Flame 2017 – an adult view
Fan into flames the gift God gave you 2 Timothy 1:6
Saturday 11 March 2017 is a date that will remain etched on my brain and treasured within my heart for a very long time as that is the day I spent at Wembley Arena, with 10 000 young Catholics at Flame 2017, an amazing gathering of young people from all over UK and further afield, who publicly shared their faith.
I was lucky enough to be accompanying a group of young people from the Parish and because of them I gained a marvellous experience of personal and group prayer and faith sharing. Every aspect of the event was inspirational but all I can do here is to give you a flavour of how the day progressed and what it was all about.
in the introduction, we were all invited to spend the morning in prayer and we did but not in a way you might imagine. The liturgy was exuberant and prayerful taking an alternative form as we prayed through singing, dancing and drama. The music, led by Matt Redman, a contemporary Christian songwriter, was dynamic and joyful and continued throughout the day, with the song 10 000 reasons being the theme of the day. (You might want to listen to the music and the lyrics by checking it out on You Tube)
We witnessed a poignant visual reminder of the suffering of others in the form of a tiny boat which was lit up throughout the event, at the side of the stage, in full view at all times. That tiny vessel which was brought over from Lampedusa had carried more than 100 people across the sea at any one time.
We listened to powerful and stimulating speakers including
- Cardinal Vincent Nichols, who brought a message to the young people from the Pope. He also invited the gathering to provide input into the 2018 Synod of Bishops on “Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment”
- Cardinal Bo from Myanmar, talking about his country’s struggles, about displaced people, human trafficking and prejudice but also about hope.
- CAFOD’s Theological Director, Fr Augusto, a priest from Buenos Aires, who encouraged us to build a better world by listening to the cries and the needs of the poor
- Two young CAFOD volunteers, Leah and Ryan giving personal presentations demonstrating how young people are tackling poverty and injustice around the world.
- Mike Pilavachi in his humorous way telling us we were each ” worth more than 5 cows” encouraging us to see the value of all humans and of how Christ is present in us all
- Sarah Teather on the work of the Jesuit Refugee Service and their support to asylum seekers
The event finished with Cardinal Nicholls blessing that tiny migrant boat before leading all 10 000 of us in Adoration and Benediction. A beautiful ending to an awesome day.
As this has been written from the point of view of someone very much older than the majority of those attending I thought I would like to finish by sharing with you some comments made by young people at the end of the event.
“It’s been loads better than I expected. Speakers were exciting. Cardinal Bo was inspirational”
“We are now talking to each other about aspects of our faith and what it really means”
“The church isn’t about a building, it is about us. We are the church.”
“Roll on Flame 2019!”