30 July 2017 – Day Five

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Adoration/Candlelight Vigil on the night before the final Mass, 30 July 2016

Day 5 of reflecting on the memories of World Youth Day:

Sorry for the lack of pictures today, but on this day one year ago, I went through the most strenuous day of my life: It was on this day that my group and the rest of the pilgrims had to make a 5 hour trek from Krakow to the campsite where the final Mass would be held the next day. And holy cow, that was the WORST thing imaginable because everything was so wrong: It was in the middle of a terrible heatwave that was spreading throughout Europe; it was FIVE HOURS OF STRAIGHT WALKING with our sleeping bags and whatever we needed for the night; I got completely separated from my group (I was about a full hour ahead of even the scouting group who went “ahead” to find a spot at the camp) so I was walking solo in the middle of a huge crowd; and I’m fat and unfit, so that was just a nice icing to the whole cake.

Yet, despite all of these dark spots in that day, there were so many bright spots that counteracted them: Closer to the beginning, there was a woman who had a whole basket of freshly picked apples, presumably from her backyard, and she was just handing them out as we passed by (By far the sweetest apples I have ever tasted!) In the middle, there was a gentleman with a hose standing on his driveway ready to refill all our water bottles, and his whole family–wife, three children, and parents–were behind him with the two older kids playing, the wife holding the baby, and grandparents sitting on the front steps. He was even willing to stop and pray with and for us! And, of course, how can I forget our heroic food party who, after settling into the camp, went about halfway back the way we came just to pick up food, despite the aching feet I knew they had!

Honestly, these latter acts in the day were just examples of mercy in themselves to me, and I really think I can just leave it at that and pray that we have more selfless people like these who really helped us pilgrims out.

But these instances–or, rather, people–were, for me, truly little images of God. And what these images showed me was that I cannot make it on my own; I am fully convinced that without Water Family, I would have passed out on the way to the camp because I was long out of water by the time I reached them and there wasn’t any sign of water fountains in sight (which we TOTALLY take for granted in the US because there isn’t ANY in pretty much all the places I went to last year); without Apple Lady, I don’t think I would’ve been as excited or energized for that long trek; and without our food scouts, we wouldn’t have had dinner that night.

While in the last couple of days I’ve been reflecting on young people’s ability and energy to do, I write today that this energy only goes for so long; as a friend of mine told me as I was canoeing last week: “It’s called fatigue.” I wrote a couple days ago how joyful and effective it would be if young people gathered together for the Lord; today I write how necessary it is. We cannot survive without each other; we need our peers to complete us and to do the things that we can’t, just as they need us for the same reason.

I hope that, to whoever has been reading my past reflections (Thanks, by the way, for sticking with me! Tomorrow will be the last one!), you’re energized to go and shower the world with bits and pieces of God’s mercy! I hope that you’re ready to go and help out at your local parish or at some mission trip or retreat or service project! And I hope that you will invite friends because it’ll be more fun that way!

But I also hope that you invite them knowing that you need each other. While Jesus gives Peter the keys to the kingdom in Matthew 16:18-19 (via the Greek singular, 2nd person pronoun), Jesus also charged all of the disciples to go and make disciples in Matthew 28:19 (via the Greek 2nd person plural command). You might be as headstrong as St. Peter, but realize that you still need a St. Paul to point out your faults (cf. Galatians 2:11-13); you might love the Lord as much as St. Peter, but you still need a St. John to point Him out to you when you don’t recognize Him (cf. John 21:7).

So my prayer today is this: I hope that, while working with friends is fun, we can continue to truly be brothers and sisters for each other. Siblings are truly inseparable: They may be different, but they are still so complimentary; they may bicker, but they are so merciful to each other, willing to do anything to help the other. We are all children of God; in this title, we are not just sons and daughters of the Father, but brothers and sisters in Christ. Should we not act like it?

Edit: While I could not find the pictures for the day when I posted this, I forgot that I did not post pictures that same day due to a lack of WiFi. I uploaded this picture on 31 July 2016.

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