Australia has long been described as being at the ‘ends of the earth’. Cardinal George Pell also mentions this to the thousands of pilgrims gathered to celebrate the opening mass at Barangaroo (Tues 15th July). To many pilgrims attending WYD08 this would have seemed true, as the distance to travel here was far & time was long ….. and it certainly marked the beginning of a memorable journey for many, especially for those from Oceania who perhaps would never have dreamed it possible to come yet for the generousity of many people, not just in Australia but worldwide.
Many Australians may also see Australia as a ‘Noah’s Ark’, because of the diversity of cultures and sheer number of nations represented here. Those who have left their homelands to call Australia “home”, and hoping for a new life and future for themselves and family.
For WYD week I had planned to make note in my diary the names of people (if possible) I’d meet and their country of origin. At the start I only managed to note a few names, then only the names of their homeland. But by the end of the day – Wednesday 16th, what came on my heart was to have pilgrims sign my Australian flag.
I walked around Sydney with a long Aussie flag, and a smaller Italian flag attached on the side, draped over my back. This represented my country of birth (as I am a first generation Australian) and my Italian heritage. And it was this Aussie flag that I offered to pilgrims to sign with their name and country.
The purpose for this was to then present the flag for prayer. Although I journied to WYD Sydney with my parish of St Anthony’s GlenHuntly, I am also part of the Holy Mountain of Praise – established by the will of God as a house of prayer, to praise & worship the Lord and to pray for all the nations of the world. So it seemed the right thing to do, to present the nations of the world to the Lord at the celebration of the Eucharist at the Holy Mountain, on return from WYD.
The mass was a special time because we were also privileged to have with us pilgrims from Holland, France, US, Brazil, Slovakia …… Including members of the Emmanuel community. Father Eric from Holland celebrated mass for us & the children presented my Aussie flag of ‘signatures of nations’ in the mass. There was much sharing about WYD experiences, which I think will go on for some time, and lots of talk about Madrid 2011. ….. And indeed the flag was present again at mass at St Anthony’s GlenHuntly.
Just a note regarding naming all the nations. Of course, I wasn’t able to find pilgrim representatives for All the nations, so to ensure not a single nation was missed I added to the flag – “WYD08 …. Every nation, every tribe come together to worship you”.
So from ‘the ends of the earth’ Every nation will be prayed for, including every pilgrim who will now go out to complete the scripture from Acts 1:8 ……. “and you will be my witnesses to the ends of the earth”.
Love you all in Jesus’ name.