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