Day 1: World Youth Day 2016 — We Speak the Same Language
The youth pack into the trains and public transportation singing songs in their native languages and waving their flags.
Melanie met some of Sr. Faustina's sisters of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy.
Pope St. John Paul II walked often on the banks of the Vistula River. We were able to have Mass there today.
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
World Youth Day 2016 officially opened today, July 26, in Krakow, Poland, and runs through Sunday, July 31. Our Editorial Department staffer Melanie Williams is providing daily coverage all week long. Today she shares her experience of being among the young people at the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Krakow:
Brazil, Slovenia, Vietnam, China, Italy — these are just a handful of countries I encountered today walking through the city of Krakow to the Shrine of Divine Mercy this morning. Hundreds of thousands of young people were flocking to St. Faustina's convent to visit her relics and the place where she died and was originally buried.
When we arrived, young people from Martinique, West Indies, were in a large circle singing and dancing; Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy (Faustina's congregation) were scattered throughout the crowd ministering to pilgrims; and dozens of priests were in what they have called a "zone of reconciliation," hearing hundreds of Confessions. It was a truly remarkable sight to see and be a part of.
I made my way with Nick, my brother, to the Holy Doors at the Basilica of Divine Mercy built adjacent to the convent where St. Faustina experienced many of her encounters with the Jesus, the Divine Mercy. As we entered, a continuous song of meditation was playing, repeating the words "Jezu, ufam tobie" — "Jesus, I trust in You." We knelt down to pray, and I was struck with a new grace of surrender to Jesus. I knew, in the depths of my heart, that I could trust Jesus. Even though I don't always understand what He is doing in my life, I know that I can trust Him. Our Father is a good Father, and I must claim and believe that, as Romans 8:28 says, He will always work everything for my good.
When one trusts, one is filled with the joy that only comes from the peace of the Lord. This was truly present among the young people today. I met some young people from France today, filled with the "joy of the Gospel" and full of life. Hours later we heard that one of the priests from their homeland was assassinated by ISIS terrorists during a morning Mass today. We pray and we beg for mercy for the attackers and for the repose of the soul of Fr. Jacques Hamel.
Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow, celebrated the opening Mass of World Youth Day in the Campus Blonia and welcomed pilgrims from around the world. The relics of St. John Paul II and St. Faustina Kowalska were on the altar, as were those of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. The three are the patrons of this World Youth Day.
Cardinal Dziwisz said to the youth, "You speak numerous languages. But starting today we are going to communicate with each other in the language of the Gospel. This is a language of love, brotherhood, solidarity, and peace."
The Mass —
they had relics of St. JPII and St. Faustina and Pier Giorgio Frassati, the three copatrons of this WYD, processed to the altar.
Cardinal Dziwisz was the personal secretary to St. John Paul II, and he carries the spirit of the great saint in his preaching to the young people, saying in his homily:
… Krakow is alive with the mystery of Divine Mercy, also owing to humble Sister Faustina and John Paul II, who made the Church and the world sensitive to this specific trait of God. Returning to your countries, homes and communities, carry the spark of mercy, reminding everyone that "blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy" (Mt 5:7). Carry the flame of your faith and ignite with it other flames, so that human hearts will beat to the rhythm of the Heart of Christ, which is "a flaming fire of love." May the flame of love engulf our world and rid it of egoism, violence and injustice, so that a civilization of good, reconciliation, love and peace will be strengthened on our earth.
The prophet Isaiah tells us today "how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the one bringing good news" (Is 52:7). John Paul II was such a messenger — He was the initiator of World Youth Day, a friend of youth and families. And you be such messengers. Carry the good news about Jesus Christ to the world. Give testimony that it is both worth it and necessary to entrust Him with our fate. Open wide the doors of your hearts to Christ. Proclaim with conviction like Paul the Apostle, "that neither death, nor life, […] nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom 8:38-39)
The Gospel — this is what brings joy and life to the hearts of millions of young people from all over the world.
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Check out this video of the opening day posted by Rome Reports:
And, thanks to CTV, here's a video of the opening Mass:
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Please keep all of us young people at World Youth Day in your prayers, as we are praying for you everywhere we go! May we all open wide the doors of our hearts to Christ, trust in Jesus even in the darkest of times, and bring the light of Christ to the whole world.
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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.