Papa has arrived…

Today was an iconic day for all of our group, for Pope Francis arrived to greet the young adults gathered in Blonia Park.

We gathered in our area again, waiting for the Pope. The cheers got louder, as the Pope was shown receiving the key to Kraków. The Pope then hopped on a tram and headed towards the park.

Within minutes, Pope Francis was here, with us, circling the park in his Pope mobile. The flags were waved frantically and members of our group jumped around in excitement, some screaming, some emotional with tears.

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Pope Francis in his Pope mobile in Kraków 

Personally, seeing Pope Francis gave me a rush of such a wide variety of emotions, and I know I couldn’t describe to you that feeling.

The welcome ceremony continued, with lots of dancing from around the world, flags from every country (by continent) and an address by Pope Francis himself.

The Holy Father called on us to live life, and not to be boring, giving up before life has even begun. He asked us if we could make a change, to which there was a resounding YES, Portsmouth Diocese definitely responded positively to this!

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But we must confess, before we end this blog tonight, the Papal Ceremony was not the first time the group say the Pope. On the walk to Catechesis in the morning, the usual route was blocked, then it was quickly realised the Pope was on his way. Needless to say, the group paused the walk to wave to Pope Francis. #priceless

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2 become 1…

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Over the past 2 days, we have listened to two very different talks, both about the sacrament of marriage.

Jason and Crystalina Evert explained that marriage prep does not start when a proposal occurs, but starts at birth. Our actions that we take as we grow and learn, learning how to build friendships and relationships is all apart of marriage prep. These things help form us to who we are, the husband or wife we could be.

Dating is marriage discernment, we should be asking ourselves:

Do we love the person who is in front of us?

Do we love them for them, or who they could be?

Do we see ourselves with this person for the rest of our lives?

For dating is not there to look cool, or fulfil a bit of time, but for you to discern and find the right match for you.

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When we date, hoping that the person will change, will mature or think you could guide them with that one thing, then you are merely dating your imagination. Your imagination won’t make a good bride or groom, for a fruitful marriage for the rest of your life.

Jason and Crystalina suggested that If you want love, don’t look out there, but look in your heart. Marriage is about perfecting yourself, so you become the best you can for that person. By focussing on you, your heart and your relationship with God, if your discerning is correct, you will find your partner.

They explained it is a tough world right now. With pressure for you to date, to pass time, and to not be single, for no-one would want to be single right?

Stop. Break free.

Enjoy being single.

Being single is about being open and pure for your partner, before you have ever met them, striving to be the best you can be.

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Today, Scott and Annie Powell told us about their journey, of listening to God and finding each other. They had grown up, wanting to marry, and they found each other, both with a desire to serve God, so they have. They have set up a summer camp, and have since been led by Christ to adopt children, to form their family unit.

Marriage to them is a holy vocation, it is a vocation where you (husband and wife) are one.

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Who’s who?

Sister Bethany from the Sisters of Life spoke to us on the topic of:

Who are you sweet Lord and who am I?
Francis of Assisi

Our finger prints are totally unique, so if God takes so much time to design the rings on your fingers, what does that show? How much love is that? That God would take all that time on just one of our fingers alone. He, Christ, longs for you to love him back just as much as He loves you.

What is your Identity?

Is your identity your Facebook profile picture? Or is it your parents? Is it your hair or your sneakers? Is it your grades, and whether you got A* or fail? All these things can change, but they are not your identity.

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Your identity is what Christ gave you. It is what gifts you have received and what you have made them in to. It is what makes you you, if all materials were taken away. It’s what makes you unique.

A young man, hanging with friends was recently asked, who is your best friend? He thought, and said a name.

The young man was then asked, is God not your best friend?

The young man thought, and replied:

No. God is not my best friend. He is like a best friend. But this is different. It is different because, I’m in him and he’s in me. We are one.

