PGF has always been a good friend of mine, but last summer the Lord took that friendship to the next level.
Last summer at World Youth Day I was able to visit his body, which was a huge deal for me. I wasn't even sure if I was able to do it with the hectic schedule, but our group made it happen.
Everyone has those moments that they imagine will go a certain way. In this case, it didn't happen like I anticipated.
When we finally made it into the Basilica, the church was beautiful, and he was there. There was a huge banner hanging from the ceiling and another smaller poster of him next to his casket. A spot opened up by the railing closest to him, I knelt on the marble, and I just sobbed. It was overwhelming. Imagine finally meeting a pen pal that you consider one of your best friends, or you're reunited with someone you love for the first time in years. That moment that you think "You're actually here. You're right here. I can see you."
The moment was not what I expected; it was so much more. There was no way to prepare for it. I had looked forward to that moment, but I expected his casket to be a speck in a crowd that I would wait in line to see and pray with for a few seconds. Here I was, right in front of him, with time to grasp the beauty before me, not rushed, just hanging out with my friend. Not to sound cheesy, but it was probably the most beautiful moment of my life to date.
After regaining control of myself, I left the railing and checked my watch. It was the Hour of Mercy (3pm, when Jesus died on the cross). I couldn't find my regular rosary, so I pulled out one that I had bought at the Cloth Hall. I know it's not bad to pray on an unblessed rosary, but I had the desire to find a priest and have it blessed if at all possible. As soon as the thought entered my head, a Dominican appeared and I asked him to bless the rosary. He said of course and had my friend I follow him into the sacristy, which was unavailable to the pilgrims. He recited the prayer in Polish. It was so so beautiful.
They exposed the Blessed Sacrament, and then they announced that they were going to all do a Chaplet of Divine Mercy, which is what I was planning to pray anyway. Needless to say, I was again overwhelmed. Everything I had wanted was provided. I was with PGF before the Blessed Sacrament, praying a Divine Mercy Chaplet in the hour of mercy, in the year of mercy, in the country where the Divine Mercy was established. Who can contain this much?? Certainly not me. I'm only human.
After reciting the Chaplet (in English, Spanish, Polish, and Italian I think), we proceeded to sing it in English. A priest with a guitar led it. As they returned the Eucharist to the tabernacle, we all sang Ubi Caritas in 4 and 5 part harmony (which did sound good, fellow musicians). It was just the best. There's no other way to describe it, and typing it out doesn't bring it justice.
Because of our small group, we were able to stay for the entire holy hour and experience all these things. God had provided everything.