The visit of Pope Francis in Lithuania - Photo credit: 15min.lt
Edition by Amber255 via Bitlanders.com
The visit of Pope Francis in Lithuania in 22-26 of September 2018, was one of the biggest events in the history of our country. To meet the charismatic leader of the Catholic Church, to hear the message of evangelical hope transmitted by him, people gathered not only from all over Lithuania but from other countries. Several hundred journalists accompanied the Pope, who told the whole world about our country, the economic, social, and cultural situation. Preparing for this event required a lot of human and material resources.
25 years ago, Pope John Paul II visited Lithuania, and now we got the opportunity to meet with another Pope in our land. The program of the Pope's visit was announced a few weeks ago, so everyone could plan his time to visit either Vilnius or Kaunas city where could meet the Pope.
The Pope, first of all, came for a meeting with the faithful people of our country, but we know that the pilgrims also came to meet with this honorable guest from the neighboring countries - Latvia, Poland, Russia, Belarus.
Pope Francis - Photo credit: picemaps.com
Many of us remember our experience when Pope John Paul II arrived. Many testify to the calmness, the shiver, and the feeling of unity. Such experiences are remembered for a long time. The opportunity for such an experience was offered to us again - to come and meet with the Holy Father, to hear what he speaks in Lithuania, to each of us.
We did not go to the capital for a meeting with the Pope Francis. First of all, because I had to work on Saturday but, we watched all the ceremonies on TV. Actually we, like many others, the whole day watched TV, and the feeling was like we were there, at the meeting. Still, it's very pity that I could not go to welcome Pope Francis.
The Arrival of The Pope Francis
At the Vilnius International Airport, the Holy Father was welcomed by the chairman of the Lithuanian Bishops' Conference, Archbishop of Vilnius Metropolitan, Dominican, and the President of our country Dalia Grybauskaite and her delegation. The children, their parents, and teachers also awaited for Pope. Over 200 people came from 14 different Catholic schools. Two children from the Catholic school where dressed in national costumes and met the Pope Francis with flowers. In Italian, they welcomed the Holy Father who had arrived successfully.
Pope Francis came to Vilnius International Airport - Photo credit: madeinvilnius.lt
Thank you for the generous meeting and hospitality. I kindly assure you and the people of Lithuania that I will continue to pray for you and will ask the great blessing of Almighty God for all. Francis - Pope wishes for our nation (translated from Lithuanian language)
The Prayer of Pope Francis in a Chapel of Our Lady of Mercy at the Gate of Dawn
On Saturday afternoon, Pope Francis came to the Gate of Dawn, where the Blessed Virgin Mary is honored from the ages. Virgin Mary, Mercy Mother, glorify the Vilnius around the world. In the general rosary prayer with the Pope, there came a large crowd of believers, residents, and guests of the city.
Pope Francis walked on the street of Gate of Dawn through the thousands of gathered people greeting them, blessing, talking with some of them. At the Gate of the Dawn, the Pope came to the sick and the disabled people, that were gathered from all over Lithuania, talked and blessed them. After he entered the chapel.
After a brief prayer in silence, the Holy Father turned to people on the street and said to the crowds:
This Mother <...> is the Mother of all; on everyone who comes here, she sees what very often we cannot perceive themselves: she sees the face of her Son Jesus stamped in our hearts. <...> Every man and every woman gives us the opportunity to meet God. - Pope Francis
Credit: vz.lt (translated from Lithuanian).
The Pope said that when we close ourselves out of the fear, and when we build walls and barriers, then we ultimately block the way for Jesus' Good News, which leads the history and life ahead. He called to go together and gladly discover the value of brotherhood. He noted that this place is visited by many Christians from different countries and expressed the desire that people would share their gifts and give themselves to others.
Pope Francis recalled that the Mercy Mother, like every good mother, is trying to unite the family and whispers in the ear of everyone to look for our brother; she leads us to the threshold to which children and families await us today with bloody wounds, Jesus' wounds that are real.
Pope Francis at Chapel of Our Lady of Mercy at the Gate of Dawn - Photo credit: twitter.com
By calling on the rosary prayer, the Holy Father called for the creation of a homeland that chooses to build bridges, but not the walls that prefer mercy rather than justice.
