Back from World Youth Day in Madrid, Fr. Drew Gawrych, C.S.C., filed the following reflection on con-celebrating the closing Mass at Cautro Vientos with the Holy Father.
Those five plus hours passed fairly quickly as there was great fellowship shared among the priests. Fr. Gerry and I sat by five priests from the Diocese of Toledo in Spain, who entertained us with their running commentary of events leading up to the Mass, including charitably poking fun at a few of the priests who decided to vest at 5 a.m. with still over four hours to go until the Pope's arrival. They also, though, edified us by praying Lauds together as the sun rose and then reverently and prayerfully entering into the Mass. (Let the record show that Fr. Gerry and I also prayed Lauds together and entered the Mass reverently and prayerfully!)
I must confess, though, that the fact that I had just con-celebrated Mass with the Successor of St. Peter did not really hit me until I got back home to where we were staying – and had a good three hour nap after sleeping less than an hour during the night of the Vigil. I woke up, certainly not rested, but with an overwhelming gratitude for my vocation as a priest. All I wanted to do – and all I did for the next hour – was pray in thanksgiving and praise of God for the opportunity to serve Him as a priest.
It was that same cheer that broke out spontaneously among the pilgrims the night of the Vigil when the storm came tearing through Cuatro Vientos with fierce winds and heavy rains. I instantly joined in, but I was also chuckling to myself a bit at how crazy we must look to the rest of the world, huddled under our trash bags and blow-up rafts trying to protect ourselves from the storm while chanting, "We are the youth of the Pope." Quickly, however, my thoughts turned to the first disciples, huddled in a boat in the midst of their own storm, who turned to Christ to calm the winds and the rains and guide them.
Certainly, there are no shortage of storms brewing and winds whipping up against the Gospel today. But as Catholics, and especially as young Catholics, we look to Christ's Vicar to help calm the storms and guide us through this life. And that is exactly what Pope Benedict XVI did for us at WYD.
Yet this Sunday, after having con-celebrated Mass with the Holy Father and having heard his clarion call to lay down my life for the sake of Christ and His gospel, I find myself – to borrow from the theme of this WYD – planted and built up anew in Jesus Christ, firmer in the faith … and firmer in the priesthood.And that is what brings me back to the priesthood. One of the things I love most, if not the most, about being a priest is how it not only allows me, but demands me to lay down my life in love of others. As much as I long to be holy and to serve the Lord with all my heart and soul and being, I find – as our Holy Cross Constitutions state – that I still have it within myself to hold back. I wish to be wholehearted, yet I can be hesitant (1:8).