting with the present world is what I believe WYD is supposed to be.
Exploring all of the different churches and basilicas really makes me take a step back from my own reality and focus on the reason why the church was built, when it was built, and who built the church. Instead of simply looking at a painting or sculpture, listening to the guide explain why the painting was made, and what materials were used, gives so much more meaning.
We have had many discussions with our small pilgrim groups of 6-8 people. I really enjoy these discussions as listening to the viewpoint of others who are going through the same adventure in life, is touching. Also finding out what religion means to other people and what influence God has in their life is beautiful.
Praying in church, I truly feel the strong presence of God. I feel as though he has been listening to my heartfelt prayers. Praying together as a bus group, I also am feeling how in community, we can help each other.
Walking the streets of Italy and Poland, being part of the overwhelming vibe of everyone chanting and screaming together, is just breathtaking. Everyone is just so happy and excited to be here, on this once in a lifetime opportunity.
When people say that they know God, they do not truly know him until they experience him. God is hard to describe. God is the ruler, forgiver, guider and protector. All that is done is with the power and grace of God.
As a 15-year-old female embarking on WYD with unsure ideas and uncertain beliefs, I have set myself free to let God take over who I am and shape me into whomever he wishes me to be.
It’s a profound feeling when you truly experience God’s love. Some say the feeling is joyful, like a wake-up call to life.
I’m finding it hard to articulate; but I am absolutely feeling it!