Day 14 & 15 – The Walking Bridge

“Life nowadays tells us that it is much easier to concentrate on what divides us, what keeps us apart. People try to make us believe that being closed in on ourselves is the best way to keep safe from harm. Today, we adults need you to teach us how to live in diversity, in dialogue, to experience multiculturalism not as a threat but an opportunity. Have the courage to teach us that it is easier to build bridges than walls!” Continue reading “Day 14 & 15 – The Walking Bridge”

Day 13, Part 1 – The Field of Mercy

It is interesting to note that the Gospels place Jesus on different levels as He made those initial remarks in the Beatitudes. One placed him on a mountain, another on a plain–both sharing the encounter they witnessed and both equally sharing the significance of Christ’s proclamation. For Pope Francis, he brought us to BOTH at the same time. A physical field yes, “Campus Misericordiae” or in English, the “Field of Mercy”–but just as true were we on the Mountain of Tranfiguration, and Kristin’s words of “I wish we could stay!” were ringing truer by the hour. Yet, while we will return to that moment of joy, it is often cut out of the fuller experience, as if the long hike UP the mountain and the powerful descent were irrelevant at best.  Continue reading “Day 13, Part 1 – The Field of Mercy”

Day 12, Part 2 – A Promise Kept

As we walked out of the chapel where the original canvas of the Divine Mercy is kept, we were swept up into the hustle and bustle of the busy streets and into the courtyard just before our exit. The rest of the group was waiting for us at the picnic tables, so we met up with them and took a breather. The atmosphere, though fraught with the complexity of the multitudes, was peaceful and serene all the same. We knew we were on sacred ground, and Kristin–without knowing fully what she was saying–posed the thought that continues our theme of exactly what it means to make and keep a promise. Continue reading “Day 12, Part 2 – A Promise Kept”

Day 12, Part 1 – A Promise Made

Making a promise is no small order, for it requires a full and complete understanding of one’s freedom and desire concerning the subject of one’s promise. It is perhaps the single most important action we take in our earthly existence, for it requires us to stand before the threshold of uncertainty and CHOOSE eternity. That threshold requires a giant leap of faith from us, but it is God’s mercy that gives us the hope to actually do it!  Continue reading “Day 12, Part 1 – A Promise Made”

Day 11 – Goodness Reigns

Hello everyone! We are continuing the journey through World Youth Day, and though it is taking a bit longer to reflect over this trip, rest assured that once it is complete, we will have it forever for reflection. On this morning then, we decided to skip our catechesis session for the morning and instead embark on a journey in the footsteps of John Paul the Great and enter quite literally “into the depths!” Continue reading “Day 11 – Goodness Reigns”

Day 10, Part 2 – The Way of Trust

Mary got the call immediately after lunch, and we were shaken deeply with grief and shock. Mary Whitfill’s beloved grandfather, Papaw Leroy, had a massive heart attack on Sunday, and Monday before tragically passing away. As we stood in bewilderment at what God’s mercy was really supposed to convey to us in that moment, we couldn’t help ourselves. Mary was on the phone with family, and we were gently praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet and other prayers beside her. Our patron saints in Heaven were clearly at work on this pilgrimage, for we felt the sense that many beautiful souls were entering the Gates of Mercy during this sacred week. Continue reading “Day 10, Part 2 – The Way of Trust”

Day 10, Part 1 – The American Way

Freedom.

What is it really? The United States of America has long stood as a beacon to the world, shining the light of freedom into the world’s darkest sectors of human atrocities. In fact, many attribute the USA’s entry into the Second World War as the critical moment that strengthened the Allied Forces enough to end the international suffering. The splitting of the atom then seemed at the time to be the final moment that sealed America’s fate as the symbol of freedom by which the Greatest Generation had earned. Continue reading “Day 10, Part 1 – The American Way”

Day 9 – Prayer Changes YOU!

After getting home from Auschwitz at 3am, we made the decision to sleep until 10am so we could actually function for the rest of the day! However, our families were only available to help transport us before 8am, and since we didn’t know Polish very well, it was quite uncertain how we were supposed to get to our parish that morning. Poor Michael just shut down, and Fermin and I were left speechless about how to overcome yet another confusing experience. Were we supposed to walk? Take a bus? Call a taxi? Wait for someone to pick us up? Google translate IS NOT AS EASY AS IT LOOKS! Continue reading “Day 9 – Prayer Changes YOU!”

Day 8, Part 2 – The Red Crown

The morning we left for Auschwitz was perfect divine providence, everything working in our favor. We had to make a mad dash to the bus stops and the train…barely making it in time too, but that was because thankfully Michael and I had been able to work pretty extensively with our new host family, the Gorkas, on coming up with a plan of action. Once we knew we were on the way to Auschwitz, we just walked in without registering or anything, and even were blessed with getting into those walls of testimony without anything more than an intense security detail on my pilgrim vest (Mary got a picture of the occasion!)–We just didn’t really think things through beyond that,. And we paid the price later that evening on the journey home to the nth degree. Continue reading “Day 8, Part 2 – The Red Crown”