New Dawn and the God of Constant Opportunity

Author: Dom Cain

Picture: Facebook, New Dawn Youth

New Dawn and the God of Constant Opportunity

The New Dawn Conference in Walsingham offers great opportunities to encounter God for people of all ages, says Dom Cain.

I was massively disorganised on a recent Monday morning.

I struggled to get out of bed with my alarm and had not ironed my work clothes. I completely forgot to pick my phone up as I rushed out of the house-trying to make up for the fact I had pressed the snooze button one too many times.

It was not the ideal start to the week. Normally, I am at a loss without my phone, as if I have lost an extension of my right hand. Despite this, Monday was one of the quickest days I have ever had in work.

Free from the distractions of Whatsapp and Instagram, I actually enjoyed a day in which I was completely confined to my office.

Life is Simplified and Stripped Back at New Dawn

Whilst I have never forgotten my phone at New Dawn, it may as well be at home, because the signal is so bad in Walsingham.

The lack of signal is something that I love about coming to the conference. Life is simplified and stripped back. It is a week away from what Pope Francis describes as “today’s frenzied pace of life.”

Things that are so essential in our everyday lives are forgotten for a week. As a result, life is so much fuller.

On the feast of Pentecost, Pope Francis said: “The Spirit is peace in the midst of restlessness, confidence in the midst of discouragement, joy in sadness, youth in ageing, courage in the hour of trial. Amid the stormy currents of life, he lowers the anchor of hope.”

New Dawn is beautiful because it spans generations as a family conference. Reading Pope Francis’ words affirms in my heart how present the Spirit is at the conference. Just a glance around any of the tents at the conference and you will see an abundance of “youth in ageing”.

Freedom and Fervour

Last year, during a time of praise and worship, I remember being filled with joy when I saw an elderly lady display freedom and fervour as she praised God. As somebody who is fairly new to Catholic Charismatic Renewal, seeing people of all ages filled with life inspires me.

It shows me that life in the Spirit is something that fills us anew each day, constantly breathing life into those who seek it.

Regardless of age, each person comes to New Dawn at a different stage on their faith journey.

Having ministered with the 12-14 age group for the past two years, it is possible to take a step back and see how some of the young people are immediately ready and open to everything God has in store for them.

For others, there can be a little bit of hesitancy, something that holds them back from opening themselves fully to the Holy Spirit.

Quite often, I feel like this. Throughout the week, it is as if you can see these barriers being brought down before your eyes.

God Waits Patiently

The Holy Spirit works in so many ways through the authenticity of the community that has been built over years. This grows each year as people have powerful conversations and feel safe enough to ask questions that they, perhaps, don’t feel can be asked in work or school.

People give themselves so fully at New Dawn and the Spirit works through them. Priests constantly make themselves available to administer the sacraments and there is opportunity for prayer ministry daily. It is a place of constant opportunity to encounter God in so many ways.

God waits patiently for us in all of these opportunities, and He never tires of giving us chances to encounter Him. When we make that small move towards Him, He does the rest, filling our lives in ways that nothing else can. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8)

We are urged to “daily implore the gift of the Spirit” by Pope Francis, wherever we are at or whoever we are. Let us seek it in a new way today.

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