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Blessed are the Merciful

group at wydWorld Youth Day in Krakow, Poland

Associate Denise Ficorelli, OPA, recently participated in World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland. The following reflection offers a few glimpses of God's mercy during the group's journeys - "If eyes are open to seek His mercy, it will be seen. If hands are open to give mercy, it will be received."

Sorrows and discouragements turn to unimaginable joy!

A month and a half have passed since I returned home from World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, and each day unfolds a deeper meaning of my journey. I traveled with a group of 48 teens and young adults, many I had never met, but we were all there for the same purpose - to seek Jesus. A few looked in the wrong places, others sought a re-awakening of God's love, and happily the majority witnessed the many blessings poured out on us all living as community alongside two million other pilgrims. Our sorrows and discouragements along the way always seemed to turn into unimaginable joys! 

Blessed are the merciful

Opening day found us in a long line waiting to pick up our credentials and backpacks. Disappointed that the English Pilgrim's Guide and Prayer books were unavailable to us, I found a young man traveling with a group from Bulgaria who gave me his books! He said he was certain his group would share with him, so I could have his copy to share with my group. Blessed are the merciful. That evening, it took one and a half hours to walk two miles in the rain to the Opening Ceremony and Mass. Our section was filled with weeds and mole holes very far in the back of Blonia Park, but we had a screen to view the events. Some of the transistor radios weren't picking up the English translation channel, so those who had a signal were sharing their earbuds with their neighbors. The rain stopped, and the sun broke out in a brilliance of light and clouds at the conclusion of Mass! Blessed are the merciful. Trying to stay hydrated was a challenge all week with the hot and humid weather. Our walk to the vigil site was difficult. God blessed us with compassionate souls who turned on their sprinklers to cool us off. Volunteers and police greeted us with water bottles as we entered Campus Misericordia. Upon arrival, our designated section was already filled to capacity, and we were forced to backtrack another mile. Tired, hot, and hungry, we couldn't find a place to redeem our food vouchers for dinner. The section to which we were rerouted was at the farthest edge, but it was not crowded, had nearby toilets, free water, an unobstructed screen, hot food trucks, and an easy exit out on Sunday morning. Patience was rewarded! Blessed are the merciful.

shrineMiracles surrounded us...

We were blessed with many opportunities to pray in beautiful churches that held relics of many saints. I believe that many hearts were transformed during these times of prayer. The most heart-moving moment for me was our journey to Czestochowa and the Shrine of the Black Madonna. Running late and getting stuck in traffic, we thought we would have to forfeit our 11am appointment. Lo and behold, an angel named Sister Karolina descended upon us at just the right time. She kept telling us, "Our Lady must love your group very much." Miracles surrounded us. We were able to celebrate Mass in the Chapel of the Holy Rosary (usually locked), see the unveiling of the Madonna at 1:30pm and walk right past the Image. We venerated a reliquary on the back wall of the sanctuary containing the relics of St. Faustina and St. John Paul II, and we were given a tour of the museum. If we had arrived on time, none of these blessings would have happened. Blessed are the merciful.

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