Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The sun is shining brightly as I peer through the windows of Sitzmann Hall, still wiping the sleep from my eyes. As I take slow sips of a much-needed cup of joe, I begin to ponder the mysteries of the week to come. Charity, our year’s theme, is essential to the mission of Christ in the City, the program we will be participating in during this institute. Having spent countless Friday afternoons discussing charity at length, we’ve certainly prepared intellectually. But knowledge alone won’t suffice. We are called to live this charity. Can we truly embrace this calling to love? It would be quite comfortable to just lie low together in Sitzmann. But we have been given a mission to love, and it is up to us to embrace it. Colorado, here we come.

Wednesday, May 23

Each soul was designed to love uniquely. Today, in a behind-the-scenes tour of Catholic Charities, this truth was beautifully illustrated. As we encountered various individuals, from a young director of communications to a seasoned grant writer, we witnessed the fire within each one for Christ. We were taken aback by the practicality of our God. The gifts given to us, regardless of how seemingly irrelevant, were made for the glory and love of the Lord.

Thursday, May 24

We’ve prayed, we’ve strategized and we’ve attempted to prepare for our first experience out on the streets. In the nobility of my thoughts, I am Mother Teresa, gazing into the eyes of the poor and seeing no one but Christ. But in my heart, I see my hesitation and fear of rejection. I must remind myself of the wisdom shared with us by the missionaries. “If it’s awkward, then you’re probably doing it right. We embrace ‘the awkward’ so that these individuals may feel normal for once.” Here I go, with nothing to hold back.

Friday, May 25

Today we encountered the multifaceted beauty of the body of Christ. We listened as Luis Soto, director of Hispanic Ministry, shared with us the current state of this ministry in Denver. We were filled with direction and excitement as he shared for us the greatest strategy for renewal of faith within the United States: to draw the Hispanic people in.

Saturday, May 26

Today was a marathon. The souls we encountered in the streets were revealed to us so nakedly. We sat, listened, learned their stories and told them our own. Our role today was not to fix anyone or anything, but to love them, to be with them and simply remind them of their dignity. And what an edifying, yet heart-breaking experience it was. What brokenness this world holds! Yet what ease we have in just walking the other way. We were challenged not to close our eyes, not to run from the pain, not to pretend that such brokenness does not exist, not to take up the whole of their burden, but to see the face of Christ within each broken human person.

Sunday, May 27

We cannot look away. Today was designated a day for leisure. And as we all returned from relaxing mornings of mountain climbing, we came together for Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. And I was struck. Surrounding this beautiful building were numerous souls sleeping outside, many who had nothing to eat. I knew that I could never forget what I had seen.

Monday, May 28

They are clean. They are fed. But most telling of all, they are called by name. I would consider it impossible to find a resident of the Mullen home who did not feel entirely loved and cared for. The Little Sisters of the Poor serve with swiftness, competence and smiles! What joy the sisters exude as they serve!

Tuesday, May 29-Thursday, May 31

In the words of Blessed Mother Teresa, “We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is a friend of silence.” When we made the discovery that our final destination was a silent retreat house, plans were certainly adapted and a silence was demanded of us that we had not anticipated. We could not have chosen a better gift or a more fitting way to conclude our journey. How perfectly the silence made way for the stirrings of the spirit in our hearts, giving the ears of our soul a chance to hear the whispers of the Lord. I remember feeling so small as I paced the scenic grounds. His love was greater than the majestic mountains framing the glowing horizon. Without him, we were smaller than a grain of sand. But in him, our love could not be contained.

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