I just recently got back from the Catholic Youth Ministry Convention in Arizona and I just wanted to share the biggest thing that has stuck with me from my time there.
So the whole convention we heard talks about evangelization and a lot about being an effective youth minister. There were break outs on specific topics and then there were group prayer experiences. We did a lot of praise and worship, reconciliation was offered, and we had an XLT (an adoration/praise and worship type thing).
The XLT really brought this topic to my mind. I think we focus so much on the trenches, of being ministers, regardless of whether it’s our job or not, we all focus on spreading the faith, and knowing the faith to the best of our ability. As Catholic we focus on being solemn for the sacrifice of the Mass and being serious in prayer. We forget that God LOVES us. Not just that though, Leah Darrow at the convention said this: “God doesn’t just love you, he LIKES you. He likes your laugh, your personality, your hair. He likes everything about you and He loves you no matter what you do.”
I think we focus so much on the tradition and the solemness and forget to be pierced by that love. I understand and agree that there are definitely times we need to be solemn. There are times when we really need to be serious. However, at all times we should be filled with the JOY of the Gospel message: God loves us, we sinned, but he sent Jesus to die and to rise again to give us the opportunity to join Him in Heaven!! And to do this we have to follow Jesus and the Church. Well, here we are in the Church. We should be so full of JOY that it can’t be contained.
I was so overwhelmed with this joy during the XLT at the convention. We spent time before the Blessed Sacrament was exposed praising the Lord through music and then Jesus was processed in. We all knelt and spent some silent time adoring our Lord. At this moment I was so overwhelmed with joy and love that I couldn’t keep from smiling. I physically couldn’t stop myself. We continued to sing and spend silent moments with the Lord and it was just amazingly blessed. When the Blessed Sacrament was processed out we all got up and praised our God with all of our hearts. The joy that filled the room of 700 youth ministers, priests, and core members was amazing. We were all so consumed in the love of our Lord we were bursting at the seams. We were dancing and jumping around, smiling and laughing.
I never want to forget that evening because to me it represents how we should always feel on the inside. No matter what struggles or sufferings we experience, our God LOVES us. He died for us. We have HOPE. And because of that we should be filled to the brim with joy. That joy should spill over into everything we do. And if we live with that joy within us, evangelization will come naturally because how can you contain someone so large? You can’t, so you share it..and sharing the Gospel message with joy is what will truly bring people to the truth.
Never forget that to be Catholic is to be full of JOY!