“The world offers you comfort, but you were not made for comfort, you were made for greatness.” – Pope Benedict XIV
Merry Christmas from Team 10! It hasn’t been long since the last blog post, and so much has happened. We went from 20 degrees in New York to 80 degrees in Florida; went from homeless in a blizzard to staying in a mansion on the bay; went from a retreat with 13 young people to a retreat with 140… No matter what the challenge or blessing, Mama Mary has continuously called us to meet her at the foot of her Son’s Cross; to make a daily choice to participate in Jesus’ thirst for souls and for love.
Our ministry is not only with the young people we meet on retreat, but with the people who host us as well. In fact, a lot of the time, we encounter Jesus and His thirst for souls with the families and single people we spend our evenings with after retreat. Sometimes, our host homes are normal suburban families in a quiet neighborhood. Other times, we end up in sticky situations and God pulls us through with the help of the most unlikely of people.
While on our way to New York from Virginia for another series of retreats, we were caught in a major blizzard in Pennsylvania. We were stuck in traffic all day, and every mile there was another car or semi flipped over or stuck on the side of the road. It was already late and we knew we weren’t going to make it to our original host home, so while in dead-stop traffic for nearly four hours in Bethlehem, PA, we phoned what seemed like every hotel in a thirty-mile radius trying to find a room to spend the night in… But, ironically, there were no rooms at any of the inns in Bethlehem. Finally, strings were pulled and a kind manager at a Best Western allowed us to stay in their ballroom with our sleeping bags and pillows once we were out of traffic. When we arrived at the hotel exhausted, our unlikely “host mom” immediately welcomed us, made sure we had water and snacks in our ballroom, and proceeded to make sure all of our needs would be taken care of until the next morning. Our heroine’s name is Kat, and she was truly a blessing to us. We don’t know anything about her; where her relationship with Jesus is or what her family life is like… but she was truly an angel to us and we’ve prayed for her in her kindness. She is a beautiful example of someone who carries the hospitality and kindness of Christ within her heart.
Once we finally arrived in New York, we moved into an unoccupied rectory run by a young man named Kenneth. It was an exciting two nights ministering to the youth of Brooklyn, watching the sunset from the roof, and praying in front of Jesus in the tiny chapel. While only 23, Kenneth was our “host dad” and took care of all 11 of us to the best of his ability… Sometimes we never know the impact Jesus has on our hosts through us, but with Kenneth we were able to see the fruits through a letter he sent us while we were in Maryland for Thanksgiving:
“I want to say thank you. Though the kids may not have said it, and the parents may not have either, thank you… The kids needed it… You are sowing seeds that I might not even see the smallest fruits from while I’m still here. But I have hope, so again, thank you… I also want to say thank you for myself… being a faith-filled Catholic here is hard. Really, REALLY hard… it really hits you hard the longer you stay here, even if you don’t realize it… The fire I had for my faith was dimming. I was becoming more and more cynical as I saw the church dying before my eyes in the city… While I wasn’t originally supposed to be the person taking care of you guys here… I now know the Lord desired me to be here to reignite my fire. Seeing such faith-filled, on fire young men and women reminded me that not only are there still incredible young people out there fighting for our King, but that I’m not alone in the uphill battle… keep fighting, keep climbing, keep pushing, and don’t stop till the entire world is won for our Lord and Lady… Thank you for reigniting my embers…”
Life on the road may be hard, but like Kenneth said, it’s all for the glory of the King; to satisfy His amazing thirst for souls and for love. That’s our mission. To touch the lives of retreatants and host families for the Lord through simply living out the life Jesus has called us to. In Matthew 28:19-20 it says:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations… teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
He is always with us and He will never leave us. Especially as we are spend time at home for Christmas break, we need to always remember the mission He has called us to; remember that He calls all of us to follow what He has commanded us; remember that He is always with us no matter what — to the end of the age.
Peace to you all in this Christmas Season,