These past few weeks I've been in London. Like the rest of the world, my attention has been focused on the city of London and the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Although I wasn't in London to watch the games. I was there nonetheless for the Olympics. I participated in a multinational ecumenical evangelization effort called 'More Than Gold'. From August 1st until the 13th I was at the Joshua Camp which is the Catholic branch of the 'More Than Gold' effort. We were literally camping out at a local Catholic school just a stone's throw from the heart of the Olympic Park. 200 young adults from 14+ nations came to the Joshua Camp which was sponsored by the Sion Community, a Catholic apostolate founded in the UK.
|The Olympic Torch|
At this point you may be wondering, "What exactly did you all do?". I, myself, asked the same question after our days of preparation (only in the future tense). There were various 'outreaches' that we did each day throughout the city. The outreaches included: hospitality tents (coffee, tea, games, live television), street conversations/inviting people into a nearby church, parish festival, and Night Fever. Of all the activities the most effective and unique one is Night Fever, which is a concept born from World Youth Day in Cologne. Basically we opened a few churches in the busy part of the city for exposition and adoration during the early evening hours. We created an inviting environment with praise and worship music and dimmed lighting with lots of candles. Then we'd go out into the nearby streets in pairs carrying a lantern. We'd simply ask people if they'd like to light a candle in the church. We'd then bring the person into the church, kneel in front of the altar with Jesus exposed in the monstrance, and help them light a candle. We'd offer prayer the person if they wanted, their were tiny slips of paper with scripture passages, and priests were available for conversation or confession all around the church. It is so simple, but I was awestruck by the great grace that God was working through this mission. The symbolism is so powerful: going out into the dark world with the light of Christ inviting others to share in that light. I helped at the Night Fever on Friday night in Soho square of London which is famous for its alternative lifestyle scene. After three hours of Night Fever there were over 350 candles before our Lord on the Altar. To think if just one of those people had a real encounter with Christ that evening or made some concrete act of faith. Think of the grace that was being out poured Now that is evangelization. And to think, the main symbol in London during the Olympic Games was the Olympic flame. Yet, we in a small way through Night Fever we were offering the world in its darkness something much brighter than any fleeting flame, the true Light of the World, Jesus Christ. Amen.