At 7:30 pm on Saturday, July 30, the Vigil with the Holy Father took place at Brzegi, a village neighboring Krakow at Campus Misericordiae.
For most pilgrims this was the night they had been waiting for, the most personal moment of the main events during World Youth Day. The event is meant to be a passionate time of adoration and encounter with Jesus, to remind pilgrims of the “Road to Jesus” the theme behind the vigil mass.
In his address, Pope Francis urged the youth to resist the temptation of vegging out like a couch potato and to respond to Christ’s call to live in the moment and time that they are living in by becoming protagonists of their history. “Today Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life, is calling you to leave your mark on history,” the Pope spoke with such intensity to the young people in the “Field of Mercy” that his words penetrated many hearts, leaving no room for doubt of how much he cares for their freedom. Pope Francis talked about the paralysis the disciples experienced and the grave threat fear poses when we allow it to take ahold of our lives. “When we are paralyzed, we miss the magic of encountering others, making friends, sharing dreams, walking at the side of others,” he stressed the need to walk the path of discomfort, “Following Jesus demands a good dose of courage, a readiness to trade in the sofa for a pair of walking shoes and to set out on new and uncharted paths.”
At the beginning of the vigil three testimonies were heard. The first was from a brave young Syrian woman named Rand in which she shared the horrors her beloved people and country are experiencing. Pope Francis addressed her pain in his speech saying, “Once and for all, may we realize that nothing justifies shedding the blood of a brother or sister; that nothing is more precious than the person next to us.” The Pope also acknowledged the testimony of Miguel, a former drug addict, and Natalia’s inner struggle by letting them know, “Both of you are a living sign of what God’s mercy wants to accomplish in us,” he said. He commended Miguel for knowing that God was asking something of him when he was entrusted with more responsibility, “That is the secret, dear friends, God expects something from you..God comes to break open everything that keeps you closed in.” God’s mercy is greater than all our limitations.
After the Pope’s address, the Blessed Sacrament was exposed and the gathering united with him in adoring Jesus under a luminous and captivating sunset. Almost two million pilgrims held candles, representative of the beacons of light they are called to be and the source of that light is Jesus. Despite the demanding schedule of the Pope, he still radiated a youthfulness and joy that emanated from his knowledge of the mark in history he is called to. It was so powerful. When the Eucharistic Adoration concluded, musicians from several countries graced the stage with chants and songs and among them was Krzysztof Iwaneczko, the winner of The Voice of Poland.The Pope left "Field of Mercy” around 9 pm and by 11 pm the light of the Papal window at the Bishop’s Residence went out and still the pilgrims continued to worship and prepare themselves for the last mass with the Pope that is set for 10 am at “Field of Mercy." It was incredible to see a gazillion of sleeping bags awaiting for the Pope’s arrival.