Friday, July 29th
After breakfast this morning we posed for a group photo with the staff from the hotel who have been so great to us.
All public transport is free for pilgrims and the tram system is great especially since we have a stop right outside our hotel,so we took the tram to the Mercy Centre for Catechesis this morning.
The Centre is the huge stadium we attended on Wednesday.
Here the theme of the Catechesis was “The Cross”.
After music and bands playing the first speaker was Sr. Gaudia Skass who is a Divine Mercy nun. She told us that the theme of the day (the cross) and the theme of WYD (mercy) are not so different. The cross and mercy are both about giving your life for others out of love. Mercy is about actions and concrete deeds. She told the young people that we can imitate the crucified Jesus by giving our lives for others in our daily life and that the focus should be on “he”, she”,”they”and not “me”.
All around the Mercy Centre there are exhibits including a vocations cafe where young people can go to talk with representatives for any orders of priests and nuns.
There are also opportunities for some fun photos.
The Main Catechesis speaker today was Cardinal Dolan from New York who began by telling the thousands of young people in the stadium that “we have seen you all here, seen you happy, seen you tired, seen you walking, seen you lying down, seen you praying and we are proud of you and we love you.”
He also told us that we have been wearing out WYD T shirts day in, day out, all week and have sweated in them, dropped our kielbasa on them and then put them back on again the next day. He wanted to to let us know that the department of homeland security have made a statement that the T shirts are now on the list as weapons of mass destruction and we will to be able to bring them into the USA!
Cardinal Dolan talked to us about how God makes us instruments of his mercy and that we are at out best when we give ourselves away with love to another person.
The Cardinal was followed by a witness talk from Christina representing the persecuted Christians in Iraq. She gave a very moving speech about the situation for Christians there and the need for mercy and forgiveness.
The whole time Catechesis was going on there were opportunities for Confession and there was a constant stream of pilgrims receiving the sacrament. There is another smaller side arena which is set up as an adoration chapel with confessions.
After the session with Cardinal Dolan which included a question and answer session we then had Mass presided over by the Cardinal.
After returning to the hotel small groups went out into the Old Town to get lunch and to do some more traditional sightseeing.
Now we are all back at the hotel and getting packed ready for two huge days ahead of us. Tomorrow we get up at 6:15 am, leave our luggage packed here at the hotel. We than have Mass at 8:00am with Cardinal Sean before beginning the 9 mile walk to the overnight vigil with the Pope which is the highlight of World Youth Day. Please pray for us tomorrow as we make this journey.
I will be sleeping on the field tomorrow and then traveling directly to Zakopane arriving late on Sunday evening so there will definitely be no blog tomorrow and I promise I will update you all as soon as I can, but for now I have to go pack my sleeping bag!