I have work I should be doing. For my actual job. But I can’t, because I’m distracted.
I am still in the place that I found at the retreat yesterday. And I don’t want to leave it.
I was a leader, the retreat wasn’t even for me but I was still moved almost to tears. I’m still so new to this being Catholic thing and I forgot what it was like just being in a place, surrounded by people who have such a vibrant love for Jesus.
I had so many conversations with them and I can’t even begin to explain it, the joy that just exudes from all of them is awesome. Having a conversation with an 18 year old who says, “Jesus will make it work out if it is meant to be” and means it. Or another Netter who gets giddy and excited about talking about the giant Monstrance that held the Body of Christ at World Youth Day Rio.
I was hosting them and helping them set up for the retreat for the youth group kids at my Church, so I got to really get to know them.
They invited me/I asked to crash their team prayer session. I knew from my roommate (a former Netter) that team prayer can take so many different forms, but yesterday they did a praise and worship session. I had never heard the songs before, but I was still able to sing along, and I just felt so much joy. I was opening myself up to Christ and so many times I just wanted to cry from sheer joy.
Because no matter what I’ve done, how far I’ve fallen and how much I still stumble. I’m never alone. I’m never abandoned. And even though I still struggle to find my place and my purpose I know that I can always find the guidance I need. And that is important.
The Netters have these questions they ask, and they kept asking me about how I grew my faith and how I ended up where I am in my faith and I told my story. I realised that I would never be where I am had I not met the young priest (Father) in my diocese, I am so thankful he is in my life. I sent him a text this morning (he was at the retreat last night) telling him I was thankful for him and for him helping me rejoin the faith, and then his response almost made me cry. At work. I was seriously not impressed by that.
I realised I am so blessed for my best friend for inviting me to go to Church with her after 7 looooong years away. I admire her so much and sometimes I don’t think she knows how thankful I am for her. I definitely know that I don’t tell her nearly as much as I should.
After the team prayer, I was caught off guard because they all started to hug each other (and me!) and said “Peace be with you”. And I think that may have been my favourite part. The sincerity in all of these people, who I had never met before, who wanted you to be a peace and with God and with yourself. After the bleakness of being away from the Church it was a really good feeling.
When the kids arrived, they started the retreat with the song Lay Me Down by Chris Tomlin and I have to say that I fell in love with the song.
I lay me down I’m not my own
I belong to you alone
Lay me down, lay me down
Hand on my heart this much is true
There’s no life apart from you
Lay me down, lay me down
That’s the chorus. You can listen to the full song here: http://youtu.be/0pkWrvCZDHA
After that it was general skits and things and I had to go off and do leader stuff, and by that I mean I got to catch up with Father (he arrived late).
I helped one of the Netters set up the prayer altar by untangling rosaries. Which is the worst, because they get super intertwined and borderline impossible to undo. But, you know, Catholic problems.
During the prayer session, I was sitting to the side. I wasn’t really praying, I was just reflecting when a Netter hops over and asks to pray with me. And asks to put her hand on my shoulder to show she is praying for me. The intimacy of that exchange is so indescribable and I was again, almost in tears. I have never been a crier, so being that close to tears twice in one day was extremely uncomfortable. But discomfort is a sign that God is working.
After the retreat we had dinner in the rectory, and we were discussing being Christ for others. Father went on his always entertaining (to me, anyway) almost-rant about how much he hates the quote, inaccurately attributed to St. Francis, “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words”.
It is something the Netters understood. They preach the Gospel with each other and at their retreats, but they never let their actions speak for themselves. They use their words.
The whole conversation was something I realised was something I needed to hear. I don’t witness enough. I’m intensely introverted, so it terrifies me to be uncomfortable or judged or be condemned for standing for Truth. I make excuses for why I do things, instead of saying I am called to do it. Because as a Catholic I am called to stand for truth and what is right.
But I realised I wanted to be that. It was a long journey back to the Church and it makes no sense for me to be scared to live it. Otherwise what was the point?
And I hope I can figure it out, because above everything else, I want to please God. I want to be able to fully surrender my will to his. To learn to love him with the fullness of who I am. And patiently wait for guidance.
And to never stop praying and singing his praises. Because if that is lost, life is meaningless.
I love this song. Father played it for me back in October, and I’ve been obsessed ever since.