Program #0120 for Wednesday, August 24, 2011: World Youth Day Wrap-Up

August 24, 2011

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Today’s host(s): Scot Landry

Today’s guest(s): Fr. Roger Landry, Domenico Bettinelli, and George Martell

Today’s topics: World Youth Day wrap-up

Summary of today’s show: Fr. Roger Landry, Dom Bettinelli, and George Martell wrap up coverage of World Youth Day with reflections on their experience of the dramatic Saturday night vigil, including the wild weather, and Mass with Pope Benedict XVI and 1.5 million people on Sunday.

1st segment: Scot welcomed everyone to the show. Last week, we spent a lot of time talking about World Youth Day, but the most important activities happened on Saturday and Sunday during the Vigil and Mass with Pope Benedict. Dom and George are in studio and Fr. Roger Landry, who took more than 30 people from his parish to Portugal and Spain.

Scot asked Fr. Roger about his pilgrimage’s route. They started in Lisbon, because so many in his parish have Portuguese ancestry, they had Mass at the birthplace of St. Anthony of Padua, the patron of their saint. They then went to Fatima where they spent parts of three days. He had his young people prepare talks of 10 minutes each because they were missing the catecheses of World Youth Day. The youths were blown away by how poor Francisco, Lucia, and Jacinta were. The kids said they came to know how much the Blessed Mother intercedes for them. Participating in a candlelight procession of the Stations of the Cross was very moving for them.

They then went to Santiago de Compestela, where St. James the Greater, the apostle, is buried. Most of the kids said the best part of the pilgrimage was visiting the tomb of an apostle and celebrate Mass there. Fr. Roger made an analogy between the thickness of the pillars of Santiago the church with how sturdy and deeply rooted their faith should be.

Fr. Roger explained why Santiago de Compestela became a big pilgrimage spot in the Middle Ages, and why people still walk the way of the pilgrimage for up to 500 miles. It’s still a place of enormous graces for the pilgrims.

Afterward, they saw the Cathedral of Leon, Spain and stayed in the city of Vallodalid. They visited Segovia and the tomb of St. John of the Cross. He’s had a big impact on Fr. Roger. He considers St. John to be the greatest teacher in the Church after Christ. He charted the interior life, how God takes on a journey of prayer. Three stages of prayer are the purgative, the illuminative, and the unitive.

They then went to Valles en los caidos, the Valley of the Fallen. Francisco Franco, the Spanish leader during the Spanish Civil War, built a church inside a mountain that is the longest in the world.

They went to El Escorial, where Pope Benedict spoke to young religious. They visited Avila, where St. Theresa of Avila is from. They visited to Toledo and the last three days they spent in Madrid.

2nd segment: Scot asked Dom to pick up the narrative on Saturday morning for the pilgrimage of the Archdiocese of Boston. Dom said the pilgrims walked to the Basilica of St. Francis in Madrid for Mass with Cardinal Sean. He said it’s a gorgeous and beautiful church and encouraged listeners to see George’s photos of it that he took.

Cardinal Seán said he’d never had a chance to see this church before when he taught in Madrid. Dom said it’s right down the street from the Cathedral in Madrid and is overshadowed a little by the cathedral. There are paintings from Goya and other famous Spanish artists. Cardinal Sean celebrated Mass for the Boston and other other English-speaking pilgrims. Bishop Malone of Portland, Maine, concelebrated the Mass. Also present were the pilgrims from the Neocatechumenal Way in Boston who were singing after Mass in a classic Neocatechumenal Way moment of joy and praise. Scot recalled the Mass with Pope Benedict in Yankee Stadium in 2008 and how the same group got the entire stadium singing.

Dom also mentioned how Fr. Jeremy St. Martin before Mass played the Star-Spangled Banner on a trumpet as the pilgrims filed into the church.

Fr. Roger said Cardinal Sean preached a bit about New Bedford and Herman Melville and Moby Dick as an illustration that the meaning of the Gospel was lived out in the response of Joseph and Mary in finding Jesus in the temple. Cardinal Sean said going up to the temple every year in ancient Jerusalem was a kind of World Youth Day. Fr. Roger said he arrived after Mass started so he celebrated a contemporaneous Mass in the sacristy.

