Youth Ministers in Good Company

by gary-foote on November 1, 2010

Today in the Catholic Church we celebrate an incredible feast day, the Solemnity of All Saints. I had the privilege to attend Mass this morning at the Mission Basilica of San Juan Capistrano in San Juan Capistrano, CA. The Mission Basilica is filled with images of many Saints who had lived a life of holiness and now live eternally in the presence of the Blessed Trinity. At first when I walked into the Mission Basilica, the beauty that was visually present overwhelmed me. By the time I left though, the priest celebrating Mass had me focused on an even deeper beauty.

As the celebrant finished proclaiming the Gospel, I thought to myself, “I wonder what he will preach on today. There are so many things he could talk about.” As he began his homily, I was very surprised. The priest didn’t talk about the greatness of the Saints but rather their insufficiencies.  He spoke about St. Matthew being a tax collector and by association a thief. He talked about how dense St. Peter was and how he often times didn’t understand. He went on to preach about several other Saints highlighting their frustrations with their lives and their ministries. He specifically spent a lot of time on Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta in light of the recent publications of her journals which contain similar stories to St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila about loneliness, uncertainty, and depression. On the surface, I think this could be a very discouraging homily. But the point that drove the message home was this: “We are not alone.” In that moment of realization, everything changed.
At first as I listened to the homily I thought, “If the Saints had this much trouble, how in the world am I going to make it?” The reigning truth though is not “How am I am going to make it,” but rather, “I am not alone in my struggles.” St. Matthew, St. Peter, St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, Blessed Mother Teresa, and many more met the final goal of holiness and eventually Heaven. Their goal was not to be without burdens, troubles, and doubts. Their goal was to be totally resigned to the love and will of God. As we look into our personal lives and see how much more we need to grow, we can look to the Saints who lived before us and see how much they grew through the mercy of God and pray that the same mercy can be given to us.

When we look at our ministries and become discouraged by how few volunteers and youth we have, how our budget just doesn’t seem to meet the needs, how tired we are, how most people do not understand our ministry (sometimes even our bosses and co-workers), and wonder if God is really present in what we are trying to do to help young people encounter Him and His Church in a deeper way, we can look to the Saints who have gone before us and realize three things:

1) We are not the first one’s to experience these challenges;

2) God’s mercy can and will overcome all if we will let it;

3) We are not alone, but are in good company with the Saints.

God Bless you in all that you do! Happy Feast Day.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Marc Cardaronella November 3, 2010 at 4:22 am

Great thought! I do take great comfort in the fact that we’re in good company with the Saints…that yes, they had struggles too. In fact, when you get outside of the neat and tidy Butler’s versions of the Lives of the Saints and really read biographies of them, you see how much the really did struggle. We are usually only presented with the idealized version of the Saints, what is true of them after they reached perfection. But, along the way, they had great moments of doubt, hardship and struggle to get where they were at that high level of sanctity. That is very comforting.

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