In contrast to the last three days, today was slower. With the welcoming of the Pope to Lisbon yesterday and the vigil tomorrow a quiet day was in order. I suppose we could liken it to the time Mary spent at Elizabeth’s , a slowing down after the initial excitement of her arrival and the slow pondering of all that she had heard.
For this we made our way by train along the coast to Belém where the ‘City of Joy’ was being hosted. Here we joined a large number of French speaking pilgrims for Mass which was accompanied by beautiful Taizé music, after which we split up to explore the park and get to know more pilgrims. The park itself is made up of two main features, the large area dedicated to the Sacrament of Reconciliation (which Pope Francis had just visited that morning before we arrived), and the rows and rows of vocational stalls. It was here that I bumped into several Discalced Carmelites and we exchanged memories of friars we all knew and had met.
The afternoon saw another trip to the Eduardo VII park to follow the Via Crucis. Once again I was overwhelmed by the number of young pilgrims that joined the Pope for this liturgy as I saw them spilling out into the surrounding streets. All of us drawn together to follow those final moments of Christ, which as Pope Francis told us, is ‘the way most engraved into our hearts’. I suppose our challenge from today is to continue this way in our lives as we all return to our homes. How do we continue to renew this ‘way of love, this way of Jesus’ in everyday life? Remembering to walk with Him in the joy but also in the sorrow, to remember that my cross is not a cross of pain, but a cross of joy. As St. Titus Brandsma reminds us, ‘the cross is my joy, not my sorrow’.
Matthew Janvier O.Carm