Scot said he was stunned by the church through the photos taken by George. George said Cardinal Sean asked him to take photos of all the ceilings and statues. Every corner had a hidden gem of art and he couldn’t believe how big the church was.

Fr. Roger said he hadn’t been in the church before, but the Michelin Guide had given it three stars. He was blown away by it, especially by the way architecture and art complemented each other. It reminded him of a mix of St. Ignatius Church in Rome and the 12 Apostle Church in Rome.Seeing so many young people fill the church and so many concelebrants, that was what the church was made for and made it even more beautiful.

Dom pointed out that the Holy Father was having Mass at the same time down the street with seminarians at the cathedral and it had been Cardinal Seán’s primary opportunity to meet with the Holy Father, but he gave it up so he could celebrate this Mass with the pilgrims. It was very important to him.

3rd segment: Scot said on Saturday afternoon began the longest walk of the pilgrimage. He asked Dom what it was like for the Boston pilgrimage. Dom said the leaders of the pilgrimage had to choose whether to walk the whole way or ride the Metro part of the way. The weather was intensely hot, the pilgrims were tired and dehydrated. The pilgrims had backpacks with supplies including food and lots of water to carry them through to the next day. They carried a heavy backpack and even with the train station, they still had to walk 3 or 4 kilometers, including a couple kilometers in this duty, hot airfield. Then you sit in the hot sun for four hours and a thunderstorm.

George reiterated that the heat was intense. He kept telling himself that he could do it and it was such a relief to sit down. Even drinking as much water as they did, they were dehydrated. Scot noted a photo that George took of a woman on one of the streets of Madrid, dumping pitchers of water on the heads of the pilgrims, which they welcomed for the relief.


Fr. Roger prepared his pilgrims for two years for the worst-case scenario of the pilgrim walk. In the end, they only walked about 1 mile from where their bus dropped them off, but it still took 2 hours. Another group from Fall River diocese walked all the way from St. Francis Basilica, got there at 4:30pm, had to stay outside the gates for eight hours, and at midnight they were finally turned away. Officials said so many people got into areas where they were supposed to have tickets and were cogging up the roads that emergency vehicles couldn’t get through. There was no room in the area set aside for them. As soon as Fr. Roger got there he heard them telling them to drink lots of water because it was 113 degrees Fahrenheit.

Scot asked what George’s son Benjamin and his friends accomplished. George said the kids were having fun being together and meeting new friends from all over the world, taking pictures of each other. The heat was a factor and they were counting down the hours until sunset. Luckily it started to cloud up late in the afternoon and began to cover the sun.

George said it got darker and darker and then it started to rain. At first it was so refreshing to feel the cooling rain and then the wind picked up. It wasn’t until exposition of the Eucharist that it stopped. Dom said Adoration was cut short by the Holy Father and so it was maybe a half hour total.

Scot said the weather was nicknamed Hurricane Benedicto. Fr. Roger said his group was in the back of their section and they felt the full brunt of the storm. It was about 6:30pm and they were praying Liturgy of the Hours and they prayed a prayer asking the Blessed Mother to send a cloud to cover the sun and two minutes later it happened. Then all the clouds came over the next couple of hours. Fr. Roger was reminded of WYD Toronto in 2002 when it rained until the beginning of Mass when Pope John Paul II called the pilgrims to be strong. The rain then stopped and within 10 minutes everything was dry. So in Madrid, the rain and wind came and was whipping the holy Father. He told his kids to take heart because it was like being with Jesus in the storm on the sea. Then about 10 minutes into the storm, two laypeople come up to the microphone and asked for everyone to pray for the storm so they could continue. After 10 seconds, one of them said, “It worked.” Right then the storm started to die down. Pope Benedict set aside his planned remarks and talked about how “we are stronger than tempest, thank you for your joy.” That lead into adoration and in the midst of 1.5 million people, there was almost total silence. His kids never forgot the incredible power of prayer.

