I just got home to central PA from a youth conference at the Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. That campus is one of the most beautiful college campuses I have ever visited. Even more beautiful than the grounds was the sweet presence of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
To see 2200 teenagers praising God and adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament was very inspiring to this old, battle weary priest. As the priest processed though the crowd, the students were reaching out to Jesus. It reminded me of the Bible account of the woman who just wanted to touch the hem of Jesus' garment. The priest processed throughout the congregation several times. It was a New Covenant fulfillment of the Old Testament account of Joshua at Jericho...and the walls around the hearts of those kids, and around the hearts of most of us adults, "those walls came tumbling down". As Jesus processed through, I couldn't help but think this is what makes Him most happy. Walking among His people, blessing, loving, forgiving and healing. In the tabernacle He is most humbly present, waiting for us to come to Him. In procession He is powerfully moving among us and physically present to us.
As Father Leo processed there was a spot light that followed him. Each time the spotlight hit the Monstrance it glittered like a thousand stars. The Sacred Host would appear to light up. I found my breath catching and my heart leaping with the joy of a lover seeing his beloved. From time to time I have been "stopped dead in my tracks" at the sight of God's beautiful creation: a sunset, rainbow, bubbling stream, an awesome storm, an adorable baby or toddler, a great work of art, an incredible accomplishment or someone achieving a goal or a new level of excellence.
None of that, in fact nothing can compare to the beauty and magnificence of Christ Jesus. Each time the Monstrance was turned so that I could see the host I felt His love. His gaze was so pure and loving that I could do nothing but adore and love in return. His love was so complete that all my wounds, weaknesses, faults and failures were inconsequential. This glimpse of Divine Love is but a portion of what we shall experience when we greet Him face to face. Alleluia!
The weekend ended with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The homily was incredible. It was geared to the teens, so it may have been a little unorthodox in the presentation., The content, however, was pure catholic orthodoxy. Fr. Leo Patalinghug, who is a black belt, gave an inspiring object lesson by breaking boards and showing us a few karate moves. When Satan comes at you, using you for a punching bag, we can, Father told us, remember the first 4 karate moves. Respect (don't underestimate), Focus so that distractions don't leave to a fall, Control by getting past the punches of the devil rather than staying there and trying to duck them, and Destroy. Destroy the temptations by prayer, fellowship, bible reading, the Sacrament of Confession and attending Holy Mass every Sunday and more often if possible.
There was so much more, and I am sure that some of it will come out in future blog entries and homilies. For now all I can say is that He is Love and He is here.