Day 6: World Youth Day 2016

Saturday, July 31, 2016

World Youth Day 2016 continues in Krakow, Poland, and runs through Sunday, July 31. We're providing daily coverage all week long..

It was 86 degrees yesterday in Krakow, and some people suffered from exhaustion and dehydration. Plenty of water was available, and we continued to drink it all day. The Holy Father arrived at Campus Misericordiae at 9 a.m. to the sound of 1.5 million young people singing in Polish, "We love you Papa!"

The night before was the Vigil, when we gathered with the Holy Father and sung a Divine Mercy Chaplet by candlelight during adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

I fell asleep on the ground in my fleece sleeping bag around midnight to the sound of Italians a few sections over chanting and singing away.

Around 3:30 a.m. I woke up, and I took a walk around my section of 10,000 pilgrims. It was a beautiful sight. We are from 180 different nations, six different continents, but as everyone slept, all I saw was God's little children sleeping in His embrace. To be able to fall asleep surrounded by a million-plus strangers requires trust and abandonment to God the Father and His protection. I thought of the joy the Father must have had looking down upon His children sleeping peacefully together. Some priests and religious sisters sat up and watched over the children all night long. It was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.

We see on the news every day people fighting each other and attacking one another because of their differences. But here was 1.5 million young people gathered together as brothers and sisters, sleeping peacefully under the gaze of our Heavenly Father, and rising in the morning joyful and ready to worship Him in the Holy Mass.

This gives me hope! This brought me unending joy! There is a light in this world, and it is Christ in His Church, which is young, alive, and thriving!

Pope Francis inspired us youth in his homily. (Read the full text of his homily.). As I listened to the live translation on my radio during the Mass, every question and struggle that I've had recently and brought with me on World Youth Day was answered. I couldn't believe it! He spoke directly to my heart, and the hearts of each of my brothers and sisters with me!

He sent us forth and said, "World Youth Day begins today and continues tomorrow, in your homes, since that is where Jesus wants to meet you from now on ... He wants to enter into your homes, into your daily lives: in your studies, your first years of work, your friendships and affections, your hopes and dreams."

Here's the Holy Mass in its entirety:

I know that I left World Youth Day transformed - transformed by the experience of being there with my brothers and sisters in Christ, the offering of suffering from the heat and lack of sleep on the ground, and the powerful words of our Holy Father.

Here's the farewell ceremony bidding Pope Francis goodbye:

The next World Youth Day will be in 2019 in Panama, and I'm certain that the youth that will be able to go will be transformed just as I was. Let us go out and bring the mercy of God to the whole world!

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