Scot said there were consequences with adoration tents for prayer through the night were damaged in the wind. Dom said the tents were damaged by the winds and for the sake of the dignity of the Eucharist, they needed to remove the Eucharist to someplace more secure. The pilgrims were told in the morning that they would not be able to receive Communion at Mass, but those consecrated hosts were distributed throughout the parishes of Madrid and pilgrims could go to any parish church that day to receive Communion. The Boston group had several Masses celebrated at their hotels for those who couldn’t go to the field and those did go but couldn’t receive.

Scot asked George to describe the night at Cuatro Vientos. George said he shared a small tent with five teens who spent most of the night talking. Many of the kids stayed up until at least 3am. The next day started about 6:30m with an announcement that 26 kids went missing in the night. Dom said it was so dark with so many people that if you walked more than a few feet from where you were, it was easy to get lost. Fr. Roger said all the kids were found.

4th segment: Scot asked Fr. Roger what he remembers most about the Mass. Fr. Roger said his kids said they got chills up their spine to be able to be with the Pope at Mass. The Gospel was JEsus telling Peter he was the rock on whom he would build the Church and the kids recognized Pope Benedict as the rock that Jesus continues to build his church upon. Fr. Roger got up at 5am to get ready to concelebrate and found himself among priests from many countries. After priests received Communion, a priest nearby him collapsed in the heat. Other priests gathered round him to help him. It was an unbelievable experience of priestly fraternity and unity.

Fr. Roger celebrated Mass with the kids that night and helped them to understand the Holy Father’s homily from earlier that morning. They returned to the US to carry out the Holy Father’s mandate to bring Christ to the whole world.

Scot said the following was his favorite part of the homily:

I ask you, dear friends, to love the Church which brought you to birth in the faith, which helped you to grow in the knowledge of Christ and which led you to discover the beauty of his love. Growing in friendship with Christ necessarily means recognizing the importance of joyful participation in the life of your parishes, communities and movements, as well as the celebration of Sunday Mass, frequent reception of the sacrament of Reconciliation, and the cultivation of personal prayer and meditation on God’s word. Friendship with Jesus will also lead you to bear witness to the faith wherever you are, even when it meets with rejection or indifference. We cannot encounter Christ and not want to make him known to others. So do not keep Christ to yourselves! Share with others the joy of your faith. The world needs the witness of your faith.

Dom said this seemed to be a very important idea to the Holy Father, because it was just announced that the theme for World Youth Day in Rio in 2013 is “Go and make disciples of all nations.” He’s calling the youth to be the present of the Church, not just her future. This is the generation of Benedict XVI, he is the pope of their present and future. There was always a joyful and even playful connection between John Paul and the youth, but even though Benedict’s personality is different, there’s still a love for this scholarly professor, this quiet, humble old man and you could see the love returned. You could see the love was returned by the Pope.

From the Angelus message:

During these days, how often I have thought of the young people at home who are waiting for your return! Take my affectionate greetings to them, to those less fortunate, to your families and to the Christian communities that you come from.

He asked George for his reflections being at the Mass for 1.5 million people. George said it’s an experience he’ll carry with him for the rest of the life. He and Dom started walking toward the exit toward the end of Mass and saw so many people from all around the world. Scot playfully admonished them for leaving before the end of Mass. Fr. Roger said he calls that the Judas shuffle. He would never leave Mass early.

Scot asked Fr. Roger what he’ll remember most 5 or 10 years from now. While he wanted the kids to experience a real pilgrimage, he didn’t want to overwhelm them, so he introduced the Liturgy of the Hours and they took to it like fish to water and then they learned how to pray the Angelus in Latin and they just ate it all up. His kids were so moved to have such an experience of their faith. One of his kids said the storms was to test them to see if their roots were strong and the storm tested them to see if their roots were strong enough.

George will remember: Heat, universality of theChurch, and silence of Adoration. Dom said he will remember most that World Youth Day is misnamed. It is the whole Church coming together, but it is youthful in a spiritual way, a youthfulness in the Church. Also that this is an incubator for the future leaders of the Church, both lay and clergy. Vocations to priesthood, marriage, and religious life were born on this day.

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