Easter Youth Experience 2022 – Santiago Province
By Laura Martín Montalbán and Jorge Ruiz Aragoneses CMF
If we had to tell you quickly what this is all about we would tell you: Christ lives and wants you alive and this, friends, implies that our life is another roll. Because when he crosses our path, our meaning of what it means to LIVE changes. Do you want to know how we live it? We’ll tell you…
With this slogan a total of 49 people were ready to celebrate Holy Week together in our Claretian house in Los Molinos (Madrid). Thus, we lived together young people from 16 to 18 years old, together with their pastoral monitors, volunteers from the administration and a representation of the Claretian missionaries and the Institute of Cordimarian Filiation. We came from different places of the Claretian Province of Santiago: Claret School of Segovia, Claret School of Madrid, Pastoral Unit Heart of Mary (Madrid), Parish of Saint Angel and the Aurora (Madrid) and Parish/College Heart of Mary (Gijón) from Holy Wednesday to Easter Sunday.
The Spoiler was clear: Christ is risen! but how does this influence your life? Without knowing much more, and after two years without youth ministry activities involving travel and night, as we were used to before the pandemic, we took a step forward in our positions and decided to elaborate this joint activity. There were many questions about the response we would get from families and young people, whether or not there would be new protocols, and so on. And, in the midst of all our insecurities, God was putting order in our path and on April 13 our journey began… we tell you about it!
Wednesday – Welcome
Of course! First we had to land in this experience, so unfamiliar and unfamiliar to many. Therefore, we boarded the “plane”, well guided by our hostesses, bound for the land of Jesus, Galilee. We met different facets of people with whom Jesus had crossed paths and whose lives had changed. The key from the beginning was clear: do I want to let Jesus change my life? However, we still came with our masks on as “brides and grooms”, “Magdalenas”, “Caiaphas”, “pagans”, “fishermen”… in the midst of the vortex of our routines. And beware! because the atmosphere up to that moment was not very different from that Jerusalem that praised Jesus, riding on his donkey, unaware of everything that was going to happen, to the rhythm of “Hossana Hey, Hossana Ha”. In addition, we celebrated the welcome of our young people to the experience with a gift “the Spectator’s Guide”, a book that would accompany them throughout the experience. And, just at that moment when all is joy and merriment, comes the Spoiler we all knew: “Jesus has always been there, alive and accessible to you”. But how? In the middle of the chapel, in the form of adoration, Christ the Eucharist reminded us that he has always been there, at our side. In that recollection, in the midst of that “how can I ever be grateful for so many blessings…”, we can only be ourselves, without masks or disguises. And this, perhaps, was the first encounter in which Jesus crosses their lives and begins to direct the film of these days.
Thursday – Delivering
Good and loving days! Yes, it is Holy Thursday, the day of fraternal love, of surrender. It is clear to all of us that the story of the last supper is coming, the washing, the “love one another as I have loved you”… but how does this resonate in my life? What would I want to happen if today was the last day with my friends? A roller coaster of emotions begins. Throughout the morning we rotate through several workshops in which we begin to deepen the complexity of LOVE. In the first place, we “put on the table” those things, people, places, limits that implies giving love and letting ourselves be loved, and not only by us or by others, but also by God. Secondly, we allowed ourselves to wash our feet, what do I want to cleanse in my life, am I a servant, in order to open the doors to the possibility of receiving the sacrament of reconciliation. Thirdly, what do I want to leave in this world? We stopped to think about how I want others to remember me, that is, what I want the meaning of my life to be, that which commits me to live more and better. But, the thing did not stop there and we decided to live dedicated and divided. In this fourth moment, we became that piece of bread that can be taken, broken, blessed and shared because I accept myself but I also give myself to others so that together, as a community, we begin to share our virtues, but also our “shortcomings”. And finally, as he told us “do the same”. We ended with a workshop in which we better understood the meaning of the Eucharist, of living with a grateful heart for the encounter with God.
In the afternoon, we began the triduum of the offices with the Lord’s Supper. In it, Diego Gonzalez CMF explained the meaning of “loving to the end”, of lowering ourselves to wash our feet (even if it is not what is expected of us) and of being aware that we are participants in the greater testament of Jesus: “love one another”. So, are we willing to let ourselves be loved? Are we willing to “give our all” for others without asking for anything in return?
And, at the end of the day, we had the opportunity to keep vigil with Christ before his death, to spend that Holy Hour together around the monument. We put ourselves in his shoes and those of his apostles, but even watching a piece of the film “The Passion” does not even come close to the suffering of that moment. However, we were able to empathize with Judas and with each of our betrayals, those ropes that prevent us from moving forward. We empathize with Peter and each of our regrets, those tears that are a sign of the frustration that causes us not to be brave and defend what we really believe and want. But we also empathize with Juan and with each of our impotences, those stones that weigh us down in our backpack. I don’t know what you saw in me”, but that night we did not feel one more beloved disciple, in each of our life stories, our victories and defeats, in all our desires and longings that we shared in silence from the depths of our hearts that night.
