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"On Sunday, my brother Nick and I hiked in the foothills of the Austrian alps, taking the narrow and steep path (Mt 7:13-14) now we are onto Krakow!" writes our intrepid reporter Melanie Williams.

The Eve of the Event: World Youth Day 2016 — We've Arrived!

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World Youth Day — Monday, July 25, 2016

World Youth Day 2016 begins Tuesday, July 26, and runs through Sunday, July 31. Our Editorial Department staffer Melanie Williams just arrived in Krakow and will be providing daily coverage all week long on this website. Here's her latest dispatch:

Three days, three flights, one flight delay, three ticket mix-ups, some lost luggage, and our pilgrimage group has finally arrived in Krakow, Poland, for the 2016 World Youth Day!

Phew.

For those of you who have ever been on a pilgrimage, you know it's not always easy. Bumps in the road happen at the most unexpected of times, and all of a sudden you find yourself sleeping on an airport floor eating old wrapped sandwiches, but an hour later you have the blessing of having Mass in a nearly empty airport terminal. Christ makes His presence known in what could be a very unpleasant and stressful situation.

The truth is, when bumps in the road come up, often you can't do much about it except trust and pray. I have learned in just three days the power of trust, prayer, and counting your blessings. During our night in the airport on Friday, we had Mass just after midnight. The Gospel reading for Saturday was Matthew 13:24-30, the parable of the weeds and the wheat. Father Dave Pivonka, TOR, who is leading our pilgrimage group, taught us in his homily to not mistakenly call something a weed that is in reality wheat. He meant, when a bump in the road comes — like a nine-hour flight delay — don't call it a "weed" when really the situation could be so much worse. We could be homeless, we could be sick, we could be dying — but in reality, we were on our way to Europe for World Youth Day. We are blessed, and we should be thankful!

What are you thankful for in your life? Do you see the weeds more often in your life than wheat?

Jesus said to St. Faustina, "Be grateful for the smallest of My graces, because your gratitude compels Me to grant you new graces" (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 1701).

Ingratitude wounds the heart of Jesus, because an ungrateful heart of a person does not see the blessings He is pouring out, or wants to pour out. Gratitude draws Him to pour out even more blessings! As I have been encouraged to turn to the Lord in my difficulties in our pilgrimage so far, gratitude has made a world of difference. Long travel days go so much more peacefully when you surrender to the will of God and give thanks. Yes, there was suffering, but that suffering became redemptive when it was offered for souls and intentions. This is the time of mercy, and there will be an abundance of grace and blessing this week that I look forward to sharing with you all as I carry you all in my heart and prayers!

Let us all be grateful for the wheat in our lives, and reexamine what we might call weeds and see if they are really "blessings in disguise"

The theme for World Youth Day is "Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy." Let us continue this pilgrimage together and be merciful to one another.

Follow me on pilgrimage this week on Twitter and Instagram.

Read previous posts.

Melanie Williams is a recent graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville and now works as a writer at the Marian Helpers Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

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