The TAURON Arena in Krakow flowed over with fired-up pilgrims waving flags from around the world, jumping and singing to Matt Maher’s music. For most American Catholics, Matt Maher has become synonymous with the Lifeteen Ministry and World Youth Day worship music.
His music has been a firelight for many young adults---and older ones too---providing comfort for those who wrestle with the tension between certainty and mystery, healing for those who feel distant from God and their identity, and courage for those motivated to eradicate injustice at a civic level.
Maher champions a movement of solidarity: “It’s important now more than ever that the Church comes together from around the world and is able to remember that we are not alone in our faith, that we are part of a global movement that’s bigger than an any other thing, and hopefully this inspires us to live out our faith in the world and public square.”
Thanks to the Knights of Columbus, hosts of the international English-language catechesis and youth festival, thousands of pilgrims are able to partake in catechetical sessions led by bishops, concerts with renowned artists, talks led by prominent Catholic speakers, liturgical celebrations, and testimonies of persecuted Christians in the Middle East. All of these activities take place at a site appropriately named “Mercy Centre,” for, as Supreme Knight Carl Anderson explained: “Pope Francis has declared ‘mercy’ a key theme both for this year and for World Youth Day.”
Additionally, our host city-- Krakow-- has sewn into its historical fabric the prayer of the Merciful Saints who gave every ounce of their lives for Jesus; saints like Maximilian Kolbe, Faustina Kowalska, and John Paul II. Mercy must be the center of every Christian’s life, both in giving and receiving, fostering the expressions of love and forgiveness that come from awareness and respect for the identities of ourselves and of others. “Dialogue cannot exist unless each party starts out from its own identity,” expressed Pope Francis in his arrival speech to World Youth Day. Looking at Poland’s history, thank God that the Saints of Mercy were encouraged by what the Bible and our Mother Mary show us--“Do whatever He tells you,” (John 2:5). Today, we can celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the mutual forgiveness between Polish and German episcopates after the Second World War. Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, reminded us how this initiative sparked an irreversible social, political, cultural, and religious process that changed the history between these two groups.
The message proclaimed by Mercy Centre could be felt deeply in the multitude of people from around the world as they, along with Matt Maher, glorified the mercy of God.