CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 22 September 2018

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The kingdom of World Youth Day

HONG KONG (SE): During the summer of this year, Brother Samuel Chow and Brother Luis Lorenzo, from the Legionaries of Christ, had the joy and the blessing of accompanying young people from Hong Kong to World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

At a reflection day held at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on August 17 they recalled the many jam-packed days of touring, sightseeing and praying in churches both in South America and in Rome during a stopover on the way.

They described the whole group as being blessed with a constant spirit of faith and family, a grace which they are both adamant they wish to share.

Brother Chow described his most special moment of the whole experience as happening on the last day of the trip.

“We got together, all 16 of us, and each one shared their own experiences, the things they liked and the things that were hard for them. You could really see how God’s grace worked in each one of them throughout the two weeks we spent together,” he reflected.

Speaking on his own behalf, he said, “I personally was really anxious to see what they would say, because if the trip to World Youth Day was hard for me, it would have been even harder for them.”

However, he added that despite the many difficulties that the whole group went through, each and every one reported that they really enjoyed the experience.

“It wasn’t really the activities they enjoyed,” he related, “so much as the family spirit.” He quoted one as saying, “I have been on many pilgrimages and many trips, but this is the first time I could really open up and just be me.”

Brother Chow reflected that for him, that was the most special thing that could happen, all the young people experiencing what Christ can do—unite us.

Philippine-born Brother Lorenzo added that for him there were many special moments. He highlighted the amount of walking that the schedule required, especially in Rome, so each time the group set out, he chose a different person to accompany him.

“This way, I was able to get to know everyone fairly well,” he recalled, reflecting that their conversations were great!

“I asked them about their families, their school, their friends, their dreams and, of course, about God. At the same time, I was also able to share with them my own dreams, my own past experiences and my own faith,” he related.

“It is somewhat hard to explain in words, but after all these simple, special moments, you really do end up so much happier, having made a new brother, sister or friend, forever united in the love of Christ,” he continued.

Brother Chow added that he thinks one of the most special things was that the trip happened at all.

“Initially it was just an idea, then it turned into scratch notes and it stayed like that until four or five months before World Youth Day started. How the group came together is actually a miracle and how it was organised is a miracle as well,” he said.

Although he reflected that it is extremely hard to explain, he said that what he learned is how God wants to work miracles in his life.

“The only thing that impedes him from doing miracles is my lack of faith,” Brother Chow admitted, but added, “he made me see how little faith I have in him and how much faith he wants of me.”

Brother Chow asked who would ever have imagined that he would bring a group of young people from Hong Kong to World Youth Day, saying, “God has a funny way of showing me how small, weak and puny I am, but he also wants to show me how great he is, if only I let him take my five loaves and my two fish.”

For Brother Lorenzo the most special day came on his last day in Rome, when some of the group wanted to visit the Church of the Gesù, where an arm of St. Francis Xavier is preserved in a glass case.

“On that hot, summer Sunday afternoon, around 4.00pm, we all entered the church for a visit. After saying a prayer in front of the altar of St. Francis, to our surprise, it began to rain heavily. It seemed that God had trapped us in, not wishing us to leave for some special reason. The church was dark, silent—just perfect for something wonderful to happen,” he related.

“Then I saw him. I saw an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus above the right hand-side altar. It caught my attention, because throughout the week, Brother Samuel and I had been sharing reflections on the love of God and how we could transmit it to the group,” he said.

He explained that when he got close to the image he saw the inscription, Thy Kingdom Come, underneath.

“I was amazed and in awe! Here I was face-to-face with the spirit of the Legion and Regnum Christi… our mission… to live in union with the heart of Jesus and to establish the reign of his love in the hearts of others,” Brother Lorenzo said.

“For me, it was an extremely strong confirmation of what we were trying to give to the young people from Hong Kong. After the entire tour was said and done, hopefully we were also able to show them the love of Christ’s heart,” he added.

Brother Chow said that his most important lesson was seeing how God works through him, despite his limitations.

“The trip was tiring, due to inconvenient transport and organisation, which I could not resolve. It was my first World Youth Day and the first time I had organised such a trip. In the end I made a long examination of conscience, asking myself, ‘Was this trip worth it?’” he reflected.

He said that although he was providing opportunities for a variety of experiences for the group, he kept wondering if he was giving them Christ.

He described that as his greatest fear, saying that because some were not Catholics, he did not preach much.

“But during sharing sessions, after everyone said how much the trip helped them, how much they want to learn more about their faith, how some of the words of the pope really struck them, I felt that this trip was worth it after all. Everything I could possibly have ever done would be nothing, if God had not blessed that effort and had not worked in each one’s heart,” he reflected.

Brother Chow concluded that the one lesson he thinks he has to take to heart is what he learned about his Asian brothers and sisters, both Catholic and otherwise.

He said that his desire had simply been to accompany them, but what he learned is that they were all so completely open.

“I ask myself why… and then I realised that young people value joyful and selfless love. This is the heart of the gospel! And this is the life we live as consecrated souls, because of what Jesus Christ has done for us, and who he is for us,” he pointed out.

He called it a great lesson in the simple fact that God is love.

“This is what the young people inscribed on the wristbands they left us. How fitting!” he said.

He described the greatest value we can share in our lives as knowing that, “God is love, and he loves us, joyfully and selflessly.”

 

The Canadian-born brother added that it also gave him confidence in being a missionary among the people of Hong Kong.