|Eucharistic Adoration at a previous Franciscan University Youth Conference|
Chief and Professor spent last weekend at a Franciscan University youth conference. I had been eagerly awaiting this weekend all year. I knew I wouldn't be able to go but I couldn't wait for the outpouring of blessing that would be coming to those two. The timing was perfect: First Confirmation, then family Marian Consecration, and finally, the Conference... a triple dose of the Spirit.
Overriding the waves of these thoughts and experiences is an encompassing sense that the Holy Spirit is never still. The continual effort and drama of life is really a constant attempt simply to open the door to His power and grace and the greatest day-to-day failures are when we neglect to even make that attempt. The greatest obligation of the Christian parent is to continually place the child in the path of that saving grace.
Most kids at the conference attended with their youth groups. My guys went on their own and were able to connect at various points with a parish group from our area. It worked out perfectly with an excellent proportion of fun and focus.
I can't relate here every conversation and event and good fruit that resulted from the weekend. There's so much and most I am likely not privy to. I counted the minutes until their arrival home and waited to hear it all. I knew it was coming because I know those two guys. They are open to God's work in their souls and the Spirit never misses that open door. I have heard enough already to overwhelm my soul with gratitude. I'm sure the fruits will continue to unfold as time goes on.
There was one concern that I had: that my son would come through that door full of enthusiasm and love of Christ, with the passion for doing His work on earth... and that I would kill it. Not intentionally, of course, just with carelessness. With an abrupt reintroduction to the worldliness that so quickly overwhelms us. His chores do have to get done and details managed... but please, God, help me nurture the fire that you ignited this weekend. Faith is not an aspect of life. Faith is life. And I want it to grow in my home. Well, extracurricular religious activity is over. Back to the real world, son. Nope. Not me. Please God, not ever.
The powerful, personal interactions with God that happen during the ongoing conversion of Christian life can be shared with others... to a point. I have found, however, that the most intimate moments in my relationship with God are unable to be communicated well to any other living person. There is something too tender and beautiful to expose. If a child of mine nurtures those moments of relationship with Christ in his heart and wants to try to communicate them, I plan on treading with the utmost care. I don't expect to ever be able to enter fully. But if a lack of awareness can lead to a kind of carelessness, disrespect and irreverence for the presence of God working in a soul.
The Holy Spirit who touched my loved ones this weekend is the same Spirit who descended upon the Apostles at Pentacost. The same who bestows the Corinthian gifts of healing and prophecy and tongues. The power of the Holy Spirit is as gentle as He is mighty and does not rest for a moment among the faithful. This is the same Spirit who pursues my family. Come, Holy Spirit!
I have never received the gift of tongues. Come to think of it, I've never particularly desired the gift of tongues either. But if the good Lord wants to bestow it upon me, who am I to refuse? Wouldn't it be just like the good Lord (who has the best sense of humor) to bestow this on me at some point? We would laugh about it afterwards... forever! If my son wants to kneel in silence at a Latin Mass... or if he wants to raise his arms and voice in charismatic praise before the Blessed Sacrament... who am I to hinder him? The only concern should be: Is it pleasing to the Lord?
So I will do my best to walk gently with him while he learns to hear the whisper of the Spirit in his soul. And never to hinder.
I just returned home from picking Professor up from serving a funeral Mass at our parish. As we were leaving the parking lot, we noticed a bus full of teens ready to leave for this weekend's conference. We also noticed our young associate priest embarking on a solemn march across the parking lot with his gear. "He looks like he's going to his funeral," I remarked. "Yeah. He really does." Professor determined to run across the parking lot to give Father a word of encouragement. When he returned to the van I asked how it went. "Well," he said, "I told him it was going to be great and not to worry... but he did not appear convinced." Don't worry, Father... the Holy Spirit has your back! And we'll be praying for you all weekend. :)