Life changing experiences are hard to come by. Some experiences take us by surprise; others take a while longer to leave their effect. What we can definitely say is that these experiences take our lives to a whole new level.
In these past few days we have witnessed hundreds of thousands of youths having such an experience, living the World Youth Day in Rio in an atmosphere which is hard to replicate. I have experienced such an event, and the feeling one feels is really hard to describe. It is more than just a youth gathering; it is a spiritual experience where one feels connected to those around him/her in a special way.
It’s a mass of positive energy gathered in one place, but what is maybe most important is that the people at the WYD are not there just for an event, they are there because they want, or need, to feel and take of this energy. It is a unique experience, congregated around the Church’s leader to celebrate the great sacrifice. Even more, the positive energy generated shows people who are not only there to take, but are there to give; they are there to share this experience and their lives with others, share their belief which defines the essence of this experience.
Some might question the need for such an event. Money can be spent on more essential things like helping the poor or aiding war depleted areas. Others might say that this is not really a spiritual experience but more of a fun adventure for youths. Well I guess it is both – a spiritual experience is an adventure, and during the WYD this adventure is materialised so that youths actually feel the joy of following Jesus, of letting yourself go without worries, of feeling part of a crowd of believers whilst gaining an experience which is uniquely yours. The WYD is an occasion where hundreds of thousands, even millions of youths become richer in their spiritual life. Is that worth it?
Sometimes we feel that only those youths attending such event in Rio will gain from this experience. This cannot be right! The energy generated through these youths is felt by all Catholics around the world who follow through internet, television, newspapers and prayer. Everyone must feel part of this experience, because we are part of one Church. This gives this event a different dimension from other huge gatherings, and lifts our spiritual and religious life to a whole new level.