Last weekend I had the amazing opportunity to travel with 10 other missionaries from IMPACT! to the village of St Raphael’s for Journey to the Father, an annual Catholic Youth Conference for high school age teens. We had the opportunity to serve alongside many other young adults who were helping behind the scenes and witness some incredible things which took place over the course of the conference.
The Lord worked in many amazing ways during that weekend in St. Raphael’s, yet it wasn’t until we had road-tripped home that I realized how he had personally changed me.
St Raphael’s is in the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall and it has become a tradition that the bishop of the diocese, Most Rev. Paul-André Durocher, presides over the closing mass. I think that I first saw Bishop Paul-Andre say mass at Journey to the Father when I was a participant there in 2006. Since then I have seen him speak to, and say mass for, many different congregations; young teens, university age students and school board trustees and superintendants. No matter the audience, the Bishop has a way of speaking into their lives and seems to always exude holiness.
The closing mass was all about the Lord’s patience, kindness and mercy and how, if we strive to model our lives after Christ, we too can be patient, kind and merciful. Just before the commissioning at the end of the mass the Bishop admitted something that was on his heart; he had caught himself in a moment of impatience during the mass and in a great act of humility, asked for our prayers because he too is, “still working on it”.
Saint Teresa of Avila once said, “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks with compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world.” As we strive to become increasingly patient, kind and merciful, Christ works through our meagre efforts to really inspire others.
Most Rev. Paul-André Durocher is one such person. His servant’s heart, his patience and his amazing efforts to build God’s Kingdom are so encouraging for me. After the conference participants had gone home, he stuck around and helped the volunteers clean up. As I went about my tasks with the other IMPACTers, I couldn’t help but wish I was working alongside the Bishop; I feel like simply watching him interact with others and serve with joy teaches me how to be increasingly Christ-like. At the risk of sounding incredibly creepy, I will admit that I could follow him around tirelessly in order to watch him teach, preach and work alongside others and in so doing, learn how to be holy.
So I came home last Sunday and was talking about my experience at the conference with some of the other IMPACTers. I caught myself sharing with much zeal what I shared with you above. And then I realized, the Bishop admits that while he is striving for perfection, he is most definitely, “still working on it”. If I long to follow him around, HOW MUCH MORE would I have longed to follow Christ, God’s Perfection, when he walked this earth, teaching, preaching and working alongside others!
We hear so often in the Gospel about the crowds that followed Jesus, but I never really thought about them. How inspired they must have been! How much they must have learned after spending a mere few hours in His presence! This important insight was one of God’s great gifts to me at Journey to the Father 2011.
I don’t have a recipe to share today, but can I leave you with a relevant spiritual goodie instead? Here is another quote from Saint Teresa of Avila:
“This Beloved of ours is merciful and good. Besides, he so deeply longs for our love that he keeps calling us to come closer. This voice of his is so sweet that the poor soul falls apart in the face of her own inability to instantly do whatever he asks of her. And so you can see, hearing him hurts much more than not being able to hear him… For now, his voice reaches us through words spoken by good people, through listening to spiritual talks, and reading sacred literature. God calls to us in countless little ways all the time. Through illnesses and suffering and through sorrow he calls to us. Through a truth glimpsed fleetingly in a state of prayer he calls to us. No matter how half-hearted such insights may be, God rejoices whenever we learn what he is trying to teach us.”