A week and a bit on from the Papal visit and the whole experience is taking on a rather sureal, dream like, feeling. I’ve been asked ‘What was it like, what was it like?’ by nearly everyone i’ve encountered since, including my non-Catholic friends. And, to be honset, I don’t know what to tell them. It was fantastic, it was awesome, it was incredible. But how to explain that unique feeling of solidarity and overwhelming compassion that was present in hyde park last afternoon… well those words I used before just don’t quite cover it.
Having grown up as a Catholic, with Catholic friends at school and friends from church I hadn’t really thoguht twice about being Catcholic – before I went to uni. For the last two years, however, I’ve been asked a lot of question about my faith and had to defend and describe it to people who have no experience of faith at all. I wish they could have been outside Westminster Cathedral or at Hyde Park. Seeing the Pope read Mass was made even more special by being a part of the 3,000 strong crowd of young people. One of the most amazing thing’s about that is the time at which we all had to get up! A lot had been travelling through the night or had to set their alarms for around 6am, and yet here we all were, praying, listening, receiving communion together, silent in our contmeplation, exuberant in our hugging and shaking of hands to wish each peace.
I have to admit that I had no idea what to expect from the 48 hours with CAFOD last weekend. Apart from the prayer vigil Saturday night, my favourite part of the whole experience was meeting the other young people from around England and Wales and hearing about their involvement with CAFOD. Among those that have really stuck in my memory are the girls (Katie and Kimi) from Bradford who have helped mothers and babies in Africa with their ‘world gift’.
Catholocism receives so much bad press with no balance or recognition of the other side of the coin. I just wish more people had met the other funny, enthusiastic, inspiring, young people I spent last Friday and Saturday with. We were all gathered together for to see the leader of our faith and experience him personally, a potentially once in a life time opportunity, and whilst our backgrounds and interests varied our faith brought us together in a way I truly believe no other thing could.
September 29, 2010