Our morning began today with a ‘pilgrimage of mercy’ from the Shrine of Pope St John Paul II to the Shrine of Divine Mercy just outside Krakow centre.
Beginning at the Shrine of Pope St John Paul II, Bishop Nicholas led the group in prayer, reflecting on the simple words that Pope Francis asks us to pray: ‘Jesus send me your spirit’. He explained that the Latin for mercy is misericordia, meaning literally ‘love of the poor’. This may be both the physically and spiritually poor. Bishop Nicholas asked us to remember them during this time. Before beginning the short pilgrimage he called on pilgrims to remember those times when they were hard-hearted and to ask that they may become more merciful.
Along with pilgrims of all different nationalities the group began the short walk to the Shrine of Divine Mercy where the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, founded by St Faustina, have their convent.
Once at the shrine, pilgrims entered the Basilica through the Holy Door, bringing their intentions for themselves and for others with them. The Divine Mercy Basilica is shaped like a ship, or the Ark of the Covenant and is primarily dedicated to St Faustina. It was consecrated by Pope John Paul II in 2002 when, in his homily, he stressed that the world today is in special need of mercy. As well as calling on people of faith to be witnesses to mercy, he entrusted the world to the Divine Mercy.
After visiting the basilica, pilgrims had the opportunity to attend confession, adoration or the visit the relics of St Faustina.
In the late afternoon, pilgrims were joined by Cardinal Vincent, who had travelled from Lourdes the day before, to celebrate Mass together in the Church of the Good Shepherd. The Mass was the first time the complete pilgrimage group had been together, and offered a time of stillness and reflection away from the busyness and excitement of the larger WYD events.
The chasuble that the Cardinal wore to celebrate Mass was worn by Pope John Paul II (then Cardinal Wojtyła) for the consecration of the church.
In his homily the Cardinal, reflecting on the Gospel from St Paul and the killing of Fr Jaques Hamel, posed the question: ‘What does the mystery of Christ give us as builders of a better world?’
Cardinal Vincent shared three meanings of the mystery of Christ to help answer this question:
Firstly, the mystery of Christ is the mystery of all created things. Christ is the Word of God through whom all things were made, they have Christ as their deepest reality. This means that ‘faith is not imposed from the outside. Faith flows from within us.’ The Cardinal continued, explaining that when we ask: ‘Who am I?’, we should be ready to come back to this deepest part, that which calls us into existence. ‘If this core, the heart of being, is empty, then other things will fill it. These are not necessarily good.’
The second meaning on which Cardinal Vincent reflected was that this reality is shared among us. St Paul tells us that: ‘This mystery is that through the Gospel the Gentiles are heirs with Israel, members together of one body’. In modern terms, Gentiles can be understood as ‘foreigners’. St Paul teaches us here that there are no absolute foreigners in God’s creation. ‘Strong voices say the opposite’, the Cardinal continued, ‘they want to create division and hatred’. But we belong together because the same eternal Word brought us life. ‘Put simply, we are brothers and sisters.’
We therefore have a duty of care to one another. This care must nurture and nourish people, it must make a difference, rather than be an empty gesture.
Finally, the Cardinal explained that through the mystery of Christ we learn that suffering is not the end of the story. ‘Do not be discouraged; do not lose your sense of purpose.’ The mystery of Christ binds us together and from the mystery of Christ overcoming suffering and death, may we receive 'mercy to offer to each other, to build a better world’.
Tomorrow pilgrims will attend catechesis in the morning with a Bishop or Cardinal before attending the Papal Welcome in the afternoon with Pope Francis who arrived safely in Krakow this afternoon.
Photos from today are available to view here.
The full text of the Cardinal's homily is available to read here.