I have some exciting news for you now that the press embargo has been lifted. I have been out of country for the last two days to attend a first-of-a-kind event.
I was lucky enough to be invited to attend the first annual World Misspent-Youth Day that was held in Bonn, Germany. Our event was much more low-key than World Youth Day going on adjacently in Cologne and the Holy Father did not want WM-YD to upstage WYD. The above is the official logo for WM-YD which has St. Augustine pictured on it since he can truly be considered to be the patron saint of misspent-youth. World Misspent-Youth Day was open to those 35 and above who in their youth lead lives not exactly pious, which really means open to all of us 35 and above. This was the first year for this event and of course there were problems and other wrinkles (which only makes sense) that developed. In spite of that I believe it was fairly successful and that we will see future WM-YDs in the future.
The event was only one day long because most of the participants have family and jobs to get back to and just can’t spend a week at a festival. I haven’t heard the official count on attendance yet, but it was fairly substantial. Looking at the middle-aged to elderly crowd of participants it almost looked like a Call To Action convention if it wasn’t for the fact that people wore scapulars, carried Rosaries, and shouted with glee when the Holy Father arrived. There were many allowances made to make us feel at home and not to feel awkward.
In a change of pace the Holy Father arrived on the custom made Papal Motorcycle. I heard that this was symbolic for those of us who have had a mid-life crisis and suddenly bought a Harley-Davidson or a convertible to try to recapture our youth and was also an attempt at levity. He rode surprisingly well and you will notice in picture that he wore a specially made white zucchetto reinforced with carbon fibres for protection.
He later rode in a reinvention of the popemobile the papal golf cart to appeal to those of us who had retired or taken up the purgative sport of golf.
We were really surprised when the Holy Father showed up at the tailgate party in the parking lot of the event. Though when he asked for some German sausage and we didn’t have any cooked up you could see his disappointment. Lesson learned – always have some good German sausages on the grill prepared for these events.
After the tailgate party they started to do the blessings of the lawn chairs and ice chests full of German beer. I think the Holy Father was taken aback a little bit when he first appeared on the stage and we held our lit lighters aloft, but he recovered quickly and said for us to spread the light of Christ. One of the highlights of the event was the homily given by the Holy Father and here are some excerpts as I remember them.
For the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place; and to them he said, `You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing; and he said to them, `Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, `Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, `You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, `Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the householder, saying, `These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, `Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you, and go; I choose to give to this last as I give to you.[Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’
As we reflect on this beautiful passage from Matthew, I welcome you who have finally entered the vineyard at the noon hour. Do not fret that you did not serve the Lord sooner but fall down in adoration in thanks giving and live out your life in the grace you have received. Do not begrudge those who have not yet entered the vineyard which is Holy Mother Church, but fast and pray that they too will enter. As the great Doctor of the Church for whose today’s event is dedicated said “Late have I loved you, Beauty so ancient and so new, Late have I loved you!” We must persist in that love of him who loved us first. Though in the past you were willful minions in the dictatorship of relativism you are now new creatures in Christ! Go forth and spread the good news with your new-found zeal and remember that your past sins have been forgiven and are as far as the East is from the West. …
“When the culture of death pushes you, you must push back.”
Another cool part of the event was the communal penance service followed by individual confession. He continued the tradition of Pope John Paul II for purging of memory and apologized for the Church and level of catechesis so prevalent since the sixties. Another ceremony was held for us baby boomers in which we were forgiven for our radical individualism, self-centeredness, materialism, and for foolish idealism that put faith in the power of government. The list he mentioned of things us baby boomers were responsible for was actually much longer, but unfortunately I didn’t bring any kind of recorder and it was much too long for me to remember.
After the Pope Benedict XVI had left the event was capped off with a concert which included Styx and REO Speedwagon. Styx did a special version of Lady dedicated to Our Lady and REO Speedwagon sang Riding the Storm out on a stage shaped like the Bark of Peter. It was rumored that Journey was also going to show, but it looks like my prayers were answered and they didn’t.
The Pope didn’t commit to doing this again or say where the next WM-YD might be held. Many of us our kind of hoping for Hawaii, Rio de Janeiro, or the French Rivera. Overall it was really fun and hopefully next time it will publicized well in advance. Though I can hardly blame them for keeping this one under wraps since you could hardly know how a large group of us all together would turn out. At least it kept the condom-pushers and other dissidents from attending. I just hope next time they have a concession pharmacy for those that need blood-pressure medicine, pills for arthritis, and assorted pharmaceuticals for other maladies.