My 2nd and last post on Madrid. :)
One of the things that has stuck with me from my time in Madrid was a new sense of who the Church is. I always like to imagine the parish I will serve and all the different programs I will help run and get involved in. And it's all nice and pleasant. If anything, Madrid showed me a whole different side. The Church I will serve, and in a certain sense marry, has a lot more 'personality' than I tend to think. And this makes her even more beautiful.
Willy helping one of the guys down the hill
This was shown to me very quickly on the first day and every day that followed. We would pray the rosary at 5pm each day. The men would pray too fast or too slow, too loud or without a sound or just plain garbled. They would make side comments, especially if someone said one Hail Mary too many. They would add their own prayers. Or they might just stare off into the distance. But I realized, despite the difficulty of praying like this, that this was the rosary of the people of God. This was what the Church is like. It's a mess. But that's the spouse each priest weds. It's not always the prettiest but its his spouse. And she is well worth everything, youth, career, or family, that we have given up to have her.
One of the 2 bedrooms
Perhaps my favorite incident in Madrid was with the one resident there who probably did not like me at all. But one night he asked for my help getting ready for bed. I helped him onto his bed and was in the process of changing his urine bag when he started peeing. The urine started spraying all over the floor and he was yelling at me, "Bolsa, bolsa, dame una bolsa." For some crazy reason my brain could never connect that the bolsa, which I always attribute to a bag, could also be this plastic urine container that is meant to catch or drain urine. So I ran around the house getting something else. Definitely not what I needed. Let's just say, he was not too happy. But he is most definitely part of the Church and I needed to serve him despite my lack of will.
Me folding another load of laundry
And just a random note...
My time is Spain was also a chance to discover a renewal happening in Spain. Though reports say that Catholicism is fading in Spain, I met Spanish sisters, new aspirants, others just visiting, as well as a number of young priests and seminarians all passionate about their faith and living it out in the service of their neighbor. One of the seminarians had three sisters who are all in religious life. I also heard of another who had a young friend recently enter the cloistered Carmelites here in Spain. In fact, every cloistered Carmelite monastery here in Spain is full, with many young sisters as well. I also met a lot of young people who would dedicate their time to helping out once or twice a week. One seminarian told me how he was taking 1000 youth on the Camino this year in celebration of the anniversary of the Camino. The Church in Spain isn't quite so dead. There is a new springtime.