Lucy Bergin writes….
On March 2nd, several members of our youth group, including myself, together with members of Guildford parish, travelled to Wembley to join thousands of other Catholics for CYMfed’s Flame event. This is the largest Catholic youth event in the UK and, having been in 2017 and thoroughly enjoyed it, I knew vaguely what to expect but it is fair to say that it even surpassed my expectations. The day was divided up into music performances, talks, and liturgy, including adoration, and, as we had arrived with time to spare, we spent the first part of the morning completing a photo challenge – there are very few places where it is as easy to get a photo with at least three Bishops – and thinking of ‘creative’ ways to style Bishop Richard’s diocesan scarves…
The event’s theme was significance and the variety of ways this was communicated to us (through personal testimonies, performances from a theatre group, praise and worship, and scripture readings) meant that everyone was able to access a theme which bears so much weight, particularly for the younger generation, in a positive and inspiring way. A particular highlight would have to be the empowering sermon given by the American preacher Robert Madu who began with a hugely entertaining comedy sketch about the very relatable pains of having to go to the gym, and how he persists by imagining himself in the Olympics, which turned into an analogy for comparison and the destructive effects that this can have on our lives. His combination of humour with a movingly powerful message about focusing on the unique plan God has placed on your own life and your need to ‘stay in your lane’ resulted in an entirely deserved standing ovation. Other speakers included Christian rapper Guvna B and his wife Emma, creator of blog ‘girlgotfaith’, who spoke about self-esteem and finding our worth and value in God, in order for us to be ‘a generation confident in the person God has created us to be’; in addition, there was a video of Jean Vanier sharing his story of setting up the L’Arche communities in which he used this to ask us to seek our own ‘beautiful dreams’ and recognise the significance of all.
We also loved the music from Guvna B, Tim Hughes, and a gospel choir, all of whose music was joy-filled and the wonder of the praise expressed in that room was almost tangible. The beauty of the contrast between the noise and excitement of the worship and the utterly silent period of adoration was something that really touched me in recognising and exploring the ways in which we can discover faith, finding value both in the elated exaltation and in the stillness and silence.
Robert Madu had prayed at the start of his sermon that Flame 2019 would be a defining moment for some of us in our faith and I have no doubt that it will have been; the feelings of doubt and struggles with self-esteem, which are so pertinent to a teenage audience, were dealt with so sensitively and prayerfully that the experience gave rise to a feeling of uplifting optimism and a renewed enthusiasm for belief.