Go up to the mountain of God

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“Come let us go up to the mountain of God” (Isa 2:3).

 

Six years ago, one of my good friends, Justin Wykowski, a senior at Mount St. Mary’s University at the time, mentioned he was giving a talk at this thing called Mount 2000. I remember asking, “What is Mount 2000?” Fast forward six years, and now as a fourth-year seminarian at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, I have witnessed four times all that God does through this incredible annual event.

 

Every year on a weekend in February, the 150 Mount seminarians work together to put on this special event for high schoolers wishing to grow in their faith. This year we had nearly 1,000 people — high schoolers, chaperones, men and women religious, priests, college volunteers and our own Bishop Michael F. Burbidge — come to the university’s arena for this eucharistic retreat.

 

Sacred Scripture frequently uses mountains to represent places where people experience the presence of God. Mount 2000 is an opportunity for these young people to come to “the mountain of God” and experience the summit of our Catholic faith: Jesus in the Eucharist.      

 

The event begins on Friday evening as one of the emcees for the weekend (this year Arlington Deacon James Waalkes) yells, “Welcome to Mount 2000!” Mass follows a brief welcome, and the weekend full of inspirational talks, Masses, small group prayer sessions, music concerts, late nights, early mornings, dancing, weeping and praying is underway.

 

As seminarians, we help those who come to Mount 2000 to go up to “the mount” to pray and encounter Christ in the Eucharist. It is certainly exhausting. But if we can help these high school students grow closer to God, it’s worth it. This year was no exception.

 

Emma Elhabbal, who came for her second Mount 2000 weekend from St. Patrick Church in Fredericksburg, shared her favorite part of the weekend. "The eucharistic procession on Saturday evening is a wonderful encounter with Christ,” she said, “but what impacted me the most was simply spending time in silent prayer in the chapel." Her friends Joe D’Antonio and Luke Malanga, also from St. Patrick Church, readily agreed. When asked, "What will you take away from Mount 2000?" all three had the same answer: "Spend more time in prayer in front of the Eucharist." This is what Mount 2000 is all about.

 

Each of us is called to encounter Jesus by periodically going up to the mountain and “retreating” from the worries and concerns of daily life. Just as we strengthen our relationships with those we love by spending time on vacation with our family, or having a date night with our spouse, so we strengthen our relationship with Jesus by spending time with him in the Eucharist. Our eucharistic Lord, who called these high schoolers to Mount 2000, beckons each of us: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of God.”

 

Fioramonti, who is from All Saints Church in Manassas, is in his second year of theology studies at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md.

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019