Friday, April 29, 2011

Personal Perspective about WYD

If we look at the average mass attendance figures for young adults in the Catholic Church, about 10-20% of young adults are attending mass on a regular basis.  So if you are attending mass and are also committed to going to WYD11, that puts you in the most committed group of Catholics within your age group.  Whilst this can be a little overwhelming at times when put into perspective it can present a great opportunity to help others.

It is important to remember that your personal perspective in not that of most other Catholic's or other young adults.  You see the world and the Church in a different way, as Bishop David says, you have a unique Catholic world view.  You see the world around you through the lens of the Catholic faith you believe in.  As you prepare for the WYD pilgrimage perhaps God has blessed you with this Catholic world view so that you can be a light to the world.  When you get an understanding of your personal perspective on life, you know how different you are to others and how you can help others.

Here are three things to keep in mind when preparing for the WYD11 pilgrimage:
  1. Evangelise the message not the event - sometimes we can be so consumed with our excitement about going to WYD we forget that others don't care about WYD.  Rather than trying to get them excited by the actual event, share the message of WYD with them.  The theme of WYD is a wonderful evangelisation opportunity that everyone can join in on even if they aren't heading to Spain.  Perhaps God has blessed you with your personal perspective to strengthen you for these evangelisation opportunities.  For more check out this earlier post here
  2. Go back to the beginning yourself - sometimes we need to take a break from our perspective on life and the Church to see things from other peoples perspective.  Perhaps you need to think like someone who is beginning their walk with God so that you can understand how to support your friends who are starting off their walk with God.  One practical strategy to imagine how you would describe WYD to someone who has never heard of it.  There are people out there, even in your friendship group, who don't understand the church language you use, words like Catechesis, Cardinal and Adoration.
  3. Pray for people to know Christ - some people will never understand why you are going to spend $6000 to fly half way across the world to stand in 40 degree heat with 2 million others.  Rather than trying to change their minds simply pray that God may open their heart to a deeper relationship with Christ.  Whilst it would be nice for every young adult to experience WYD we know that can't happen, but every young adult can experience God's love.  One practical idea is to write the names of five people who don't have a relationship with Christ on a prayer card that you carry with you to WYD.
In a world where spin doctors have created an angle on every story, how can you use your journey to WYD to benefit others?  Perhaps in the coming months as we prepare to go overseas remember that God has blessed you with an amazing perspective on the World; one that not everyone shares just yet.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The sweet smell of pilgrimage

Do memories have a smell?

Did you realise that your brain can record smells in your memory? Here is a quick test for you:
  1. What perfume did your mother wear?
  2. What did the home of your childhood smell like?
  3. What did your grandma's house smell like?
  4. What does the smell of moth balls remind you of?
  5. What does the smell of fresh baked bread remind you of?
Whenever I smell Brut 33 it reminds me of thursday sport when I was at school.  When I smell Lynx deodorant it reminds me of teaching in a boys school on a hot afternoon after lunch.  There are smells that can trigger a memory from your past, which is great if you want to remember something special.

So what does this have to do with WYD?  
Instead of taking your normal deodorant, perfume or after shave on pilgrimage, take a unique smell with you on pilgrimage.  Use a deodorant, perfume or aftershave that you don't normally use.  When you get home from pilgrimage don't use that smell until you want to recall the experience of pilgrimage.

Whilst this might sound unusual it does work.  On my last two trips overseas I have used a brand new smell.  I still have those bottles in my cupboard at home.  Now when I smell one of them it takes me straight back to the locations of those pilgrimages.

Why does it have to be new?
Did you know that we get use to smells we have around us all the time?  consider these:
  1. When you get into a lift with a smoker who doesn't realise the smoke still smells on them 15 minutes after they finished the cigarette.
  2. You meet a 15 year old boy who doesn't realise they stink after lunch from playing touch football on a hot summers day.
  3. A regular coffee drinker who loves the smell of coffee but it doesn't trigger any particular memory.
  4. A person who gets used to the smell of their own bedroom and doesn't notice the mouldy smell.
What do you have to loose?
Even if you think this is crazy, try it before you rule it out.  If it doesn't work then at least it reminded you to bring deodorant on pilgrimage and we will all be thankful for that.  If it does work you have a way of recalling the sweet smell of pilgrimage for years to come.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A sense of Adventure

Last night I was watching the TV show Survivor and thought that I need an adventure like that.  The opportunity to move outside my comfort zone and test myself seemed really appealing.  As I thought about it a little more I realised that I am heading on such an adventure in August - to WYD.  Not that I am saying that WYD is a TV game show that eliminates contestants, but it an adventure where you can test yourself in the best possible way.
We live in an era where people get their sense of adventure from extreme sports.  People jump off buildings, climb cliff faces without ropes, ride rapids, ran away from bulls etc etc.  While some of these extreme sports give an adrenaline rush, how much do you learn about yourself? Extreme sports can be about facing our physical fears such as heights, but what about the internal fears that run our daily life? Extreme activities loose the sense of adventure because you don't learn much about yourself as a person.  

