Photo: Br. Angelo Casimiro, MIC
Musicians from "The Fresh Anointing" Prayer Group lead the people in praise and worship.
By David Came (Nov 14, 2009)
Imagine more than 300 young people — joined by around 200 mostly older conference participants — clapping, raising their hands, and singing loudly with joyous expressions on their faces. And the leader of it all is there on the stage, inspiring the crowd.
You'd think you were at a rock concert until you notice the lyrics of the song projected on a wall for all to read and the monstrance on the stage holding our Eucharistic Lord for all to worship: "Lord, I give You all my worship. Lord, I give You all my praise. You alone I long to worship, You alone are worthy of my praise."
The event is a Eucharistic Festival of Praise, which was held Friday evening, Nov. 13, in the auditorium of the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C. It followed the Divine Mercy Networking Forum held earlier that day and drew some 200 of the forum participants. Most of the other participants were young adults from area colleges and universities.
'Being in God's presence'
"A lot of people think praise and worship is about making you feel good," said one of the attendees, Brent Thayer, who is a novice of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. "But it doesn't give you fuzzy feelings. It's about being in God's presence, and the Eucharist makes it even more powerful."
The praise and worship time was organized by the young adult prayer group Fresh Anointing, which holds prayer meetings the second and fourth Fridays in the Washington, D.C., area. The group's leadership includes Franciscan Friars (TORs), local college students, and a Marian seminarian, Br. Richard Mary Dolan, MIC.
"You may see people with their hands raised in praising the Lord. Scripture speaks of the people of God worshiping with their entire bodies," explained the worship leader, a Franciscan friar, who emphasized that Fresh Anointing prefers to be known as a "Spirit-filled" rather than a "charismatic" prayer group.
Friday night, Fr. Anthony Gramlich, MIC, rector of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass., presided at the Eucharistic Adoration, which culminated with Benediction. Father Anthony was leading a bus pilgrimage to the forum and then to the North American Congress on Mercy, which was held the following two days at the nearby Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Brent said that he attended his first festival of praise at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, where the Marian Fathers have a house of studies near the campus.
"I went and thought, 'Wow! All of these college-age kids are on fire.' Then the next one I went to was Eucharistic. There was Jesus in His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, And I found myself kneeling before Him."
That was certainly the response of the many of the worshipers Friday night as Fr. Anthony placed our Eucharistic Lord in the monstrance and then as he led everyone in Benediction later. Nearly everyone was on their knees in worship, several with their hands still raised, silently worshiping the Lord.
Experiencing a Fresh Outpouring of the Holy Spirit
Another young adult in attendance was Liz Henaghan, a senior at The Catholic University of America who is majoring in biology with minors in theology and philosophy. She also gave her witness at the forum workshop titled "Inspiring Youth and Young Adults."
Beaming with joy, Liz shared how she has been coming to the Fresh Anointing prayer meetings for a little less than a year. "It started out when I was invited by a couple of friends and Br. Rich [Dolan] of the Marians. I was confused at first and thought it was weird," she said. "But in talking with Br. Rich and some of the Franciscan TORs, I began to see the value of praise and worship."
A decisive point for Liz came when this past Divine Mercy Sunday, Liz was part of a pilgrimage group to the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, which was led by Br. Rich. "That Friday night, before Divine Mercy Sunday, I was in the Shrine attending a Eucharistic festival of praise when it all clicked," Liz said. "I opened up and asked the Lord to help me. There, I received God's love in the most intimate and incredible way, the great gift of His mercy."
Liz explained that she believes she received that night what is known as the "baptism in the Holy Spirit," which is a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit and His gifts [not be confused with the Sacrament of Baptism].
"Since receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit, everything has been different," she said. "I have so much love for the Lord in the Sacraments and such a love for Scripture."
Liz sums up that receiving this deeper indwelling of the Holy Spirit has changed her whole perspective on life. "The question has now become, 'How can I love You more, Lord?' He's drawing me closer to Himself. Truly, it's all just been a gift of His mercy."
David Came is executive editor of Marian Helper magazine, the flagship publication of the Association of Marian Helpers, which is headquartered in Stockbridge, Mass. His new book is Pope Benedict's Divine Mercy Mandate.