ROCK THE MOUNT — Brother Stephen Predy, OSB, portrayed Jesus in a drama about the multiplication of loaves and fishes during this year’s Rock the Mount at the Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. (Tim Yaworski photo)

Rock the Mount continues to inspire

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski

CARMEL, Sask. — Youth, families and participants of all ages gathered at the Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel west of Humboldt Aug. 16, for a day of music, enrichment and inspiration at this year’s Rock the Mount.

Beginning in August 2002 after World Youth Day was held in Toronto, the annual free outdoor event at Mount Carmel continues to feature Christian musicians, inspirational speakers, and opportunities for the sacrament of reconciliation, as well as the celebration of the eucharist with the bishop and priests from the area, and a range of activities, games, and displays.

This year, dramas about the biblical story of Judith, the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, and Christ walking across the water were among features exploring the 2014 Rock the Mount theme, Be Not Afraid.

Throughout the day, there were moments of prayer and witness. Representatives and alumni of St. Therese School of Faith and Mission, Bruno, Sask., led the rosary. Rock the Mount also served as a concluding event for “Ignite,” a Catholic camp for teens operated by Face-to-Face Ministries at St. Therese School.

After a candlelight procession, Rock the Mount ended with eucharistic adoration, although rain cut short a final praise and worship musical session.

Musicians at this year’s Rock the Mount featured a range of styles, including music by the Amundruds, VISION, and For His Glory, which also provided music ministry during celebration of the eucharist.

In his homily, Bishop Donald Bolen reflected on the Gospel account of the Canaanite woman whom Jesus praises for her faith, after she persists in pleading for her daughter’s healing, even in the face of rejection.

“She is a model of faith, not only in that she trusts Jesus to heal, but that she perseveres in faith,” said Bolen. “She is not concerned for her self-respect, she is concerned about her daughter. In her combination of trust and perseverance, she is someone we can learn from.” Scriptures for the day make one thing perfectly clear, the bishop added: that “God’s design does extend to every nation.”

Bolen also reflected on those persevering in faith around the globe, caught in a web of violence and conflict. “It’s a world where Christians are being persecuted, I think more now than at any point in history,” he noted.

“We are called to hold all this in prayer . . . to hold in prayer our brothers and sisters in Christ who are being persecuted, in Iraq, in Northern Nigeria, in Pakistan, we are also called to pray for the non-Christians, for the people of the Holy Land in this terrible conflict between the people of Israel and the people of Palestine.” In our wounded world, we are called to be people of compassion for those who are suffering and those who are in need; called to be artisans of love and reconciliation, Bolen said.

The guest speaker at Rock the Mount 2014 was Sister Miriam James Heidland, SOLT, of Texas, who shared her conversion story, and an inspiring message about family, authentic love and eternity.

“Family is one of the most important things that God has ever created and ultimately points us to a life of communion, which brings us joy,” she said.

Human existence is filled with longings for greatness, for love and communion, but “then we go to church, and somehow there’s this huge disconnect,” she said, describing growing up seeing church as a boring obligation. Our desires for greatness and beauty and joy have everything to do with God, but we don’t always recognize that, Heidland said.

She cited the life and words of St. Augustine of Hippo. “He says the entire life of a good Christian is in fact an exercise of holy desire,” she related. It is a desire that prepares us for what we truly long for in the depths of our hearts: “so that when God comes we may see him and be utterly satisfied.”

We must recover what it means to be human, Heidland stressed. “So often, instead of loving people, we love things. God is calling us to so much more.”

Pope Francis has also been calling us to truly love one another as a way to overcome a “throwaway culture,” she said. “People are never meant to be disposed of, because the value of a human person is not in their use to us, but who they are, made in the image and likeness of God.”

Human beings are fundamentally created for communion and relationship, she said. “This is why when our families are broken, it breaks our hearts. This is why death wounds our hearts, because it was not meant to be so.”

There is a longing in every heart to overcome isolation, she added. “Whether that’s (caused by) divorce or death, or the secrets that we hide, or the wounds that we inflict upon ourselves, or that people have inflicted upon us,” she listed, describing walls that can often be built up around the human heart. “What Christ does in this is he comes to free us from isolation. He comes to restore communion. The deepest kind of communion, which is oneness with him.”

Moments of profound communion that we experience in this life — with others, with nature, with those who love us deeply, or with God — are a foretaste of heaven, she said.

Recognizing that we can come to Christ as we are, with all our brokenness, and be accepted and fully loved, brings healing, forgiveness and reconciliation, Heidland said, describing her own struggles on a path of conversion and healing.

Forgiving others is necessary for obtaining God’s mercy, she noted, citing the Lord’s prayer. But sometimes, in our hurt and our brokenness, all we can manage is to pray for “the willingness to be willing” to forgive, she noted, while describing how even this allows God to work in lives and in hearts. “Thank God, forgiveness is not a feeling.”

Heidland was raised in Woodland, Wash., and is a graduate of the University of Nevada-Reno, where she played volleyball on a scholarship and majored in communications. Upon graduation, she joined the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT), serving at various SOLT missions, including Rome, Seattle and Texas. Her apostolates include speaking, working with students, parish ministry, coaching volleyball and co-hosting a Catholic radio program.

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