The grace for me was the opportunity to see our young people discovering the depth, beauty and richness of our Catholic faith, experiencing the magnificence of the churches, learning the history of Catholicism, listening to the pope, getting to know the saints, like Saint Faustina or Saint Maximilian Kolbe. I could literally see their hearts, minds and souls opening up to the fullness of our amazing and wonderful religion.
The best moment for me came on Saturday night in the field. We had trekked all morning in the blazing sun to get to the place where the evening prayer service and Sunday Mass would be celebrated. We marked out our territory and settled in. The sun began to set, the air got cooler and shadows began to envelop the field. At the end of the prayer service, the pope brought out the Eucharist in a monstrance. At that point, more than a million people were gathered in prayer. As the sun set, we all adored the Eucharistic Christ on our knees in absolute silence, holding candles. Every direction you looked, all you could see were candles all the way to the horizon. Amazing! I slept in the field with our group, struck by the sheer number and variety of young Catholics from hundreds of countries. The Church is immense!
I pondered how millions of Catholics were gathered in a place that had seen so much evil, violence and suffering, as both the Nazis and Soviets tried to stamp out the Catholic faith and Polish culture with such brutal suppression. Both of these wicked systems had come and gone but the Church has endured. Love always wins! Christ has the victory and we share in the triumph of the Resurrection.
The other fact that struck me is how physically proximate Auschwitz and the Shrine of Divine Mercy are. God revealed His redemptive mercy just years before the outbreak of World War II precisely in the place where millions of human beings would be brutally tortured and murdered. Mercy triumphs over evil. Life conquers death. God defeats Satan. The whole drama of salvation was on full display for us in Krakow. How blessed we were to be there.