World Youth Day Blog Friday 29 July 2016
Brother Martin Bennett Ofm Cap is blogging for us from World Youth Day in Krakow. Here is his latest blog:
As we reach the halfway point, blisters have now entered the language of our WYD pilgrimage! In many ways today, Friday, was a very special day. Pope Francis showed the world the power of silent presence as he visited the former Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz. During this visit he said nothing and said everything at the same time. His pained expression as he walked through those infamous gates and under the words offering an illusionary freedom, spoke loudly of a man touched by the suffering of the world. Francis’ silent prayer, all 13 minutes of it, echoed a wake-up call across a troubled world; for those with ears to hear it.
It was a special day for our Dublin pilgrims too. Rising early as usual, some headed off on a 20km pilgrimage walk to the shrines of Saint John Paul II and Saint Faustina, while the remainder of the group walked a shorter distance to a catechesis led by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.
Archbishop Martin called on the pilgrims to ask two questions of themeselves: Who is Jesus? and Who am I? He reassured us of both the challenge and opportunity that lies in seeking answers to these questions. In many ways they are questions that call us into deeper relationship with God, oursleves and others.
During the catechesis a number of pilgrims came forward to ask Archbishop Martin important questions reflecting the struggles and challenges they face as young Catholics in Ireland today. Issues such as gender equality, faith formation for families, how to live the Beattitudes, how to support those struggling with mental ill-health, the identity of the Church today, role of women in the Church and how to involve other young people, were posed. The archbishop listened and responded to each in turn.
This evening hearts and minds are turned towards the Cross. At 6.00pm Pope Francis arrived in Blonia Park, following a visit in the afternoon to a children’s hospital, to accompany the pilgrims on the way of the Cross; a core element of the World Youth Day experience. The colour and pagentry of the processing pilgrims has been transformed into a palpable tone of reflection, prayer and recollection. A certain stillness has descended over countless young people gathered in prayer with their Pope.
Each Station was dramatically presented with a mix of contemporary dance, graphics and drama backdropped by the sombre tones of classical laments, powerfully sung by the 200 voice choir. My description falls far short of bringing this experience to life.
Towards the end of the ceremony the Pope reflected on Matthew 25:35: “I was hungry…I was thirsty’ and he reminded all gatherd that ‘humanity today needs men and women, and especially young people like yourselves, who do not wish to live their lives “halfway”, young people ready to spend their lives freely in service to those of their brothers and sisters who are poorest and most vulnerable, in imitation of Christ who gave himself completely for our salvation. In the face of evil, suffering and sin, the only response possible for a disciple of Jesus is the gift of self, even of one’s own life, in imitation of Christ; it is the attitude of service. Unless those who call themselves Christians live to serve, their lives serve no good purpose. By their lives, they deny Jesus Christ.’
The Pope’s day began in silence and ended with a different type of silence; a silence that rumbled with the call to greater authenticity and engagement. The challenging simplicity of this week’s message is there for us to take up: God is Mercy, Mercy means Love; Go, be people of mercy, people of love.
Friday 29 July 2016