This is a guest post by Andrij M. Hlabse, SJ, who is in Brazil for Magis and World Youth Day 2013. He’ll be sharing several reflections over the course of the events.What is MAGIS? It is a spiritual gathering for college-aged youth from around the Jesuit world in preparation for World Youth Day. World Youth Day is a pilgrimage to meet the Holy Father with its own demands and sacrifices, so why Magis? In the spirit of St. Ignatius we seek to do that “more” which the love of God and neighbor demands and to seek a purification of heart and preparation of spirit for a meeting with the universal Church and with her chief shepherd.
At the end of the first full day of Magis here in Salvador, Brazil, we celebrated together a “Festival of Nations.” Many of the 50 countries represented at this gathering presented the culture of their people through music, dance, and other characteristic activities. Each group was met with the rousing applause of their 2,000 peers; people clapped and danced along, sharing in a joy that stretched across national and cultural boundaries.
What was at the foundation of this powerful expression of unity? The person of Jesus Christ. That one factor which was most shared by this group of young people, who had met only a day before, was the seeking for and following of Jesus. His own powerful attraction drew them together in a way nothing else could. And while the expressions of culture were not always explicitly religious in nature, none of this union and joy would be possible without Christ. The youths’ faith in him brought them here, and it brought them together.
It was also a wonderful expression of the reality of the Church, in which Christ gathers his new family in grace, overcoming our sinful divisions. “All of this belongs to the Church,” a brother scholastic of mine said in reference to the riches of human culture we had seen. Amen. And all of this is a preparation and foretaste of the experience of the universal Church that awaits us in Rio de Janeiro in a short time. It is Christ who gathers us as his family under the Bishop of Rome.
Today we depart for our week-long experiences of culture, charity, and pilgrimage throughout Brazil. More to come, so stay tuned!