Having only been back at the seminary for four days, I found myself on a train heading home to Liverpool. Like many thousands of Catholics from across England and Wales (and in some cases even further afield), I was travelling to our Archdiocese to participate in Adoremus, the National Eucharistic Congress. However, unlike most I was actually heading to the Youth Congress which was taking place on the Saturday in the auditorium next to the main arena.
The Youth Congress brought 1,000 young people and chaplains together and, like the rest of the Congress events taking place elsewhere in the city, it put the Eucharistic Lord at the centre of all that was happening. I will leave the young people who were present to speak for themselves of the graces that flowed on the day and have, I am sure, continued to flow since.
For me, one of the things that I felt especially strongly during the events of the wonderful weekend – whether it was in the comfortable and dry auditorium, or soaked through during the Eucharistic Procession – was the sense of unity in faith and belief of those present. Each representing our individual parishes and dioceses, we were afforded the opportunity to come together – aware of our individual joys or sorrows which we have as individuals – and celebrate our faith in Jesus, the Bread of Life, who prays ‘that they may be one’.
In the seminary during the month of October there is a daily optional Rosary. ‘Optional’ has a slightly different meaning here than it does in normal life; in a seminary ‘optional’ should be read as: ‘politely compulsory’. Each day after lunch all of the seminarians, along with the priests and any visitors present, will gather before the shrine to Our Lady, Queen of the Clergy, to begin to recite the rosary.
These 15 minutes of prayer, spent walking around the outside of the seminary buildings, is often the best prayer that I experience, because despite the mild irritations of people’s inability to walk in a straight line (usually me) or keep up with the common rhythm of the prayer, we come to Our Lady seeking her intercession as a united chorus with our common conviction and love of Her and Her Son.
This October, the month of the Rosary, even if we find ourselves alone with our beads, let us be united in our prayers: for the Church in this country as we begin to realise the graces that have come from the Congress; for our local Church of Liverpool as we travel together towards Synod 2020; and for the world too, and for each other.