It’s happened before at World Youth Day. In the hours preceeding the Opening Mass yesterday evening, it started raining. At times a slow, steady mist. At other times, a heavy downpour. But wet and enough to bring out all of the blue, red, and yellow ponchos that were distributed in the pilgrim packs. But just before Mass began in Blonia Park, the rain stopped and the sky settled. By the time the Eucharistic Prayer began, the sun was out, shining on the altar. And shortly after Mass finished, the sun went back behind the clouds, the rains came again – although fairly gentle at that point, and the night continued on. It’s happened before at World Youth Day – that the rains have parted for Mass. Not always – but not unprecedented.
Our pilgrims are now part of hundreds of thousands who continue to gather in Krakow from all over the world. The opening Mass was our first opportunity to gather with the universal church in one unified prayer. But we had encountered other pilgrims since we arrived in Krakow. Yesterday morning, the college and young adult group from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis made our Pilgrimage of Divine Mercy to the Shrine of St. John Paul II and the Shrine of St. Faustina Kowalska in Lagiewniki, on the southern edge of Krakow. We were able to pray in the place where the Divine Mercy devotion has its origin and heart. From there, some of us explored parts of the Old Town of Krakow on our way to the site of the Opening Mass. One stop I made was to the Dominican Church of the Holy Trinity, where the relics of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati are being housed for veneration this week. I was able to pray in front of the relics of this patron of World Youth Day. I said a particular prayer for all of our pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and Saint Meinrad Archabbey, and also for young people who are discerning their vocation.
Today, we begin three days of catechesis divided by language group. We have been assinged to a large English-language site at the Tauron Arena in Krakow that is being organized by the Knights of Columbus and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Pray for us as we continue to walk the pilgrim path of mercy.