By Anna Jordan
Last summer was THE summer of faith. Along with around 3 million other young people from around the world, I attended World Youth Day. Meeting so many young Catholics from every corner of the earth was so inspiring and really gave my faith a much-needed boost. However, after being back home for a few days, these feelings started to wear off. I needed something to not only bring these feelings back, but to make them stay for longer!
I had heard about Youth 2000 before, but to be completely honest, five days of camping in a field with no phone signal wasn’t particularly appealing at first. But once I put my reservations aside, I realised that maybe a leap of faith (quite literally, in this case!) was exactly what I needed to rekindle that joy for my faith I had discovered at World Youth Day.
And I am so glad I took that leap! I was so nervous, especially because I only knew a handful of people going, and I’d also never been camping before! However, as one of my friends told me, “once you meet a few people, you’ll soon get to know everyone”, and that couldn’t have been more true! As soon as we arrived, the friends I had travelled with were soon introducing people to me, and it wasn’t long before we’d set everything up and I was feeling relaxed.
When we finally stepped foot in the main tent, I was completely amazed. Although from the outside, it seems like just a massive tent, when you step inside, it is so much more. Jesus is present with us for adoration at all times over the five day festival. His presence completely transforms the tent into a place where I felt closer to Him than ever before. When things are going wrong, or I have good news, I turn to my friends. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember that God is there all the time, especially when He isn’t right there in front of us in the Eucharist. But having His physical presence with us all weekend reminded me that my relationship with Him should be like that – He should be the first I run to in times of sorrow or joy.
The highlight of the whole festival was the healing service. It is based on the Gospel where the woman suffering from a haemorrhage is healed by touching Jesus’ cloak; so during the service, Jesus in the monstrance is brought around the room and we are invited to touch the priest’s cloak and pray for healing. Beforehand, I’d had absolutely no idea what to expect, but being sat at the back of the room waiting for our time with Jesus, we were able to watch and pray for everyone as He was brought before each individual.
When the priest stopped in front of me, I can’t begin to describe how I felt. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more emotions in one go, but I was just completely in awe, and filled with love for our God, who was right there in front of me. After Jesus was taken to the next person, I realised that those intense feelings of joy and love for God I had experienced, should be there when I go to Mass every weekend. When we receive communion, Jesus’ body goes into our body – as was said during the festival, our body becomes a tabernacle!
This was what had the biggest impact on me out of everything that happened over the five days. This new appreciation and awareness of the importance of being excited every time I go to Mass – because not only is God right there in front of me, but when I receive the Eucharist, He enters my body, and becomes a part of me. That was a pretty faith-changing realisation for me.
So, I guess you could say that those five days at Walsingham were pretty incredible! Spending five days the presence of God and with nearly 2000 young people who are so in love with their faith inspired and really strengthened my own. There really are no friends like Catholic friends, and meeting so many amazing people made the festival even more enjoyable. I can’t wait to go back this year!
Find out more about Inheritance, Youth 2000's 2017's Summer Prayer Festival, and book your place now at: http://www.youth2000.org/
We can't wait to see you!