This is the second in a series of guest blogs by St. John, Westminster, parishioner Tim Watkins.
Today marked our second day in Rio de Janiero. We began with an early screening and discussion of our film with pilgrims from around the world. Our film is being shown as part of the Official World Youth Day Cinema activities.
These movie screenings, over 50, are taking place throughout Rio during the week of activities. Pilgrims to our screening, in the shopping district of Leblon, hailed from as far as Sydney, Australia. These Australians were so dedicated to the cause of Our Lady they watched the film despite it being in Spanish with Portuguese subtitles. Our Lady of Guadalupe, around whom our film is centered, is particularly important to their group because they have just come from serving the poor in Mexico City. After seeing the film they erupted in applause before we answered a few questions from the crowd.
After waiting in line for what seemed like forever, we received our press credentials at the Media Center which will allow us to cover the events of World Youth Day in depth. We headed straight for Copacabana Beach where the Opening Mass was being held.
Light rain falling from above with the waves of the Atlantic crashing in the breeze, pilgrims remained wholly unfazed by the weather. The crowd spilled from the beach out onto Avenida Atlantica, the coastal road here on the Copacabana.
Hundreds of thousands gathered with colorful flags from every continent to celebrate the Eucharist. The vast numbers were amazing to witness. The significant commitment most of these pilgrims made to be with each other and their Church is impressive. We even saw several flags from Iraq, a country where being Christian can be extremely dangerous, especially in recent attacks nearby in Syria.
The Mass featured a passionate speech (albeit in Portuguese) from Archbishop Orani Joao Tempesta who is the director of this year’s World Youth Day. The mood was triumphant and joyful. Pilgrims packed the beach as far as the eye could see. It is hard not to think of Christ’s sermons after having come from the sea with His disciples.
Thousands were gathered to praise the Risen Christ! The intercessions were offered in various languages from pilgrims in traditional cultural garb from around the world. The Eucharist was very reverently consecrated in small tents spread across the beach and distributed to all the pilgrims.
A silent joy filled the air as youth from around the globe came together to share the Lord’s meal in such great numbers. Following Mass, as we walked back to our hotel there was a strikingly peaceful feel to the Rio streets as Ave Maria sweetly rang throughout the Copacabana.
Click to read the first blog, “Rio is no short trip from Baltimore.”
Tim Watkins is an authentic Catholic, filmmaker and President & CEO of Renegade Communications, a successful marketing, advertising and production firm, headquartered in Hunt Valley, Md. As a filmmaker, Tim directed and produced the two-time Telly Award winning documentary film, The Blood & The Rose, (www.TheBloodAndTheRose.com) with the mission to encourage each of us to raise up as the next generation of ‘messenger eagles’ who will deliver the Gospel of Life. Along with his film’s international debut at the 2013 World Youth Day in Rio, the film will be seen in Spain, Mexico and all around the USA. Renegade Communications also houses a Catholic marketing and communications department which develops Catholic communication campaigns and faith formation materials.
For more on World Youth Day, click here.