CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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A bit of teen prayer at Rosary

HONG KONG (SE): Every Saturday night at Rosary parish in Tsim Sha Tsui is LifeTeen night, a couple of hours for the English-speaking teenagers to be together, discuss life and faith, enjoy each other’s company and receive a bit of guidance from their dedicated leaders, Ruel Trinidad and Deidre Chavez.

But every now and then the format of the evening changes and on October 29 the regular crowd settled in for what Trinidad described as a time of prayer—teen-style—with their parents, under the title of XLT.

Trinidad introduced the evening by inviting the gathering to bring something special to their prayer. 

“Tonight, let’s just bring ourselves and allow the grace of God to enter into our hearts,” the youth leader said.

Chancing a bit of adult teen-talk, Trinidad advised the young people to “let it all hang out!” But with wry smiles, the teenaged group gladly forgave their much-loved youth leader and allowed him the space to appear cool in their midst.

Trinidad described the challenge of the evening as entering into a routine of words, praise, silence, as the evening that ended with a much longer period of prayer, began with a short one inviting everyone to give thanks and be open.

“Bring something in prayer,” Trinidad encouraged the group. “Tonight bring yourself and allow the grace of God to enter into our hearts. That is our challenge for tonight.”

Then as the lights went down the tempo of the music from the talented, homegrown LifeTeen Band came up and the gathering settled in for a solid 20 minutes of what could only be described as upbeat Taizé prayer.

The rhythmic pulse played to a rock beat on electric guitar, drums and keyboard gradually absorb the consciousness of the gathering into the music.

But words like “turn my mourning into dancing… this is how we overcome… share the joy of the Lord” keep the concentration focussed on the holy, as little by little the atmosphere moves form the dazed dream of the disco to the prayer of the Church, leading the group through pleas for mercy, as well as calls for thanksgiving, protection and strength-building.

A few changes in pace keep the prayer moving until it dissolves into a recollection period of receptive quietude.

As the music dies the silence is audible and all ears and hearts are ready for a bit of inspiration, which came from a special guest for the evening, Father Eamon Sheridan. 

He had previously been assigned to Rosary parish and was passing through Hong Kong on his way to his new appointment in the Union of Myanmar.

“I was so inspired by my experience with you here in Rosary that I wanted to pass on the experience to the young people in my next parish in Ireland,” Father Sheridan told the gathering.

Addressing the theme of the evening, unfinished business, he said that life eventually brings us back to what is important and presents us with the challenge of finding what we really need, rather than what we want.

He then encouraged everyone in the group to anoint each other along the way with the oil of the strength of companionship, so that they may be brought together in their search.

“Touch each other’s hearts and call on Christ to touch our hearts as well,” he concluded.

The evening ended with a period of silent prayer and adoration of the blessed sacrament, as Father Mike Sloboda blessed the group, wishing everyone the peace of Christ in their hearts.

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