Wednesday, 8 August 2012

A Transfigured Olympics

Bishop Kieran
Bishop Kieran Conry from our Diocese of Arundel and Brighton, and Chair of the Catholic Bishops’ Department for Evangelization and Catechesis, met Monday on the Feast of the Transfiguration with the hundreds of young people from 21 nations assembled at The Joshua Camp, a mile from the Olympic Park in East London’s Olympic borough of Newham.

Speaking about the Feast of the Lord’s Transfiguration, Bishop Kieran began by saying that “the story tells us what you are celebrating here in the Joshua Camp and what we as a world are celebrating in the Games”. The Apostles were “given a sight of future glory” that became “a very important source of hope”. He stated that “it is easy to think that we live in a time of crisis. I don’t think it is true. I don’t think we are that privileged or special to live in a time of crisis, for the Church has been in crisis since the cock crowed the first time. But our society has lost its way. In the middle of our society there has appeared a big empty space, a vacuum where God used to be.” He went on to challenge the young people present. “Our mission as believers and members of the Church” he said “is to put God back into that space”.

“Society in this country knows it needs to change and that we cannot go on as we are. And our mission is, I believe, to show our society how to live and the values that we claim and hold onto as Christians. Our values and beliefs are what our society needs very much. As well as love, it needs hope and faith.”

Reflecting on how the three disciples present with Jesus wished to make two tents, one for Moses and one for Elijah, Bishop Conry warned the young people of desiring to “want to go back to the past… to a place where everything was safe” and where they are in control of what is happening. “No. We go forward,” he exclaimed, “towards the Cross, towards a place of challenge and death. Go forward and face the challenges, the suffering and face the sacrifice. It will not be easy,” he said, “but in the end we go towards the vision of glory that the Lord gives us.”

Bishop Kieran ended by encouraging the young people: “Do not become discouraged. Do not become afraid. Do not become anxious. The vision that the Lord offers us today of the Transfiguration is real. We now need to find the way there.”

Following the bishop’s words, those attending the camp chose to either engage in sporting fun activity with local people in London’s East End, or went to one of the Catholic Church’s three Olympic hospitality suites at Stratford, Bow and in Central London. While there, they do acts of service and invite people from the streets to enter into the church building to light a candle, to pray and to have a time of quiet reflection.

Many on the camp have never attended or done anything of this nature before. There is a growing excitement in the camp with comments being made about the “amazing ways” in which they are seeing God touching the lives of London residents and visitors.

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