We are a little behind on the blog posts but they are keeping us busy. Monday was our last day of touring before beginning World Youth Day events. We left our hotel and finally headed into Krakow. On our walk to Wawel Hill, we saw two of the appartments where Fr. Karol Wojtyla lived as Bishop and Archbishop of Krakow. On Wawel Hill is the former castle of the Polish royal family and the Wawel Cathedral which is where Fr. Wojtyla served as Bishop and Archbishop. We also learned about the dragon of Wawel Hill (cool story, Google it), as well as a few of the other Saints of Krakow. The city is full of examples of faithful men and women... no wonder it produced Saint John Paul II and Saint Faustina. After Wawel Hill we made our way to the center of the city. The public square in the middle of town is the largest in Europe... and it is home to the central church of the city St. Mary's Bascilica. All the churches are beautiful, it makes us wonder if we will ever return to building churches with such meaning and passion as we once did.
Speaking of churches, our day continued with Mass at the National Shrine to Saint Pope John Paul II, then it was on to the Divine Mercy Shrine complete with Saint Faustina's tomb, the icon of Divine Mercy as well as both the old (and traditional) church and the new (very modern) Basilica. We were struck by the contrast of the two churches... In Poland both the old and the new live together in harmony, we have a lot to learn from our Polish brothers and sisters. It is somewhat fitting that there is such a contrast at this holy site, and while we could talk about the outward appearances quite a bit, it is more important to note the message that the two buildings, the Saint, and Jesus have for us here. God's mercy is endless and inexhaustible. In this year of mercy we need to start focusing more on that fact than on all the differences that might try to pull us apart. We can, in fact, live in harmony. Deep down all it takes is a recognition that we all need his mercy. We prayed for our girls, we prayed for a world that might recongnize the need, we prayed for all of you back at home, especially our community of Rochester.
We left the Divine Mercy Shrine and headed to our final hotel (no more moving around)! And, we ended up getting a good nights sleep (good thing too... we didn't know how much it would help us for the following day).