7 Quick Takes (Vol. 12)

— Preface —
I must first begin these 7 Quick Takes with a preface.  First of all, I have been away from doing 7 Quick Takes for two months now. I got really busy in July and then World Youth Day happened… 
…August was spent focusing on other things and random blog posts that felt right to do at the moment. But alas, two months later, I realized that “wow! I haven’t done 7 Quick Takes in two months!”  So now here we are!
As a fun way to get back into it and to share the awesome moments of my having gone to World Youth Day, I’d like to share my top 7 moments of World Youth Day 2013 in Rio De Janeiro.  
— 1 —

Adoration at Copacabana Beach.  This was probably by far the coolest part! I have never seen such dense concentration of human beings occupying the same space, and not only that…but for a Catholic purpose and reason!

It was a challenge to stake out a spot on the beach, but luckily my group go there early enough to enjoy some sandy space.  We were, what I would estimate to be, like 5 or 6 football fields away from the stage or the 2nd to last big screen out of the 25 lined up for the prayer vigil.

I actually didn’t catch the start of Adoration because I was caught up in other distractions (and I don’t think the big TV screens even showed it starting). But I figured it out once I started seeing people kneeling.

The two things that really stick out to me regarding Adoration with Pope Francis on that beach with 3 million others was the profound silence after Pope Francis asked for some moments of sacred silence. Like, seriously. Mountains bowed down and the seas roared, a helicopter buzzed around, but the beach full of pilgrims was silent. And that really was something.  I talk about it here in my blog post, The Silence of Millions.  The other thing that stood out to me was Matt Maher leading praise and worship during Adoration when he sang, “Lord I Need You.”  It was incredibly fitting for the moment since he was singing that song on his knees, and the lyrics expressed everyone’s sentiment before the Blessed Sacrament. How often do Christian singers get to sing to Jesus, literally?

— 2 —

Close papal encounters of the extra-ordinary kind. Our first day in Rio was the Monday before all the events for World Youth Day happened. Apparently Pope Francis decided to arrive early to speak with political dignitaries and stuff like that. I don’t think most people knew he was in town. We didn’t know he was in town.

But then…as we were walking back to our hostel that first night…we saw the beginnings of a motorcade pass by. And then lo and behold! IT WAS POPE FRANCIS IN A NON-POPEMOBILE VEHICLE WAVING AT US AS HE PASSED BY!
…and I totally missed it because I didn’t make it to the street on time to record it with my camera. But I caught some reaction as well as the World Youth Day Cross and Image of Our Lady pass by.

The next time we encountered Pope Francis was later in the week when he led an Angelus at the cardinal palace.  My group caught wind that he would be there and basically camped out all morning in order to get some pretty awesome front row standing room.

And the last extra-ordinary encounter with Pope Francis was when he was on his way to the prayer vigil. A trip to the porta-potty involved lots of waiting in line. But the fruits of our waiting was not only met with relief but Pope Francis passing by in a motorcade! And YES! I did record it this time!
I would say all these moments were extra-ordinary because they really weren’t like…the ordinary ways for everyone to see him. It was all about being in the right place at the right time. 😉
— 3 —

Matt Maher, in concert. Him coming to World Youth Day was a rather last-minute decision/invitation. Even Matt himself posted about him coming like…back in June. Our group leaders purposely tried to figure out when and where he would be for these concerts.

I’m a fan of his music and his hits are a crowd favorite at my parish!

And so, on a dark and rainy Wednesday night after enduring a long bus trip to the venue and enduring a game of “Where’s Matt Maher?!” at the venue, we were finally able to enjoy his musical stylings. Up. Close. And. Nearly. Personal. :-O

What was really cool was pretty much being the only English speakers present when he gave that concert that night along with our hostel-mates and neighboring diocese friends.

Yes, I recorded that too.

— 4 —

Party in the streets! I can’t even begin to tell you how awesome Brazilian people are and much less…how awesome Brazilian Catholics are! They are just so full of joy and fervor! And they were so welcoming to us all!

Our first night (before seeing Pope Francis but after going up to Christ the Redeemer), we found ourselves in a dance party in the streets with a bunch of Brazilians. It involved pretty much any groups of pilgrims that passed by!

Yes, that was recorded as well…

This really helped set the tone of the joy that we would experience throughout the rest of the week in encountering our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ for World Youth Day!

— 5 —

Praying and singing with England. There were three groups staying the hostel that we stayed in for World Youth Day: us, our friends from a neighboring diocese from back home, and a group from England.  Our paths would cross every now and then, but I think one of the best highlight moments with them was being able to pray with them, go to Mass with them, and we totally had one night where we just did nothing but praise and worship.

Why yes, I recorded some of that, too!

— 6 —

Seeing my people! I don’t mean to be stereotypical, but I think it’s not too far fetched to think that most Filipinos are Catholic. And so, during my whole time in Rio, I expected to run into a lot of Filipinos. But, that didn’t really happen.

And that’s why I got really, really, really irrationally excited when I found groups of Filipinos randomly throughout Rio.  There was that one time I saw a small group of Filipinos, but they were from Libya…which that still counted.

But the coolest encounter I had in seeing my fellow Filipinos was that one time we tried to go to Mass, but ended up going to Adoration with a basilica full of Filipinos! YES!!!

I had to take a picture.

— 7 —
On top of the mountains! Our first day in Rio (gosh, that was a really epic day…), we went up to see Cristo Redentor, or the Christ the Redeemer statue that overlooks the city of Rio De Janeiro on Corcovado mountain.
It was kind of cloudy up there so you couldn’t really fully appreciate the fullness of the statue because of the clouds.  A cool experience we had up there was having the random opportunity to go to Mass in the tiny chapel beneath Jesus’ feet.  Our friends from the neighboring diocese conveniently had a priest with them who was willing to celebrate Mass. 🙂
And on our last full day of being in Rio, our group had the option to go up the Sugar Loaf Mountains or back to Copacabana Beach for some ocean time. I decided to go to Sugar Loaf to get some good pictures. Or something.
Such great views! And we had gotten in line in the middle of the afternoon, but it worked out that we were heading up the mountain right at sunset and dusk so we were able to see some breathtaking views of Rio De Janeiro at night.
You can check out my #Rio2013 posts by clicking on the label: Rio 2013.  And I kept a blog for my group, and you can find that here: SEAS & St. Thomas Aquinas at WYD ’13.
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!
Did any of you go to World Youth Day 2013 and blog about it? I’d love to read/hear about it!
Ad Jesum per Mariam,
– JD
Adoration // Youcat.org