I've actually got a lot to write about - the twentieth anniversary of the decision to found the FSSP, the amazing effect World Youth Day has had on Sydney, what the Pope has said and done, and much more. But I thought I'd start with some impressions of Juventutem.
Those who made it to today's Juventutem Mass (the last of the series) had the great privilege of hearing a short talk after the Mass by Cardinal Zen of Hong Kong, who attended in choir at the throne, rounding off a wonderful series of events. Today's was a chant mass, done by a small group of the real experts7, so particularly good to listen to. A lot of kudos should go to Stephen Smith, David Malloy, and all the others involved in putting together the music for Juventutem (and working to raise interest in the chant in the lead up to it), because it really was all excellent.
As I left Sydney today the Juventutem mob were heading for St Mary's House, where the Pope was having lunch, in the hope that he might emerge and say hello to the traddie crowd. Hope it happened!
The pilgrims were then going to head on over the Harbour Bridge to Randwick for what I suspect will be a very cold night indeed's Vigil before the Papal Mass. However the good cheer of everyone should do a lot to drive out the cold (although I feel for the oldies accompanying the various groups!).
Regardless of whether they do get to see the Pope up close and personal, it has clearly been a great event. I was privileged to talk to a number of young men who plan on becoming priests - including one or two taking the big first step at WYD itself. Amazing stuff.
But equally wonderful were meeting the many theology students (we exchanged stories...), people from across Australia keen to be refreshed through the traditional liturgy performed with a level of solemnity we don't get to see that often, and those pursuing other paths from around the world, all sharing in common a deep commitment to the faith. With the calibre of these people, the future of Tradition looks strong.
There were I gather around 160 official Juventutem pilgrims all up - but a lot of other gatecrashers along the way, some other pilgrims drawn by the chance to experience something different, some people who had been shanghaied into school or parish groups but following their heart when they could...and some put off registering for Juventutem by the extra charge (over and above WYD registration) involved.
Overall things seemed to go pretty smoothly - like the rest of WYD, there were a few logistical glitches (lost baggage at the beginning, some problems with meal locations, etc). A few women to provide some TLC throughout the event would have been nice! But it certainly helped that the locals stepped up to the plate providing hot tea and coffee and snacks at vital points!
The cost issue though is clearly something that needs to be addressed for the future (and in this light it was not a good look to have priests, those involved in running the event, and others etc enjoying rather superior lodgings, whatever the rationale for this was).
Juventutem, is, however a very new organisation (only started in 2005) and it clearly is still gearing up. Its aim is the sanctification of young people through the traditions of the Church, and in a closing speech, Fr De Malleray urged everyone to consider setting up a local chapter - details of how to join can be found on their website.
Certainly I think those who attended this Juventutem would feel it was all worth it, so kudos to the organisers.