late Friday in Rio

I was so tired last night, so I crashed and burned.  Thursday was another fun and great day.  The weather was rainy and cold, but we made it great anyways.  The breakfast jumpstarted my day, then I dodged droplets to meet my group at their hotel.  From there we took the metro to Cinelandia where we walked to Vivo Rio for catechesis.  Brisbane Arbishop Coleridge spoke about discipleship, and he was funny and engaging.  With his Aussie accent he encouraged us to snorkel below the surface of Sacred Scripture and the catechism in order to really experience it.  He also described christianity as “a real encounter with Jesus Christ” rather than a religion.  Wow, great perspective!  Of course he echoed the mantra of WYD and challenged us “to go and make disciples of all nations.”  Easier said than done, but waterfalls start with one drop.  Just ask Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

We took a bus back to Copacabana, and it was better than any theme park ride.  The driver must have done Formula 1 at some point because we were speeding and braking!  A group of Brazilians were with us, and by the end of the ride everyone was friends.  The Papal Welcome Ceremony was later that eve, so we made our way down to the beach to prepare. The beach was soon covered with pilgrims, and I caught up with fellow guides until the Pope zoomed by.  It was fun to watch everyone react to him.  Someone asked why he’s so important, and it’s the position that we recognize.  The Pope is Christ’s Vicar here on earth, and the Pope goes all the way back to Peter.  Amazing how God has used people who are so “unqualified” throughout the years.  Look at Sacred Scripture, and you’ll see countless examples of this including Peter.  I’m always reminded that if God can use them, then surely, in some small way, He can use me.

Also, Thursday was the Feast of St. James the Apostle, and Sal, my brother, and I hiked the Camino de Santiago a few years ago.  Today was a great reminder of that pilgrimage and of my time with Sal.  Yes, we’re going to do it again, this time from France!  Stand by for that adventure!

Today started with breakfast then a later start to catechesis at Vivo Rio.  Cardinal O’Malley of Boston spoke, and while he was not as engaging as Cardinal Dolan or Archbishop Coleridge, he was very good.  One thing that stuck in my mind today was that he encouraged men and women to have children as that is one of the main reasons for marriage.  Before you say otherwise, I’d encourage you to look into the Church’s teachings on marriage as it is unitive and procreative.  Otherwise, why get married?  Great question.

Before we left Vivo Rio for the last time, I met two people.  The first was Clarence Gilyard Jr. who played on WALKER TEXAS RANGER, TOP GUN, and DIE HARD among other films.  Clarence was always the first to greet us upon arrival complete with cowboy hat.  He was there rain or shine, and he always had a smile and warm greeting!  It was only today that I figured out his Hollywood connection.  Odd, but one of his DIE HARD lines was “and the quarterback is toast”, which is a personal favorite.  Second, I met Javier who is studying to be a Jesuit priest.  This, of course, is AFTER he’s been a gynecologist for awhile.  I asked if he was a late vocation, he said no.  He felt he was called to be both a doctor who specializes in Catholic church teachings with regards to gynecology AND to be a priest.  Go Javier!

Another bus ride brought us back to the hotel where the group waited for their host families from the week prior to WYD.  That part of their trip was quite powerful as they forged some incredible friendships with some very gracious Brazilian families.  The families’ really showed them hospitality, Brazil style!  The crowds surged again, probably 3x of that the night prior, for Stations of the Cross.  Again, the Pope zoomed by enroute the altar.  Once there, he said many things but a few things stuck.  Enroute the cross, Christ encountered many people.  Sometimes we can be like Pilate who did not have the courage to go against the tide to save Jesus’s life and instead washed his hands.  Sometimes we can be like Simon of Cyrene and help Jesus to carry that heavy wood.  Sometimes we can be like Mary and the other women who were not afraid to accompany Jesus all the way to the end, with love and tenderness. And you?  Who are you like?  Like Pilate?  Like Simon?  Like Mary?

Tomorrow is in a state of flux.  We were supposed to make the hike to a site on the edge of the city for the Vigil then the closing Mass.  That’s changed for safety reasons because of excess rain.  Now, the Mass will be held on Copacabana Beach.  We shall see what tomorrow brings.