In Celebration of World Youth Day Poland’s 5th Anniversary
Mother Angelica once said, “Unless you are willing to do the ridiculous, God will not do the miraculous.” World Youth Day was that to me—ridiculously huge, ridiculously far, ridiculously extraordinary, and actually not cheap. But you see, I have always believed that enormous, gigantic, remarkable grace will come upon you when you join the WYD. Thus, I was willing to join this ridiculous pilgrimage for that one big prayer getting answered—my vocation. Just a year ago before there were plans to organize a WYD delegation, I finally was able to come to terms with the biggest question in my life, and that’s my vocation. What is my purpose? What is the long-term plan? What is God’s plan in my life? It was a long and arduous process, but there I was, a WYD pilgrim, taking that big step to get the ball rolling and seriously discern my vocation. Well, WYD is one of the biggest pilgrimages the church has ever organized for the youth, for sure I’ll find my answer there somewhere. Not to mention the numerous pilgrim testimonies about incredible graces received through WYD, so I wanted some of that too. On top of that, you’re always surrounded by anything and everything holy every day of that pilgrimage, so your prayers definitely had nowhere to go but up. I believed that much. I hoped for that much. And so, the mission began.
But then when we were on our last couple of days in Poland, I then felt a little frustrated. After hearing and seeing my fellow pilgrims one by one getting answers or clarity to their prayers, I realized I have not been able to even get a hint of anything related to my pilgrim prayer. I remember when we had this last group sharing before we were to leave for the Philippines, on the grounds just outside the Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Krakow, I shared that I felt I didn’t pray enough. Being surrounded by all the saints and all the holy places, I felt I didn’t pray as much as the saints did, why else would my prayer not get answered, even a clue of some sort. But perhaps, I just really felt drained on that aspect of my pilgrimage. (Don’t get me wrong, the rest of the time was awesome. See my other WYD blog on that.)
But I was not one to give up. Of course, I know I will continue my prayers to get to the bottom of my vocation. We all know there’s a “not yet” in most prayer responses. I was holding onto that. So, we finally boarded the plane back to Cebu. The long-haul flight calls for a lot of interrupted sleep. Nevertheless, I found myself in a deep sleep. I don’t know exactly what was in my dream, but when I woke up, it just suddenly dawned on me my vocation. Out of all the places I could receive it, it had to be on a plane, not the Divine Mercy shrine, not at the Wadowice church where St. John Paul II got baptized, or anything related to something holy, but on an aircraft suspended in air, somewhere in the middle of the ocean. God answers in mysterious ways, I was told, and maybe this is one of those times. I remember I prayed for God to put in my heart what he desires for me so that it would also be my desire. And that he did—I finally desire the married life. I didn’t know it would be as easy as that. I know I got frustrated and all, but it was still astonishing when it actually happened, when something just stirred in my heart urging me to go for it. Finally! My long-awaited answer came.
It wasn’t easy figuring things out at first because the journey didn’t end with that answered prayer, it only began. There was much more work to do—praying for and finding the one, building a relationship, making it work, keeping it in the path that God has prepared for us, and all the logistics that came with it. But through it all, I always go back to how my vocation prayer got answered. I know this was part of God’s plan, and I am going to be just fine. Just got to stay on the course.
In hindsight, perhaps what I assumed in the shrine grounds in Krakow wasn’t really a “not yet.” I might just have had to reach that part of the pilgrimage wherein I was on a plane, signifying more long-haul flights to board to make a long-distance relationship work. After adjusting career moves, a lot of discernment, countless prayers answered and intercessions asked, and several pandemic twists and turns, now I am married and living in Canada, miles away from the Philippines, and funnily enough, I can’t help but think of all the wasted air miles I should have saved up to begin with. Oh well.
All in all, I can definitely say that WYD was a turning point in my vocation discernment. Among many other prayers I carried with me, I knew I had my vocation prayer on the top of my list. And I believed one way or another God would definitely answer it. And even though the saints I met and the holy grounds I set foot during the WYD overwhelmed me that time, now they inspire me and push me to be like them. They too had prayers getting the “not yet” response or were frustrated with their spiritual life. They were once like me, and I want to be like them. And in the midst of it all, they found their vocation. God revealed his plan, and they followed through.
Perhaps it’s true that amazing things happen when you join the WYD. But perhaps the WYD is just one of the many spectacular instruments through which God will answer our deepest desires. One thing is for sure though, a pilgrimage filled with faith and hope will definitely bring about fruits that God has meant for us to receive. The pilgrimage five years ago in WYD Poland did that for me. It was an exceptional time for reflection and prayer and abounding in mercy and grace. I can actually say, I came, I saw, I conquered, and my pilgrimage mission was accomplished. And that’s my WYD vocation story.
By Louise Señara-Kummer. Louise has served with Pure Heart Philippines since its beginnings in 2014.