Flame 2017, Britain’s leading Catholic youth event, was hardly my natural environment, but it proved a moving experience

Flame 2017 is not my natural environment, but Britain’s premier Catholic University had to be represented at Britain’s premier Catholic youth event – so there I was – going. Meeting up with the chaplaincy volunteers on Saturday morning was, as ever, a joy, and we were, after all, adding our own priest and nuns to the total we met going along the Wembley way. Passers-by must have wondered what was going on; so did I. So, how was it?

I can’t say that loud ‘worship music’ is my thing, and I may have been the only person in the Wembley Arena who had never heard of Matt Redman; still, if you like that sort of thing, he’s the sort of thing you want; and those for whom it was intended enjoyed it. It was hard not to be moved by the pin-points of (mobile phone) light in the darkness, that accompanied some of the songs.

There were two highlights for me. One was in the morning and was the address from Myanmar’s Cardinal Bo, who talked with burning sincerity of the ‘Calvary’ endured by Catholics in his country, and with great joy of the ‘resurrection’ of the faith there. I was told he was ‘trending’ on Twitter – which seemed quite right too. Then in the afternoon we had Eucharistic Adoration. It was assumed that this was new to many, so there was an explanation, and it was too short – but wonderful.

A great deal was said about the refugee crisis, but we could have done with more along the lines of Cardinal Nichols’ theologically-informed homily and slightly less of the secular social justice talk.

The St Mary’s contingent sang, and some even danced, their hearts out, and we left inspired, uplifted, and full of plans for next time. And yes, I shall be going again.