You can listen to the full programme podcast HERE.
Lorraine, Aidan and Mariah share with us their experience of the WYD 2016 in Krakow as part of the Limerick diocesan pilgrimage to WYD2016.
You can listen to the WYD element of the programme on podcast excerpted from the main programme HERE.
The theme of the XXXI World Youth Day Krakow 2016 was: ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy’ (Mt 5:7). Pope Francis chose the fifth of the eight Beatitudes, given by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, to show the importance of the Beatitudes which are at the heart of Jesus’ teaching. In his first Sermon, Jesus presents us with eight examples of qualities that bring us closer to the Kingdom of God.
The choice of Krakow and World Youth Day’s motto lead us to the Spark of Mercy. Since the appearance of Jesus to St. Sister Faustina, Mercy has been radiating from Krakow-Lagiewniki to the whole universal Church. Krakow is widely known as the centre of worship of God’s mercy, and young pilgrims who came visited the place of the revelations, Sister Faustina’s tomb, and the shrine – the place where St. John Paul II entrusted the world to God’s Mercy.
It’s worth noting that the fifth Beatitude sums up the first two years of Pope Francis’ pontificate as well. During that time he has striven to show the Church God’s love towards man and the necessity of being merciful to each other.
Limerick's Timetable for the Week
- Monday, July 25th - Travelling!! Departed Shannon at 10.20am. Flew to Wroclaw first and then bussed to Krakow – walk through the old city. Orientation – found the ‘Crescent Shopping Centre’!
- Tuesday, July 26th - Morning prayer, icebreaker (people bingo!), registration (poor Fr. Chris loves a good queue!) Official opening Mass Blonia park celebrated by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz (phonetically Dgivitch!) who asked us to consider three questions: First, where do we come from? (from all parts of the world!) Second, where are we today, in this moment of our lives? (We are all here because Christ has gathered us. He is the light of the world.) And third, where are we going to go and what are we going to take with us? (Maybe we will make some important decisions during these days? Maybe we will set some new goals in our lives? Maybe we will hear the clear voice of Jesus, telling us to leave everything and follow Him
- Wednesday, July 27th - Pilgrimage of Mercy – Began at the St. John Paul II Sanctuary where Fr. Chris gave us an introduction to Saint John Paul II. We then made the pilgrimage of mercy to the Divine Mercy Sanctuary while praying the Divine Mercy chaplet which was a prayer given to St. Faustina by Jesus. At the Divine Mercy Sanctuary we had the opportunity to go through the Holy Door, which in this Year of Mercy has an indulgence attached to it, and we had an opportunity to pray in silence in the sanctuary.
- Thursday, July 28th - Catechesis session – with Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago who taught us of the importance of letting God's mercy into our lives not just for the sins we commit, but also for the sins that are visited on us. In other words, God wants to bring us his healing and love and wants to untie those hurts that paralyse us. He reminded us too that each of us is loved immensely by God and mercy is the key to bringing about peace in our world. Reconciliation brings peace because to reconcile means to see eye to eye. Even when it seems that people don't respond to our attempts at reconciliation, love never fails. We are called to be witnesses to God's unending love and mercy in this world. In the evening we had the papal welcome ceremony at Blonia Park. Pope Francis reminded us that mercy had an ever youthful face.
“It pains me to meet young people who seem to have opted for “early retirement”. I worry when I see young people who have “thrown in the towel” before the game has even begun, who are defeated even before they begin to play, who walk around glumly as if life has no meaning… It is disturbing to see young people squandering some of the best years of their lives, wasting their energies running after peddlers of fond illusions (where I come from, we call them “vendors of smoke”), who rob you of what is best in you. We are gathered here to help one another other, because we do not want to be robbed of the best of ourselves. We don’t to be robbed of our energy, our joy, our dreams by fond illusions. So I ask you: Are you looking for empty thrills in life, or do you want to feel a power that can give you a lasting sense of life and fulfilment? Empty thrills or the power of grace? To find fulfilment, to gain new strength, there is a way. It is not a thing or an object, but a person, and he is alive. His name is Jesus Christ.”
- Friday, July 29th - In the morning we had our own catechesis where we saw that each of us is the result of a thought of God, willed, loved and necessary and how we are all created out of love and for love. That is what holiness is about – we are called to love. But often we miss the mark through sin. We reflected on Bishop Brendan’s definition of mercy – mercy is love that fills the gap. Wherever there is a need in our world mercy fills the gap. We looked at how Jesus is the Divine Mercy and then reflected on the corporal works (corporal: To feed the hungry; To give drink to the thirsty; To clothe the naked; To harbour the harbourless; To visit the sick; To ransom the captive; To bury the dead) and spiritual works of mercy (To instruct the ignorant; To counsel the doubtful; To admonish sinners; To bear wrongs patiently; To forgive offences willingly; To comfort the afflicted; To pray for the living and the dead.). We looked at where we saw these works of mercy being practiced at WYD and then we looked at how we might practice those works of mercy at home. Friday evening we had a profoundly moving experience of the Way of the Cross in Blonia Park with Pope Francis. We may actually record a programme based on this Way of the Cross later in the year.
