Fr. Mike Schmitz began his vocational call by thanking every vocation in the house. He thanked the single people, the married people, and the religious. Everyone is called to some vocation, and it is inspiring to see so many people answering their call through Christ.
Bishop Edward Rice of the Diocese of Springfield – Cape Girardeau, during his homily this morning, called to mind the desire we have to belong. We have been reflecting on this all weekend, and Bishop Rice reminded us that we as humans have this desire to belong to something bigger than ourselves. For us as Catholics, we belong to Christ.
Bishop Rice pointed out that no one likes being an outsider and if we don’t feel like we belong to a group, we can feel unwanted and unloved. He then reminded us of the sacrament that immediately brings us into Christ and his Church. At our Baptism, we are immediately incorporated into the life of Christ. Bishop Rice reminded us that we no longer belong to ourselves, we belong to Christ.
Katie Prejean-McGrady began her talk with a short story about flying to Indianapolis to speak at an event and she talked about how long she had to wait at the baggage claim. During her speech she snarkily exclaimed that “Baggage claims are the pit of hell.” And she shared how there was this young kid that was cheering every time someone got their bags. Katie was amazed how someone could be the happiest person in the world at the worst possible place – and by doing so make it a little less awful. Katie transitioned into another statement by saying that many people are yearning to fit in and find a place they feel comfortable in; that place is not baggage claims or airports.
We belong with the Lord. We need a comfortable place where we can truly be ourselves, and that place is the church. She then told us how so often people think of the church as a building or a place that limits freedom; this may be because they have been hurt by the church. The church, though, is you and me and every member of the Body of Christ.
Joe Murphy has been coming to Steubenville for 14 years, and this year is helping us out with production both weekends.
He loves being outdoors and doing things like hunting, fishing, and hiking. He teaches computer to students at All Saints Academy/St. Rose Campus in Florissant, MO, loves technology, and considers himself “a total tech nerd.” Joe has been playing hockey since he was three years old and is, of course, a diehard St. Louis Blues hockey fan. (LGB! Play Gloria!)
Joe’s favorite part of our conferences is simply seeing teens getting closer to Christ in so many different ways.
If you’ve ever been to Eucharistic Adoration, you know that it’s an intensely personal experience; it’s an encounter that’s hard to put into words. It’s an opportunity to pour out your heart to Jesus as He pours His love into yours. It’s a chance to reflect, to listen, to praise, to honor, and – most of all – a chance to simply be with the One who loves you the most.
There is something uniquely special that happens when this intensely personal experience happens in community, especially when that community is over 5000 people who approach the opportunity full of hope and expectant faith.
As Jesus entered the arena, everyone knelt. And when the monstrance was placed on the altar, we all knelt in silence, which was stunning – considering that most of our participants are teenagers. It’s the part of the conference that blesses me the most…thousands of teenagers in silent prayer. It was a silence that spoke volumes. Love, honor, faith, reverence. Adoration.