This question was asked to me only a month and a half ago during a meeting on a regular workday. I repeated the question in my head and thought, “Are you kidding me? Of course I want to go to World Youth Day! I’ve never left the country and I would give anything to see our Holy Father with my own eyes!”
I wasn’t sure if this invitation was going to come to fruition, but I was thrilled with the thought of traveling to Poland, being surrounded by over 2 million Catholics from all over the world, and having the opportunity to visit such wonderful, holy places!
Then I had to pause for a moment and slow down. What is this trip really about? This isn’t a summer vacation, this is a pilgrimage. I’m always seeking to deepen my faith, so I had to ask myself what I want to get out of this experience. Better yet, I had to ask God what HE wants me to get out of this opportunity that’s only two months away!
So I did. I asked Him.
In prayer, I thanked the Lord for such an amazing opportunity, humbled that this would even be a possibility for me, and asked how He wants me to prepare. Part of me was expecting a big revelation or an answer that would take me aback. But that’s not what happened. Instead, when I asked how He wanted me to prepare, His answer was to pray in preparation and to collect intentions to take along with me. It was as simple and beautiful as that.
So then my next question was how to pray, or what to pray exactly. I mean, going on a pilgrimage is a big deal. I want to be sure that my spiritual bags are packed and ready to go. When I pack for a big trip, I lay everything out to make sure all needed items are accounted for before placing them meticulously in my bags.
As I began to lay out everything I may need for my spiritual backpack, I quickly realized that there isn’t necessarily a book to read or a prayer to say that will perfectly prepare me for this journey. It’s only in my conscious effort to ask God to grant me the graces necessary to accept His will for me on this pilgrimage that I will truly be transformed. I think my preparation prayers need to consist of a little less talking and a lot more listening. My response to what I hear in prayer during the next two months, as well as in my time in Poland, will determine how I allow the Spirit to work within me and through me.
Our faith is a journey. Each day should be seen as a chance to take one step closer to Christ and another opportunity to say yes to His will. As I prepare for this pilgrimage, and anticipate what I’ll experience once I step foot in Kraków, I’m drawn to reflect on the words of Mary in John 2:5 when she says to the servers during the wedding at Cana, “Do whatever He tells you.”
To read other reflections on pilgrimage and WYD 2016, please click here.
For more resources to prepare you for World Youth Day, both stateside and abroad, click here.