I do not generally blog about single events but last night I witnessed an event that compels me to do so. As a new Deacon, I am always interested in efforts to keep our young Catholics involved in our faith. We know all to well that peer pressure, high school or college activities can tug at our youth and their practice of the faith. So when I hear of something that seems to be "working" I checked it out. I already have participated in many of the youth fests at St. Joseph's Abbey in Covington, LA and cherish the talks and Benediction service we hold most Monday nights at our own St. Jane's in Abita Springs.
Our neighbors to the south have a vibrant youth ministry and have begun something called Exalt Fest. Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Mandeville, LA held their latest Exalt Fest last night in conjunction with the Holy Spirit Novena. I went and was immediately touched by the hundreds of teens, pre-teens, young college age students, several moms and dads and maybe grandmas and granddads and others drawn to the praise and worship music that had the kids excited and lifting their hearts and minds in prayer. Oh yes, I enjoyed it although now older, I must admist, it was loud. But make no mistake; the young people, and all gathered, seemed to understand that this was an evening to be with God.
And make no mistake, it was a beautiful Catholic experience. The speakers drew everyone to Jesus, with emphasis too on the Holy Spirit and the Pentecost event. And when Jesus was presented in the Blessed Sacrament, carried by Fr. John in the monstrance, I witnessed hundreds of youth on their knees; not told to do it, they just knew to do it. Awesome! There was power, praise, awe, adoration, love, worship on display. We sang Tantum Ergo, and the kids knew it!!! And when Benediction was over, confession was made available. Again, many took advantage of the sacramental grace, many of them the youth.
I had to remind myself that this was a Saturday night, at the start of summer vacation, yet here were hundreds of young people spending their night with God. I also relaized that this was far from mere entertainement and good time rock and roll appealing only to emotion. Unfortunately, despite best efforts and sincere intentions, many other Christian attempts at praise and worship are just that, feel good experiences. Last night, Jesus was with us, body & blood, soul & divinity. And the Holy Spirit was called down upon us. When the three Priests present laid hands on us, these were consecrated hands. And when the music died down, many received forgiveness and healing through Reconciliation. It was a Catholic event and it reached deep down into the hearts, minds and souls of all; including our young people.
As Catholics, we must continue to explore the manner in which we feed our lambs, nourish their souls and keep them faithful to the teachings of Holy Mother Church. For our part, we should show our love for God and His Church in word and deed. And moms & dads, do not believe that letting them go to other youth groups or events that are not Catholic is necessarily good. Do they have the spirituality and maturity to discern what is good, holy and true. This is NOT meant as a slight to our Christian brothers and sisters. But if we are going to bring them up in the faith, let us do so. And as Church, if we do not feed them, demand that we do and get involved yourself. We are Church!
Last night I ran into good friends, old friends, teens I know from Church and shared a special evening with all of them. I even had a chance to pray with a young man discerning a call to the Priesthood. What an awesome moment that was.
Pray for our young people, for young Catholics. If you ever get a chance to "praise and worship" with them, do it!! It might just change your life and their young life too. Come Holy Spirit Come!!! May Jesus Christ be praised, now and forever!
Pause for Prayer: THURSDAY 6/20
33 minutes ago