This morning feels like ages ago. Packing for the trip of a lifetime being as exhausting as it is, we were finally ready to sit down together and breathe it all in as we awaited Fr. Joe’s procession to begin our first Mass together as a group. The silence was deafening as we listened to the word of God, anticipating the glorious signs that lay before us.
Yet, to the Apostles who listened to Christs instructions day in and day out, the glory of His Resurrection had not taken place. When He boldly proclaimed, “There is something greater than Jonah here”, it’s likely that the Apostlesdid not immediately recognize the signs of His Visitation and could only encounter Him through the slow passage of time. Each day a new miracle would take place, another blind man cured, a cripple healed, sins forgiven, MERCY proclaimed to the captives through both glorious and simple acts.
In the simplicity though is where Fr. Joe called us to focus. The glory of the Jubilee Year of Mercy stretched out before us, but the first steps were quite simple and very ordinary. It was time to drive, to walk, to fly, and God willing, to sleep! So with our Pilgrim Prayers begun with Fr. Joe’s blessing and our pastoral associate Joan’e D’Haene’s encouragement, we took our group picture and piled in the 15 passenger van that would take us on our journey’s first leg. Buddy and Tina Sohl, my gracious parents, made the drive with us and saw us off at the Chicago O’Hare airport.
Then, through security, long lines, standing,sitting, waiting. Patience and Joy found Union in our preparation for the flight across the Atlantic. We met a priest from Poland named Fr. John who gave us a special blessing right in the terminal! A Franciscan sister and groups from Wisconsin, Japan, and more greeted us as we traversed. Nine hours on a plane in the middle of the night should have lent us more sleep and rest, but it’s not quite the comfort level we were used to…though Michael managed to sleep the entire time somehow! It’s okay, he got a nice Finnish roll or something to hold him over since he missed his two hot meals on the plane! And we prepared ourselves for even less comfort in the coming days, a sign of merciful sanctification indeed!
Helsinki was a fast layover though, and before we knew it we were touching down in Warsaw, Poland for the first time! The excitement was already apparent, for once everyone had their bags without incident,we knew we had safely arrived. Within 30 seconds, two God-sent volunteers for WYD approoached us and took us straight to our host parish families who had been awaiting our arrival!
So everyone back home, we have finally made it. Our parish is named “The Body and Blood of Christ” or CORPUS CHRISTI parish in Warsaw and we are all set for the start of our grand adventure. Tonight has been about settling in with our host families, enjoying a wonderful dinner, conversations, and preparations for the week ahead. There is still much to encounter,and just like our loving family here in Poland is doing for us, I will not ruin the surprise for you with the many sights, sounds, and blessings Godis preparing for us to experience TOGETHER. But remember, this is not so much about what we see and do together, but rather about how we live and love each other within the great gift of Divine Mercy. That takes a holy abandonment to fully realize.
In the words of Divine Intimacy, “We should be convinced that here on earth the practice of charity is closely united with that of denouncement, each being proportionate to the other; the more perfect and intense is charity, the more total is the renunciation required; but this is so precisely that the soul may attain to loving God with all its strength!”
So as we renounce our comforts and good feelings back home, God is freeing us to embrace the peace and joy of simplicity and hospitality. For now though, I’m dead tired and ready to drop.
Keep us in your prayers!
– John Sohl & the WYD 2016 Contingency