Good Friday – Embracing
The joy of the day before and the mood has changed. Everything feels different. Jorge Ruiz CMF celebrates his 33rd birthday, yet the mood is not festive. What happened? Perhaps something that happens in our daily lives became evident: it is true that we live, but without stopping to become aware of each of the crosses that many people (and we too) live around us. And this was the invitation: put your five senses before this mystery! And so we lived our particular Way of the Cross, carrying the cross and accompanying us. We went through five different realities: poverty, migration, disability, abuse and harassment, nailed to the Calvary of Jesus and how hard it was to feel how people so close to us taste, smell, sound and see their daily lives. So, the question was in the air: what will be your role in this journey?
And, time for silence! The desert begins, that time to get lost from the noise, stop the autopilot and connect with oneself: how I see myself, how others see me and how God looks at me. And in that encounter, to look at how well, regularly or badly our lives are going, to receive God’s embrace. Because he gave himself for your life, without judging it, just to save it. So why should you? Many took advantage of the moment to receive the sacrament of reconciliation and welcome, once again, that embrace.
In the evening, we celebrated the Passion of the Lord. Thanks to Manuel Peñalba CMF, we were able to understand better what that mother and those friends were feeling when suddenly everything came to an end, when no one understood what was happening. And the fact is that, in those moments, the only thing left for us to do is to stand before the cross, adoring his surrender, and not in any way: barefoot. Because yes, the crosses of each one of us are sacred ground that we must embrace and also for which we must sing “Kyrie Eleison”, so that in the middle of the night prayer is that light that helps us to continue walking in the midst of uncertainty, pain, loneliness?
And that is how we closed the day together with Mary, accompanying her in her solitude and letting her accompany ours. There, in our midst was the cross and Mary at its feet. However, each one of us was also tied to the cross with a thread, made up of four knots. We could begin by feeling uncomfortable to be there, so close to his suffering. However, that thread began with our Yes, that desire to “Be it done unto me”, was the one that helps us to be stronger “in my weakness”, and helped us to understand that “only by and in his love” are we freer. Therefore, “without fear of being + free”, we decided to stop being tied to the cross, and to be like Mary, people who trust and hope that not everything ends at the cross.
Holy Saturday – Silencing
Saturday can be defined as that in-between time. The crux of the story has already passed: Jesus has died and the outcome is getting closer and closer. So, in the midst of waiting and with great expectation of being able to live the Great Spoiler, we walked in groups to the hermitage of the Virgen del Espino (Los Molinos). And, like the first communities, we began to share our experience, how Jesus had been crossing our path during these days, at different levels, with different facets. And above all with a very clear reflection: how do I want God to resurrect today in my life? Thus, we intertwined our desires with a thread, representing that very Claretian loom that God had been weaving among us, in every celebration, sharing, meal, game, song… And we realized that we are a big family, in which we all give, embrace and wait, while he moves and moves us.
Easter Vigil – Living
In the midst of the darkness, of the bonfire, of the “walk while you have light”, listening and reliving the story of salvation comes the time to say again “Glory to God, Glory to his Name”. Do not look for him among the dead because he is risen! and “he is risen today, he lives among us”. In the midst of the balloons, the lights, the songs, the hugs, the joy, everything makes sense. Indeed, only each one of us could live this spoiler in such a special and different way, going through the previous surrender and embrace of the Cross. Therefore, we dared to be “born again of the water and the Spirit of God”, to renew our promises of faith. To celebrate that Christ lives in each of my acts of love and also in each of my crosses, “And praising you, Lord, my God” is our way of giving thanks for such a blessing, such a generous act of surrender to resurrect a world “that suffers, kills and dies, despairs and goes mad”. With the help of Jorge Ruiz CMF and Maripi Amigo HICM, we realize that eternal Life is Jesus Christ and that this deserves to be told through our own life, our own story: that we live forever because “Today the Lord is risen! And that our joy comes not only because of those torrijas that Intendencia (as always) made for us so lovingly, but because God loves us, makes us freer and wants us alive.
Thanks to all the brave young people who let themselves be loved and embraced by God (even knowing the spoiler), thanks to the monitors, to the Claretians, to the daughters of the Heart of Mary and to the administration. All of them crazy people who threw themselves into the adventure of this experience. But, above all, thanks to God for making this experience unique and for crossing our lives and “giving his all” for me, for you, and for those who will come… we are warming up for more experiences! Among many others, the next Camino de Santiago (July 2022) and WYD Lisbon 2023.
April 24, 2022.
Translated by DeepL
Revised by Mario Kevin R. Armijo CMF