We’re on a mission (not to Mars).

I am suffering from postevent fatigue, having just returned to my Sydney digs after a long couple of days preparing for the welcome Mass. I’m sure my feet are not there any more because I can’t feel them. There are bits of my body are telling me off for using them too much,  but some other part of me is brimming with energy.

Whenever you attend a big event, you can’t possibly image why people go grey over organising it. Everything seems so simple. Yet someone has possibly shortened their lifespan by a few years getting it to that stage. I am sure that is the case for the organisers of World Youth Day.

Under the stage is a cavernous space sectioned off with black plywood and scaffolding. One light illuminates the sacristy. And from this small room, 150,000 people will be able to receive Communion. Tempers fray as the time for the Mass grows nearer. Things forgotten suddenly spring to mind. Errors become glaringly obvious. Time becomes your enemy. But outside you can hear the songs and the chants and general frivolity that comes with being on pilgrimage en mass.

Everything does end up going smoothly, no matter how disasterously you think you have done, and with the welcome Mass at World Youth Day it was the same.

So it was with great satisfaction that I climbed into my friends’ car as they gave me a lift home. While we were pulled up at the lights, we looked into a bus which was packed to bursting with pilgrims. They hadn’t been working, but they too looked a little deflated. “I bet you’re glad you’re not in that bus,” my friend said.

My mind went back to trips I have made to India, where squeezing yourself into the tiniest voids between passengers is normal. You get sweaty, someone might stand on your toe, but it’s a part of life. Just like it is here. And then I realised why I love being at an event like WYD. When I am in India, I know I am where I am supposed to be, and the small discomforts don’t matter. I was born to work for the poor, so I guess you could call that mission, and it’s that very same call that brings people from all over the world to Sydney. By the very fact they are prepared to show their face at a Catholic event they are willing to show their faith is important to them. 

It struck me that they were on mission as well.

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