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Weakness

This summer I spent six golden weeks in middle-of-nowhere Dahlonega, GA at LifeTeen’s summer camp Hidden Lake, and it wrecked my life. As has every mass since. At camp we woke up exhausted and went to bed exhausted, and we did everything as a community (including peeing our pants (if you didn’t pee your pants at every dance party was it really a dance party?) ) That part was exhausting too. Community is hard, people. But it’s more than hard, and that’s what I learned this summer. That “hard” is just a tiny part of life with Christ. In fact it becomes so minuscule that it becomes sweet, because the amount of love and grace and fruit that comes from “hard” makes you ardently desire sacrifice and desire to give in those particular ways, small and big, in order to be made soft.
At this camp I was given the opportunity every weekday morning to wake up early for either a holy half hour or a holy whole hour. I didn’t always choose the whole, because sleep was scarce, but when I did it was fruitful. And when I didn’t it was also fruitful, because Jesus was there both ways. (🔥) Then the community would pray morning prayer and each day the schedule was different after that. When there were campers, we went straight to breakfast to see our people and hang out with them the rest of the day until the missionaries met again as a community late that night. Y’all. Waking up was so hard, but I honestly wouldn’t have wanted to serve any other way. And what made it sweeter was on the way to the chapel teens were showing up to confession. They were waking up the same time as us, walking down the road to face their weakness on a grassy knoll in the middle of nowhere Georgia with a priest they’d never met. That’s Jesus winning y’all. I saw Jesus in these teens every day. And I saw Jesus doing so much work in every single person who stepped foot on camp property, from the mailman to the food delivery truck drivers to the bus drivers to the chaperones to the teens to the summer missionaries. He just wants to move and love. And it’s so obvious, and literally all that people did was pray and ask. That’s it. (#Jesusincreaseourdesire)

Like seriously. I am the worst summer missionary. I am so bad at so many things, and I failed so many times in so many ways. And I am so weak. But in all that, this summer I was able to see how much I needed a Savior, and that knowledge allowed my heart to let Jesus be who He is. Just by asking. He is no longer just a friend, to me, He is a Savior, a compassionate Father… This was so slowly revealed to me this summer, but it all peaked when I was kneeling on a mountain at mass at the end of camp, looking at myself in hatred and disgust and just being really mean to myself. Amidst all of that, Jesus spoke to me and He said this: “Emma. Your weaknesses do not discount you from my love.” Jot that down. Because he did not say to me that I am perfect and wonderful and amazing, He said he loved me. He did not lie to me or deceive me, but He said He loved me. Y’all… We just always think we need to be more. We need to be better at praying, more disciplined, more. But really, we just need more Jesus. Which means we need to be weaker.

Jesus Christ died and walked with us and suffered with us, and that’s a freaking big deal. But that is not the end of the story! The end of the story is that HE ROSE. And that is the part of history that we get to live into, that Jesus conquered death and sin. And the glory of that is that NOTHING can separate us from His love, He has shown us that. He is still here and He promised to send His spirit to dwell with us, that means He walks with us and that’s flipping cool. You know that gospel where the disciples are fishing, and they aren’t catching anything, but then Jesus says, hey throw the net in the exact same spot, and they do and they catch TONS of fish? (John 21) The disciples were doing an ordinary task, and it was only successful and fruitful and fulfilling when they did what Jesus told them to do. That was the difference. They did it with Jesus. He is here, and He is alive. And we are chosen and we are loved. And I am so grateful for the simple genius of LifeTeen missions and the yeses of each person who served with me, from summer staff, to those who cooked for us (and loved us so well!!), to those full time missionaries who led us so well. Thank you for trusting me, and loving Jesus, and being the best at building a good community.
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Trusting in God Alone

photo by Casey Johnson

Jesus I trust in You.

