Greetings from Team 4!
We are back on the road! After a two week Christmas break spent with our families, we are back together again and jumping right back in where we left off. In these past weeks we have put on ten retreats and have been in the Dioceses of Superior, Chicago, Joliet, Columbus, and Lafayette.
While being back together as a team, it has been easy to take for granted life on NET. It is easy to go through the motions of retreats and forget to realize that each one of us on the team is impacting lives. When we first began our ministry it was easier to recognize the ways God was using our team to bring youth closer to Him but just like anything in life, after a while we can become complacent.
The lifestyle of NET is extraordinary. Think about it… early mornings, late nights, living at different homes almost every night, traveling with ten other people in one van, and putting on retreats for young people. I asked some of my teammates to describe NET with as few words as possible and they said: an adventure, challenging, God’s work, fast paced, all of life in nine months, and radical. And all of this because of one person: Jesus. One may ask, how can this become normal? How can something so extraordinary become ordinary?
The truth is that something so extraordinary should not become ordinary. Every retreat my team puts on should be seen as an opportunity to share Christ’s love. Every encounter with a retreatant should be an opportunity to show Christ’s love through our words and actions. We should not waste one moment of the mission God has called us to. Some days it is easy to stop trying and turn to complacency but God has called us to something higher. This something higher is sanctity.
One specific retreat that was easy to choose comfort over sanctity was a retreat my team put on for fifth graders. Normally, the retreats we put on are for grades between sixth and twelfth grade but this specific retreat was an exception. As one can expect, these fifth graders had a lot of energy and enthusiasm. Throughout the retreat it was easier to focus on techniques to grab the retreatants’ attention than to focus on the truth of showing Christ’s love to them. When we reached the climax of the retreat during prayer ministry, which is a time where the retreatants have a time where they personally can talk to Jesus, I honestly was not sure how this group of energetic fifth graders would cooperate. To my surprise, the retreatants entered into this time of prayer with a serious disposition. But the best part was seeing them seek God’s truth and word through scripture. During this prayer time, we set out bibles and encouraged the retreatants to dive deeper into God’s word and often times we will get a few retreatants who will grab a bible to read. At this particular retreat, the retreatants kept coming up to take the bibles and we started to run out of bibles! We began having to locate more bibles and giving more and more bibles to the retreatants. During this time of prayer, I could only think about what a witness all of these fifth graders were to me in their authentic search for truth through the word of God. It was in this simple moment of seeing the retreatants reading the word of God that I realized the beautiful simplicity of our mission on NET: to show Christ’s love to others. It is easy to get caught up with the details of a retreat or managing a group of retreatants, but sometimes it takes someone else showing Christ’s love to us to realize the mission of love we are called to. At this specific retreat I was so focused on the different aspects and details of the retreat that it took seeing Christ’s love through the retreatants to realize the mission to love I am also called to.
To show Christ’s love means to accept the truth that it will not be easy and it means choosing greatness over comfort. To show Christ’s love means to seek sanctity. On the team we often talk about our desire to be saints but it can be easy to become discouraged. Thinking that a saint has to accomplish so much or has to be a certain way can make the aim to be a saint seem impossible. But St. Josemaria Escriva beautifully articulates what a saint is. He said, “A saint is a sinner that keeps trying.”
A saint is not someone who is complacent. A saint is someone who perseveres. Each of us team members on the team has a beautiful opportunity to grow and live an extraordinary life as a saint but it is up to us to choose it.
We are called to sanctity. We are called to live extraordinary lives.
As I conclude this blog I want to leave you with two questions: What part of your life have you become complacent? What step can you take toward sainthood?
All you have to do is keep trying. Don’t give up.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
Our Lady Undoer of Knots, pray for us.
Team 4 – David, Yesi, Marrina, Angel, Carolyn, Vinny, Mary, Joshua, Madelyn, Paul, and Louisa