Hola from Madrid.
I finally was able to access the internet this afternoon so will fill you in on a little of our activities before I meet with my small group to metro to the lane where we will welcome Pope Benedict XVI to this fair city.
Firstly, let me thank all of you for your kind comments. I have enjoyed so much keeping you all apprised of your cildren's activities. I'm a small group leader as well, and as we very infrequently travel as a large group it's difficult for me to find everyone's child for a photo. Know that I am doing my best to "mix it up."
Secondly, because the days are so jam packed with late, late nights, and trouble with the internet, I'm having a time downloading these cool photos. So please be patient with me. Muchas gracias!
Now, where was I?
Yesterday's catechesis session was held at the beautiful and ornate Ss. Therese and Joseph Parish about two blocks from our hotel. We found that we arrived a little late (at an hour before the event was scheduled) so we sat on the floor of the church. Many of us were up front by the altar so I got some great shots of our speaker and main celebrant for Mass, Cardinal Francis George from Chicago. He spoke to us on having a true relationship with Jesus Christ. The congregation of youth was invited to ask the cardinal faith questions following his talk.
We were thrilled to find that a relic of St. Therese of Liesuix was honored in the church and we jumped at the chance to venerate this wonderful example of living our Christian faith.
The hosts from Australia and the band were inspiring and we sang worship music that rocked the roof! There was a gentleman who began a song with an aboriginal instrument from Australia called an digeri do. Sounded like a techno gadget to me until I realized it was a long bamboo tube that was orchestrated by the artist's mouth! Amazing!
There's clapping and swaying here in Spanish worship and it was fun to see the youth respond.
Following our session and beautiful Mass, we were free till 8 p.m. (some went to smaller events around the city, some shopped and some prayed) when we all rode the metro (oh my! if that isn't a crazy experience with all these pilgrims from around the globe) to a vocation's fest that included a praise and worship band, Josh Blakely Band that (as the kids reported) "was awesome," testimonial speakers and a game show. Yes, I said game show. They played a Scriptureal version of Madgab, and our own FW-SB team won! (We are good!!!) They earned T-shirts that were the envy of the evening.
The Adoration Chapel there was simply stunning and was visited by many who were in attendance.
Author and speaker Father Robert Barron spoke on vocations and encouraged the kids to share the divine life of God that they receive in the Eucharist with others. "Divine life when given away increases in you," he said. "Giving that love away when God gives it to you will make you happy. ... It helps the heart to expand so God can give you the gifts He wants to."
We saw our own Bishop Rhoades, who has been busy giving talks of his own. He provided the group with a time for Eucharistic Adoration with Benediction in the auditorium of the vocation's building, before he rode the bus part way home with us. There was rousing song on the bus as well as the metro from your weary but enthusiastic pilgrims. If the Spirit isn't in these kids I don't know where He is!!!
This morning the catechesis session was a bit more organized. We heard they had to turn over 1,000 English speaking pilgrims away yesterday. So I feel grateful we were among those who made it in the church. We actually had seats today when the bishop from the Phillipines spoke on IPOD, Intimacy with God, Prayer, Obedience, and Devotion. He was comical and very into modern technology...this from a holy man who's been a priest for 36 years and a bishop for 24!
Another Mass with great music and off to lunch. Now we're preparing to line the streets that our pope will ride down as he meets his faithful (I hope the popemoblie has AC!). I'm very excited about this evening but am not sure when I will return. I promise to have more pictures before we leave on Saturday for our over night (with no internet access) before our papal Mass on Sunday.