Busted Halo
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July 21st, 2008

The Lord’s Call & the Booty Calls

Busted Halo's® Mike Hayes sends along his multimedia reports on World Youth Day from Sydney, Australia

 
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I woke up this morning in my nice cozy hotel room thinking about my companions sleeping out in the dewy cold air at Randwick Racetrack and awaiting the Papal Mass amidst 150,000 young pilgrims. When I left them the place was packed and kissy-faced teens were starting to huddle together, others were breaking out footballs and hackey-sacks.  My only thought at leaving my 10 young adult female friends out there amongst the teens was simply: Better them than me.

However, revenge is often sweet indeed. Upon awaking a bit later than I had planned I tried to take a taxi over to the racetrack and was snubbed by all the cabbies.  No cars allowed anywhere near the racetrack.  So I took a subway to the Central Train Station and then walk the entire 3.5 km pilgrimage trail back to the Racetrack getting there just in time for the Papal Mass.

I’m not very pious by nature and I generally pray in my own voice, usually to Jesus and occasionally to Mary. But on the pilgrimage walk, since I was by myself, I decided to pray the rosary.  It was a beautiful cool morning, a comfortable jaunt.  I removed my jacket and my sweatshirt and prayed in my short sleeves letting the coolness of the air wash over me and helping me get into the theme of the week: Receive the Power of the Holy Spirit.  It was a wonderful time to be nearly alone with God (maybe 15-20 pilgrims jaunted near by but nowhere near the throngs of people that I had been with all week).

Calling
I was able to think about where God is calling me as a husband, a lay minister, a person of faith.  The rhythms of the Hail Marys helped deepen my reflection and to think about my role as a layman in the Church who does ministry, who writes books and articles and who mentors young adults in spiritual direction. What more is God asking of me? How can I do what I do better?  Where am I being led as a writer, a minister and a mentor?

During almost all the masses I found myself paying attention to the deacons—even more than all the Cardinals and the Pope himself.  It’s a role I’ve been thinking about pursuing myself and the fact that I kept being drawn in their general direction leads me to think there may be more discernment for me to do regarding this as a possible calling for me. I kept thinking how would I proclaim the Gospel?  What words would I use at the dismissal?  How would the ministry of deacon change what my ministry currently is—or would it enhance or turn it into something new?  All are good questions to take back with me to the United States. I was moved by the words from scripture that Benedict has been touting: “Do not be afraid” which appears 366 times in the bible—more than any other phrase and apparently a daily reminder for each day of the year—even in leap year.

Quiet and Solemn
As I got closer to the racetrack, I completed my rosary and my reflecting and more pilgrims who had not joined in the weekly festivities but wanted to attend the Papal mass gathered alongside for the last half kilometer.  I began to hoof it and made it to my companions just in time to hear Pope Benedict begin the mass.

Mass was quiet and solemn.  Amazingly enough, with over 300,000 people in the racetrack when the reflection period after communion was announced you could almost hear a pin drop.

Mass ended and the next site for World Youth Day in 2011 was announced for Madrid, Spain by the Pope. So the event will continue into Benedict’s papacy.

We started for the long walk back and Brianna, one of the young women I’ve been traveling with and I reflected on the entire experience.

Ultimately, teens end up trumping young adults at World Youth Day and the entire vibe of the event seems more suited to teenagers who have an evangelical style of praying—which is a very small percentage of the entire younger Catholic population (despite the large numbers present here).

Is this a tool for evangelization?  I believe it is more like a “thank you” to the young people who—despite all that is present in secular culture—have continued to hold onto some remnant of faith and believe in the institution enough to spend their free time and money to make their way to some remote corner of the world to celebrate their faith with the Pope.

I see a lot of what I call World Youth Day Booty Call. Teens making out all over the place does in fact occur at World Youth Day. I think it’s probably all innocent enough, but when you have all these hormone-crazed teens in one place, sexual shenanigans are bound to occur.

An issue?

The Aftermath

This is also an expensive event to put together. What does the cost of the event say to those who witness to it? Could the money be used for better purposes that might inspire other people to see Catholics in a better light? Should those who venture to World Youth Day also be required to perform some acts of service that can be arranged by the local diocese?

In fairness, it’s a great event for what it actually has turned into a week long festival of faith aimed at fairly faithful teens. We had five absolutely beautiful days and the nights while cold, were mild in comparison to what they could’ve been. The experience of being in the company of the Pope is always something that makes everyone feel special. The fact that the Holy Father took the time to be with us speaks volumes about the loving God that he preaches about?

 
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The Author : Mike Hayes
Mike Hayes is the senior editor for the Googling God section at BustedHalo.com.
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