Panama, January 2019
The Brothers CMM again organized a journey to the World Youth Days for their international youth movement Ambassadors of a Worldwide Brotherhood (WWB). This year the World Youth Days take place in Panama. The WWB program runs from 13 to 30 January 2019. About 60 young people from 7 different countries participate in the WWB program.
Already in 2018 the young people followed a preparation program in their own country. The theme of the World Youth Days 2019 is: “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). Related to this theme the ambassadors reflected on three stories about strong women from the Old Testament: Ruth, Judith and Ester.
In Panama the country groups gathered in a retreat centre in the hills west of Panama city. Here the young people had an intensive program with Bible study, prayer, cultural exchange and cultural activities. The Lectio Divina focussed on different aspects of Mary: Mary as prophet, as Mother of Mercy, as Mother of Seven Sorrows, and Mary as companion on our way:
Mary as Prophet – Luke 1:46-55
“Mary as a prophet. This might not be the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about her. However, the Song of Mary, the Magnificat, is filled with prophetic language. She rejoices in God, her Saviour. Because she, the poor and common young woman has experienced the great things that the Living God has done and will do. And not only for her: God has promised through all the ages to raise the lowly, feed the hungry, to bring the mighty down from their thrones. She proclaims this prophetic message of salvation in her song.”
Mary, Mother of Mercy – John 2,1-12
“Mercy is an important aspect of Mary that attracts many people. There is no story about ‘Mary, Mother of Mercy’ in Scripture, but the image of Mary as a merciful woman and mother can be found in the Gospel of John. Here she is characterised as the woman who sees, who is touched, and who acts. Mary sees the questions, problems and difficulties of people. And it is known – especially thanks to this story – that Mary will bring it to Jesus. Mary is also the mother of Jesus, the Merciful One. And she asks us: ‘do what He will tell you’. This reminds us of Mary’s own response to the angel: ‘may it be done to me according to your word’.”
For a creative assignment with this meditation about ‘Mary, Mother of Mercy’ each participant brought a piece of fabric or a cloth from their own country. In groups the various cloths were used to make a cloaks. Mary, Mother of Mercy is often depicted as a woman that protects all people beneath her cloak. It embodies the popular medieval idea of Mary as mother to all believers. The Ambassadors’ cloaks will go back to the various countries and one cloth remains in the parish in Panama.
Mary of the Seven Sorrows – John 19,25-30;38-42
“We stand under the cross with Mary. We see how a human being – tortured and mocked – is executed. We stand next to Mary and may empathize with her what it is like to see your child die. But we also hear Jesus say: ‘here is your mother; mother here is your son’. From now on we will belong to Mary. She will take care of us. We share in her suffering and sorrow. She will share in our suffering and sorrow.”
With this meditation on Our Lady of Seven Sorrows, the Ambassadors had a day of silence. They were asked to walk around on the compound, and to contemplate about two texts: the Stabat Mater, and the explanation of the Rosary of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows.
Mary as Companion – Acts 1
“The Constitutions of the Brothers CMM tell us what we can expect and learn from Mary: we are invited to entrust ourselves like Mary in simple faith to God who walks with us through life. And on that journey towards God she embodies a fulfilled promise of hope and comfort. She speaks to us today as well. Mary is one of us. She can be our companion, our ally, our sister, an inspiring example of a faithful disciple of Christ. She invites us to walk with her on the way of mercy and brotherhood.” The Ambassadors walked in pairs or small groups and discussed the text of the meditation.
World Youth Days
In Panama City, the group was received by host families in St. Mary’s parish in the Balboa district. The Ambassadors WWB will participate in the World Youth Days as an international group, and as such they will join the main events of the WYD in Panama. After the WYD, the ambassadors will go to a beach house of the Vincentians for some days. Here they will have time for evaluation, reflection, closing and farewell.