Monday, August 22, 2011

A Report on the Seminarians' Mass with the Pope in Madrid - Hot and Blustery Weather

I asked our seminarian to write up a report on the Mass he attended for the blog:

Papal Mass with seminarians – by Matthew Keshwah

Saturday August 19th is a day I will never forget. I was blessed to attend a Mass for seminarians with the Holy Father at the Cathedral in Madrid. The Mass was scheduled to begin at 10am. The ticket I received said the doors would be open between 6:30-8am. When I arrived at 6:30am with a brother seminarian from Toronto, we were surprised to see about 400 other young men already there. What an inspiring sight. In the next hour, thousands of men who are in formation to become priests filled the streets surrounding the Cathedral to celebrate the Eucharist with the Vicar of Christ – Pope Benedict XVI.

As I waited for the Pope to arrive, it was inspiring to see so many young men from around the world praying their breviary, the rosary or praying their Holy Hour. The crowd of seminarians packed both the inside and the outside of the Cathedral. There were so many seminarians present that when the Pope’s motorcade arrived, the cheers were deafening: “Viva el Papa! VIVA!” (Long live the Pope), “Benedicto!” (followed by four fast claps), or “Esta es, la juventud del Papa!” (This is the youth of the Pope!)

The celebration of the Mass was absolutely beautiful and a true encounter with the Risen Christ in the Eucharist. I felt so close to the action with a gigantic screen in front of me. It was as if I were sitting with Jesus and the 12 Apostles at the Last Supper. It was a special moment that I will always treasure and think of when at Mass.
While the Mass was in Spanish, I was able to understand and follow most of the celebration thanks to knowing French and studying some Latin at the seminary. The Pope told us to persevere in our vocation and personal prayer life. His Holiness said that to be close to Christ, we much be close to the Eucharist; which is the source and summit of our faith. He stressed how important the sacrament of confession is in the life of a priest. A good confessor must first be a regular penitent. He went on to encourage us to grow in our relationship with Mary our mother. For she is the one who will lead us to, and keep us close to, her son Jesus.
At the end of the Mass the enormous crowd of seminarians spontaneously began singing “Tantum Ergo” and “Salve Regina” as the Pope processed out. The Tantum Ergo is sung every time we receive benediction (the blessing of the people by the Blessed Sacrament) after a time of Eucharistic Adoration. The Salve Regina is sung (or recited) by every priest before going to bed each night. It is the Marian prayer said at the end of the rosary (Hail Holy Queen).
Dear friends in Ottawa, I wish you could see the zeal and joy in the eyes of these young men. I wish you could hear the enthusiasm in their voices when they sing. They cannot wait to go and preach the Gospel give their lives to serve the Church. I wish you could see the tremendous love these young men have for Christ and for YOU His Church.

The faith is alive and well among the youth here at World Youth Day. While this is not what we normally see in all our young people back home, there is definitely something special happening here. The Holy Spirit is moving and raising up a generation of young people that are on fire for the Lord. There is great hope for the Church.

My prayer is that there will be much fruit from this World Youth Day: both in our Archdiocese of Ottawa and in the world. May the Good Lord continue to bless you and be with you always.

Matthew Keshwah, seminarian
Archdiocese of Ottawa

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The photo above shows is the bolt of lightening that I saw in awe at the Vigil Ceremony on Saturday evening.  Yesterday's Closing Eucharist was beautiful but the bishops and priests (not to mention the youth) were sweltering in beautiful new vestments we received after Mass as a souvenir of WYD Madrid 2011.

We had parasols and water bottles and special hats to keep us shaded from the heat. Later yesterday evening, after a Mass at the Church of St. Anthony at Florida Norte, while dining at a sidewalk cafe we were driven inside by the rain that was a repeat of Saturday evening.

On to Avila today for some of the Ottawa delegation (others are heading home right off) to reflect a bit on all that we have taken in and what it will mean for our lives once home.

Prayers and best wishes to all!


  1. Thank you for keeping us abreast of this wonderful, wonderful pilgrimage of hope which we prayed along with you from here.

    Maybe Your Grace would consider offering our Diocese as a future WYD host?

  2. Merci à Matthew de nous avoir livré l'expérience qu'il a vécue lors de la Messe du Pape avec les Séminaristes; que l'Esprit prépare chacun au ministère qui les attend. Qu'ils soient tous rivés sur le Christ Eucharistique!

  3. Thanks Matthew for you very inspiring report! It is so encouraging to see the many bishops, priests, seminarians and youth that attended WYD in Madrid! May God continue to bless and protect you all in your journey back and may He give you many opportunities to share your experiences and love for Christ with fellow travellers!

  4. Matt thank you for your sharing on Archbishop Terry's blog. It was inspiring, beautiful and a sign of the hope of the new springtime in the Church.

  5. Un grand merci Matthew pour les photos et surtout pour tes impressions sur cet événement et l'espoir que tu nous communiques sur l'avenir de notre Église. Mes prières t'accompagnent dans tes études au séminaire de Toronto.