My wife and I went to bed Friday night, all enthused about heading down to the 20th Annual Lift Jesus Higher Rally, sponsored by Catholic Renewal Ministries at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the next morning. But I tossed and turned, fretting about a powerful wind storm which howled through the trees all night long; however, I eventually chalked the big blow up to the Holy Spirit's early arrival in town for the rally, and finally managed to get to sleep.
Judging by the effect which speeches by Father Jonathan Morris, Ralph Martin, Peter Herbeck and Sister Ann Shields had on the audience, I would have to say that I was dead right about the wind. Something was blowing around the large auditorium, and it wasn't air from the heating fans. Some people were weeping, and many others were waving their arms as if they had just seen a long lost friend, somewhere there up on the stage.
I noticed the same awe and energy in an eleven-year-old boy I had met at the Conquest Boys' Club in Milton, Ontario. Joseph was helping his mother with religious articles at one of the many stands outside the auditorium, and his mother, Maria informed me that Joseph had been coming to the rally since he was four years old. She said, "He would be very upset if he ever missed one." He worked beside his mother all day long, and still found time to attend the High Mass with Thomas Cardinal Collins, and receive Holy Communion. I know, because he was just ahead of me, hands clasped in prayer, awaiting the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
During one of the breaks, I walked up to the front to say hello to Peter Herbeck and tell him how much I enjoy watching the EWTN program, "Crossing the Goal." Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Sister Ann Shields kneeling on the lip of the stage. She was tenderly, and attentively holding the hands of people who had come to ask her to pray over them, and she was taking the time to speak to each one individually. I felt as if I were witnessing something very extraodinary, and tried not to be intrusive.
The waiting line was very long, but that did not seem to intimidate Sister Ann one bit. As I was waiting to talk to Peter, I could not help but feel the energy which was passing through Sister Ann Shields to those people who had such a deep and unshakeable faith in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Later, as Father Thomas Rosica led the Eucharistic Healing Procession, passing throughout the entire auditorium, the Holy Spirit was once again in demand, and present to all who would accept Him. The respect of the faithful for the presence of the Eucharist was palpable.
Once at St. Michael's Catholic Church in Cobourg, Ontario, my wife and I went up to the altar with many other people to be touched by a priest who was performing healings. We lined up in front of the altar and waited. When the priest touched me, nothing happened, but when he touched my wife, she fell over backwards and attendants caught her, before she hit the floor.
Afterwards, I asked her what had happened, and she said that she heard a loud wind in her ears, and then felt a powerful energy, which pushed her over backwards. She still talks about it whenever the topic of the Holy Spirit comes up.
That's the same kind of energy which was all over the hall at the Lift Jesus Higher Rally in Toronto. It was howling outside the Metro Toronto Convention Centre all day Saturday, and in some ways, it was howling even more inside.
I know, because I was there, and even though I wasn't knocked over backwards, I will carry the energy which I felt in that auditorium for the entire year I have to wait until the next Lift Jesus Higher Rally in March, 2013.