Life on NET, it’s not easy. It’s not for the faint-hearted. We give a lot, it takes a lot. You have to get up every morning and continuously choose Christ. The days are long and exhausting, but we must often remind ourselves that He doesn’t want what’s easy for us, He wants what’s best. And what’s best is choosing to be with Him, even when everything seems to be hard because when we choose to fight through the challenging moments, we choose to live a virtuous life. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, virtue is not only performing good acts but also giving the best of oneself (CCC 1803). So when we choose to live out the mission we are called to do, we become more like Christ.
One of the best parts about pursuing a life of a missionary is being used as an instrument to help thousands of youth encounter Christ, whether it be their first time or their hundredth time. We get the opportunity to put on hundreds of retreats as we ourselves go into a nine month retreat of our own. Specifically, our team’s retreats range anywhere from three days a week to every single day. At times it seems almost repetitive to have to do the same things over and over again, having the same layout, giving the same talks, hearing the same testimonies. It can be so easy to fall into the continuous cycle of repeating the same motions and not truly being present or aware, but one thing we have to keep reminding ourselves is to treat each retreat like it’s our first. Certainly, a large majority of our retreatants have never had a NET retreat, so we may be the only time they see the face of God and hear of His love. And as we keep this mindset, it turns our perspective from having to do a retreat into needing to do a retreat. The desire to know God is in everyone’s heart – when we lose ourselves to service, we discover our own lives and our own happiness. Thus, doing these retreats helps each of us to grow in our faith as we share our faith.
A typical day in our life consists of many different things. Likewise, every day is a new day to recommit ourselves to the work we’ve been set out to do. It’s almost always a different layout, but here is an example of what one of our more recent days looked like:
5:00 am Wake up and do Personal Prayer
6:30 am Depart for Retreat
7:00 am Set Up
8:00 am – 2:30 pm Retreat
2:30 pm clean up
3:00 pm Team Prayer
4:00 pm Team Practice
5:00 pm Depart for Host Families
Some days, we have short retreats and some days we have long retreats. The length isn’t always the same, but one thing is certain: we only light the flames in the youth’s hearts. We don’t always have the opportunity to see the youth again, but we must trust in the Lord, that He will continue to foster that flame that was lit. As Archbishop Schnurr of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati has once told our team, we must give our all without receiving. We are only instruments in the hands of God, not a god who creates the masterpiece.