The truth of Christ’s words: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” (John 12:32), rung out with visible power on Wednesday 20 February when youth from all over Joburg knelt in silent adoration before the King of Kings, lifted high in His Eucharistic glory.
Now you may be asking: “What could get 500 teenagers to reverently kneel before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament?” There’s only one answer: The Holy Spirit. He moved powerfully on that night and has been working for some time through the international Catholic youth ministry, Life Teen.
We were blessed to have Life Teen president, Randy Raus, and full- time youth minister, Stephen Lenahan in Joburg to help run an XLT for the Life Teen group at Saint Charles’ Parish. XLT stands for exalt, and is a Life Teen youth ministry night.
Five hundred curious teenagers (as well as many young adults and even some oldies) showed up from across the city. The night began with some games and socialising. Then the youth – in a typical teenager way –hesitantly, but eventually got involved in some powerful praise and worship music lead by the Catholic worship band: Pocket Kings 3:15.
Lenahan gave an awesome talk on trusting God as a Father. Afterwards, I was disappointed to see most of the teens get up and start moving around, until I realised that they were rushing to queue for one of the six priests hearing confessions! The band then led Tantum Ergo and Father Bonga Majola – accompanied by four young adult male altar servers – proceeded with beautiful reverence to the altar and exposed Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament to be adored by all.
The next hour of the night was made up of uncharacteristically quiet teenagers praying in adoration. This was interrupted only by occasional mutters and shuffles as six more teenagers moved to the confessional be reconciled with the merciful One exposed. The night ended with Benediction (well, except for confessions, which didn’t stop until long after).
It was such a beautiful, powerful, prayerful and spirit-filled night. And, to God be the glory, the teens agreed. Every one I spoke to said it was incredible and they couldn’t wait for the next one. Driving on the bus back to Saint Benedict’s College (where I teach) one boy said to me “Sir, that was life-changing.” Later, another said: “Sir, it was amazing, when they brought in that thing, the Holy Sacrament, my heart just started pounding and I got goose bumps everywhere … I just prayed, I don’t know, I can’t describe it. It was awesome.”
After comments like that, all I can do is quote a phrase often used by Life Teen leaders: “Go God!”