A report on an intriguing Jesuit initiative, via Mirada Global:

The World Youth Day (WYD) is the major worldwide gathering of catholic young people, initiated by Pope John Paul II in Rome in 1984. Since then Buenos Aires, Santiago de Compostela, Czestochowa, Denver, Manila, Paris, Rome again in 2000, Toronto, Cologne, and Sydney have hosted the WYD. Thousands of young Catholics in an amazing mixture of tradition (liturgies, celebrations) and modernity (music, performances, art) participate enthusiastically as in any of the most successful music festivals that take place during summer time. In this case, the crowds don’t cheer any rock star but the Pope himself. This year the WYD took place in Madrid from 16 to 21 August.

Magis is the name of the program promoted by the Society of Jesus and other religious congregations of Ignatian spirituality as a time of WYD preparation. Magis 2011 started with a three-day gathering in Loyola (Guipuzcoa, Spain), birthplace of Saint Ignatius. About 3,000 young people from all over the world gathered there where the conversion of Saint Ignatius took place and now a place of pilgrimage and spiritual renewal. For two days they had the opportunity to interact, meet, and pray. The Sunday mass, on 7 August and presided by Fr. General Adolfo Nicolás, marked the starting point for a week of “experiences” before the WYD.

Divided by groups of 25, they scattered all through the geography of Spain, in Portugal, and even a group went up to Ashila, in Morocco. The participants at Magis got involved in a variety of activities related with social engagements (e.g., migrants, childhood, minorities, persons with disabilities), culture and arts (music, photography, restoration), spirituality (pilgrimages), and also ecology.

Some of the experiences were mixed as “CreArte” where arts, ecology, and spirituality merge together in Olmos de Atapuerca (Burgos, Spain). In the workshop of the sculptor Javier Sanz, they had the opportunity to use the painting and sculpture to express their inner feelings, all in direct contact with nature. Ecology was at the core of the pilgrimage from Salamanca to Peña de Francia, climbing from the flat extensions of Castilla up to the 1,400 meter-high mountain of Peña de Francia. It was an extraordinary opportunity to get involved in soil and vegetation identification and realizing the implications of deforestation for biodiversity while visiting one of the most admired shrines devoted to the Virgin Mary in Spain.

 

Also available in Spanish.

Tim Reidy