Yesterday as I was walking back from church when I felt a twang in my back and as I came around the corner I saw a man ahead of me stretching with a golf club and walking his dog. I approached him and asked if he had a bad back and he said he did because of playing golf. I asked if it was in the left of his back to which he responded it probably was. So I described how I felt God had highlighted him to me so that I could pray for him. He however did not want prayer. I build a bit more rapport and shared a bit of testimony but he was still not keep after which I blessed him and left. I reflected afterwards that from now on rather than asking people if I can pray, (especially if they are not keen) I will just start praying during the conversation and proclaim Jesus' healing over them. God may have healed the man as a result of the conversation; I will have to bump into him in the park again to find out!
Something really cool happened to me this morning. I was praying at the end of Mass and I felt God tell me to pray with someone wearing brown and white for headaches in the left side of the brain. I couldn't see anyone so I started to make my way home. Just as I'm walking away from the Church a random lady asks if I want a lift. So I get in the car with her and start having a chat and realise that she is wearing a brown jacket and a white dress. As we pull up at 110 I tell her that God had told me that I was going to meet someone wearing brown and white and that they would have headaches in the left side of the brain. She responds that she is going to hospital a lot at the moment as she gets serious migraines (especially in the left side of her brain). She even shared she was afraid that she was annoying the doctors because she was going so frequently. She also said the reason she was wearing her glasses in that moment was because she had a migraine. So we prayed, I commanded the headaches to leave in the name of Jesus and she was instantly healed!!! ALLELUIA! She's going to ring me in the next week to let me know her progress! GLORY!
A boy turned up to prayer ministry training on pre mission today who identified himself as an atheist. He told us afterwards he didn't know why he was there; he had just been asked to come. Within 40mins another student had prophesied over him about his dyslexia (she had seen jumbled up letters in her mind) and he walked away from the chapel a believer. He signed up to every opportunity he could to help out with the mission. #Jesus
Every night I sit down and ask myself a straight question: Do I know Jesus? I have to be honest with you and admit that the answer is constantly no. Yes, I may know him more than I did yesterday and I may know a lot more about Him today. But do I know him? Can I truly say that I have reached that true intimacy as Moses did, seeing the Lord face to face? I might sit there getting frustrated with the fact I don't seem to be moving forward in my spiritual journey, however, the truth is that the desire to know Jesus is a prayer in and of itself. It is in this desire that I grow as a person and I grow to know who Jesus is in my life. Why would I want to know him? Because he is Love and as I come to know him I will too become love.
I realised a while back that my goal in life was to reach an intimacy in my prayer that if Christ embodied walked into the room I would just carry on the conversation as if nothing had changed. I reflect back over my last four years in Sion Community and recognise that as I have started to pray and lay down my life for the Glory of God I have changed more on a monthly basis than I did in the first 18 years of my life. I therefore have to ask myself: were the first 18 years of my life a waste? No, because God uses all things for our good. However I also know that our God is a lover of process. If you are part of the Catholic Church you will appreciate that the Church, and therefore Christ (because Christ and his Church are one), moves very slowly! As an impatient young man I am starting to learn there is great wisdom in this. In a 'Now' culture this can sometimes be hard to face, but there is a good news for those of us who are impatient because the time is now! Jesus said "The time is now, the Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe in the Good news" (Mk 1:15). When producing some publicity the other day, I was challenged to avoid the word 'repent' as it has such negative conatations in our culture and would have the opposite of the desired effect in advertising. And yet, all Jesus is asking us is to turn our lives back around towards him. I'm often challenged when I go to Pentecostal gatherings and the altar call is given to give our lives to Christ. I have to admit I go forward or put my hand up every time as I always need to give my life to Christ and surrender, whatever the occasion! So let us turn around, make contact, grow in knowledge, grow in love and become one with our God!
My intention at the beginning of this academic year was that we as a team would start to see Eucharistic revival in all the schools we went to. As I come to the end of the year I look back and see a shift that has happened in all the schools we have visited. During the mission week we open up the chapel during lunchtime for Adoration of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. We invite pupils and staff off the corridors to come and spend time with Him by offering them a candle to light in his presence. On average we have seen around 300 pupils every mission week pouring into the chapel to experience this in their free time. Sights of pupils queuing down the corridor to get into the chapel have truly been astonishing.
