Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Do You Believe?

Another liturgical year has passed us by, and that means, for those involved in youth ministry, another Spirit Day has come and gone as well. last weekend, the 6th annual Archdiocesan event put on by the Youth Ministry Office entitled "Believe" catered to over 1800 Gr. 7s, for the first time over 2 days and in 2 different locations (the same program was run twice). "Believe", because we believe in the Creed, in God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, in the Communion of Saints, in the Forgiveness of Sins, in the Resurrection of the Body, and in life everlasting.

In short: It was simply amazing. I am so blessed to have been given another opportunity to co-lead the 16 person stage team with Oggy. Together, we wrote and performed skits, danced dances, and gave testimonies. But we were just a small part of the day. For 8 hours, the youth rocked out to the incredible music of Matt Maher and Ike Ndolo, laughed at the antics of keynote speakers Apex Ministries, made fools of themselves through games, stuffed their stomaches with food, and celebrated mass.On top of that, they were aided in lifting their hearts up to God through MCs, chaperones, the Logistics Team, stage hands, and the lighting crew and the sound crew. And the Gr. 7s absolutely loved it. On that day, we truly did witness to the Communion of Saints, the Catholic Church - The bride of Jesus Christ.

I've always been so fortunate to have God open my mind and my heart in new ways whenever I undertake a familiar task, and Spirit Day 2009 was no different. More than ever, I realized this year that only by asking for the help of what was probably in excess of 100 volunteers was the YMO able to even contemplate pulling off such a beautiful, rewarding, amazing event. Only by getting shifts off work, travelling to all corners of the lower mainland, waking up early and staying up late were we able to properly witness to our faith. And this time more than ever, I realized that all this requires a substantial amount of sacrifice. So much, that within our own separate teams at Spirit Day, we don't even get to see the event as a whole. Only the Gr. 7s do.

Well, "duh", right? Well, no. In being involved in an event this size, sometimes you fail to see just how huge it really is. And I finally came to a fuller understanding on Saturday night, after the first day had finished. The YMO had put the team leaders up in a hotel, and Oggy and I were hanging out with Krissy and Megan, the leaders of the Logistics Team. At some point, I asked them, "So what did you think of our dance?" And they simply said, "Oh. We never saw it. We've been doing this for 4 or 5 years, and we've barely ever seen any of the program. No Matt Maher, no Apex, no Stage team skits."

And that completely caught me off guard. I was convinced that the majority of Spirit Day happened inside that auditorium when the youth were clapping and singing and cheering, and that everyone got to see it. And that attests to how much I've misunderstood the event, and how much everyone misses. The stage team gives their testimonies, performs their skits, and then hangs out in the back room being as quiet as they can. The Spirit team mingle with the youth during the sessions and plays games with them, but don't get to see what else is going on. The Logistics team prepares the food, directs traffic in the parking lot, directs traffic during break, cleans up, and most of the time never even sees the event inside the auditorium. Some people are so busy running around and making sure all these groups are doing their job that they never get a breather for the whole 8 hours of the event. All people involved sacrificed so much of their time, just so the Gr. 7s could get something out of the day.

Not surprisingly, this all echoes the Gospel. "He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, 'If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me'" (Mark 8:34). Christ asks us daily to self sacrifice. And in agreeing to volunteer for Spirit Day, all of us deny ourselves. There is a huge part of me that wants to sit in the auditorium and listen to Matt play and Apex minister from a good point of view, not hiding behind a curtain. I would love to play games with the Gr. 7s and the Spirit Team, and I would love to help the Logistics Team prepare food, and serve it to the eager young people. And I'm sure many involved also have some of that same longing. But we can't. None of us involved can ever do everything at Spirit Day. But we can all do something.

It's beautiful, really. If you look at it with a micro mind, you see so many factions of people, so many different sections doing their own thing. But if you look at it with a macro mind, you see a beautiful body, all pointing towards the same goal - Heaven. And that's the way it's always been in the world of the Church. We have so many different orders of priests, of brothers and sisters, of lay people in different professions...and we can never take part in all of it. But we believe and have faith that all members of the Body of Christ are doing their part to point people towards their eternal home.

And throughout the world, and on a smaller scale at Spirit Day, we are doing just that. Thinking about Spirit Day, I now feel so much smaller, but only because I can see just how HUGE this body, connected by Love, really is. And it is wonderful. We profess in the creed that Jesus died, paid the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, and then rose so that we could truly live. We die to ourselves in order to rise again and bring glory to God. Christ made a sacrifice, and now we do the same. And that is our belief.

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