|Pope Benedict XVI at World Youth Day in Madrid.|
And then I realized -- the Germany World Youth Day was not for us, the pilgrims, in the way that Toronto's event had been. No, this World Youth Day was for Germany. This was a gift to a country whose faith was fading, an invitation to a greater love and joy.
So, when I saw the "First Things" headline, "Is Spain Regaining Its Faith? And Why Isn't Anyone Else," I knew the answer had to involve, at least in part, World Youth Day. The event was held there in 2011. It was to be Pope Benedict XVI's final one. It wasn't like Toronto's, at least for me, (though, admittedly, I was now a chaperone, not a soon-to-be freshman in college), but the streets of secular Spain were teaming with youth, the subways and buses were filled with song. As we hiked to the field for the overnight vigil, generous Spaniards maneuvered their shower heads out their windows to offer some cool relief from the blazing sun.
World Youth Day is the gift that keeps on giving. Denver is a city transformed by Pope John Paul II's visit in 1993. The cities chosen cannot just be the best logistical location for massive crowds. The cities chosen become centers of renewal. And these cities on a hill, popping up around the world, will undoubtedly contribute to the re-evangelization of many people, families and nations.