JMJ RIO 2013

with 3 comments

Living is like tearing through a museum. Not until later do you really start absorbing what you saw, thinking about it, looking it up in a book, and remembering – because you can’t take it all in at once.

– Audrey Hepburn

Honestly. I’ve written a few different drafts of my experiences from WYD and I already wrote a speech for my local parish, which was also edited for me to share at a conference. But I don’t know. Something is compelling me to share something different and a whole lot more raw than what I have shared already. Even just the thought of sharing so much of myself and making myself vulnerable like that is making me uncomfortable, but I think there’s a lot of power when we make ourselves vulnerable. So here I am, giving you all a little power over me.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” – Matt 5:8

So something that I’ve been really praying about in the last year or so is my heart and its purity. I’ve been thinking how impure my heart is. I feel like it’s so twisted and poisoned and I feel like the poison that’s pumped from my heart is like a fountain that overflows into my brain and into my life.

My prayer has been Psalm 51:10 – “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

But even if God could make a new heart in me, I didn’t really want to offer Him my poisoned heart, full knowing that He already knew what it looked like and grieved with every new tear and each new bruise. I was ashamed of the state of my heart. I even asked God, “Why would you make my heart like this? If You love me, You would want me to be with You and how can I even see You if this heart of mine is so dirty?” Well I sound crazy.

So that was the state of my heart and mind coming into pilgrimage. Subconsciously, I guess I wanted a clean heart, a new spirit. And I really wanted to see God.

Throughout the pilgrimage, it wasn’t hard to see God.

I really saw God in the precious time we spent with the Holy Father. Everywhere he went, he was met with a joyous crowd of Catholics. He rode past in his pope-mobile and since I’m very small and have very good friends, I was able to be propped up on the shoulders of a tall friend and see Papa Francisco as he zoomed past. What hit me was the joy that radiated from his face. The leader of the Church, the bride of Christ was smiling at us and was just as excited to see us and pray with us. It was incredible, every time he opened his mouth, the 3 million exuberant, and LOUD pilgrims were silenced. It hit me so hard because I felt that was the state of young people – hungry for the word of God through Pope Francis.


Another time I got to see God with my own eyes was when I got to see Christo Redentor, or Christ the Redeemer. It was during our first full day in Brazil, before the actual WYD week. We got there a bit early after not being able to go back to Argentina to see the amazing Iguazu Falls. Our hopes were dashed! And we saw some of our mates from our bigger Parramatta diocese group who went to see Cristo Redentor the day before and was met by a lot of fog. So we rode of the bus with low expectations on a cloudy Rio morning. We took a train up the side of Corcovado mountain, seeing an amazing view of the city of Rio. We kept rising above the fog and were met with a looming 30 m tall statue (or 700 metres according to Karl). We looked up at Jesus, His arms outstretched, ready to welcome us and embrace us. Surrounding Corcovado was fog, making us feel like we were in heaven with our Lord. Honestly, I felt a little bit delusional, as if this could really be happening. As if this could really be that beautiful. God really knows my heart and grants its desires without me even realizing or asking.






Another time or few times I experienced Christ was in mission work we did in Peru. My group was sent to a primary school in Manchay, Lima where I spent two days teaching year 3 and kindergarten and one day cooking the kids lunch in the kitchen. The kids were so happy with what little we had to offer them. I experienced an immense love in their welcome, in all the hugs, the dancing, the games we played together and even in the very broken conversations we had, trying to communicate in Spanish and English. To be honest, their affection took me a little by surprise. Australian culture isn’t that affectionate and on top of that I’m a bit weird about personal space and here we were met with a swarm of kids that kissed us on the cheek whenever they said hello or goodbye or even thank you. Oh man I really miss them.





In travel and on mission I’ve been to a few cities, seen so many churches and cathedrals, met so many people, that I was a bit afraid that a layer of shine would be lost the more cities, churches and people I encountered. That was silly of me. No matter how many times I experienced things, the joy and awe doesn’t decrease. Just like every time I see a beautiful sunset, I’m still amazed. We got to see included the Metropolitan Cathedral in Buenos Aires, which was where Pope Francis was at while he was Cardinal and heaps of beautiful Cathedrals with amazing stained glass windows. But the place where I really felt the peace and love of God was in a tiny (And dirty before we cleaned it) chapel in our retreat centre in Lima. We were able to have mass and adoration there every day. I don’t know what it was about that place. Maybe its simplicity. The beautiful light it captures. Maybe it was just that it was so available to us as a haven or because we got to experience Christ there so much. I hope I can feel the same way about the churches I go to often here in Sydney.




“In front of the Blessed Sacrament, everything becomes clear”


Something I thought that was really beautiful were the meals. Not just because they were delicious, but it really was breaking bread and sharing with fellow pilgrims. People I had just met would share about prayer and vocations and choosing God. One of my most memorable dinners was with one of our favourite chaplains one night in Peru and among the many amazing things he said, this hit me the most

Fr Luan

ALSO. I never thought that in a pilgrimage I would have felt lonely. Especially when most of the time I was thinking. There are SO many people. ALL the time. And they are SO loud. lol

It isn’t because I didn’t have friends there. I think a big reason for it (besides me sometimes being too tired to make an effort) was that there were all these stirrings in my heart and thoughts running wild in my head and I didn’t know who I wanted to share it with. It’s so weird how it can be easier to be vulnerable with a stranger. And also, I reflected and thought that while it is great to share about God and how He’s moving in your life, sometimes there are some things that is just between us that I’m not ready to reveal yet. But also I thought I might have gone a little bit crazy if I didn’t talk it out.

So one night, (or a few nights in a row) I was praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament and told God, “You always send me to the right people to talk to. There really are a lot of people here that I can talk to, please show me who you want me to talk to.” And I think a day or so later, we were in adoration and slowly people filed out and I ended up being next to one of the sisters. It never occurred to me to talk to her, I think because there were about 250 in the Parramatta group and our smaller groups were not linked at all. And also because there were so many priests! But we had a great conversation and I’m really grateful for the wisdom and love Sister Rosie shared with me. I didn’t have anything that I wanted to share with you all about that conversation, but I think it’s more for me to remember what a great night that was 🙂

So. In conclusion. lol. One of the most beautiful things God taught me in this pilgrimage was that He holds my heart. And although it is poisoned and still gross, He holds it and will cleanse it. And in it, He’s written secrets and truths that I have yet to figure out. Before I can figure it out, I have to protect it and filter what comes from it and bring it to Him before I pour it all out for the world to see.  I actually poured my heart out to a journal that we were given and I left it at the school in Manchay 😦 So now kids in Peru who can’t read English can discover my innermost thoughts.

Soli Deo gloria

Ps Most of the photos are mine. The better ones are from Len Lara



Written by Candice

November 7, 2013 at 11:03 am

Posted in Remember.

Tagged with ,

3 Responses

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  1. loveeeeee this post!!!! LOL at the last comment. your photos are equally amaze x


    November 13, 2013 at 2:08 pm

  2. […] World Youth Day in July. Being able to travel to Argentina, Peru and somewhere I’ve always wanted to travel – BRAZIL […]

  3. […] photo above is one of my favourites. I took it travelling before World Youth Day in Argentina outside the cemetery where Evita lies. I miss South America and I miss […]

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