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We’re listening Lord

An important part of the WYD festival is the Catechesis sessions offered to pilgrims, in a very wide range of languages. It is these sessions, which help all discerning or not, to grow deeper in faith and to listen to what the Lord has to say to you next.

 

We pilgrims have been asked to open our ears and hearts to each talk, which have ranged from the topic of vocation and listening to sex and chastity.

 

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Opening the session, we were reminded:

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Blessed John Paul II called more young people to him, even in his last days, than Justin Bieber or One Direction can to a concert.

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Each morning so far has finished with Mass, where we have celebrated together with 18,000 other young people in the Arena. Bishop Philip, Fr PJ, Fr Mark and Fr Bon have all co-concelebrated mass at the stadium.

 

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WYD2016 is OPEN

WYD is officially OPENED!

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In the heat of the day, we gathered together near to Blonia Park. The morning had been time for all to explore the many vocation stands at the local fair, including The England and Wales Vocation Office.

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Vocations is something all are being asked to listen and reflect on. Whether that be a vocation to single life, marriage, priesthood or religious life. For some, hearing Gods voice may be clear, and they know the next steps to take, some will know the aim but not how to get there and others, are walking in the midst and listening hard to hear their calling.

Once all together, we headed to our section in the park (aka our pen), where we would await the ceremony. Camped out waiting, we continued in our fellowship, making friends from all over the world.

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Unfortunately the rain came down, but as a gift from above maybe? Take a look at one of our Pilgrims images, what do you see?!

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The opening ceremony was fantastic, seeing Bishop Philip and Father PJ on the big screens, along with a beautiful setting and atmosphere. It was certainly a day to be Catholic.

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During Mass (the opening mass on Tuesday – not attended by the Holy Father) we were encouraged to take up the challenge together, to be open to what’s next in our lives. To try to not form our own ideas or decide ourselves what we want next but discern and listen to what God wants for us. The advice to us being, do not think about what you could take from WYD, but focus on being open and engaging at World Youth Day 2016, to reap the most reward.

Challenge Accepted!

Auschwitz – what’s there today

1.4 million people arrived.

1.1 million people died.

Why?

Because they took matters in to human hands.

It was the work of the devil, through the hands of an fascist administration.

The stillness of the earth, with the gentle breeze, surrounds the camp buildings which is left.

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The group walked around the camps, following a WYD route. (This did mean the normal route and tour, including the inners of buildings was not possible.)

The walk, in the heat of the day, left us feeling hot, flustered and somewhat sweaty.

But despite the uncomfortable feeling this left us with,

the tiredness,

the desire to be back on the air con bus with more water,

it was not even a tear drop of the the pain experienced by those brought to the camp,

those murdered,

those traumatised and live to tell the tale.

Scrub that.

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This wasn’t a tale.

This was a nightmare.

Blessed are the merciful

World Youth Day 2016 is centred around;

How blessed are those who are merciful, because it is they who will receive mercy.

Matthew 5:7

 

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Poland is home to the Divine Mercy Chapel, where St Faustina Kowalska saw the appearance of Jesus, through the Divine Mercy image. It is only fitting that our pilgrimage took us to journey to the shrine together.

 

 

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For more information visit

http://www.krakow2016.com/en/the-chaplet-of-divine-mercy

https://www.faustyna.pl/zmbm/en/chapel-of-the-miraculous-image-of-the-merciful-jesus-and-the-tomb-of-st-faustina/

During our visit we had the chance to go to the chapel where the appearance took place and venerate the relics of St Faustina Kowalska.

This site is part of the WYD festival, and as such a stage was being arrected and confessionals prepared. It gave off some exciting vibes. So much that Niall lead us in song on our return to the bus, letting all know we are from Portsmouth!

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Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrow

We spent time in prayer in the basilica, a truly beautiful and big building. We then descended to the chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows, where Bishop Philip celebrated mass.

After lunch, we headed for food (pilgrims need and love food!), then boarded the coaches to head south to explore.