Monday, November 7, 2011

Spirit Day: Getting to the Heart of the Matter

That's right, we did it again. This past Oct. 29th and 30th was when the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry held their 8th annual Spirit Day, a day-long event for the Gr. 7s of the archdiocese to gain a better understanding of their role in the Church - especially with their upcoming Confirmation. In recent years, the event has become so popular that it has needed to be run twice, on two separate days. What a wonderful two days those were! All in all, over 1800 Gr. 7s enjoyed the amazing music of The Jacob and Matthew Band, the juggling ministry style of Apex Ministries, and the willingness of the over 100 volunteers: the energetic games of the Spirit Team, hospitality of the Logistics Team, the skits and testimonies of the Stage Team, and the support of the lighting and sound crews. The Gr. 7s of the archdiocese learned what it meant to live out the theme of this year's Spirit Day, "Every Day." Everyone involved laughed, cheered, and sang their way to Understanding.

Being one of the co-leaders of the Stage Team has always been a bit of a challenge. This was my fourth time co-leading the 12-person team with Oggy Luistro, and every year, we have had to incorporate the event's theme into our skits, which for the most part, we write from scratch - a daunting task at times. We have matched up previous Spirit Day themes such as "Shine Like the Son" and "Believe" with skits revolving around beach days gone sour, and reality TV talent shows gone selfish. In writing the skits, we have always wanted to put a fresh metaphor and perspective on things, but make sure that the message is clear: live for God, and stand up for what you believe in.

This year though, we took a different approach. We cut right to the heart of the matter. Because yes, we can, and should, always pray and ask for faith, for courage, for patience, for chastity...but then what? When we have quenched our thirst at the well that does not run dry, when we have stood up and shouted that we believe in the power of the Cross...then what happens? We become holy ones, basking in the glory of the Son. We become saints.

So this year at Spirit Day, the skits set out to demonstrate that fact. No fancy cover-ups or cleverly disguised metaphors. Just us pointing to those sitting in the auditorium and saying "Hey you. Yeah you! You're called to be a saint. No, I'm serious! Now get to work!" Of course, Oggy and I tweaked reality a little bit - all the saints that were involved in our skits were in "Grade 7." So Therese of Lisieux was quite the whiner, John Vianney was merely a very good listener, not yet hearing people's confessions, and Augustine had a house party (with his mom Monica praying for him in the background, obviously). It was neat to portray saints before they were saints. But throughout all the skits, the message that we wanted to tell the gr. 7s was specific and clear. Nobody starts out as a saint, and we may all take different journeys, but if we let God work in us, we will join Him in heaven.

Before Spirit Day happened, I was worried that this year's skits were not up to par; that they were not creative enough or did not try to engage the Gr. 7s enough in a creative way. But now I realize that you never need to get creative when you tell people of their heavenly destiny. The mere facts are creative enough! In retrospect, it surprises me that we have never done these skits before. They were in depth, intense, and had a great flow with the other aspects of the day. Apex Ministries had a session about the "superhero saints." The Jacob and Matthew Band united everyone in singing energetic songs of praise. Priests gave us the opportunity to worship God, with the saints in Heaven, during the Mass. And of course, the hundred volunteers donated their time and energy to support the Gr. 7s throughout the event. In short, throughout Spirit Day, Communion was created among all involved.

There was a very exciting energy that kept growing as Spirit Day continued. By showing all these saints, and by showing the Gr. 7s how amazing these ordinary people were, were invoked their holy names. We asked for their intercession and their prayers. We joined in the heavenly Communion, asking our brothers and sisters in Christ who have gone before us to support us and to urge us onwards towards our Home. To know in the depths of our hearts that we are aided by the support of the saints is overwhelming.

By the end of Spirit Day, the noise in the auditorium was deafening – and it was triumphant noise. I could tell that the gr. 7s were excited for their Confirmation, for their faith, and for their sainthood. They were cheering for God, because they knew that He loves them, and they sang their hearts out (hand actions included!) to the theme song of the event, "Every Day," by The Jacob and Matthew Band:

"Send us out to glorify You
And proclaim Your Love!
From the rising
To the setting Sun
Every day for You, Lord!"

Everyone at Spirit Day this year got to the heart of the matter. You need to work at it every day, you need to pray every day, but the grace that you receive from doing so will enable you to live a life worthy of Jesus Christ. I earnestly pray that all those at Spirit Day learned from the event, were inspired to call upon saints for help, and by the Grace of God, may enter Heaven to join the saints, the Church Triumphant.

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