Not a vacay, ok?

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Ah yes, I remember three years ago. Being in a foreign country away from familiar faces. Gorgeous Brazilian women, sandy beaches, and a happening night life. Being single, this trip was going to be fun!

Those were the things that some of my colleagues were expecting me to indulge in. I remember having to tell them that I would be gone for two weeks in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil back in the summer of 2013. It’s interesting how mentioning Brazil and Rio De Janeiro suddenly implies this expectation that I should enjoy what can be offered in Rio.

And you know what? I did enjoy sandy beaches, a very busy night life, and beautiful women (both Brazilian and definitely-not-Brazilian). But for Catholic reasons. Opening ceremonies and Adoration were on Copacabana Beach in the evenings. And there were a lot of religious sisters and nuns whose beautiful joy radiated in a very attractive way.

I remember it being awkward having to tell my colleagues about leaving for two weeks in Rio three years ago. I had to explain why I was going in the first place. I just didn’t think they’d fully understand or appreciate my Catholic motivations for going.

You see, I went to Rio De Janeiro three years ago because of World Youth Day. It’s a worldwide gathering of Catholics, especially (but not limited to) young people at the invitation of the Pope. But why? To encounter Jesus Christ as a Church. To grow in our Christian faith. Together.

Going to Rio De Janeiro for World Youth Day wasn’t a vacation–it was a pilgrimage!

When I think of the word, “pilgrimage”, I think of going to a place of significance to grow interiorly or spiritually. A pilgrimage is not necessarily a time to kick back and relax like a vacation, but rather prepare oneself to have an intentional experience that deepens one’s interior life.

Rio De Janeiro has a rich Catholic history and very iconic places. I got to experience these things but not with a vacation attitude, but as a pilgrim.

I write this post primarily because I’m about to go on another World Youth Day pilgrimage again! It’s going to be in Kraków, Poland in a few weeks! As I have to tell my colleagues in the coming days that I’ll be gone for two weeks for this trip, I need to remember why it is I am going and how it’s not going to be a vacation.

-JD

Follow me on Instagram where I have been posting about my world travels! @r4nd311