Life is very good — and they know it

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George Mason University's Patriot Center in Fairfax has seen its share of rock concerts over the years. The arena hosted a special concert Jan. 21, unusual, because it included prayer and adoration. It was the annual Life is Very Good Evening of Prayer on the eve of the March for Life in Washington.

Blue, yellow and red laser lights swept over the packed Patriot Center as thousands of young people stood, cheered and sang along with high-powered musical acts like Rand Collective and Matt Maher.

Unlike the old days, when concert-goers held up cigarette lighters to show an emotional connection to the band, cell phones were waved like dancing stars in the darkened arena.

Church groups from Baton Rouge, La., Chicago and Biloxi, Miss., joined local activists to pray for a successful march.

Deacon Alex Loudex from Christ the Redeemer Church in Thibodaux, La., brought more than 100 students and adults from the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux.

"I'm here to voice my disgust with the legality of abortion," he said.

Missionary Sisters of Christ the King Weronika Ilnicka and Maria Niwa, from St. Albert the Great Church in Burbank Ill., came with seventh- and eighth-graders from the parish school.

"This is a great pilgrimage," said Sister Weronika. "This is a gift, a blessing from God."

Andrea Albanese and her son Christopher, 11, were there with a group from St. Raymond of Peñafort Church in Springfield.

Christopher said he was surprised at the turnout.

"I didn't think there was going to be so many people," he said.

The audience was large and loud. People raised their arms in praise and cheered when a speaker or musician said the words "Life is very good."

When speaker Chris Stefanick took the stage, he told the audience that Jesus brings life to the world. Without our faith, he said, there is no hope.

Then he shared a startling statistic.

"Twenty-five percent of your generation is missing," he said about the effect of abortion on young adults.

But after the musicians and speaker were through, it was like a giant electrical switch was flipped, silencing all the cheering, clapping and music. Seminarians brought a monstrance to the stage and set it on a table covered with a white cloth.

When Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde processed to the stage with Omaha, Neb. Archbishop George Joseph Lucas, the audience rose in silence. During the adoration, as incense wafted through the Patriot Center, everyone kneeled, again in silence.

The switch was turned back on when Bishop Loverde addressed the crowd, wishing them a safe trip back to their places of rest to ready themselves for the march the next day.

"Life is very good," the bishop said, as the crowd erupted in cheers.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015