Pilgrimage Down Under

World Youth Day 2008 has come to an end and Sydney is starting to look like it’s normal, secular self once again (of course, I’m assuming that this is normal – with less people on the trains, no more road blocks and no more large groups singing to their Catholic God with guitars, maracas and tambourines).

As a huge international event, I have to say Sydney did an awesome job preparing for World Youth Day. The logistical preparations were just amazing – from the transportation, to the directions at each corner, the wonderful volunteers, the food and food stops, the kits and all the venues for all the events.

As a pilgrimage, WYD was even more amazing. I mean, my experience in Koln was great – but totally different. It was fun and exciting – it had the same spirit, the same spiritual high – but I don’t think it had the same spiritual depth (for me). I think I came to Sydney a little bit more prepared. Perhaps even a little bit more mature. Perhaps it also had to do with the theme of this year’s WYD – since it’s something I feel I can relate to more.

Whatever it was – this time it was different. This time I felt like a pilgrim.

Mike asked Ren if we could process our experiences in the evenings – putting together whatever happened to us that day/week and breaking them down so that we could appreciate everything better. And so several questions came up…

What is a pilgrimage? Why are we here?

We all had our reasons for being there – for most it was a great opportunity to travel, for half it was to promote the World Youth Alliance, for others it was a way to strengthen their faith. I’d like to think that all of the above were achieved on one level or another. We traveled for sure – and not just as tourists, but as pilgrims. People on a journey – from wherever home was in the world to Sydney, Australia. People on a journey of faith – with a deep desire to experience God with other young people from all over the world. It is incredibly encouraging to see other people totally wear their faith on their sleeves – not at all ashamed that they believe in something/someone greater than themselves that they cannot even explain.

Tinanong kami ni Mike – Who is the Holy Spirit to you? Nyak. Sino nga ba? In the Trinity, I think the Holy Spirit is the one I take for granted the most. Or perhaps the hardest for me to comprehend – since he is the least visible [I mean, God the Father has this Zeus-like image (yes, how pagan of me) and then Jesus Christ is like… well, Jesus]. Then Renren goes – the Holy Spirit is the one always with us…the one that moves us, inspires us.

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be my witnesses. (Acts 1:8).

In grade school and high school (and perhaps until college), whenever Dad would drop us off at school – he’d go “Pray to the Holy Spirit!”… and the boys and I would laugh (not because the message was funny, but because he always would say it and we’d always expect it). It never really sunk in. At least not until now.

We pray. We receive the power, the fire, the inspiration, the grace.

The grace to be His witnesses. To live. To say Yes and jump into the journey – our own personal pilgrimage with the Lord – a pilgrimage that goes beyond World Youth Day and beyond Sydney.
~~ found this on my climb up ~~