September whizzes on, without letting up on the busy-ness, which is why it’s been pretty quiet on the blog-front. This last weekend, I was totally preoccupied with the evangelisation of young people (both doing and thinking about!). I think I can safely say, it was one of the most intense weekends of my catechetical life.
You know when something is so crazy, it takes days after to process it all? Well, my mind has been reeling a little. Without going into all the ins and outs, this was definitely a packed, emotional rollercoaster of a weekend: small dramas, new friendships, old feuds, tears, conversions, tantrums, reconciliations, singing (who knew the easiest thing about the weekend would be getting teenagers to sing?!), joy, tiredness… with some marshmallows, a campfire, football, journal-writing and Ninja thrown in. In one word: Intense. “And that was just the boys,” my friend joked yesterday. Almost, people. Almost.
What did they say they loved about the weekend? “Singing great songs and really meaning it;” “Getting to share in our small groups;” “Everyone being together around the campfire;” “Having a big burden lifted off in Confession;” “Going to Confession and for the first time saying everything I’ve actually done;” “Feeling like I actually believe in God”…
Sounds great, right?! And yet, the reality is so TOUGH! To be an effective youth evangelist, I discovered, you also need to be a disciplinarian (well, with our teens, anyway), a parent, a counsellor… You constantly have to make quick decisions about how to respond to everything from giggling in the chapel to playing football in the house at 6am, from petty squabbles to full-blown teenage stroppiness. What do you let go? And what do you need to deal with? All of these are part and parcel of evangelisation, because all of it is about how we are handing on Christ to the young.
Over the last week, I’ve realised I have a long way to go in doing any of this well. Over the weekend, I felt I was leaning heavily on the Cross, praying from minute to minute, responding to drama after drama, giving Gospel-message talks, and knowing I could do none of it with my own strength.
But, on the last day, hearing the words above, hearing our kids sing their hearts out to praise songs they had never heard before (we have quite a traditional musical heritage in our parish) and hearing our kids willing to pray aloud together, I saw some fruits… Even if we have a very long way to go.
Sometimes you get an easy year with Confirmation… this one is definitely not one of those! Lord, give us your wisdom and strength.