May 4, 2015

The Papal Mass for Seminarians at World Youth Day Madrid

Saturday August 19th 2011 is a day I will never forget. I was blessed to attend a Mass for seminarians with the Holy Father at the Cathedral in Madrid during World Youth Day. The Mass was scheduled to begin at 10 am. The ticket I received said the doors would be open between 6:30-8:00 am. When I arrived at 6:30 am with a brother seminarian from Toronto, we were surprised to see about 400 other young men already there! What an inspiring sight. In the next hour, thousands of men who are in formation to become priests filled the streets surrounding the Cathedral to celebrate the Eucharist with the Vicar of Christ – Pope Benedict XVI.

As I waited for the Pope to arrive, it was inspiring to see so many young men from around the world praying their breviary, the rosary or praying their Holy Hour. The crowd of seminarians packed both the inside and the outside of the Cathedral. There were so many seminarians present that when the Pope’s motorcade arrived, the cheers were deafening: “Viva el Papa! VIVA!” (Long live the Pope), “Benedicto!” (followed by four fast claps), or “Esta es, la juventud del Papa!” (This is the youth of the Pope!)

The celebration of the Mass was absolutely beautiful and a true encounter with the Risen Christ in the Eucharist. I felt so close to the action with a gigantic screen in front of me. It was as if I were sitting with Jesus and the 12 Apostles at the Last Supper. It was a special moment that I will always treasure and think of when at Mass.

While the Mass was in Spanish, I was able to understand and follow most of the celebration thanks to knowing French and studying some Latin at the seminary. The Pope told us to persevere in our vocation and personal prayer life. His Holiness said that to be close to Christ, we must be close to the Eucharist; which is the source and summit of our faith. He stressed how important the sacrament of confession is in the life of a priest. “A good confessor must first be a regular penitent.” He went on to encourage us to grow in our relationship with Mary our mother. For she is the one who will lead us to, and keep us close to, her son Jesus.

At the end of the Mass the enormous crowd of seminarians spontaneously began singing “Tantum Ergo” and “Salve Regina” as the Pope processed out. The Tantum Ergo is sung every time we receive benediction (the blessing of the people by the Blessed Sacrament) after a time of Eucharistic Adoration. The Salve Regina is sung (or recited) by every priest before going to bed each night. It is the Marian prayer said at the end of the rosary (Hail Holy Queen).

Dear friends of Saint Anne, I wish you could see the zeal and joy in the eyes of these young men. I wish you could hear the enthusiasm in their voices when they sang. They cannot wait to go and preach the Gospel giving their lives to serve the Church. I wish you could see the tremendous love these young men have for Christ and for YOU His Church.

The faith is alive and well among the youth my friends. While this is not what we normally see in all the young people in our local parishes back home, there is definitely something special happening here. The Holy Spirit is moving and raising up a generation of young people that are on fire for the Lord. There is great hope for the future of the Church.



Answering the Call