“For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of love and power.” – 2 Timothy 1:7
Learning to Love
One thing I’ve been reflecting a lot on during this NET year is the virtue of love. During fall training, NET Missionaries are told countless times about the importance of loving the youth where they’re at. This may seem like an obvious idea, but it was a point of growth for me. I came to NET with the mindset that if I could just convince people of all the facts, then they’d want to be Catholic.
Love > Knowledge
One of my teammates’ testimonies uses a quote from St. Thomas Aquinas that has to do with this idea. St. Thomas Aquinas says, “The love of God is far better than the knowledge of God.” This has turned out to be one of the biggest things I’ve learned at NET so far. Most youth that we minister to already know a lot of the “facts” of the faith. What we are trying to get them to have is a relationship with God. Our job is to plant seeds that will make them want to not just know about God but actually know and love Him personally.
To Listen is to Love
This mission starts by simply loving the youth we encounter right where they are. Whether they believe in God and want a relationship with Him or have no interest in anything religious, God still loves them and our job is to do the same. By listening to their stories, we can see the youth in their hurt and joy alike and simply accept them as they are – something that is a rare experience for many of them. By showing God’s love for them and interest in them in this way, we allow God to love them through us. This is crucial because God is the one who can open and heal their hearts. He’s the one who can give them what they’re searching for.
Relying on God for Strength
As we like to say on retreat, the work of evangelization is a big job, which is why God gives us a team. But, perhaps more importantly, God gives us His own guidance and strength through the Holy Spirit. A common phrase on NET is “road grace,” the idea that God gives us the energy, strength, and guidance we need to put on retreats and minister to host families. The longer we are on the road, the more obvious it is that this “road grace” is very real and very important. We have learned to rely on God for strength and know that when we ask He always delivers how He sees fit. Whether it’s the seventh retreat in a row or a late arrival at a host home, God gives us what we need to love the people He places in front of us and to give of ourselves without reserve.
He Makes a Way
The Holy Spirit also gives us the ability to push through difficult times. Life on the road is not easy, but with God on our side we don’t have to live in fear. We know that we can fall back on Him and that with Him we will be able to surmount any obstacles that come our way. We are doing God’s work, so we are confident that, no matter the circumstance, He will make a way for us so that we can accomplish it.
Peace and blessings,