Friday, July 29, 2016

On Wailing Places

Pope Francis made a detour from the joyful gathering of hundreds of thousands of Catholic young people gathered in Krakow Poland in order to visit a wailing place at the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz-Bierkenau.

The Holy Father chose to speak no words in his visit to Auschwitz.  His dignified silent prayer was sufficient witness.  Pope Francis stopped and prayed at the darkened cell which once held St. Maximilian Kobe. To memorialize his visit, Pope Francis wrote in the guest book in Spanish:  "Lord, have pity on your people. Lord, forgive so much cruelty."

After his silent visit the facilities, Pope Francis spent time meeting with surviving victims from Auschwitz and righteous gentiles who helped rescue some Holocaust victims.

From Auschwitz, Pope Francis attending a large outdoor gathering praying the Stations of the Cross. Pope Francis' meditation tried to address the disteleological surd of where is God when there is so much pain and suffering in the world.  The Pontiff's answer is that Jesus is joined with us in our suffering as he himself experienced so much on the Via Dolorosa.  If we join our trials with God then such suffering can be redeeming.

The visit to Poland and World Youth Day are dedicated to Divine Mercy. Visiting this wailing place is a melancholy reminder that God can use suffering as art of the sanctification of the world.  

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