From August 23th - August 27th, I was part of an 12 person leadership team that led a Post-Confirmation summer camp for Gr. 7s: Searching in the Spirit. It is a camp, so we all took part in tons of awesome activities like swimming, kayaking, archery, hiking, low ropes, and volleyball. But being a Catholic camp, the leaders also gave workshops and led prayers for the participants, each day focusing on one theme. By the end of the week, the youth had been given lessons based on 5 themes: We Are Sacred, We are Witnesses, We Are Forgiven, We Are Servants, and We Are One Body. All in all, it was an amazing week filled with new friends, a loving community, and lots of laughter, joy, and faith.
At the beginning of the day that I led, Day 4: We Are Servants, we said a prayer entitled "Positions of Service," in which everyone took different positions during the prayer: kneeling, sitting, arms lifted high, etc. I've helped to lead this camp 3 times now, and with each year, God has revealed more and more to me. This year, and especially during Day 4, I came to an even deeper understanding of what it means to be a Catholic Christian. All 5 themes of the week did not have to do primarily with words or with what we say, but with what we do. And as Catholic Christians, we are called to be doers of the Word; to give a testament to God's love through how we interact with each other.
We are not called to sit there and say to someone, "you are sacred," and then magically expect them to feel unique.
We are not called to sit there and say, "I believe in God" and then act unjustly.
We are not called to sit there and say, "I forgive you" and then lash out at a person who wronged us.
We are not called to sit there and say, "let me help you" and then complain when someone does ask for help.
We are not called to separate ourselves from one another. No, we are called to be unified with each other as one body. As John says in his first letter, "...let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action" (1 John 3:18). In order for us to be any of those 5 themes, we need to move. We need to act.
The beautiful and amazing thing is that we underestimate the impact that we will have on people's lives, and how one simple action can greatly unite two parties. There were of course, the obvious impacts at SIS. The leaders bonded so much in such a short amount of time, and now it really does feel like we are a family. Likewise, the youth all made great connections with each other (and with us leaders!), and by the end of the week were all laughing and playing games as one big group.
But then there were the smaller things that I didn't always recognize. The one sentence that a leader said in a testimony. That one part of that one prayer. The way we played a game. The way we laughed. The way we sang a song or the way we held a door open for someone. We don't know what seeds will take hold in a person's heart and guide them for the next 2, 3, 4 years.
If we take what John writes seriously, we will love each other with truth. And that word, truth, can also be used to describe a person.
Let us love, not in word or speech, but in Jesus Christ.
Dive into what He is calling you to, and yes, you probably won't recognize that what you are doing is an action of love and of truth. But won't that be a beautiful thing? To be so in line with Christ's sacred heart that it will become our instinct to reach out to others.
Our Catholic faith is a faith of action. It was such a blessing to have been a part of Searching in the Spirit, and I hope and pray that everyone involved, be they participants, leaders, or chaperones, have taken from that camp a deeper wisdom as to what it means to love.
"Christ has no body now on earth but yours
no hands but yours
no feet but yours
yours are the eyes through which He looks
compassion on this world
Christ has no body now on earth but yours."
-St. Teresa of Avila