I am very grateful to those who have posted here in what has turned out to be a more prolonged absence than I had anticipated. Last Saturday, instead of being at home, resting, and catching up with various other things, I was at the Wembley Area at Flame 2017 – as the Catholic Herald reported. At least one of my Twitter followers said what no doubt many thought – which was was this the sort of thing our young people needed? I can imagine more than one of our readers wondering what on earth it was all about, and what was Catholic about it?
I will not say that I was not a trifle apprehensive. The music is not my sort of music, and a great deal of public emoting is not my style; but so what? This was not about me – it was about Catholicism. If someone wants to tell me that Catholicism does not embrace everything from the Tridentine Mass through to ‘Worship Music’, I simply ask them to think again about the meaning of the word Catholic. There were more than 100000 young people in that auditorium. As well as music they heard an inspiring address from Cardinal Bo of Myanmar about the Church in his country and its experiences during his lifetime; the heroism of the story and the patent holiness of the man ensured a rapt audience – 10000 young people heard a story few of them would have heard before and were reminded that the Faith requires guardians and courage; and they found a new hero, even though the Cardinal disclaimed any such claims; he was trending on Twitter for a while!
Those 10000 young people were also exposed to a Eucharistic Adoration – many for the first time. For some of us that was too short a part of the day, but it was done with great dignity and awe; and 10000 young people were lost in silence; I am told some were taking photos, but that is what they do. I suspect many will go back to their parishes and ask questions about it. They were also treated to a long session on the refugee crisis, and if some of the contributions differed not at all from what a secular liberal would have said, Cardinal Nichols reminded us that we are all made in the image of God, and Christ died for us all – we are our brothers’ keeper. We care because when we see the outcast, we see Christ, and when He says we did not help Him, He means that we did not help those with whom He stands. Our selfishness was challenged.
So, yes, there was rock music type worship songs, but if you read the verses on the screen (you surely couldn’t have heard them!) their message too was that Christ who had died had risen and we were saved by Him and in Him and through Him. As I watched the young people from my university dance and sing, I thought to myself how wonderful it was that young people could be so alive in the Faith. We went home inspired. I’m not sure I’ll ever like that sort of music, but I could grow to like that sort of thing.