An adventure is not just about the extreme but it is about the difficult.  An adventure teaches us about our normal life by showing us something different to our ordinary life.  An adventure has an end goal, an outcome or a prize for the person who successfully finishes the adventure.  Here are three reasons why WYD is an adventure:

  1. Different - most adventures take place in a different setting.  There is nothing more different for the pilgrim than to travel to the other side of the world to a country that doesn't speak english as its first language.  WYD pilgrims will experience different customs, different foods and different religious practices.  It will be a great adventure to experience all these differences.  Remember this saying whilst experiencing something for the first time "It is not weird just different".
  2. Difficult - the one element that challenges everyone on an adventure is the difficulties.  In fact the difficult times usually make the best stories when you get back home.  The stories from past WYD's about all the difficult experiences are usually the times where people grew the most.  Remember this saying when experiencing some difficulties on pilgrimage "difficult is part of the adventure".
  3. Outcome - extreme sports have a desire outcome that helps you get through the pain, travel adventures had a destination that makes the journey worthwhile, weight loss or diet has a desired outcome that makes the exercise worthwhile.  The adventure of WYD is not so much about the outward journey but the internal outcome of walking with God and listening to God whilst on pilgrimage..  When on pilgrimage focus on the outcome of the entire pilgrimage, keep the big picture in mind.  Remember this saying whilst on pilgrimage "God what are you doing in me?"

So lets see WYD as a great adventure, an adventure to discover the best of who we are.

Mark McDonald
Pilgrimage Coordinator

Thursday, April 7, 2011

What is on your WYD pilgrimage packing list?

Here is your opportunity to interact with the blog.  We are currently working on a packing list for WYD pilgrims, what do you recommend?  Here are a few categories to recommend:
  1. Clothing - what must a pilgrim pack for their WYD pilgrimage?  What can't you live without?  I don't think you can take everything so what items are essential.
  2. Travel gadgets - do you need a torch, a towel, water bottle?  should we pack a sleeping pillow?  there are so many travel gadgets which are worth taking?
  3. Brands - What are the brands that you have found to be reliable and worth the cost?  We all know we need a good pair of shoes but get specific - what brands will you be wearing?
  4. Luggage - what type of luggage will you be taking?  Are you a backpack or a trolley case person?  Do you have a day pack to recommend?
  5. Bible - what type of bible will you be taking?  What style would you recommend to other pilgrims?
The more comments we get the better our packing list can be.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Good and Bad habits on WYD Pilgrimage - Part B - Time

Are you someone who always runs on time?  Not many people run on time, most are running late or get there early.  Time management is such an important issue on pilgrimage because there is always more to do and see than hours in the day.  So here are a few thoughts about developing habits around time management on pilgrimage:

  1. Are you always running late?  The reality is that almost everyone is busy and has a reason why they needed to be late. Not many of us admit that one reason we run late is our own disorganisation.  Whilst we are on pilgrimage it is not only the person who is late that suffers but the entire group suffers.  If you are someone who is always running late remember that many people see lateness as rudeness.  When you are thinking you can fit in one last thing before heading off remember that being on time is important too.
  2. Are you a member of the time police? Whilst some people are always early out of habit which is good, there are also those who appoint themselves as the time police.  The time police remind everyone who is late how much time the group lost.  They can be as destructive to group morale as those who are always late.  If you are someone who likes to be early please remember that others are not late if they are there at the agreed time.  A meeting time of 3:30pm does not mean get there at 3:00pm, a departure time of 3:30pm does not mean the bus can go at 3:20pm.
  3. Be Honest - we all make mistakes or get lost or get held up in the que for the toilet.  If you are late then be honest with the group and apologize; it will help rebuild the trust with the group.  If you know that you struggle with time management ask a travel buddy to give you a hand, perhaps ask them to give you a 15 minute reminder of a meeting time.
Whilst we know that there will be a variety people in any group, we travel at the speed of the lowest or weakest link.  On pilgrimage we should look out for each other, especially those with a bad habit of lateness.

Please post a comment if you have any time management tips for travelers.