The first weekend of February was amazing. Not least because we managed to get a full-sized wooden dinghy (complete with sail and mast!) up the M1 and into a conference hall in Northampton’s King’s Park. ‘But why?’ you may well ask…
The answer to that question lies in what we were up to in Northampton. 80 young people from the ages of 13-18 joined us at Lux. Be to learn about the theme of ‘being’ with God.
The first night was great – we all got to know each other by playing some crazy games in our small groups which broke the ice.
We entered the large main space, where we heard the passage about Jesus calming the storm and Neil Roseman introduced the theme for the weekend. Enter: the boat – Jesus was asleep in the boat while his disciples were panicking about the storm battering them at sea on the waves of the lake. We learned that in order to even begin to navigate the storms in our lives, be they exam pressure, health worries, family breakdown, loss, disappointment or whatever, we have to get into the boat with Jesus.
Getting into the boat requires trusting that being close to God is the best place for us. We saw a great sketch about our time-poor lives and how we can invite God into all aspects of our day, even the bits that seem messy and stretched.
We started Saturday with Fr Simon saying mass on the feast of St. Blaise.
NYMO’s own Steve Harris gave the first input of the weekend, asking the big question of life: “why are we here?” Steve unpacked the answer given by the penny catechism: “God made me to know him, to love him and to serve him in this world, and to be happy with him forever in the next.”
We then heard from James Trueby talk to us about what it means to serve God by stepping out in faith, and we spoke over Skype with Fr Liam O’Callaghan, who was born in Ireland and now lives in Sindh Province, Pakistan working as a missionary.
He is a Columban priest, passionate about justice and peace. He works cooperatively with people of other faiths in Muslim-majority Pakistan, to help those in need, challenge injustice, tackle climate change and build a better world. He told us how he maintained a sense of calm even though his church had been bombed.
Hearing about the bombing was particularly moving because James Trueby then introduced us to his friend, Nick Cooper, who was on trial for demonstrating peacefully against the arms trade fair in London where bombs and weapons are sold. We were challenged to think about how far we would go to step out in faith. Would we go as far as breaking the law?
Workshops came next, in everything from sign language, Ignatian spirituality and discernment, to decorating the cross for its journey to World Youth Day in Panama.
It was all food for thought and Rick Netherwood superbly prepared us for the sacrament of reconciliation with a host of visiting priests.
Once we were all right with God, our vocations panel took us deeper into the theme of ‘getting out of the boat’. Fr Simon shared his story of his calling to become a priest; Sr. Angela Marie described the moment she knew God wanted her to join a religious order while kneeling in a chapel in Paris; Liz Harris spoke about her calling to marriage and family life, and our sound engineer for the weekend, Martin, told us about serving God as a businessman.
We were able to ponder everything we’d explored during a beautiful time of adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament, before having a ‘boogie’ at our ‘disco-themed’ silent disco which brought out the wild side in everyone…
Sunday dawned on our third and final day at Lux. The theme for the day was the story of Martha and Mary which Dan Vince explored with us during his talk. He spoke about ways of maintaining our relationships with God even after the ‘mountain-top’ experiences we’d enjoyed at Lux. A panel of four young people inspired us all by telling us about their daily lives with God and the ways they fit in an active prayer life during a busy school day.
We ended the weekend on a high with mass from Bishop Peter who encouraged us all to continue with our journeys with Jesus, listening for his promptings.
Until our next event, then! Enjoy getting out of the boat with Jesus! Don’t be afraid to get wet!