Busted Halo
August 18th, 2011

BH@WYD: Welcome to World Youth Day


The moment I stepped off the bus in Madrid I was surrounded by a whirlwind of languages. There were people from every country dressed in bright colors, proudly waving their nation’s flag while singing at the top of their lungs. It was unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed before.

Welcome to World Youth Day 2011.

I flew to Madrid by myself and wasn’t really sure what to expect. Sure, I knew there would be many religious but I never fathomed seeing hundreds of priests and nuns all in one place. The excitement level in the air was at an all time high and it was hard not to pick up the energetic vibe of the pilgrims while walking around the city.

Wednesday morning, Joe and I headed to the big Carmelite event where I met many of the Carmelite United pilgrims from New Jersey and automatically felt right at home.

Prayers were recited in English, Spanish and Italian before everyone separated into their respective language groups for smaller group sessions. I headed to one of the English speaking groups where passages about “look,” “contemplate,” and “love” were read. The whole process reminded me of my CCD classes growing up and that dreaded moment when the teacher calls on you for your interpretation.

While it took a while for everyone to open up, once we started talking about beauty it all hit me. At the core, we all have the same concerns and insecurities. We don’t want to be judged and we try our hardest not to judge others but there is so much noise and so many distractions in this world.

In a world where the media tells us who to be and advertising tells us what to look like, we’re all struggling with our identities. Why are we always so concerned about what others think of us? God’s opinion is the only one that truly matters and not what classmates, co-workers, or the opposite sex think.

One of the priests present in my small group, Fr. Emiel Abalahin, O. Carm, said it best. “We don’t have to do anything for God to love us. He loves us first.”

When we stop worrying about everyone else, then we’re able to be our best self and see ourselves in God’s own image, a realization I never would have come to if I wasn´t here in Madrid, and part of that small group at World Youth Day.

The Author : Annie Reuter
Annie Reuter, is a freelance writer and music blogger who covers concerts and music festivals around the country. In constant pursuit of the next show to attend and band to interview, Annie keeps up her own music blog, You Sing, I Write, where she uncovers what it's really like to spend the day with a rock star.
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  • Michelle Bivins

    Annie, thanks for keeping us connected through “Busted Halo”. I especially like the video blog that featured my little pilgrim (J. Allyn) and others from our church group! I’ve been sending the link to relatives throughout the U.S.

  • Suzanne Rivera

    Hi Annie,
    Loved your report! We enjoyed hearing from Joe Williams and now look forward to your next post! Thanks for keeping us in touch with “our pilgrims” (Justin and Nolan) Keep it up! God bless.

  • Kathy

    Thanks Annie, my daughter is also part of the Carmelite United pilgrims. It has been wonderful following their journey through the blogs. They are a wonderful group of young adults.

  • Adele

    Thanks, Anne. My son is on the WYD pilgrimage and your blog made me feel connected!

  • john collins

    thanks, Annie, for the good job of reporting. I look forward to more from you and WYD

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