Preparing spiritually for World Youth Day

Last night, with the wind raging outside, some words of the Divine Mercy Chaplet popped into my head. I had heard Fr Rob Galea’s version of this on Sunday at the formation session for World Youth Day pilgrims. The words, ‘For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world’, were the last thing I remember before falling asleep.

Clearly, the formation process is having an impact on me.

Pilgrims heard more words of wisdom from pilgrimage chaplain, Fr Greg Barker, about what it means to be a pilgrim.

“Pilgrimage is about letting go, finding, exploring, and the breath of God,” said Fr Greg.

Pilgrimage co-ordinator, Sue Lacey, walked pilgrims through a series of questions in regard to preparing spiritually for the journey ahead.

Sue pointed out the unique challenges of a pilgrimage.

Can we ‘switch off’ from our regular lives for 27 days and forget about the responsibilities of work and home? Are we prepared to live outside our comfort zones? Can we overlook our companions’ frailties and habits? Can we accept both the good and the bad experiences? Can we turn the negatives into positive lessons?

Sue emphasised that while pilgrims will need to continually step out of their comfort zones and invoke a sense of humour, there will also be profound positives that will arise from the more uncomfortable moments.

“We have been called on this journey to seek a special union with God. The hard parts will help us appreciate how lucky we are to have our family and friends and the fact we have a beautiful country to come home to,” said Sue.

Sue also emphasised the need to be physically prepared for the journey so that we can be more open to the spiritual gifts of the journey.

Pilgrims were encouraged to commence a daily focus to explore if there is a question our hearts needing an answer or something God wants us to address that will happen during the pilgrimage. It could be prayer, exploring the lives of the saints in whose footsteps we will be travelling, or focusing on our breathing.

“We need to be prepared to allow our hearts to be moved, to be open to a personal transformation. The stories of the saints tell us exactly what it means to live a life of discipleship and how beautiful that life can be,” said Sue.

Pilgrimage Co-ordinator, Brian Lacey, then ran through the plethora of information pilgrims need to know to prepare for the trip, which is now only 23 days away!

Pilgrim and local comedian, Jarrod Moore, is hosting a comedy roast of himself at The Royal Exchange Salon Theatre, Bolton St, Newcastle on 1 July at 7.30pm to help him raise funds to attend the pilgrimage. Tickets at the door for $15. Six local comedians will be taking part in the roast.

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Joanne Isaac Image
Joanne Isaac

Joanne is a Communications Officer for the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle and a regular columnist for Aurora Magazine.