Transform me O God, that my heart may be merciful, ever open to the joy of your presence...
Before going on my pilgrimage to World Youth Day my life was in a pretty hectic place. I was working a lot, studying full time, I felt overcommitted to my youth ministries and on top of that I was trying to plan a wedding. All of this left me with little time to myself, and practically no time left to pray. If anyone asked, I would say ‘I have it all under control’ but in reality I didn’t. I felt as though God and I were in a ‘dry patch’ of our relationship. That I had pushed him away saying “Can we chat later?”. I was simply too busy, packing my life full of work and completely forgetting the reason why I was working in the first place: God.
Going on the WYD pilgrimage was a beautiful breath of fresh air. Our days consisted on travelling to so many incredible sights and allocating hours of our day to prayer. I don’t think I have ever intentionally devoted that much time to God before. Out of my pilgrimage journey I learned two irreplaceable things:
Firstly, after journeying through not only Poland but the lives of the saints that lived there, Saint Pope John Paul II, Saint Faustina and Saint Maximilian Kolbe, I’ve discovered that saints are just as human as everyone else. I know this sounds obvious but I honestly believed saints were born praying! But they weren’t. Saints were ordinary people who devoted their lives to God’s calling in extraordinary- yet sometimes small- ways.
“Sainthood is not a privilege for few, but a vocation for everyone” - Pope Francis.
I now look for ways to be more merciful and selfless, so that I can follow God’s call and share in the vocation of sainthood every day.
The second irreplaceable truth I discovered at WYD was Poland’s deep devotion to Mary the “Queen of Poland”. In particular, the Jasna Gora Basilica in Czestochowa, where the Black Madonna is held. It was truly awe-inspiring. I don’t believe I have seen a holy place as beautiful as this! It revealed the glory and beauty that Mary bestows upon the world, and how precious yet powerful her love for us is.
So one month on, I can happily say life is not so hectic anymore. Jesus is still constantly reminding me of the powerful faith experiences I had with Him over at World Youth Day, and calls me back into communion with him daily. I didn’t go over to WYD with a plan to ‘find out what I am going to do with my life’. I went with the intention of opening myself up to hear his truths and his callings for me. And I found just that. Every day, He is calling me back to Him. No matter what I do in life, Jesus needs to be my centre, and World Youth Day 2016 taught me just that. How to live a ‘Christ-centered’ life.