You’ve probably seen video footage of the Pope’s skull cap being blown off or photos of the World Youth Day pilgrims that sang, cheered and prayed all week long. You might not have heard quite so much about all that went on at MAGiS, the Ignatian spirituality programme (which takes its name from the latin word for “more”) that ran for 11 days prior to WYD kicking off.
What happened? 3,000 young adults came together to (take a deep breath…) pray, work, play, talk, listen, discern, reflect, laugh, cry, read, dance, sing, create, walk, argue, help, struggle, to be silent…and discovering at the end of it all that they had been opened, tenderised and enlivened by an encounter with the risen Lord and each other. How did it happen? After the initial 3 days in Loyola, pilgrims were sent out in groups of 25 or so to partake in a 7 day “experience” in one of the following areas: social service, faith and culture, art, spirituality, pilgrimage or ecology. I was sent to Casa Velha in Portugal, an organic farm near Fatima, to discover the joy of living simply and in harmony with creation. Our group consisted of pilgrims from Ireland, Spain and Lebanon. Each day had an underlying spiritual theme which was presented at morning prayer and then quietly accompanied us as we attended to the tasks and activities of the day…which went something like this.
Sometimes it’s hard to see the church present in the world but that week at Casa Velha stands out for me as church really “happening”. In particular, the daily MAGiS circle at 5:30 provided a time for us to share honestly with each other about what was happening inside: where had I experienced pure joy, what questions or desires were rising up in me, what challenges did I encounter, did a piece of scripture resonate with me that day? It was a very intimate and personal journey for all present, even more so because we traveled together. Now that I think about it, it kinda reminds me of the novitiate! I’ll leave you with a short video and urge you to check out www.magis2011.org to find out more.