Summer vacations allow for one of the most impressive and necessary experiences of faith to take firm root: that of the catholicity of the Church. Going to a parish different from the usual one or participating in international meetings such as the next European Youth Pilgrimage, which will gather thousands of boys and girls from August 3 to 7 in Santiago de Compostela.
These are unique opportunities to discover how Christ himself is uniquely present in so many different communities throughout the world.
I confess that I love to "taste" the Masses in the towns and cities I visit, because in them I always discover God and the Church in a new and surprising way.
I love to notice how the community is arranged in the pews, how the faithful are dressed, how they decorate the altar, how the readings sound in another accent or in another language, discover local customs, listen to familiar songs with a different nuance and even do a full-fledged Mr. Bean trying to follow aloud a song absolutely unknown to me.
It is a way of feeling like one more, a member of the one Catholic Church.
Thanks to my childhood vacations, I learned the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed - the long one, so to speak - because it was the custom of the parish priest in the village where I was spending my summer holidays to proclaim this version of the profession of faith instead of the Apostolic (the short one) that was recited in my usual parish. And how much I have marveled at this theological jewel ever since!
I am also fascinated by listening to the most diverse homilies -forgive me for being a "freak"-. However long or short, however profound or superficial, however documented or improvised, in all of them I discover Christ the master in the figure of the priest, who stands out above human gifts and shortcomings.
If, on top of that, the temple is a historical-artistic monument or its architecture or images awaken the devotion of the faithful, the celebration can be highly enriching.
To give peace to someone you see for the first time, but in whom you discover a brother, to receive communion in a line of strangers while feeling like family. One Spirit, members of one body, precious experience of the communion of saints.
The experience is very similar when I have had the good fortune to participate in pilgrimages to international shrines (Fatima, Lourdes, Guadalupe...) or in events convoked by the Universal Church (WYD, Pope's audiences...).
I recommend parents to send their children to this kind of meetings because our teenagers and young people, for whom the group is so important, feel like weirdos for belonging to the Christian people. The experience of seeing thousands, hundreds of thousands or even millions of young people who unashamedly profess their faith, who live the joy of knowing they are children of God, who share a spiritual outlook on today's world, in the midst of their doubts and stumbling blocks, makes them change that attitude of rejection typical of the secularized society in which they live.
The Church is not a mere sum of particular Churches, as Paul VI taught us in Evangelii nuntiandibut a single one which, "having its roots in the variety of cultural, social and human terrains, takes on diverse aspects and external expressions in every part of the world".
You know, this summer, wherever you are, be sure to go to church, to your church.
Journalist. Graduate in Communication Sciences and Bachelor in Religious Sciences. He works in the Diocesan Delegation of Media in Malaga. His numerous "threads" on Twitter about faith and daily life have a great popularity.