And, next time (2011) in Madrid, Spain!
"You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses "(Acts 1:8) was the theme of this year's WYD 08 in Sydney, Australia.
Guy Sebastian and Paulini, Catholic recording artists from Australia, sang the theme song, You Will Receive Power (echoing the above text). This was apparently popular among the pilgrims as evidenced by its rather extensive use throughout World Youth Day and, by looking at the cameras sweeping the crowd, the number of people (at least attempting in English) singing its refrain.
Pope Benedict XVI seemed to emphasize to the participants that all the baptized are missionaries, and encouraged all the youth present physically and virtually to be missionaries of Jesus' Gospel.
The Franciscans, of many stripes, were well represented at this year's events. Our General Minister, Fr. Jose Carballo Rodriguez, OFM (originally from Spain) was present with a delegation of OFMs from around the world, including Australia itself.
The Holy Father exhorted all the participants to let their light shine, and that light is Jesus Christ! I was deeply impressed by the missionary emphasis given. Our own General Minister has been likewise encouraging us Franciscan Friars to remember our missionary charism, whether we work in our native lands (like me!) or far from our respective homes in lands abroad.
The prospect of being Christ's witnesses (martyrs! -- from the Greek) to all the world is a fundamental and radical invitation and call, don't you think? What do you think about witnessing for Jesus -- at home, at work, at school? It can be pretty scary! And, pretty exciting!
And yet, the promise of the Risen Lord, preceeding Pentecost, is that we will receive the very power of God, the Holy Spirit! And we have received him at our Baptism and were sealed with the same gift of the Holy Spirit in Confirmation. So, we can be witnesses, effective witnesses, even if others reject us (remember Jesus!).
Hope you get a chance to see the video footage and to hear the song, You Will Receive Power. Both are very encouraging and uplifting. I felt so blessed to be a Catholic Christian, as well as a Franciscan Friar and priest!
So, Spain is going to be the sight for new pilgrims and repeat pilgrims in 2011 for WYD! And the Franciscans will be there -- again -- as pilgrims and participants!