We call the time 'Lightfever' as it was inspired by the German initiative ‘Nightfever’. Nightfever works by inviting people off the streets into Churches to spend time in front of Jesus. It first occurred to us to try it in schools when we were in a particular school that called the corridor outside their chapel ‘the street’. After seeing the fruit of Lightfever in that school, it became an established part of our mission weeks, to the extent that schools went out and bought monstrances if they didn't have one!
Something that has really struck us is the testimonies at the end of the week which have previously always been focused on the experience of prayer ministry. However this year we have seen an equal amount of testimonies about Lightfever. I believe this is because every person who enters the chapel during Lightfever has a personal encounter with Jesus. People are accompanied to the alter where they light their candle, after which the accompanying student or team member extends a hand towards the Blessed Sacrament and simply says ‘this is Jesus’. The look on the faces of people at this point is truly an honour to behold as they come face to face with their God.
The main challenge I faced in this whole process was allowing God to be God and not impressing anything on the people as they came into the chapel such as reverence. An encounter I had at the Olympics while doing Nightfever really spoke to me about this. I had invited a woman off the street who was on the way to a night with friends with a lot of Chinese takeaway in paper bags. My initial reaction was ‘Oh no, that is really going to stink out the Church!’ But I got past that and invited her into the Church. My next thought was ‘Oh no, those paper bags are all going to go up in flames when we light the candle,’ but fortunately they did not! But as we knelt down in front of Jesus her phone suddenly went off and she answered it. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced so much conflict inside of me! But as I looked at Jesus, I asked him what he truly thought about this situation and I came to the realisation that this was a random woman I had invited off the street who had no idea what she had really walked into and yet Jesus was there and he loved her. She did eventually put her phone down and engaged with the Lord for some time. After we walked back out of the Church I asked her if she was a Christian to which she replied she thought she might have been baptised but didn’t really know. I then proceeded to tell her that God loved her so much that he had died for her on the cross and that he longed to be part of her life. She was visibly moved and walked away with a bit more than just Chinese takeaway – the presence of God in her life.
If you look at the language of the Catechism of the Catholic Church it is all invitational. Jesus doesn’t want to impose himself upon anyone, he is a true gentleman. And yes there will be a time when a person needs to be taught of how to be reverent but I rather they did it because they truly believe it is God in front of them rather than because they have been told to do so! Bearing this in mind, I think it is important for us to get our priorities straight.
The beauty of all this is that as pupils and staff have started to familiarise themselves with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, there has been a tangible change in their response at Holy Mass. Enabling them to participate fully in the Mass is perhaps the greatest challenge we face as a team but as we have started to permeate all our presentation during the week with snippets of information and testimony on the Mass, we have started to see a glimmer of light upon the horizon, Jesus himself being elevated above us in His real presence and his overwhelming love. Eucharistic Revival is happening, so let us embrace it!
"Christ held Himself in His hands when He gave His Body to His disciples saying: 'This is My Body.' No one partakes of this Flesh before he has adored it." St. Augustine
For a chunk of my childhood I was mesmerised by a song that sang of streets that had no name. Every time I heard the words describing the place I just knew I wanted to be there, although I never quite grasped where it actually was. The sense of mystery drew me in. I found out years later that the place the song refers to is in fact heaven.
“What we do now echoes in eternity.” Marcus Aurelius, Gladiator.
I decided to change my life when I realised that I could only get into heaven if I was a saint. There is no other way. What we do now echoes in eternity. I had been living two lives up until that point, my God life and my… other life. However when I came to realise the true reality of heaven, as mysterious as it is, I knew I had to change. I knew God had put a mandate on my life to become a saint through the power of His love, because that is what I am destined for - Love. Pope Francis says the Holy Spirit is annoying because he causes us to move. But as I have discovered, what at first can seem annoying, can turn out to be life changing.
"To speak plainly: The Holy Spirit annoys us. He moves us, makes us walk, pushes the church to move forward." Pope Francis
I’m quite an impatient person but the good news is that I don’t have to wait for heaven; I can experience a foretaste of it now. Someone forgot to tell me when I was younger that when we go to Mass, we go to heaven - quite a big thing to forget to tell someone! But that’s the reality, we can meet God. We can meet Jesus. We can meet Love. Heaven is what I’m living for, what about you?
“All the way to heaven is heaven, because Jesus said, "I am the way.” St. Catherine of Siena
My name is Will Desmond and I've been part of the Sion Community since 2009. I'm studying Divinity, heading up Sion Youth and the Ascent. I love sticky toffee pudding, catching a wave (not very often) and getting uncomfortable with being uncomfortable for Jesus!