Wonky time zones had us all up early and enjoying a great breakfast before starting our day exploring the vibrant and resilient city of Warsaw. We began with Mass at St John’s again with glorious light pouring over us from the monumental stain glass windows. Fr Crowley was our preacher today with Bishop McGuckin the chief celebrant. Fr Crowley lead us to reflect on two key phrases from the readings. Firstly that God knew us before we we born and from the Parable of the Sowrer a single word, Imagine. He invited us to have ears to listen as we journey on the pilgrimage to hear not only God speaking to us but God imagining for us……Imagine a sower went out to sow.

Jamaal, Tim, Sarah, Max, Amy, Faughan lead our music with guitar, voice, drums, shares and tambors, our prayers resources ding in the vaults of the Cathedral. Following Mass we were invited into the crypt which a gift to us from the sacristan. We were able to see the tombs, graves and memorials to the great and humble of Warsaw.

Our city tour took us on a journey through time and space. As we kept hearing about the Poles desire to rebuild and thumb their noses at those who sought to destroy their faith, the words all that is old is new again kept echoing in my mind. Seeing shrapnel marked walls, the monograph of the Polish resistance the street markers of the Warsaw Ghetto were a constant and at times confronting challenge……..it begs the questions where do they draw this strength to carry on, to keep being faithful to patiently endure such suffering like Job of old. This is contrasted by the colour and vibrancy of the old city. Flowers line the streets and eating areas in the squares. The buildings reflect the hues of summer and the flags of all nations remind us that people from all over are here probably reflecting on the same questions.

Having the opportunity wander and find your own lunch was a great chance to enjoy the atmosphere. Everyone was amazed at the sense of welcome and hospitality and of course the range of food.

We visited the Uprising Museum to get a sense of the world Pope St John Paul. II grew up in. The museum was extraordinary and confronting. The imagery was brutal, the message clear, humanity can be bloody cruel and so In humane. But again the Uprising Museum highlighted the Polish people’s determined nation not to be subjugated and repressed. A surmise find was a small chapel within the museum bedecked with Warsaw martyr and a magnificent crucifix. It was nice to spend some moments of reflection their.

After a few hours to explore on our own, we gathered for vespers prior to dinner. For many this was a new way of praying. Bishop Michael gifted each pilgrim with a leather book of the Prayer of the Church and lead us through the way of praying. I must admit the sound of 69 pilgrims in a public dining room was awesome, especially when I noticed the wait staff actually joined in in Polish via their phones.

A great way to enter more fully into our pilgrimage.

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