Having spent the previous evening relaxing in the hotel bar and pool, Tuesday was time to truly enter the World Youth Day experience.
We started our day by heading into Krakow city centre, encountering many groups from other countries along the way, and subsequently met Bishop Alan outside St Mary's Church at midday. Following this, we went out in our small groups to get lunch, and became au fait with the infamous World Youth Day queues.
Following lunch, we proceeded to the day's main event; the opening mass, presided over by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz and said in the traditional Latin rite.
The atmosphere throughout the whole day, of being in a city with over a million young Catholics was intense and amazing! A lot of singing, dancing and high fiving.
This is merely the beginning of our experience in Krakow; in the words of Cardinal Stanislaw, world youth day has officially begun and there are still hundreds of thousands of new pilgrims pouring into the city each day to celebrate this amazing youth festival with us and the Holy Father.
Below, watch a video of East Anglia pilgrims at the World Youth Day Opening Mass in Krakow, taken by Paul Spellman.
Reflecting back on our arrival at Zakopane in Poland five days earlier, rumours about a lack of WiFi spread like wildfire through the building. Dinner came, and rumours were confirmed; there was to be no WiFi for five days. To some people, it looked like they were about to lose a limb The saving grace being that a short walk into town would allow access to free WiFi!
In a way it has taught us two things: firstly, the importance of WiFi in our daily lives. How we take it for granted as though it is a 21st century water. Perhaps it has become given as opposed to a subjective luxury when compared to those who have much less than us.
The second aspect is that of how a constant desire to be connected to everyone else detriments us spiritually. Over these past four days, the lack of instant connectivity and need to walk into town for wifi has brought us closer together in sharing knowledge of card games, each other's spiritual journeys to WYD and just general discussion and debate. And even when we go to town for wifi we still go together, eat together and drink together.
In a way, it has also brought us closer to God by removing some of the distractions that stop us from taking some time out from the hustle of daily life and reflecting or praying.
Pictured top are East Anglia pilgrims at the World Youth Day Opening Mass in Krakow. See below for a full picture gallery of the East Anglia WYD trip.
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