.- Award-winning Catholic musician Matt Maher sees this year’s World Youth Day gathering as an opportunity to recognize the universal nature of the Catholic Church throughout diverse nations and cultures.
“One of the things that I’m most looking forward to is just experiencing the global Church,” Maher told CNA shortly after arriving in Rio de Janeiro on July 21 for the start of World Youth Day 2013.
“I think there’s definitely a spirit of excitement,” he observed.
The Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter is one of the performers scheduled to provide entertainment for more than a million pilgrims who are expected to flood the Brazilian city for the July 23-28 gathering with the Holy Father.
Although this is the fourth World Youth Day he has attended, Maher said this one is unique because it is probably the first in which English speakers are “definitely going to be a huge minority.”
“Which I’m excited for,” he continued. “I think it’s a reminder of how big the Church is globally.”
Maher said that like the other pilgrims arriving in the city, he is excited to see Pope Francis.
“The spirit of his pontificate has obviously been very complementary to Pope Benedict’s, but also very timely,” the singer reflected, describing the election of Pope Francis as “an event of the Holy Spirit.”
“His spirituality, his simplicity. It’s definitely inspiring, I think it’s what younger generations of Catholics have been sort of longing to see,” he remarked.
He also observed that the Pope speaks to Western culture in a powerful way.
“He’s bringing out the counter-cultural side of the Gospel that isn’t so much confrontational as much as it is revolutionary,” Maher said, adding that this challenges each person hearing the message of Holy Father.
The words of Pope Francis create “a conflict,” he said, “but it’s one that probably will happen within the interior life of every person.”