Written by: Mike McCann
Last week, the Catholic students association at McMaster University hosted an event at Canadian Martyrs parish called “Nightfever”. This event was a night of Eucharistic Adoration, but with a very effective outreach measure in place: the doors of the church were left open for all to enter, candles lit the pathway up to and into the church, and teams of street volunteers waited on the surrounding streets, eager to engage in conversation with passers-by. That night, the Holy Spirit moved very powerfully in that place, and more than a hundred people experienced the love of Christ in a way that they never had previously.
The church, lit only by the candles lining the walls and the nave, and the light over the monstrance containing the Sacred Host, was open for all to enter, and all had the opportunity to leave a candle at the foot of the altar, for whatever intentions they had. The passers-by were approached by Catholic students in two’s, who invited all they encountered to place a candle at the foot of the altar. One might think that the act of reaching out to random people in the bitter cold, late at night during a school week, would be a rather futile effort; however, the reactions from many of the people surprised each and every one of us. Many people would initially express hesitation, or politely give their excuses to go about their business, but would then turn around and choose to enter the church, often for the very first time in their lives. Conversations with some of these people had one recurring element: they all experienced a great sense of peace that they could not properly describe. Whatever their faith background (or lack of it), whatever their views on God or on organized religion, they all found in the church, in the presence of our Lord and Saviour, a profound sense of the home to which we are striving to return.
The Catechism gives us a glimpse into the reason why these people suddenly felt so drawn to that which was, to many of them, so alien: “The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for…” (CCC 27). Something as simple as an invitation from a stranger, to enter a building you have never entered before, to experience the love of God in such a profound way for the very first time, speaks to the truth of this statement. That night was a simple, yet dramatic affirmation in my heart and the hearts of my friends that the Spirit will never cease to perform amazing deeds, provided we never cease to be open to His call in us. I pray that we all may continue to be tools for His kingdom, in whatever ways He desires to use us, great or small, with the knowledge that Christ walks with us always, “even until the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).
Pray without ceasing!Catholic Events, Catholic Living, Eucharist, by Catholic Chapter House.