|A view of the original statue of the Infant of Prague given to the Discalced Carmelites in 1628. It resides in the Church of Our Lady Victorious in Prague, Czech Republic. (Fotobanka ČTK, René Fluger)|
The thing about plans is they almost never turn out the way you thought or hoped they would.
I learned this at the first World Youth Day which I attended in Rio in 2013. The things we had planned to do often did not happen, and things we had no idea were happening we would end up at instead. So, being patient and very flexible is very important when you go to a World Youth Day.
However, I have come to realize that no matter how much you plan for things, God often has completely different plans for you. A lot of the time, it can be hard to see what God wants you to learn or experience when things do not go the way you planned. This happened to some of us when we went to Prague.
Let me first start off with the fact that the day we left Italy for Prague, we got up at 2 a.m. to go to the airport. And when we got there, it was more than a little stressful. There were many people in line trying to check in, the line was moving very slowly, and we had to get 80 people checked in, through security, and to the gate in less than two hours. Needless to say, there was a lot going on.
Luckily, I was one of the first people at the gate. Once a few of the people from our group were at the gate, we all prayed a Hail Mary so that everyone would make it on the flight. Mary must have been listening because we all made it to Amsterdam. Of course, things there did not go as planned either. We made it to our gate for the next flight, only to realize that seven of the people in our group were on standby. Again, we prayed to our Mother Mary, and again she took care of us. We were able to get everyone on our flight.
After all of those dramatic and stressful changes to our day, we arrived in Prague. But things kept changing and we had to share buses with another group from Arizona. My flight group of about 70 people was not able to go to Mass, which was very hard because it was Sunday. Bishop Olson gave us all dispensation for the Mass, but it upset a lot of us that we could not go to Mass.
From all of this craziness, I came to realize what we would have missed out on if all of these things had not happened. If it had not been so crazy in the airports, I would not have gotten to know more people in our group whom I had not had the chance to interact with yet.
In Prague, I did not get the opportunity to go to Mass, but that was just another opportunity to offer it up to Jesus (something else you quickly learn to do on pilgrimage). My flight group was the last group to the hotel in Brno that night, but we got to see more of Prague than any other group. It is such a beautiful city with an amazing history. While there we also got to see the Infant of Prague. I have heard stories about the infant my entire life, and there I was, kneeling before it.
And if the day had not been so stressful, I would not have had a conversation with my little sister, Heather, who is also here with me on this pilgrimage. Heather and I have gotten along really well ever since she got into middle school. I am three years older than her. Since I have been gone at college for the past year, we have not been able to talk as much. She and I talked for a bit that day in Prague, and by the end of our time there, we were walking around, hand-in-hand, laughing and just having fun together. I believe that God wanted Heather and me to talk and work through some things, and that conversation would not have been prompted without our crazy day.
So, plans usually never turn out the way you want them to. And that's okay. Because they turn out the way God wants them to and that is always better, even if it does not seem to make sense at the time. It’s always better to follow God’s time, rather than our time.
Hannah is a parishioner at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Keller. She is a core team member for the Catholic Student Association at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama and also works with the youth group at Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Birmingham. She also volunteers for Alabama Awakening, a Catholic retreat for college students.
The thing about plans is they almost never turn out the way you thought or hoped they would. I learned this at the first World Youth Day which I attended in Rio in 2013.