- Saturday, July 30th - The epic trek begins! Tram journey half the way to Campus Misericordiae. 7 km walk in 30 degree heat with our rucksacks etc. The Evening Vigil with Pope Francis which was a really beautiful experience with testimonies from those in war-torn countries. Pope Francis appeals to us to join in prayer for the sufferings of all the victims of war and for the many families of beloved Syria and other parts of our world. Our response to a world at war has a name: its name is fraternity, its name is brother and sisterhood, its name is communion, its name is family.
“In other words, to think that in order to be happy all we need is a good sofa. A sofa that makes us feel comfortable, calm, safe. A sofa like one of those we have nowadays with a built-in massage unit to put us to sleep. A sofa that promises us hours of comfort so we can escape to the world of videogames and spend all kinds of time in front of a computer screen. A sofa that keeps us safe from any kind of pain and fear. A sofa that allows us to stay home without needing to work at, or worry about, anything. “Sofa-happiness”! That is probably the most harmful and insidious form of paralysis, since little by little, without even realizing it, we start to nod off, to grow drowsy and dull while others – perhaps more alert than we are, but not necessarily better – decide our future for us. For many people in fact, it is much easier and better to have drowsy and dull kids who confuse happiness with a sofa. For many people, that is more convenient than having young people who are alert and searching, trying to respond to God’s dream and to all the restlessness present in the human heart.”
“Come on, build it now, here, this first of bridges: take each other’s hand. This is a great bridge of brotherhood, and would that the powers of this world might learn to build it… not for pictures on the evening news but for building ever bigger bridges. May this human bridge be the beginning of many, many others; in that way, it will leave a mark.”
- Sunday, July 31st - WYD Closing Mass with Pope Francis. We had the reading of Zacchaeus. Pope Francis taught us that Zacchaeus had to face a number of obstacles in order to meet Jesus. At least three of these can also say something to us.
The first obstacle is smallness of stature. Zacchaeus couldn’t see the Master because he was little. Even today we can risk not getting close to Jesus because we don’t feel big enough, because we don’t think ourselves worthy. This is a great temptation; it has to do not only with self-esteem, but with faith itself. For faith tells us that we are “children of God… that is what we are” (1 Jn 3:1). We have been created in God’s own image; Jesus has taken upon himself our humanity and his heart will never be separated from us; the Holy Spirit wants to dwell within us. We have been called to be happy for ever with God!
Zacchaeus faced a second obstacle in meeting Jesus: the paralysis of shame. We can imagine what was going on in his heart before he climbed that sycamore. It must have been quite a struggle – on one hand, a healthy curiosity and desire to know Jesus; on the other, the risk of appearing completely ridiculous. Zacchaeus was public figure, a man of power. He knew that, in trying to climb that tree, he would have become a laughingstock to all. Yet he mastered his shame, because the attraction of Jesus was more powerful. You know what happens when someone is so attractive that we fall in love with them: we end up ready to do things we would never have even thought of doing… For us too, this is the secret of joy: not to stifle a healthy curiosity, but to take a risk, because life is not meant to be tucked away. When it comes to Jesus, we cannot sit around waiting with arms folded; he offers us life – we can’t respond by thinking about it or “texting” a few words! Pope Francis encouraged us to respond whole-heartedly to Jesus - to ‘risk’ giving Him our very all.
The third obstacle was not an interior one, but was all around him. It was the grumbling of the crowd, who first blocked him and then criticized him: How could Jesus have entered his house, the house of a sinner! He demands of us real courage: the courage to be more powerful than evil by loving everyone, even our enemies. People may laugh at you because you believe in the gentle and unassuming power of mercy. But do not be afraid. Think of the motto of these days: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy” (Mt 5:7). People may judge you to be dreamers, because you believe in a new humanity, one that rejects hatred between peoples, one that refuses to see borders as barriers and can cherish its own traditions without being self-centred or small-minded. Don’t be discouraged: with a smile and open arms, you proclaim hope and you are a blessing for our one human family, which here you represent so beautifully!
Epic trek back to the hostel – 14 km walk J. In the evening we had the most powerful thunder and lightening storm! Dinner with Bishop Brendan and Bishop Donal. Night prayer in which each person was ‘nominated’ most awesome at…
- Monday, August 1st - The return journey home – tired and joyful. Impromptu sing-song at Wroclaw and Shannon airports.