Christopher L. Wehner and Father Matthew Williams kneel in front of the Blessed Sacrament at the April 24 LIFT evening of adoration. The LIFT program uses multi-media effects and music to encourage eucharistic adoration among young Catholics. Pilot photo/ Neil W. McCabe
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MILTON -- More than 500 young adult worshipers and a good showing of those not so young welcomed Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley at Fontbonne Academy for the LIFT program’s April 24 adoration of the Eucharist.
A fairly new program in the archdiocese, LIFT uses modern technology to enhance its monthly evening of praise, adoration and an inspirational talk.
“LIFT is an opportunity to bring young people to the riches of the Eucharist and our Catholic faith,” the cardinal said.
Standing under bright theatrical lights on the stage of the school’s auditorium, the cardinal joked, “I would like to say it is good to see you, but I can’t see you. But, I can hear you.”
In his remarks, Cardinal O’Malley exhorted the assembly to have courage to live their faith as an optimistic and positive part of their everyday lives.
“This is not the Church of ‘No.’ We are the people of ‘Yes,’“ he said.
In a voice that gained momentum and force, he proclaimed, ‘‘We say yes to God. We say yes to life. We say yes to love and yes to a call -- and the call is to ‘Follow Me!’”
In his contemplations on St. Peter, the cardinal told the audience that after Jesus was arrested, Peter pulled back. “Peter tried to follow Jesus at a safe distance. A lot of us try to follow Jesus at a safe distance. But, then we learn, like Peter, it just doesn’t work.”
Cardinal O’Malley said as he interacts with people at different events, it is common for people to come up to him and refer to their own safe distance from Jesus. “They tell me: ‘My grandmother was very Catholic.’ And I say, ‘Oh, that’s nice,’” the cardinal remarked.
But, that is not enough, he said. “We must take care of our own salvation. We cannot rely on nana to get us into heaven!”
On stage kneeling next to the Blessed Sacrament with Father Matthew Williams, LIFT’s spiritual director, is an intimate religious experience, said Christopher L. Wehner, an 18-year-old high school senior. Christopher, who attends ather William’s parish, St. Mary of the Assumption in Dedham, said, “I am literally inches way from Jesus.”
Wehner, who is in the process of discerning his vocation to the priesthood, said Father Williams invited him to join him on stage for the first LIFT adoration in August and he has continued each time.
“Christ died for us and that is the greatest gift ever,” he said.
Father Williams said LIFT was not set up to encourage vocations, but as a program directed to young Catholics, he is not surprised that it may lead more young people to consider one.
LIFT makes adoration of the Eucharist accessible to young Catholics through the use of contemporary music and a high-quality multi-media theatrical production, but aside from the non-traditional music and effects, it is in every way ritually correct, he said.
Since its launch in August, LIFT has continued to grow, but the collections do not yet cover the costs, Father Williams said. To cover the difference, individuals on the LIFT team have stepped up to bridge the funding gap. “We are trusting that God will take care of all of that.”
The next LIFT meeting is May 15, and the guest speaker will be Father Marc Bishop from Holy Family Parish in Amesbury, who recently returned from a tour in Iraq as a military chaplain.
More information is available at the LIFT Web site: www.liftedhigher.com.