Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Eucharistic Congress



I have been avoiding this post. Not because I didn't want to write it, but because I have no clue how I will encapsulate the entire weekend into a few short words. You can't box God and his grace in and so I had to write this in my heart before I ever attempted to write it here. My poor words will do little to relate the grace and joy that accompanied this weekend, but I pray that the Spirit can use them to reveal to you the love God poured out on all those present.

The Congress began on Friday at the Cathedral in Saginaw. I was not able to attend because I was ending my 8 day retreat. However, in reports from many sources one word continued to pop up: "prayerful." From all accounts the ordinations of Fr. Andy and Fr. Jose were extremely prayerful and joyful events for everyone who attended. I also heard how Archbishop Dolan's evening address brought the house down. He spoke about the different aspects of the Eucharist and I would comment more but seeing how I wasn't there to hear it, it would be unfair to the Archbishop to do so.

Saturday began bright and beautiful. Over at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Midland, five men were ordained to the Order of the Deaconate. It was a moving ceremony as the fruits of Bishop Carlson's (oh yeah, and the Holy Spirit's) work to revive the vocations in Saginaw were ripening. One of the Deacons, Denis Heames, was blessed to have his father present who himself is a deacon. It was beautiful to see father and son, now both deacons, embrace during the kiss of peace. The new deacons were filled with joy in their new identity as they literally floated from place to place all day. They were a witness to all who saw them about the joy of their vocation and an encouragement to those around them.

After the ordinations, on the other side of town at St. Brigid of Kildare, the day was just beginning. ABLAZE! 2007, fresh off a successful outing last year, inspired the youth of the diocese to come out in numbers reaching in the mid 300's. It was a day full of fun, worship of Christ in the Eucharist, various presentations on different aspects of the faith, and friendship with young people from all over the diocese.

Later in the afternoon we had the outdoor family mass and BBQ where almost 1500 people took part as families and others arrived joining the youth already present. Bishop Paprocki gave a great homily and sang contemporary songs the kids knew from their radios to teach them about their relationship with Christ. In the evening Catholic singer Steve Angrisano gave a wonderful concert which was full of messages of love and encouragement for all those present. For more on the concert click here.

On Sunday the Congress moved to St. Stanislaus Parish in Bay City to celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi. The highlight of the day, besides obviously the Mass itself, was the beautiful procession through the streets of Bay City as hundreds accompanied the Bishop and the five new deacons with the monstrance in their hands. At five different stops the Eucharist was sang to and adored in silence. Then the Bishop blessed all present with the Holy Body of our Lord. As the procession moved through the streets, bystanders peered around corners and out their front doors wondering what was going on.

The weekend did have some mishaps as the devil did all he could to prevent a prayerful spirit. Electronics were mysteriously breaking, like Bishop Carlson's mic literally blowing up just as he was pronouncing the words of consecration at the outdoor mass on Saturday and the censor breaking off it's chain as the Bishop was incensing the host during the stop at the second station during the procession on Sunday. However hard he tried though, God would not let him spoil the prayerful spirit that pervaded the whole atmosphere. So many people made comments to me that their faith was strengthened and their love of God deepened by the events of the weekend.

It will be three days that live on for decades to come, I'm sure, as we all move toward a deeper sense that God has us all in the palm of his hand and will bring his work to abundant fruit.

1 comment:

Andrew C said...

The ABLAZE youth rally was the coolest one I've been.