Bright Lights Youth Festival
posted on 14 July 2003
The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, has joined young Catholics at the Bright Lights Festival at London Colney this weekend. The festival, for young adults between the ages of 16 and 30, included celebration of mass, open-air worship, fireside night prayer, adoration, meditation and reconciliation alongside a range of activities including football, mountain biking, archery and creative arts workshops in drama and mural design. Speaking after the event, Cardinal Cormac said:
'Today I have been struck by the strength of witness - to the truths we know, and the faith which is our gift to the world - shown by the young people at this weekend's Bright Lights Festival.
'It is traditional when we think of spiritual leadership to think of people like me - bishops, Archbishops and Cardinals. However, this weekend we have celebrated a different kind of leadership, that of our young people. It is a leadership born out of mutual support, community and discipleship. One of the problems today for those who hunger, and I am thinking particularly about young people, is to know where to turn, to whom to turn, for nourishment or for guidance on the journey.
'In being disciples of Jesus and answering His call to live a life based on Gospel values and on the Beatitudes, our young people have become beacons of hope and joy in our world which is so apparently rich and yet so deeply impoverished spiritually. Theirs is a wonderful and a deeply responsible calling. I see them as leaders in our society - people who can show the way.
'The strange thing is that their witness, our witness, must so often be counter-cultural. They are called not to swim with the current but to swim against it. Together, we are called to stand up for truth and not for what is convenient or suits our particular purposes. We are called not to be mere consumers of transitory wisdom, fads or fashions, but to be witnesses to the truth of Jesus.
'At times that calling will feel immensely costly to us in personal terms. We were warned that this would be the case. But we know that the truth, however hard it is to bear, will set us free. It demands courage, but it frees us to speak and live truthfully. In that is great and lasting joy and human fulfilment.
'Ours is not a faith for individuals. Ours is a faith for all men and women. We live it together, in community, and in communion with one another. This weekend we have shared our faith with one another. That is what faith impels us to do. So do it. Be joyful. Be hopeful. Resist cynicism. Be there for each other in joy, but also in sadness, and moments of doubt and confusion.
'So I would say to our young people, go out and live a life of love. That was Jesus message to his disciples and it is a message of hope for all of us here today. Be evangelists and let the world know we are evangelists by our love, and by our faithful witness to truth.'