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Embraced by the “Black Madonna”

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Under the motherly look of Mary we left from many of our houses in Europe to Poland on a pilgrimage to Czestochova.We walked for nine days towards the Black Madonna,  Queen of Poland ,loaded with expectation, enthusiasm, intentions of prayer  and a bit afraid not to make it. Those days were full of prayer, friendship, joy, surprise but also of  sacrifice, difficulties, tiredness, sorrow, quarrels and reconciliation among us: a richness that made us feel closer. The pilgrimage started with  the Holy Mass on Tarnow Square celebrated by the Bishop Mons. Wiestlaw Lachowicz. During his Homily he made us think about the importance of the pilgrimage, starting from Abraham’s example who left to follow God’s call with the promise
to bless all the people on earth. We realized that we were there because our Mother had called each of us by name on this walk not only for ourselves but for all the Community ,for our families , the sick people, our friends, the people who ask for our help, all those who need God’s love, hope and consolation. What a joy to understand that every step towards the sanctuary can be a step forward towards  faith , love and hope! The Blessed Karolina Kuzkowna, Martyr of purity and our patron saint was our company during that period. Every day we learnt something about the life of that sixteen year old girl   who taught us the beauty of a pure life donated to God , a purity defended  to death. Many people had come to  greet us , to entrust us with their intentions, to hold our hands for a while ,to look at our faces with tears in their eyes: they walked with us to entrust the Madonna of Poland  with the burdens and  the hope of their hearts and to receive Her blessing .We walked through many villages and small cities: everywhere there were people  at the edge of the roads waiting for us, they opened their hearts and very generously they gave us what they had: a smile, a flower, some fruit ,something to drink…We wondered why they loved us so much ,why  many elderly people were moved, why many faces became bright when we greeted them, why many children wanted to “give us five” What could we give them? Then we  realized that those people still hope in the happy announcement that the faith of their elders  is still alive, that the Black Madonna still blesses  and protects Poland and the whole world.
 Every day  was not only full of miles walked but also of spiritual nourishment   which prepared us well for the meeting with the Black Madonna. Every day was rich and well organized: the Holy Mass celebrated every day on a football ground or in the woods; the stops to rest a while ad to drink some herb tea; the meals cooked  by some youth  from the Community  who travelled by minivan and who assembled and disassembled our tents. We were also followed by a “sanitarca” an ambulance just in case we needed it. The people there are really poor but they  opened their hearts and houses to us, sharing their dinner or breakfast with us, their homemade cakes, their fresh milk…In the end the language was not a problem because the language of love is universal. We have received and given so much joy  thanks to simple gestures ;holding the hand of a granny, smiling, playing with the kids for a short while, trying to pronounce their difficult words, making them sure  with the gesture of joined hands that we would  “take “them with us to the Madonna…….
That’s how we arrived at the ninth day when we reached our cherished goal, the Sanctuary of Jasna Gora. Along the streets of Czestochova and along the alley that leads to the Church we met many groups of people: a stream  made of thousands of pilgrims singing with joy and with bright faces…Mary here we are! A strong moment was when we lay on the ground before the Sanctuary to entrust Mary with ourselves and all the intentions we had brought with us along the walk. Then we arrived before the picture of the Black Madonna: She has so much to share with us! Her scarred face shows how much She suffered for us, still Her eyes are full of tenderness .Those scars encourage us not to be afraid, ashamed of the  wounds that evil left on us, because Her son Jesus Christ  won for us too! Because like many young Poles sing in one of their songs” love is stronger than death!”

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