Some final thoughts that people have posted:
The Roamin’ Roman was cold and wet and got sick, but still had some good moments. She also said, (apropos of someone’s remark here about the NYTIMES photo montage of WYDYouth) "everyone smokes here."
At the end of mass, we figured that we were too far back to receive Eucharist so we started walking out of the Marienfeld area. As I was walking towards an exit gate though a priest walked straight towards me, lifted up the host, said ‘Corpus Christi’ and I received Christ in the Eucharist. Jesus came out in person to meet me as I headed on my way home from my pilgrimage. It was gave a whole new meaning to meeting Christ through pilgrimage and taking the love of Christ home.
The secular world sees so many people gathered for Christ and asks what the real reason could be. It does not strike many people that they could actually be gathered for Christ. People try to root out what true motivations they have, and there is no lack of bad examples.
Yet what impressed me so much about our archdiocesan pilgrimage was how many youth were so genuinely interested in gathering with the Universal Church in the name of Jesus. I was impressed to youth from so many cultures who were respectful during the prayer vigil in Marienfeld, and who spent much time on their knees.
A great many–we all pray the great majority–of those at World Youth Day are there because they are serious about their faith. They are there because they are preparing to be a leaven among their peers, to be light for the world and salt for the earth.
World Youth Day, in the end, will always be plagued with those who, in the secrecy of their hearts or the obviousness of their actions, aren’t there for the right reasons. And it will always be host to the human tragedy of sin in those who go in earnest to bloom for Christ but end up taking a different road. We can only hope that the grace of God through the experience of World Youth Day eventually has its full effect. The great joy though, is that so many go to make a statement to the world that the newest saints are here, that they are ready to sacrifice their lives for Christ, that they are willing to be radically cast into the image of Jesus–and that they know their flaws and want to change them.