During two summers in college, I was on a Totus Tuus team that traveled around my home diocese and ran catechesis for elementary through high school students. When I started, I knew I wanted to share the message of Jesus Christ with the youth of the diocese and I had encountered a zeal in teams from previous years that I desired for myself. By the end of the summer, I knew I had been thoroughly tricked. I wanted to share the Gospel and yet I found a deeper need within myself to encounter the Gospel personally. Returning to college, I told people that Totus Tuus is really about my own personal formation, not primarily about the youth I interacted with at the different parishes. It was a surprise, but it wouldn’t be the first time the Lord would change me despite my desire to be the one provoking change. Continue reading “When the Gift is More for Me Than Others”
Thursday night, I was sitting in adoration. When I left and went home, I decided to journal a little bit. Writing down my thoughts and feelings has always helped me sort through the mess that is my heart. At times it is only after writing something down, that I will have a revelation about it. I re-read what I wrote and it clicks. That’s it! It is an interesting method of learning from myself.
So I sat down and wrote a bit. It wasn’t much, but the second to last line I wrote struck me. I just looked at it again, closed my journal, and laid back on my bed, knowing that I would need to spend more time with it to fully unravel what I had just discovered.
Maybe, like Totus Tuus, I’m teaching not primarily for them, but for the salvation of my own soul.
Perhaps that won’t strike you as particularly profound. That is alright—the Lord did it for me anyway. I do find it to be profound. What if the struggles I encounter in the classroom are not simply the quirks of my students or the secular culture pervading the hearts and minds of the youth? Or, more accurately, it is that, but that primarily what the Lord desires to do is use all of it for my own salvation.
I’ve had this realization a few times before. Leading a mission trip to Honduras, I wrote up a talk to give to my mission team. I still have a phrase written down, the sheet bookmarking a place in my Bible, that came to me while preparing for the talk. Re-reading it reminds me that it relates to my whole life, not just the experience of leading a mission to Honduras.
In a way, God is calling you to this mission not because of a beautiful gift you have to offer the people of Honduras, but because He desires this mission to convert your heart in some way so as to be more aligned with His.
After I taught Totus Tuus (a catechetical program), I realized that all of the summer was spent not primarily for the sake of educating the youth of the diocese, although that is a great benefit. I was tricked into thinking it was that. The real purpose was to form my own heart and soul during the summer through living in community, teaching the Gospel, prayer, and play. We were told that we were going to help bring Christ to others, but really it was all about going out and encountering Christ ourselves and letting that transform us.
Whether I am teaching or leading a mission trip, the Lord seems to keep pounding on the dense door of my heart, calling me to realize that all I encounter, all I do, all I learn, all is for the salvation of my own soul. It is for converting this heart that is slow to hear, unwilling to follow, too proud to admit wrongs, and too quick to think I’ve already been converted.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. –Philippians 2:12-13