Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Twelve Months- January

And exploration continues :) I think I'm almost ready to do a final pass on him, etc. He's been a pain in my behind.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

World Youth Day: Cordoba

Days in the Diocese

Dear Friend,

You’ve begun the first chapter of this travel diary! Congratulations! If you haven’t read the intro do so now or be confused about what this entry is about.

I went to World Youth Day with my young adult group called Y. H.O.P.E. Thirteen of us managed to go.

The flight to Spain was uneventful except for the fact that I was dreadfully embarrassed of my knee-hi stockings that I wore to help circulation in my legs during all that sitting down time. I managed to whisk them off when we arrived in Cordoba and were met by our fashionable host families. At least they looked fashionable to me. I might have imagined them wearing couture because of my anxiety over my stupid, granny stockings that never saw the light of day again. But I’m happy to report that they worked marvelously.


We had no idea we were staying with host families for the first part of the our trip. YUSS! Linda (the only one who brought a rolling suitcase) and I stayed with the Zamora family. Both parents are professors and they have three children. The girls were especially lovely. They both love to draw and we talked about their dreams of becoming fashion designers.

We were slowly introduced to other groups who were going to spend some time in Cordoba before going to Madrid for World Youth Day. This time before WYD is called Days in the Diocese. In our case Cordoba was our host diocese*.

*Diocese: Area under the care of a Bishop

We were invited to countryside for some food, fellowship and swimming a couple of times. There was also sightseeing, and a procession (where I met some Australian and Polish peeps).

Pilar (11), Me, Kateri and Laura (17)

In the evenings we had Mass with the Bishop and then there was music and dancing outside of the church.

I met people from Spain, Southern France and Canada. Prayer and worship continued inside the church so if you got tired of too much dancing (not possible) you could go back in and pay our Lord a visit.

Seminarians from Iraq, who suffer persecution in their own country for their faith (kidnapping, death, etc) danced until dawn. One of them I was told had just gotten out of jail recently.


As our send-off Cordoba held a mini-World Youth Day with the Bishop. There was a theatre performance, testimonies, singing, adoration and sleeping on the grass.

The play on the life of Jesus was silent but the music and artistry left me a bit dumbfounded. I just didn't expect something like that. And then they used a song from Prince of Egypt for their end number and I squealed like a two year old. The Bishop of Cordoba danced with the little kids with "There Can Be Miracles" in the background and Marie (our fearless organizer) was about to bawl. All I could think was how it could possibly get any better. How could Madrid be better?

After the play there were testimonies, but the one that made everyone fall silent was the one given by a Bishop of Iraq who had suffered greatly but was so touched by the joy around him.

Then there was adoration. The monstrance* for the Eucharist looked like a spaceship made out of gold. It's a treasure from the 16th century and it was brought out especially for this occasion.

*Monstrance: Basically a display case for the Eucharist while adored. Most of the times it's in the shape of a radiating sun.

No matter how cool this was we were tired and so we slept on astroturf for a few hours then woke up for Mass. I was very sleepy, but I did write down in my journal a bit of the Bishop's sermon that struck me.

"Satan throws our sins in our face to discourage us but Christ's victory is also ours."

Bishopy ppl

At the end of Mass the heat was intense. Spain is hot and dry at this time, about 100 degrees and we had to get our behinds to the train station so we could get to Madrid. We put on our hiking bags and walked for about forty minutes. This quirky spanish lady decided to befriend us and insisted on walking us there. She gave us cookies and we let her take snapshots of us with american flag. Win-win! In Spain most people looooved americans others, mmm not so much.

At the train station Linda and I had a lot of coffee and tea and Brian fell asleep on his laptop. The rest is sort of a blur until we arrived at Madrid, where I was told I'd be able to shower and see the Pope.

Yay! You've finished this chapter! Hurrah! Stay tuned for showers in a garage, nun watch, meeting a fellow blogger, Metro parties and much much more!

With affection,

Thursday, August 25, 2011

World Youth Day Diary: Introduction

It feels like I've been gone at least two months, but I'm reminded that in reality it was only two weeks unless I entered into some time-warp thing which is entirely possible. I realize that some of you reading this might be stumped by some Catholic lingo here and there but not to worry! I will translate as I did for many of my non-spanish speaking friends while in Spain.

Let's begin with the first obscure word: World Youth Day. World Youth Day began about 25 years ago when John Paul II called youth from all over the world to come together to meet with him and celebrate Jesus Christ. It's not really a "day" it more like a "week" with the festivities, prayer and other events culminating in a mass celebrated by the Pope.

This is my favorite video showing the World Youth Days throughout the years. I've tagged it a million times before but if you haven't seen it you should because it'll be a good basis to begin my personal experiences at my first WYD.

I have always deeply regretted not going to World Youth Day when Pope John Paul II was alive, he was my childhood Papa and his constant witness continues to be a source of strength in my faith life.

Pope Benedict XVI has been attacked mercilessly throughout his papacy, and although the Pope is not above criticism by any means, he is also JPII's successor; a tougher act to follow I have never seen. Quiet, unattractive Benedict does not gather the same sympathies the charismatic and handsome John Paul did. And yet these two were very good friends and Papa Beni rallied 1. 5 million youths this past week in Madrid. I was one of them. Best freaking time of my life.

