On Saturday 4th March, 10,000 Young Catholics from around the UK were gathered at Wembley Arena for Flame, the national Catholic youth event, and we at Westminster Youth Ministry were pleased to have 1,000 young people from our diocese attending.
Due to the pandemic, this was the first Flame event since 2019, however, it was a beautiful experience for us to meet other young Catholics from all over the UK.
Sometimes being a young practising Catholic can be a lonely existence as we fight against the tide of secular culture, especially in a smaller parish where it seems everyone is a generation or two older than you. However, Flame gave us the opportunity to realise that this challenging journey was being embarked on by thousands of other young people.
The day featured talks from world-class Catholic speakers, including Cardinal Tagle, and we were treated to a variety of Christian musical artists. While all the speakers were exceptional and challenged us in different ways, Cardinal Tagle was certainly the crowd-pleaser. He shared with the crowd at Flame very personal experiences of family members who had passed the Catholic faith onto him, and how it is this that now enables him to influence hundreds of millions of Catholics in their own journey with Christ in his Church.
What resonated most in the Cardinal’s testimony was his assertion that older people are not a burden, but are God’s beloved sons and daughters and must be cherished by us who are younger.
10,000 people roared their approval at this and the Cardinal repeated his instruction several times to cherish older people to thunderous applause. In the midst of our secular culture here in the UK we are often fed the idea that the value of a human being is based on how useful they are. Yet, when we stop for a moment, we innately know how precious all human life is, as it is created in the image and likeness of God. Cardinal Tagle, with the Lord’s inspiration, triggered that awareness in all of us.
The pinnacle of the day, that we had been prepared for through the music and the speakers, was the Adoration of the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Brenden Thompson and Georgia Clarke from Catholic Voices gave a short but very profound catechesis on Adoring the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. This was followed up by a talk from our own Westminster Archbishop, Cardinal Vincent Nichols.
With poignant serenity, Cardinal Vincent brought calmness in the midst of 10,000 people, who were otherwise highly stimulated through the activity of the day. The stillness of this allowed him to place before us what the day had been all about: Christ!
Cardinal Vincent then focussed us on the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, Christ’s Real Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. He encouraged us to trust the Lord in the silence of adoring Him and focussed us on the specific vocation that the Lord has planned for each one of us since before the beginning of time.
We are called to listen to Christ and to experience his love.
Christ finds many ways to speak to us; through music, talks and in the relationships, we have with our brothers and sisters, however, Cardinal Vincent drew us back to the true source and summit of our lives, Christ in the Eucharist.
Thus, our gazes were turned to the Blessed Sacrament for a time of prayer-filled silence and adoration, with Wembley Arena at a standstill, shrouded in darkness, with the only spotlight on Christ.
Fr Michael Guthrie is the Youth Chaplain for the Diocese of Westminster. He also works as Assistant Priest at St George’s, Sudbury. Get in touch with him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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