After finishing the speech, Pope crossed himself, and, together with all the Lithuanians, spoke in Lithuanian the third rosary's triumph of the joy "The Birth". In the prayers were asked for pleasure, hope, and peace of Lithuania and the rest of the world. Three orphans, three people with disabilities, four members of the families of adopted children spoke rosary together with the Pope.
After the rosary, Pope, looking at the image of Mary, read the prayer in Latin to the Mercy Lady of the Gate of Dawn. Pink and prayer were broadcast to Cathedral Square, where young people prayed together waiting for the arrival of Pope. Pope Francis put the gift to the picture and blessed the new crown of the Virgin Mary. He also gave a blessing to all the people gathered there.
The Holy Father at the Gate Of Dawn - Photo credit: misyjne.pl
The Holy Father traveled to the Cathedral Square where young people were waiting for him. Pope, while went from the Gate of Dawn to the Cathedral Square, unplanned stopped for blessing the sick people.
Hospital patients, relatives, employees, volunteers, and friends all together created the live rosary whose length reaches up to 50 meters. Pope Francis came to every sick and dying patient and blessed him.
Youth Meeting With The Pope Francis At the Cathedral Square
On Saturday afternoon, the youth gathered to the Cathedral Square in Vilnius to wait for the incoming Pope. People were also waiting in access to the square. In the summer, about 30 thousand free invitations were distributed online. This was the only meeting of the Vatican's leader with Catholic youth in the Baltic States.
The square had two stages. One was dedicated to the Holy Father and his escort. The other stage was for the youth's program. The latter one was decorated with flowers - the signs of gratitude and prayer. The original image of God's Mercy was put on the Holy Father's stage. It was painted according to St. Faustina's vision in Vilnius. Copies of this image were spread all over the world.
The meeting was led by six young people: a priest, a sister nun, a dance teacher, a lawyer, and two actors. The meeting's program was relevant and interesting to both the teenager and the student or young family. While youth waited for Pope Francis, there sounded four testimonies. Suicide, depression, violence in the family, and addiction issues were expressed. Youth talked about the issues of self-esteem, sexuality, identity searches, and bullying issues too. Dancers and musicians have created their shows in response to these stories. Every testimony was accompanied by artwork.
Pope on the way to the Arcicatedral Square welcomed by Catholics - Photo credit: komentaras.lt
All people gathered at the Cathedral Square and at the Gate of Dawn were united by the prayer of the mercy crown. The prayers sounded in five languages: Lithuanian, Polish, Latvian, Russian, and English. Vilnius is a city of mercy, and it gave this prayer to all the nations of the world.
On Saturday night, Pope Francis came to the Cathedral Square to meet with the youth for a specially designed youth meeting with the Holy Father. There sounded the newly created psalm "Christ Jesus is my hope." It was counted that about 60 thousand people have attended this meeting.
The Holy Father always invites people to enter into a dialogue, a conversation. This time, on the stage, he listened carefully to the testimonies of two young people.
Pope Francis at Catedral Square - Photo credit: bcnn1wp.wordpress.com
The Pope began his speech thanking those two young people for the testimony. He added that he understands that their life is not a performance, but a real, specific, like of all us. He said that those young people are here to help us see that God gave them the grace to endure, rise again, and continue the journey of life.
Pope Francis urged not to give in to the temptation to concentrate on ourselves, to become too mild or selfish in the face of difficulty, pain, and passing success, and to resist the individualism that closes us from others, makes us self-centered and arrogant, caring for our own image and our well-being.
The Holy Father advised overcoming the difficulties by praying and assistance to others. The Pope encouraged the young people, saying:
Follow Jesus is an enthusiastic adventure that gives us the meaning of life, makes us feel part of the community. <...> Dear young people, it's definitely worth pursuing Christ, do not be afraid to participate in the revolution he invites, in the tenderness of the revolution. - Pope Francis
Credit: vz.lt (translated from Lithuanian)
After completing the official language, Pope added that it is important to keep in mind the roots of our nation, to talk to the elders, because in this way we will continue the history of our nation. The Holy Father gave an apostolic blessing to all those gathered.
Holy Mass in Kaunas Santakos Park
Already from 5 o'clock, people gathered in the Santakos Park in the morning, prayed and sang in front of the image of Mother of God, standing on stage for the Pope and his escort. The screen featured a film about Pope John Paul II's visit to Lithuania 25 years ago.
