Saint Catherine of Siena once said that “For every person so in love with God, every place is the right place and every time is the right time.” Where I am is where God wants me to be and here is that perfect place where He wants to speak to me and bring me closest to His heart. God brought me to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil because He wanted to get intimately personal with me at a deeper level during these two and a half weeks of experiencing countless Love encounters with Him everyday. More than my desire to meet God, it was God who desired to meet me during the World Youth Day 2013. And truly, I met the Lord in Rio. I have seen Him in JMJ 2013.
It was my second time to attend the WYD, but it was a whole lot different experience. During Semana Missionaria, I concretely experienced the Lord through the gift of our newfound family and friends from Brazil, Panama, Venezuela and other countries at Praia de Maua and Mage, Petropolis, Brazil. I knew little Portuguese and they knew little English but what was common among us was the language of love, which bound us together as brothers and sisters. It was amazing how the week ended with us finding home among each other despite the language barrier. Personally, I thank the Lord for the beautiful Guedes Family, my generous and loving hosts who made my Missionary Week experience extra special. Outdoing me and Bea (my partner from Assumption Makati High School) in generosity and sincere love, every moment spent with them, despite the struggle in communication, was God reminding me that it was Love that was essential, that Love served as the explanation of why we understood each other despite the lack of words, that His Love was the most important gift I could ever have in my life.
During Semana Missionaria, we also found opportunities to worship as a community everyday. Every time we had worship as a group, pilgrims from other countries would start to stand around us and pray with us. Without them understanding what we were singing and saying, they would always affirm us after in their own language (translated by Ate Teny) that they felt the Spirit so real and alive. This whole Missionary Week was like a Pentecost Experience for all of us. It was the Holy Spirit coming down on us, being so alive in each of the pilgrims and the host families and setting the fire of love in the hearts of everyone.
The week after, I experienced the Lord in amazingly beautiful ways throughout the whole World Youth Day 2013 Proper at Rio de Janeiro – through the gift of seeing Pope Francis up close; through the gift of animating an English Catechesis as a community; all the dancing and singing, all the homilies and catechesis which blessed me with so much inspiration, all the long walks, all the beautiful churches we visited, all the food trips and fellowship spent together by our group and our little sisters from Assumption; through the gift of our gracious and generous hosts, the Labanca Family; through the many affirmations from God that my daddy will always be alive in my heart; and through the gift of the countless special surprises I had from the Lord throughout this week. It was all worth it. It was all God’s love. God alone suffices. His grace is enough. His plans are beautiful. His wisdom is perfect. There is no other way to live my life but to allow Him to take control. Not my plans but His.
In one Catechesis, I realized that the way God speaks is very fascinating. The more He speaks, the more you are drawn to Him. To be in loving relationship with Him is to allow our hearts and our whole lives to be drawn to Him. The WYD was God’s gift to me. It was God’s way of strongly speaking to me, comforting me, taking away all my doubts and worries, strengthening me. It has certainly drawn me closer to His heart. I have seen Him in every experience I had and I will never be the same again.
How do you explain the Love of the Lord which gives you joy beyond compare? Only in Him can we experience the fullness of this joy. Only in Him can we experience the fullness of life. During the whole WYD experience, I was so much inspired by the verse, “Alegrai-vos sempre no Senhor. Filipenses 4:4” (Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say to you, rejoice. Philippians 4:4). It is God’s joy to make me happy and feel loved. I have the Lord in my heart and in my life and I will forever be joyful. Regardless of whatever pain or difficulty life may bring, I will forever have a reason to be joyful because the Lord is alive in me. With the Lord in me, I will have Alegria Eterna – joy beyond compare, joy that lasts forever, joy eternal.
WYD 2013 is Alegria! WYD 2013 is Joy! World Youth Day was where God wanted for me at this moment of my life. I pray that I may be able to translate all that I have all learned in my life as a missionary. May I never forget all the inspiration I got from Brazil. May I radiate in my life all that God has taught me. May I be able to “Go, Serve and be not afraid,” as reminded by Pope Francis. May I be able to live out the WYD theme, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” in every way possible.
Thank you Lord for the gift of the WYD2013. Thank you for all my family, friends and community brothers and sisters who have shared their resources to make my pursuit to be part of this memorable event happen. I have definitely fallen deeper in love with You through this whole experience. I am filled with so much love and inspiration, there is nothing else to do but to share these to everyone else back here in the Philippines. I will forever be joyful and unafraid for I have You.
Shared by Ate Joy Aguila, Fulltime Pastoral Worker