In 2005, when Zero and I were a little younger than we are now, we took part in the World Youth Day in Cologne. The experience can't have been too bad, as we are still together some 11 years later. We even did a commemorative trip on 15th August 2013 - the exact anniversary of our arrival in Cologne in 2005 - just for the day. The image below represents Pope John Paul II handing over the 2005 World Youth Day to Pope Benedict XVI, and can now be found to one side of Cologne Cathedral.
So I am very aware of what a wonderful experience World Youth Day is for those who are able to take part. One of my vivid memories of 2005 is the presentation "Pelikan" sponsored by Aid to the Church in Need, which was presented as part of the Youth Festival. It combined film, photographs, drama, dance and music to present the lives of martyrs of the 20th Century - Gianna Molla, Fr Miguel Pro, Archbishop Romero Fr Jerzy Popieluszko and Fr Karl Leisner among others. A second memory is the explanation of the idea of adoration offered by Pope Benedict during his homily during Mass at the end of the week at Marienfeld. After likening the propagation of love that grows from the Eucharist to the chain reaction of nuclear fission, Pope Benedict went on to say:
I like to illustrate this new step urged upon us by the Last Supper by drawing out the different nuances of the word "adoration" in Greek and in Latin. The Greek word is proskynesis. It refers to the gesture of submission, the recognition of God as our true measure, supplying the norm that we choose to follow. It means that freedom is not simply about enjoying life in total autonomy, but rather about living by the measure of truth and goodness, so that we ourselves can become true and good. This gesture is necessary even if initially our yearning for freedom makes us inclined to resist it.
We can only fully accept it when we take the second step that the Last Supper proposes to us. The Latin word for adoration is ad-oratio - mouth to mouth contact, a kiss, an embrace, and hence, ultimately love. Submission becomes union, because he to whom we submit is Love. In this way submission acquires a meaning, because it does not impose anything on us from the outside, but liberates us deep within.I still try to consciously recall this explanation of adoration as I genuflect in Church.
Zero's own special memory is, I think, of the exuberance of groups of young people spontaneously singing and rejoicing on the (at times extremely crowded) platforms of the metro and train stations.
So, if you aren't able to be there, follow the World Youth Day from afar.