24 June 2012

Fail, Fail Again

I'm sure you've heard it said: What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

For Christians, I propose another question: What would you do if you remembered that failures are God's method of sanctification?

Side note: Did you know that today, the Church celebrates the birth of Saint John the Baptist? St. John's nativity is one of only three celebrated in the liturgical calendar (in good company with the nativity of the Blessed Mother on September 8 and Jesus Christ the Lord on December 25)!

Saint John the Baptist, Pray for us!

19 June 2012

Encounters on Campus

My job as a FOCUS Missionary, but firstly as a Christian, is to share the Gospel with those around me. In FOCUS, we do this in various ways. Most of the methods we use are relational: we meet people, get to know them, and introduce them to the Man who changed each of our lives in radical ways. One of the "scariest" ways that we share the Gospel is through Barehanded Evangelization. We go out onto campus armed with nothing but the love of Christ in our hearts and we talk to people about Jesus.

It can be scary for a few reasons.
1. Satan doesn't want us to do it and will try various intimidation tactics to make sure we don't.
2. It's not "PC" to talk about Jesus.
3. College students can be just plain mean!

Last week, my new teammate Katelyn and I went "barehanding." We only had half an hour so I prayed that we'd be able to find one person to talk to in that short amount of time. We walked the quad here at U of I for a few minutes and everyone was wearing headphones or was already talking to the other missionaries out there.  We walked over to the engineering quad and saw a girl sitting by herself talking on the phone.  I wanted to talk to Katelyn about some evangelization techniques before we jumped into anything so we discretely sat on the bench next to the girl on the phone, waiting, of course, for her to finish her conversation. Katelyn and I talked and I told her I prefer a more natural way of starting conversations (rather than the missionary favorite: "We're taking an informal survey.") and I'd lead when the girl got off the phone.

She got off the phone and I struck up a conversation about her hair color. (It was pretty, so I asked her the awkward question: Is it natural?... Heaven is worth the awkwardness!) We got to talking about U of I's campus, we learned that she grew up not far from Champaign, she is studying English, works on campus in the Library, and doesn't have a church in Champaign, but she goes when she's home with her parents. Right as I was about to invite her to come to Mass, she had to go back to work because her break was over.

It was a really good humbling and teaching moment for both Katelyn and I. We learned that the opportunity does not always present itself to do a full presentation of the Gospel, and the person we're talking to isn't always going to be receptive to a relationship with Christ. We learned that success isn't measured by our opinions on how the conversation went, or if we get the girl's contact information. We did something radical in our culture: we talked to a stranger! And sometimes, that is all that it takes! God plants the seeds and God reaps the fruit. Sometimes, all people need to know Christ is to have someone to listen to their story.

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux,  Doctor of the Church, pray for us!

08 June 2012

Ordering Faculties

Well, things are looking up here at FOCUS New Staff Training. We are nearing the end of week two (of five), finally "settled" into the schedule, and the second year missionaries are LOVING Dr. Sri's lectures on the Gospels and Acts!

Please keep the first year missionaries in your prayers, they are overwhelmed in these beginning stages of fundraising an entire salary (go figure!!) and could really use some extra prayers. Pray for their trust in the Lord, their potential mission partners, and their families, especially those who are struggling with the idea of this radical mission. I would love your prayers as well; I, too, will be spending a significant amount of time fundraising this summer. All for the Kingdom!!

Last week we discussed our faculties in class. I'm sure most of you know the four faculties: intellect, will, emotion, and appetite. Now that I'm out of the little funk I was in, (I had a REALLY tough week last week) I can see how my emotions were totally controlling me. I've decided to feed my intellect so as to have it rule over the other faculties. I have done this by a more intense devotion to the Liturgy of the Hours, my daily Rosary, reading, and having intentionally intellectual conversations. Right now I am reading Part IV of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (on prayer), True Friendship (John Cuddeback), Total Money Makeover (Ramsay), and my must-have fiction, Father Elijah (O'Brien). They are all SO great and I am learning so much. Though I'm fairly certain I will never go to graduate school or "continue my education," I am quite sure I will never stop learning. I LOVE IT! One of my dorky goals is to read all of the books in the curriculum for the Masters of Great Books at St. John's University in New York. (The reading list is online!)

I am getting excited about being in Ft. Myers this fall. How can anyone contemplate the ocean without contemplating the God who created all things?!!

Also, check out this little gem I found about Jesus Christ while meditating on CCC 2666:
His name is the only one that contains the presence it signifies.

It's time for Night Prayer and my Rosary! Do you have any intentions I can pray for? Leave them in the comments!

Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us!

01 June 2012

And then God had other plans...

I'm pretty sure that I mentioned a while back that this Fall I would be serving FOCUS at the University of Kentucky in Lexington.

God has been doing some crazy (seemingly wreckless) things in my life the past few weeks and I am excited to officially announce that I will instead be serving FOCUS at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, Florida.  I'm still getting used to the idea, but I know God has big plans in store, and I'm ready to see what He's got for us there! Please pray for me and my new teammates, Mario, Nate, and Kaitlyn.

Please offer up some additional prayers for me as I attempt to love and serve God better. Sometimes it is difficult to see the big picture when you're stuck in the day-to-day.

Saint Jude, pray for us.