NEW MADRID FAULT
This evening I had an opportunity to celebrate Mass with a group of young people and their chaperones who are leaving tomorrow for World Youth Day next week in Spain. They were accompanied tonight by their parents and some friends and the liturgy was lovely and the singing spirited. I had an opportunity to reflect with them on the relatively short history (short in Church history anyway) of World Youth Days, an inspiration of Blessed Pope John Paul II in the early eighties and my own involvement as General Secretary of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops when an inquiry was made about whether or not the bishops of the United States would be willing to host WYD in 1993. It gave me an opportunity to recall energy and spirit of those wonderful days in Denver and the witness of 650,000 young people gathered on Saturday night for the Vigil with the Pope and then the Mass the next morning. It remains the last World Youth Day I have been able to attend but the memory lingers quite strong.
Pope Benedict XVI will join the youth gathered next week, lead them in prayer, bless them and encourage them to continue to live the lives which Christ seeks of all of us. Prior to his arrival there will be catechesis sessions in all the major languages for the youth, concerts, eucharistic adoration and prayer, many Eucharistic liturgies, and lots of joy and enthusiasm for the faith. It is highly unlikely the the Prado, the great art museum of Spain housing an incredible collection of El Greco’s, Murillo’s and Velasquez will set new attendance records during these days but Madrid will rock. Which leads me to the title for this blog entry.
Midwesterners know that earthquakes are not only likely in California and on the West Coast, but in the great midwest also. As a matter of fact, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Arkansas sit right on top of a plate called the “new Madrid fault” and are candidates for an earthquake or two. “Madrid” is pronounced slightly differently than the capital city of Spain but the earth under some of our midwestern states has already moved in such a way that small earthquakes have recently been felt, recorded, and augur more serious movement for the future.
Well, old Madrid, the capital of Spain will also rock this week as nearly a million young people descend upon it for World Youth Day 2011. The youth will bring their brand of music and Christian rock and they will sing, dance, pray, sway giving new life to the old Catholic wineskins of Catholic Spain. I am told that there are about 190 youth and a good number of adult chaperones leaving now for Spain from the diocese including several of our priests and religious sisters. A record 60,000 youth from the U.S. have signed up to attend and paid their registration fee which I am led to believe is the largest number of any WYD held outside the North American continent. And all the energy, the movement of the Spirit, the joy and enthusiasm remains the “fault” of our late Pope whose idea convening the young people of the world originally was. Travel safely and return to us with an even deeper commitment to your faith, dear young people.