On Sunday morning, Pope Francis came to Kaunas. At one of the oldest St. Gothic Cathedral, he sat to the Popemobile and arrived at Santakos Park, where more than 100 thousand believers from all over Lithuania and neighboring countries waited for him. The Pontiff in popemobile traveled around Santakos Park, blessed people and greeted them.
Catholics greeting the Pontiff - Photo credit: y-news.lt
We heard the psalms well-known to the faithful people and specially created new ones for these Masses. There were about 300 performers in the mass. Holy Mass was sacrificed in the Latin language. The Pope pointed out that there are still conflicts and wars in the world that is why we, Christians, need to give our hands for the helping others and knit interconnections.
The desire for power and honor is a very widespread lifestyle for those who can not cure their wounds of their past, and perhaps today they do not want to commit to work. That is why they are discussing how anyone is shining more, whose past has been purer, who has more rights than others to get privileges. In this way, we deny our history, which is honorable with suffering, hope, everyday struggle, a life consumed for serving, constant hard work. - Pope Francis said in the sermon.
Credit: vz.lt ( translated from Lithuanian).
Pope Francis called for asking Jesus to reconcile us with our past and accompany us in the present. He was also called to be the outgoing Church and not afraid to go out and use ourselves even when it seems that we are invisible, to lose ourselves from the very least, forgotten, for those who live on the edges of existence.
Other Meetings in Kaunas and Coming Back to Vilnius
From the Santakos Park, our Pontiff arrived at the Curia of Archbishopric Palace, where he had lunch with the bishops gathered. In the afternoon, Pope Francis met with the priests of the Baltic States, consecrated, and seminarians in the Kaunas Archicatedral Basilica. In the waiting time for the Holy Father, psalms were sung. Anyone who wanted to observe the meeting was invited to Kaunas Town Hall Square or to join LRT television. Everyone had an opportunity to observe a live broadcast of the meeting on the screens of the Kaunas Town Hall Square.
Later, everyone could congratulate Pope on the road from the Kaunas Curia of Archbishopric Palace to the Cathedral. Everyone who arrived at the streets and the square could welcome the Pope. After this, Pope returned to the Vilnius.
The Pope also visited the Occupation and Freedom Fights Museum in Vilnius, with a brief stopping for the prayer at Ghetto monument to commemorate the victims of genocide. This is the place of suffering for thousands of people. Here, the Holy Father, together with people gathered in the square, silently prayed for all the prisoners and those who have died for the freedom of Lithuania. Silent prayer means that the sound of speech is meaningless compared to the tragedy of the Jews. The Pope stops at the modest monument and prays. Pope Francis always shows respect for the Jewish community in the country to which he travels.
Pope Francis put flowers at Ghetto monument - Photo credit: lzb.lt
After prayer, the Pope moved further to the Apostolic Nunciature, and on the way, everyone could welcome and greet Holy Father.
On the Final Note
What does such an important historical moment for Lithuania mean? First of all, this is a wonderful gift from God. Our small land received such an important guest arrival! Secondly, the word of the heir of St. Peter reached us all and for many years it will become a sign of strengthening our faith and trust in the gracious providence of God. Thirdly, the news about the Pope's visit spread in the whole world and tells about us and our country. This will give an opportunity for many people in the world to get acquainted with Lithuania and other Baltic countries and will undoubtedly inspire more and more pilgrims and tourists to visit us.
Pope Francis in Lithuania - Photo credit: mynorthwest.com
Pope Francis has come as a pilgrim of Hope that brought the light of Christ - not the theoretical hope but hope arising from the resurrection of Christ, which is reborn when we trust in God's mercy for each of us.
The Holy Father reminded us that life is a constant pursuit of the right direction, without fear of returning, if we are wrong. He asked people not to jump in the maze, which is difficult to get out of but to be moving forward people because Jesus will never stop creating us from the new, even if we sometimes try to ruin ourselves.
Looking at the world today, when we hear more and more voices that through insecurity or emerging conflicts sow divisions and conflicts, or insist that we will maintain the safeguard and preserve our culture only by trying to rid of others, trample them or conquer them, you, Lithuanians, have to say your word: "Accept differences". - Pope Francis.
Credit: vz.lt ( translated from Lithuanian).
I want to believe that His words will deeply root in our hearts and will carry the fruits to each of our lives so that every young person will find a personal relationship with Jesus Christ who provides hope and meaning to life.
The Lord comes to us in the darkest time. He gives us His mercy and the hope of life.
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