Hello everyone! For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been at Life Teen’s Camp Covecrest as a summer missionary for the last 3 weeks. Camp Covecrest is a camp in Tiger, GA where Catholic teens from all over the US come for a week-long encounter with Christ. Please pray for me, the other missionaries, the staff, my parish from last week (St. Rose of Lima) and my parish this week (St.Dominic)! The first 2 weeks at camp help us prepare for the campers to arrive. Week one was “Work Week”, where we prepared the outside and inside of camp. The second week was “Formation Week”, which helped us prepare our hearts and minds for campers to arrive. The third week, “Week 1”, is when  our parishes arrived. We spent the whole week with them doing amazing things and glorifying God the entire time. These first 3 weeks have been so fruitful, but by far, the thing I’ve grown the most in is trust.

Here at camp, the Eucharist and prayer is our way of staying in close companionship with Christ. We have a daily holy hour and attend mass together every day as a community. We also begin and end every day with the Liturgy of the Hours. This daily routine of prayer is the heartbeat of our community and the strength I receive from daily communion is hard to express with words. Every day I have to trust in the Lord to give me strength. I have to trust that He is working in the teens and in me.

During work week we had abundant opportunities for spiritual direction with Fr. John Ignatius, one of the founders of the Servants of Christ Jesus. During one of our discussions on trust, he talked about a poverty pilgrimage that he went on a few years back. A poverty pilgrimage is a journey from one place to another with the bare minimum. Fr. John’s was along the California Mission trail. He took a backpack with a change of clothes and his bible inside – nothing else. No money, no hotel reservations, no food – nothing. He said that every day they had to trust in the Lord to get them from one place to another. His entire trip, he said that he never spent a night outside, he never starved, and most importantly, he never stopped trusting the Lord. Hearing this story stressed me out. No prior planning? No money? No food? His example of radical trust in the Lord showed me that if he can survive weeks of travel on only trust, I can at least start to trust God more in the smaller things in my life.

My bunk mate, Devin, always has a prayer that I love. He says, “Lord, if You want me to work on something make it abundantly clear.” God made it abundantly clear that I needed to work on trust. The best example of that is one night in Eucharistic Adoration:

We were called to place something at the foot of the altar and give it up to God. I placed my object and looked up at Christ in the monstrance and, for a split second, questioned it. I returned to my seat, which I noticed had a sheet of paper laying on it that I hadn’t seen before. I opened it and, lo and behold, it was the Litany of Trust. Talk about being abundantly clear! Since then I’ve been working on giving Jesus more and more, and trusting Him with more things in my life.

I encourage everyone who took the time to read this to pray a Litany of Trust for themselves or a loved one, and if you feel called, make it a weekly, or daily, devotion.

Litany of Trust

From the belief that I have to earn Your love … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear that I am unlovable … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the false security that I have what it takes … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear that trusting You will leave me more destitute … Deliver me, Jesus.
From all suspicion of Your words and promises … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the rebellion against childlike dependency on You … Deliver me, Jesus.
From refusals and reluctances in accepting Your will … Deliver me, Jesus.
From anxiety about the future … Deliver me, Jesus.
From resentment or excessive preoccupation with the past … Deliver me, Jesus.
From restless self-seeking in the present moment … Deliver me, Jesus.
From disbelief in Your love and presence … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being asked to give more than I have … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the belief that my life has no meaning or worth … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of what love demands … Deliver me, Jesus.
From discouragement … Deliver me, Jesus.

That You are continually holding me, sustaining me, loving me … Jesus, I trust in You.
That Your love goes deeper than my sins and failings, and transforms me … Jesus, I trust in You.
That not knowing what tomorrow brings is an invitation to lean on You … Jesus, I trust in You.
That You are with me in my suffering … Jesus, I trust in You.
That my suffering, united to Your own, will bear fruit in this life and the next … Jesus, I trust in You.
That You will not leave me orphan, that You are present in Your Church … Jesus, I trust in You.
That Your plan is better than anything else … Jesus, I trust in You.
That You always hear me, and in Your goodness always respond to me … Jesus, I trust in You.
That You give me the grace to accept forgiveness and to forgive others … Jesus, I trust in You.
That You give me all the strength I need for what is asked … Jesus, I trust in You.
That my life is a gift … Jesus, I trust in You.
That You will teach me to trust You … Jesus, I trust in You.
That You are my Lord and my God … Jesus, I trust in You.
That I am Your beloved one … Jesus, I trust in You.