Sunday, 12 February 2012
The Americans are ahead, but we're catching up
I have been at the Youth 2000 winter retreat this afternoon and this evening. It took place at Notre Dame Sixth Form College in Leeds and the numbers attending are up on previous years. The format - for anybody who doesn't know - is simple and highly effective. The Blessed Sacrament is exposed throughout the whole weekend on a pyramidical structure ablaze with up to fifty large oil candles right in the middle of the hall. Young people adore Jesus every minute of the 48 hours. There are talks and testimonies, Mass each day, a penitential service, a healing service, the Rosary and Morning and Evening Prayer. The whole is supported by a very talented band of musicians. It's truly wonderful - one of the best initiatives to emerge in the Catholic Church in this country in the last 25 years. Everywhere you look people are going to confession. The talks were on key issues: theology of the body (ie chastity) for men; theology of the body for women ; evangelisation. Moreover, Youth 2000 is lay-led: it's a true sign of the specific role of the laity in building up the kingdom of God. I listened to confessions for three-and-a-half very happy hours (that's what priests are for). I was delighted to see a good contingent from Leeds Trinity there (some of whom are pictured). Plus I had an interesting conversation about Steubenville University in the USA: it has become a beacon Catholic higher education institution and I'm sure that we can adopt some of its practices at Leeds Trinity. It hurts to say it but the Americans really are ahead of us in that new flowering of the Church which is increasingly being expressed by the term "evangelical Catholicism." Still, with Youth 2000 and similar groups, we're catching up!