Grace Filled Year

By María Rivas

About a year ago, two million of my brothers and sisters in faith, and I embarked on the journey of a lifetime. We set out for Madrid, Spain to meet his Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI at World Youth Day 2011.

Through hot days, long lines, short showers, and thunder storms at the airbase of Cuatro Vientos, we made it through. For most of us (dare I say, all of us), this journey remains close to our hearts.

That week was lived out intensely, and it changed our lives forever. I vividly remember staying up late with my roommate talking about what words touched our hearts the most; and where we felt the Holy Spirit was leading us in our discernment process. The fruits of this encounter have been multiplied throughout the year in unexpected ways for all of us: At Pope Benedict’s request, my friends and I started a YouCat (Youth Catechism) group. This group made up of young women of all different walks in life, has dedicated this year to getting together and learning more about the teachings of the Church and spreading the message to others.

Ivette, my roommate, has responded the call to discern religious vocations with the Claretian order.  Being with her in prayer throughout our days at World Youth Day were some of the most fulfilling.  I’m sure that the next time I see her she will be filled with Jesus’ love for her and will be ready to take the next step in this process.

My little brother Ronald also experienced profound divine revelation. On the first day of our meeting with Pope Benedict XVI, he experienced God’s intense love for him; you see Ronald has JRA (Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis), a disability that isn’t well known and carries with it many misconceptions.  Due to his disability, my brother has limited mobility, so we registered him as a disabled pilgrim; little did we know what God had prepared for us.  Sitting behind the sea of cardinals, bishops, and priests was the section for disabled brothers and sisters.  Falling to his knees when seeing the sight of the altar so close to our section, he began to cry and say out loud, “I can’t believe how much God loves me.”

As for me, his Holiness clearly stated on the first day of our encounter with him, “the world needs more Christian marriages,” this seems to be God’s call for my life.  Without a doubt, I’m being molded and prepared for the person he has chosen for me.  He has also called me to evangelize through new media.  I’m hoping I can make him proud as I continue to pray and figure out where and how he leads me to fulfill this task for the glory of his kingdom.

As we prepare to encounter Christ at World Youth Day 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, we pray that our hearts be open to his grace and that we may remain in his love until we meet again.


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