July 14, 2008
Flying from Los Angeles to Australia, one travels West over the Pacific Ocean and crosses the International Date line. Thus, if the plane leaves Los Angeles on Saturday night and flies for 13 hours, . . .
. . . it arrives in Australia on Monday morning. Because of the travel time, the speed of the plane, and the International Date Line, travelers miss an entire day of their life! That was our original plan. And we were informed well before our trip that because Sunday would not exist for us, neither would our Sunday Mass obligation. I don't know about you, but that makes me sad. I'm fascinated by the concept of losing a day (and re-gaining the hours on the way back), but why would I want to miss Sunday? Fortunately, God, in His great providence is looking out for us.
I arrived at Los Angeles International Airport yesterday afternoon and met up with the 49 other members of my sub-group (out of the 150 of us traveling with Franciscan University). We were informed that our flight had been delayed a day, and that the airline would be putting us up at the airport Hilton overnight. Of course we were disappointed to not be arriving in Sydney as early as planned, but with the accommodations we were given, it was hard to complain. It was actually quite amusing, having hordes of youth groups hanging out in a luxury hotel.
But the best thing by far was that we were able to have a vigil Mass in the hotel basement! Our group leader, Fr. Dave Pivonka, gave a fantastic homily about the nature of pilgrimage. Yeah, we weren't planning on spending the night in Los Angeles, but things often don't go according to our plans. The Christian Life is difficult, and so is pilgrimage. But as St. Paul wrote in the Second Reading, to the Romans: "the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us" (Romans 8:18). We are on God's time and He continues to provide for us. Amen!
I write to you from the Brisbane airport, where we are waiting for our connecting flight to Sydney. We're a little bit weary, but in good spirits. Check back soon for updates from the actual World Youth Day site!