Sep 16, 2005
This past August, I had the privilege of traveling with a group of 30 people from my high school on a pilgrimage to Cologne, Germany to celebrate World Youth Day. It was my first World Youth Day, and it was truly an unforgettable experience of faith and hope. During the pilgrimage, I was able to grow deeper not only in my faith, but also in my understanding of the Church’s unity.
On the night of the vigil, 800,000 young pilgrims gathered in a large open field for a night of song, prayer, and adoration. We spent much of the evening meeting other young people from around the globe, learning new songs and dances and exchanging small gifts from our own country. As we talked, sang, and prayed with young Catholics from over 100 countries, I was overcome with awe at the unity of the Church. We were visiting with people from almost every country in the world, and we were all united in our common beliefs as members of the Catholic Church.
The sense of unity that I experienced at the vigil was deepened the next day. While listening to the newly-elected Pope Benedict XVI speak about the need to remain true to the teachings of Catholicism and to fight moral relativity, I realized that our struggles are shared by young Catholics all around the world.
But the moment in which my eyes were truly opened to the unity of the Catholic Church came during a small Polish Mass we attended in Cologne. Although I do not speak a single word of Polish, I was able to follow along with the Mass. During the consecration, I was struck with amazement by that fact that, although I could not understand the words, I knew exactly what was happening. The bread and wine were becoming the Body and Blood of Christ. The consecration is the same whether it takes place in English, Polish, or any other language.