Discern the time!
Benedict XVI’s words to young people gathered in Lednica, ‘Choose Christ so that you have inner certainty at every moment of your lives – joyful and difficult – that he supports you with the power of the Holy Spirit and with grace.’
Almost 100,000 young people from all over Poland and from abroad took part in the 13th National Youth Meeting in the field of Lednica. This year the motto of the meeting was ‘time’ and the meeting had an international character for the first time.
Cleansing at Lednica
Early in the morning hundreds of young people, who arrived here from various parts of our country in coaches, on trains and in cars, were heading to the Fish Gate. A special train called ‘Saint Jack’ set out from the south of Poland and coaches ‘Saint Adalbert’ brought pilgrims from Warsaw for the meeting. The young people enjoyed good weather, received the sacrament of reconciliation in the field of confession where in silence, among the green, they could talk to priests. For many of them it was their first confessions for a long time. Whoever wanted could adore in silence and meditation the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel as well as talk to the evangelisers from Lednica and to members of prayer groups. The musical band ‘Siewcy Lednicy’ taught the gathered people to sing a new song entitled ‘You are, Lord’ composed for this year’s meeting. At 3 p.m. they recited the Divine Mercy Chaplet and afterwards they said the solemn vespers. Entering the field of Lednica every participant of the meeting received a copy of the Lednica Liturgy of the Hours in which they could find a shortened version of the Morning Prayer, the Vespers and the Evening Prayer. Fr Jan Gora, the initiator of the meetings at Lednica, raised funds for several months to print this breviary and practically at the last moment he managed to make everyone leave Lednica with a prayer book.
Misterium about time
The meeting started with a solemn procession on the Road of the Third Millennium, together with many invited guests, including Poland’s Primate Cardinal Jozef Glemp, Archbishop Henryk Muszynski of Gniezno, Archbishop Jozef Zycinski of Lublin, former Israeli ambassador to Poland Mr Szewach Weiss, the President of Poznan Mr Ryszard Grobelny and rectors of institutions of higher education. The relics of St Adalbert and the image of Our Lady of Jasna Gora, who always accompanied young people at Lednica, were carried. The Franciscan fathers put a big replica of St Francis’ cross at the foot of the Lednica hill. Each participant received a small copy of the cross. Szewach Weiss said a prayer and sang a psalm in Hebrew. After solemn words of welcome directed to the participants and guests the ballet of the Poznan Opera began ‘Misterium about Time’ during which the symbols of the past, the present and the future were brought, accompanied by recitation and singing. Dance is an inseparable element of each meeting at Lednica. After the dance on the Road of the Third Millennium there appeared a procession of angels, which was the introduction to the most important element of the meeting – solemn Eucharist celebrated by hundreds of priests who came with young people to Lednica and presided over by Poland’s Primate. In his homily Archbishop Jozef Zycinski said, ‘I thank for the community you are creating, expressing your adherence to values, your spiritual openness. At the same time when you look at the variety of the environment represented in this community, also those who came here from abroad, we realise that we, as witnesses of the truth about the Trinity that is in God of Love, are in a special way obliged to build community, unity, spiritual bond. I want to wish you that the fruit of these Lednica meetings were your testimony of community, unity and love. In the world that will show different models please remember that God’s name is love. Not a success. Christ was not a man of success. He was sentenced to death in the period when he could do so much and could change others. But from the perspective of time his apparent failure turned out to be a victory. And he is with us for all days until the end of the world… Therefore, I wish that being strengthened by the experience of this community you take spiritual walkmen from which you can hear God’s melody.’ At the end of the Eucharist people who participated in the Fifth Lednica Marathon entered the field. They had started several hours before from the Monument of the Crosses in Poznan.
European choice of Christ
This year Lednica was of international character for the first time. Delegations of several countries in the procession, accompanied by the guard of honour of the Polish Army and in the presence of the Primate of Poland, chose Christ in their own languages. There were young people from France, Italy, Lithuania, the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Ukraine, Russia and a delegation from Poland. Almost 100,000 young Poles uttered the words of choosing Christ as their Lord. They did it in heavy rain. The bad weather was not an obstacle for them to have fun. They were dancing and singing and at 9.37 p.m. in silence and meditation they remembered the person of John Paul II. During the television broadcast, in unity with the whole of Poland, young people carrying lit candles sang the song ‘Let your Spirit come’, commemorating the famous words of John Paul II spoken during his first visit to Poland. The Primate made the act of ‘Great Confirmation of the Times’ whereas the gathered young people recited Psalm 91.
Message of Benedict XVI and the President of Poland
Like John Paul II Benedict XVI prepares a message to the young people gathered on the banks of the Lake of Lednica. The words of the Holy Father were read by Archbishop Henryk Muszynski, ‘Dear Young Friends, you have been chosen to go to your relatives, to schools and universities, to your environments and be witnesses of God’s love revealed in Christ. Choose Christ to have inner certainty at every moment of your lives – joyful and difficult – that he supports you with the power of the Holy Spirit and with grace. Through Christ, with Christ and in Christ your lives will yield fruit and this fruit will last’, wrote Pope Benedict XVI. Poland’s President Lech Kaczynski wanted to join the prayer with young people at Lednica but due to the elections to the European Parliament and to avoid ‘political accent of Lednica’ he cancelled his visit and promised the young people that he would pray with them next year. In his message the President referred to the 20th anniversary of the peacefully regained freedom. ‘«Soon we will leave our nests» – you sing in the song that is a specific sign and hymn of the Lednica youth. I wish that this flight of yours were long and as beautiful as possible. I am convinced that you will remain faithful to Christian Good News and local tradition and Polish identity. They are our treasure that we carry to the European community. Staying in unity with other nations we cannot forget who we are. We are proud of our Polish history and heritage’, wrote Lech Kaczynski. The President also presented a gift for young Polish people: a chalice with an image of the White Eagle.
Holy Spirit over Lednica
The Franciscan Fathers who were present in the field of Lednica presented the figure of the Founder of their congregation and then made the sign of the cross on the foreheads of the participants. During the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament there was an absolute silence and one could only hear heavy raindrops. It was significant that it started raining when the song ‘Let your Spirit come’ was repeated and for many people it was a sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit among the gathered. The last element of the meeting was the solemn procession of the Lednica Book of Psalms which young people from all over Poland rewrote. Father Jan encouraged the young people to use the time given to them, not to lose it but offer it to others, Thanking them for their presence Fr Jan Gora invited them for the next meeting at Lednica to be held on 5 June 2010. Its motto will be the figure of woman. This year’s meeting as usual ended with a solemn crossing of the gathered young people through the Fish Gate.