Wednesday in Rio

Another great day behind us.  I started with breakfast at my hotel which is on the beach (across the road).  They really do up the breakfast, I’ll have to take a photo of it tomorrow.  I sat by the window and enjoyed it.  I mean, I really enjoyed it.  Last WYD, we had very simple lodging, so I slept on the floor with 100 of my closest friends and ate food from a box for breakfast.  Yes, it was part of the pilgrimage, but I guess it paid off this time around. Basically, I am NOT complaining. I walked the 20 minutes to meet my group, and then we headed to Vivo Rio via the metro for catechesis.  Steve Angrisano led the praise and worship to get things going.  Does Steve age?  I’m not sure what he’s taking, but I want some.  I think it’s the M&Ms at the conferences, I’m not sure.  Cardinal Dolan was next, and he is a wonderful and engaging speaker.  He’s down to earth, and I really enjoyed him.  He spoke on a number of things, but two things resonated with me.  First, he told a story that’s crux was each of us is a child of God.  We are not measured by the car we drive, how much we way, how much we have or don’t have.  It was a great reminder that the extra stuff really doesn’t matter, and the most important thing is that I feel (I mean, really FEEL) that God loves me.  Second, the Gospel reading from Matthew was about “come to me all who are burdened and I will give you rest”.  Hey, I know I’ve been tired, worn out, or just plain running from God.  Over the past week or so, there have been times that I’ve been tired and “burdened”.  What a wonderful reminder that God is still there, pursuing me, waiting for me, regardless of how selfish I can be.  Mass was powerful, too.  Just something to see so many young folks there celebrating the Eucharist together. After Mass we had some free time to meet new folks and catch up with some old ones.  Bishop Soto of Sacramento bought pizza for everyone from his diocese again. He’s a simple and approachable bishop, that’s for sure.  He was even going around handing out extra pizzas and even gave some to a homeless guy.  What a great example, thank you Bishop Soto!  From there, we decided to head back to the hotel as it had been raining throughout the day and it was quite chilly.  While it was a little after 6 pm, it seemed like it was closer to midnight.  Several folks relaxed and chatted in the lobby, and that was great to see them engage with each other.  While it’s a group of 60, we have several churches represented, so reaching out and meeting others is key.  Fun to see them make new friends and share their experiences. I’ve been laughing and talking with my fellow guide, Erik Gonzalez, of Monterrey, Mexico.  We’ve chatted about our day as well as some similar experiences from WYD in Madrid.  Some great laughs for sure! Catechism tomorrow morning and the Pope arrives tomorrow night!