After a full day of music, silence reigned. Hundreds were on their knees, each holding a lighted candle. Jesus was the star.
On the beautiful grounds of Daylesford Abbey, the second annual AbbeyFest was every bit as uplifting and transforming as the first. Mingling families with religious, all celebrating God’s goodness and glory. For me, it was the opportunity to renew old friendships along with making new ones. What a powerful experience to be among Catholics, singing God’s praises, celebrating His humanity in Mass and adoring His divinity in adoration.
The Norbertine fathers of the Abbey are gracious hosts. Abbot Richard Antonucci, O. Pream remarked at Mass that it was the highpoint of their year, one that was reflected in the joy that beamed from each man’s face, from the younger to the elder. The talents of various artists, from the Marie Miller Band to Sara Groves and Brandon Heath, entertained the crowds during the day, preparing all for an amazing celebration of Mass.
One of the special experiences at the end of Mass occurs when the fathers call to come forward all those who are both in preparation for religious life as well as those who are discerning a vocation. It is incredible to see the amount of young people who are open to God’s call. Even more incredible is the abbot asking the congregation to extend their hands over the gathered group as he leads a prayer for them. While it’s not unusual for me to keep others in my prayers, it’s quite a different experience when the recipients are present and the prayer posture has my hands stretched out. It’s electric; you can almost feel the prayer itself.
While the advertisement listed the headlining act as Matt Maher, the real star of the show was Jesus in Eucharistic adoration. Matt’s songs seemed to take on a richer meaning in the context surrounding adoration. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, were kneeling in silence with lighted candles who just moments before were singing and dancing along with Matt’s performance. The candles seemed to be the fire of love each of us has for God. We have been renewed with God’s love through the musical gifts He has bestowed on these talented people. Matt’s ending song, “Hold Us Together”, was perfect to send us on our way and prepare us for the World Meeting of Families. The celebration of the Catholic Faith in a little corner of Pennsylvania has begun.