Written by Ian Meaden
"The lights of the pilgrims outnumbered the stars in the sky." That is how my friend and fellow pilgrim, Ambrose described the Vigil evening at Campus Misericordiae. Now, I want you all to do me a favour, read ahead the next few of sentences, then close your eyes. Picture in your mind a big open field with 1.8 million of your closest friends and fellow Catholics. Imagine each one with a candle being lit by one then another, and another, and so on. Imagine the Blessed Sacrament on stage in full glory. Imagine all the pilgrims, with a lot candle in their hand, on their knees, singing together. Take a deep breath, sit quietly and reflect as you imagine that scene. How does it make you feel?...That was the vigil night with Pope Francis at Campus Misericordiae.
The day was long, the weekend was long, (then again the whole week was long and exhausting, however, amazing at the same time). We started our day at 7:30
walking from our dormitory to the campus site. A walk 15 kilometres long which, in all honesty, is not that bad and quite manageable. Of course some of us were walking with a full pack. We wound our way through the streets of Krakow, passed the Tauron Arena on Jana Pawla street then connected with a small snippet of pilgrims (they were coming from four different routes - like the different points of a cross) onto another road as we all made our "Pilgrimage of Mercy" together. This was not an easy walk, especially for me, (I was battling some pretty painful blisters which made it difficult to walk, but with my rosary in hand, and can-do spirit, I plugged along) but we made it through with prayer, singing. Now, I don't want you to get the impression that this walk was all 'peaches and cream.' It wasn't. The sun was hot! There were some frustrations along the way. This walked tested you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
I will end this Vigil blog with words from His Holiness Pope Francis,
who is calling young people to not "vegetate", to not confuse our lives with a comfortable couch. We are here to leave a mark. However, when we opt for ease and convenience (ie the comfortable couch), for confusing happiness with consumption, then we end up paying a high price: we lose our freedom. God is not calling us to be "couch potatoes." The Lord does not worry about what we are, or what we have been, or done or not done. When he calls us, God knows all we have to give, all the love we are capable of spreading.
So remember to go out and be disciples for all nations. Go out and spread the Gospel message. Go out and do the good works God is calling us to do. Go out and be merciful because "Blessed are the Merciful".
Photo: Salt + Light & Ian Meaden