More than 200,000 young people from around the world gathered in Blonia Park, Krakow on Tuesday, June 26, for the official Opening Mass of World Youth Day celebrated by Krakow Metropolitan Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz. The congregation included cardinals and bishops from all over the world. There was a 300-strong choir and orchestra.
Just two hours before the Mass there had been a dramatic thunderstorm and heavy rain – but the skies cleared in time for the Mass.
Cardinal Dziwisz welcomed everyone in six languages. Underlining that the WYD participants had traveled from many different places and spoke many different languages, the cardinal said that “from today we will speak to one another in the language of the Gospel … the language of brotherhood, solidarity and peace”.
The liturgy was celebrated in Latin while the Gospel was read in Polish and Old Church Slavonic.
The Fire of Mercy, brought to the site from the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Krakow-Lagiewniki, will burn at all the central celebrations of WYD. At the end of the event Pope Francis will hand it over to representatives of five continents.
There was spontaneous applause at the end of the Mass. A number of musicians and singers performed after the Mass – among them a folk group from Zakopane.
Cardinal Dziwisz’s welcome to World Youth Day pilgrims had a stirring reminder: it is up to them to ensure that the Gospel of Jesus Christ reaches the world.
“Carry the flame of your faith and ignite with it other flames, so that human hearts will beat to the rhythm of the Heart of Christ, which is ‘a flaming fire of love’,” Cardinal Dziwisz, the Archbishop of Krakow, said in his homily for the July 26 opening Mass of World Youth Day at the city’s Blonia Park.
“May the flame of love engulf our world and rid it of egoism, violence and injustice, so that a civilization of good, reconciliation, love and peace will be strengthened on our earth.”
Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims, including Pope Francis, are expected in Krakow for the global gathering of Catholic youth. St. John Paul II was archbishop of the city before becoming Pope in 1978. The cardinal served as a close aide to the Pope.
Cardinal Dziwisz reflected on what brought all the World Youth Day pilgrims together.
“We are all here because Christ has gathered us. He is the light of the world,” he said.
“Only He – Jesus Christ – is able to satisfy the deepest desires of the human heart,” he added. “It is He who has led us here. He is present among us. He is accompanying us like He accompanied His disciples headed for Emmaus. Let us entrust Him in these days our matters, fears and hopes.”
The cardinal urged the faithful to listen – and respond – to Christ’s questions about love, as he asked St. Peter after the Resurrection.
Cardinal Dziwisz said that “meeting with Jesus, we simultaneously realize that we all make up a great community – the Church – which surpasses the boundaries established by people and which divide people.”
“We are all God’s children, redeemed by the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ,” the cardinal continued. “Experiencing the universal Church is a great experience associated with World Youth Day. The image of the Church depends on us – on our faith and sanctity. It is up to us to ensure that the Gospel reaches those who have not yet heard about Christ or have not learnt enough about Him.”
Cardinal Dziwisz challenged the pilgrims to share with each other “what is most valuable.”
“Let us share our faith, our experiences, our hopes. My dear young friends, may these days be an opportunity to form your hearts and minds,” he said.
He encouraged them to listen to bishops’ catecheses and to Pope Francis, and to participate in the liturgy wholeheartedly.
“Experience the merciful love of the Lord in the sacrament of reconciliation. Discover also the churches of Krakow, the wealth of the culture of this city, as well as the hospitality of its inhabitants and of those of neighboring towns, where we will find rest after a day’s rigors,” he urged.
“Krakow is alive with the mystery of Divine Mercy,” he said, referring to the visions and devotion of St. Faustina Kowalska, which were popularized by St. John Paul II.
The cardinal also reflected on the diverse backgrounds of pilgrims, who come from “every nation under heaven.”
“We come from such parts of the world where people live in peace, where families are communities of love and life and where young people can pursue their dreams,” he said. “But among us are also young people from countries whose people are suffering due to wars and other kinds of conflicts, where children are starving to death and where Christians are brutally persecuted. Among us are young pilgrims from parts of the world that are ruled by violence and blind terrorism, and where authorities usurp power over man and nations, following insane ideologies.”
“We bring to this meeting with Jesus during these days our personal experiences of living the Gospel in our difficult world,” Cardinal Dziwisz said. “We can face the challenges of the modern world, in which man chooses between faith and disbelief, good and evil, love and its rejection.”
He encouraged them to be messengers of good news, like St. John Paul II. They should return to their communities carrying “the spark of mercy” and remind everyone of the Beatitude, “blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”
“Carry the good news about Jesus Christ to the world,” his homily concluded.
For full text of Cardinal Dziwisz’s homily please visit: http://www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=30591