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3,000,000 Pilgrims at World Youth Day

33 Young people from Gibraltar pray with the Pope in Krakow

Just back from Krakow, Poland.
Henry Earl writes
Pope Francis invited the youth of the world to join him for a few days of prayer and to celebrate the Faith.
Youth travelled from all over the world, spending hours waiting, flying, piled into coaches and walking. All to celebrate our one Faith, to celebrate our salvation in Christ Jesus. Days of little sleep, unfamiliar food, makeshift beds (if you were fortunate enough to have one) and horrible weather, very hot with torrential downpours. Mostly they slept on the floor of halls, schools and stadiums. It was the biggest event ever to happen in the whole of Poland’s history.
Every time the Pope calls a meeting for the youth anywhere in the world it turns out to be the biggest event ever held in that country.
Three million turned up to this meeting with the Holy Father in Krakow. Three million youth at a religious event. Of course the world news was not and never is interested in these meetings, called World Youth Days.
But as we made our way to the first meeting on the Thursday afternoon, it started to rain. I thought to myself, we should stay indoors, very few will come, Gibraltar had a group of 33 youth. But no one said anything so we carried on and as we got nearer to the venue, an open field, I was impressed by the numbers of young people, it was impossible to walk along the chock-a-block roads, alleys, paths and lanes.
‘Why are they here?’ I thought it’s not comfortable, not even a nice day. I am sure there are loads of other things they could do, other things they could have spent their money on.
But they were there with the Holy Father, Pope Francis, celebrating their one Faith in Jesus Christ.
The Youth of the world are religious. Are you?
In amongst three million people, with no space to stretch out, we were all happy. Not wanting it to finish. The days had passed too quickly. We are holding to the call of the Holy Father “We will meet again in Panama 2019”
Thank you – God Bless

Our paths unite in World Youth Day
Adriana Amor writes
I was terrified, my heart beating faster than the ticking of a clock.
The refreshing sea breeze caressed my face as I focussed on the rocky path. One of my best friends gripped my hand as she helped me down the step. In all honesty I did not want to do this, she dragged me here and would not let me get out of it easily.
The only thing that comforted me was her grip on my hand as she guided me along the unfamiliar path. It was only due to this gesture of hers that I continued to walk; cautious in every step I took, I feared I would loose my footing on the rocks.
It was not until after she left me to my own devices -with some occasional assistance- that I started to realise a second point of view towards the rock climbing. It was not only the freedom I felt as I was able to walk by myself; I started to draw some parallels with school and the subjects I struggled with, or felt the least confident in.
I needed a small push from my friend in order to start climbing, similarly, I could recall so many instances in which a teacher, or classmate, gave me the encouragement I needed to persevere. Also, there were times during lessons when I needed to seek help, in order to be able to advance, just like then, when my friend, with her experience in rock climbing, assisted me. Perhaps, there would be instances in which I may fall, however, one can never know unless one tries. And even if I did fall, even if I did fail, I can always get up and try again. Maybe I will need help to do so, after all, we are human, and we make mistakes and need to be guided in the right direction.
And as I saw the surreal view of the horizon, in which the sun was slowly swallowed by the sea, that’s when I really understood. I realised how perseverance would be rewarded greatly. I was grateful to my friend for pushing me, for not letting me give up. It was now crystal clear how, if I did not give up with the subjects I struggled most with, if I kept trying and asking for help when I needed it, I would be rewarded. I would be able to see something incredible. A gift I would only be able to see if I persevered. If I gave up, I may have been so very close from the truth, from my true potential. I knew perfectly well that it wouldn’t be an easy path, I would fall at times, but as long as I got up each time, it would be worth it.
And as I now look back at this memory, I can see how, what has become an important metaphor in my life, can be applied to so many other areas. Religion, for instance. We may all fall into temptations and sin, but there will always be someone who, even if they are not visible to the human eye, will hold your hand, forgiving you and helping you stand on your own two feet. However, this can only happen if you don’t give up on yourself and repent.
You will always have opportunities to see your true self. Your true path. And it is when you fail to see them that you will fall; you will need to open your eyes as well as your heart to be able to see the slippery rocks which will make you fall.
There will always be someone to hold your hand, to comfort you, to guide you through your path. It may not be apparent to you at first however, be it the people that cross your path, the texts that are closest to your heart, or a presence that only your heart can see, you will never be left to walk your path alone. There shall always be someone covering your back, someone you can always count on. And this never ceases to be apparent in my life; not until my mind can see the knowledge that my heart has concealed.
Once more, this metaphor manifested itself physically, during the walk towards the Vigil. We weren’t individual fishing-boats drifting through its path in the sea. On the contrary, we were one big family. We were all members of the immense family. We were all together as the crew of one of the largest ships. We were a team. We weren’t millions of individuals, but rather, all one and the same.
There were no barriers with nationalities. Different languages would not stop us; even if our minds didn’t understand each other, our hearts could so easily unravel what seemed like an encrypted message to our brain.
Each time one of us felt like giving up, we became each other’s pillar of support. The heat was so strong, many of us soon ran out of water, however, that didn’t mean they had slipped on a rock, if one of us had any water left, we all had water: we held each other as we walked the rocky path. Similarly, when one of the members of our large family struggled to walk with their bags, we helped: as one carried their fear of falling, another held their hand to comfort them as they travelled their destined path, leaving the fear behind...
We all became the timbers of our ship, we couldn’t let each other down. We couldn’t give up when there was still something we could do to support each other. We couldn’t give up easily when such an amazing event awaited us. It was worth it, we grew closer together, our ties became stronger, and only because we persevered as a family.
These are only small examples of what this mind-set can help you achieve, and that is why, as long as you don’t give up on yourself, you don’t give up on faith or hope, you will be able to walk your path with no need for fear, and will be rewarded once it concludes. You will be grateful once you see the ending to that chapter of your life, so don’t give up, okay?

We hope to be able to publish more World Youth Day photographs and testimonies next month.
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