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s2smodern

When one of my Jesuit brothers first proposed to participate in the initiative “Ultra Evangelization”, I thought this might be a very interesting experience. I had a vague idea of what the “Ultra Festival Europe Split 2019” (July 12th-14th) was (one of the biggest outdoor electronic music festivals in the world) and what young Catholics did in Split during those days, but that is all. However, after I accepted to participate at the festival, doubts started to creep into my mind: “What will I say to those people? What can I offer them?” I thought that it would perhaps be better if I said that I could not do it after all. But God in His love offered words of comfort. On the eve of the festival, I read these words from the Gospel of the following day: “Do not be anxious about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Mt 10:19-20). In short, Jesus was telling me to be still and know that He is God, that He is in charge. With that comfort, I went to bed.

Upon arrival in Split the next day, several of us Jesuits went together to meet up with other participants. We arrived at the major seminary, our “base of operations,” and prayed before the Blessed Sacrament for a while before we headed out to the festival. We were reminded of Pope Francis’ encouragement to young Catholics to evangelize their peers, to go outside and to encounter them. Laying before God all my inadequacies and fears, I went with other participants to help the partygoers quench their physical and spiritual thirst by offering them free water and our testimony. In my head were Jesus’ words: “Do not be anxious… for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”

As we were walking to our “field,” I was “distracted” from my fears by talking to my new friends. However, when we arrived at our destination and were divided into groups, the only question in my head was: “What now? How will I make ‘first contact’? What will I say to people when I approach them or when they approach me?” These and similar thoughts went through my mind.

Then the interesting stuff began! We started approaching people and people approached us. “What are you doing here,” they would ask, and we would say to them that we were there to help people by offering them free water and, if they wanted, we could talk and even pray together. “Wow! What you are doing is great,” they responded. Some of them would then leave and continue partying, but some of them would remain and talk. Little by little, all of my fears left me and during the next three days, Jesus’ encouragement brought me strength, comfort, and security that He was in charge.

We would talk about the key questions in life concerning meaning, purpose, and value. All of them were searching for God; all of them, like the woman of Samaria, were searching for living water that would quench their thirst. Of course, that does not mean they were aware of it, but in their hearts they knew that there is something more to life: for some of them it was love, for others a higher power. And this “more” was not something illusory, but something real. What the people participating in the “Ultra Festival” needed is a nudge or two in the right direction, and we as evangelizers tried to offer them exactly that without judging or condemning them, but by showing them the face of the merciful God through little acts of love and by our presence. Many of them did not know that God loves them, and upon hearing those words, some of them broke in tears.

“Ultra Evangelization” was a great experience! I met so many people who searched for true meaning, purpose, and value in life. I encountered so many young Catholics eager to evangelize and serve their peers through little acts of love. I learned something about myself, about my inadequacies, but also how God can be glorified through them. Truly, one can meet God on Ultra. How? Come and see.

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s2smodern