Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Witamy w Polsce! (Welcome to Poland!) - Jackie Martinez

Basilica of Our Lady, Wadowice
Hello, my name is Jackie Martinez and I am a current sophomore at Iona College majoring in chemistry.  I figured I'd begin my first blog post by writing about my current excitement/nervousness about being here in Poland. Today has been filled with excitement, particularly because I visited Wadowice, the birthplace of Pope John Paul II. I think the highlight of today's experience for me was going to a Polish mass in the same church where the pope received his sacraments.  During the mass, since I was unable to understand the pastor's homily, I began to reflect on the church I was in. I was sitting in a seat that at one point the pope himself might have sat in during the course of his childhood. I walked in the same line he always walked as a child and young adult to receive the Eucharist. It left me in awe, to say the least. Later on that evening, we heard a lecture from Father Manfred that reminded me just how serious this trip is. Not to say that we can't have fun while we're here, we just have to be mindful of the events that occurred here about 75 years ago. Regardless, I still have become a bit apprehensive for what we will become witnesses to in the upcoming week.

To help me handle this feeling of apprehension, over the past few days using what I have read and learned about thus far, I have created several questions that I hope to have answers to by the end of the week and hope to give my own explanations for in future blog posts.  First, the major question I think everyone studying the Shoah, the religious name for the Holocaust, wants answered, including myself, is why? Why would God let his people suffer this way? Another question I want to reflect on is "what if it was me?"  Would my faith waver or would I still maintain my belief in God if I were ever in a situation like this? I have some idea now for my answer but before I give a full answer for it, I want to experience all of this trip first in case my answer changes or develops further. Finally, in tonight's lecture by Father Manfred, a good portion of what was discussed centered around trust and healing. However what I've been pondering isn't so much of a question as much as it is a reflection. How can what we've learned in his lecture be applied in our everyday lives?

There is so much left to be answered; there may not even be answers for some of the many more questions I have. My biggest expectation however is that I leave Poland with a religious understanding of the Shoah and maybe even with a new outlook on life in general.


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