I'll break up my trip into four parts:

I. Cordoba: Days in the Diocese
II. Madrid: Pilgrim Events
III. Vigil & Papal Mass
IV. Toledo: Swords!!

Must Sleep. Curse you Jetlag.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Happiest Pilgrim

I am the happiest little pilgrim on the planet. I’m sure I am. I’m sort of ecstatic. Tomorrow I am headed for Spain (if you didn’t know already, and if you haven’t that’s weird because I’ve told absolutely everyone that I’ve bumped into today---

“How was your day, Fabi?”


“So it was busy at work, huh?”


“Are you feeling alright?”


---That’s right kids, this kid is going to Spain, where 1. 5 million youths from around the world will be packed together like best friends who’ve never met to praise God in the streets and hear the Pope. It’s like winning the lottery or flying for free to the moon. I will be sleeping on the floor, sharing communal bathrooms, being generally gross and sweaty and I cannot wait.

I bought a hiking bag that’s bigger than me! Alright not quite, but almost!

But I still need something from you! I need your prayer intentions. It doesn't matter who you are I'm happy to pray for you and whatever might be going on. You can leave your name and what you want me to pray for, or just your name or you can message me privately and I won’t divulge your needs. I will be connected to the interwebs so don’t worry if you find this a little later than it goes up. I will check it to see if anyone has written.

Con Mucho Amor!

P.S. This pilgramige is called World Youth Day and it was started by Pope John Paul II (love love) and my daddy was at the “test” World Youth Day in Rome in 1984!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

St. Maria Goretti

(1890-1902), Martyr

"Yes, for the love of Jesus, I forgive him . . . and want him to be in paradise with me."
-Maria Goretti

Monday, August 1, 2011

Be Silent or Be Lost

For a young woman the season of her mid-twenties is a time of adventure. Whether it’s marriage, travel, the first big job there is nothing so strange as leaving that familiar time of homework and test taking to place that is so unstructured. This of course doesn’t mean the end of school, but it is a the time when the things you are expected to do: school then college are done and there are a myriad of acceptable (and non-acceptable things to do).

Occasionally, there is regret about the adventure taken. A young wife regrets not traveling or working before she married. A career-driven girl sighs at the big “0” on her answering machine. The young woman trying to get her masters regretfully declines another invitation to go home for the holidays. The free spirit wonders what life would be like if she’d settled down with her old beau.

As with everything it is never too late to begin listening. When you invite God’s insight and love into your life he begins to work with you and work with what you’ve got despite all the bumps in the road.

The young wife is inspired to take a part time job at the local bakery whipping up croissants she learned to make because her husband fell in love with them during their honeymoon in Paris.

Miss. My Job Is My Life starts to say ‘yes’ when Lucy, her co-worker asks her to go out with the girls for a drink, and soon comes to realize she’s learned to care for each one of them.

The life-long student lets go of her pride and calls her stepdad for some help on her paper on [some big topic I never wrote about] and ends up deciding to buy a ticket to go home the next weekend for some R&R.

I Go Where the Wind Takes Me, faces her fear of being the one left behind and decides to stay in Tokyo, Japan for at least a year to think about what she really wants at the end of the day… to really listen.

Every girl feels the fear of not living up to the picture of the loved, successful, smart and adventurous woman in their head. This woman has it all together, she beams. She is so unlike the girl that hits the snooze button three times and can’t remember if she watered the plants this week.

If there is one thing I’ve learned about life with God is the ability to listen to Him is built up with prayer and prayer can only happen in silence and that silence is unwelcome. Silence is unwelcome by many things. It is unwelcome by the Devil because he knows that in silence you will be forced to look at your life and that means you will run to God for help. Silence is unwelcome by our hip modern time that allows us to be plugged in 24/7 so that we don’t fall behind of all the hip stuff that our friends have probably already heard about.

And Silence in unwelcome by me, because it makes me uncomfortable to see the things I’m ashamed of and the things that bring me pain. The first step to become free of those things is acknowledging them and it is the hardest part. Once you have given it all to God it’s all much more pleasant.

A couple of days ago I resolved to go cleaning about my apartment in silence, which is very hard for me. I live alone and I like noise in the background. I go through many, many audiobooks, movies and music throughout the week. I realized that it was partially because I enjoyed it but also because it numbed parts of my heart that hurt and because there was an was uncomfortable uncertainty about how my life was going and where it was headed. Not unlike those four women I talked about earlier. Sure I prayed for few times a day but I never let God seep in through a long silence. Seeing how Jesus is the Lord of my life and I’d been telling him how much more I wished to love Him I figured I’d do the brave thing and create some quiet where I could listen and just be with Him so I figured housework time was a good place to start.

It was very uncomfortable for the first ten minutes. I wanted the noise back. I focused on the way I picked things up and their correct placement. That brought me pleasure, straightening things out. I liked the idea of having a clean home. I looked out the window and focused on the outline of the clouds and the rooftops that blurred together as the sun set behind them. ‘How lovely, Lord’ I thought. And then I felt peace, with a few words here and there as I cleaned I loved Him and I loved the task He had given me. I was His servant and He was my King.

When you listen things change, but when you rest more time in that silence you begin to have the courage to live because you feel loved.

Whether you are one or a combination of the wife, working girl, eternal student or freedom-seeker you will at times feel like there is something lacking in your life, like you aren’t whole because others have gifts and people in their lives that you don’t but if you take the time to listen to the deepest desires of your hearts you will find peace in what you have been given and courage to keep hoping for what you don’t. But even better you will get to know Him, who sees you with more love than you will ever be able to see yourself.