Well, ladies and gentlemen. Prayer and Action has done it again (and by it, I mean screamed in my face to wake me up to how I should be living my life). After six days of painting houses, meeting new people, climbing ladders, acting like complete freaks, eating PB&J sandwiches, trying to sing, dancing like fools, and letting people know what's on our hearts, I think it's safe to say that every single person on P&A was changed in one way or another.
It was such a blessing to have the opportunity of serving those who needed our help in Emporia, and we got pretty stinkin' tight with our homeowers. In fact, Maria even made us a mexican fiesta lunch to show her appreciation. And Orville was probably the cutest, sweetest old man I've ever met. I know that I'll never forget either of them, because like Maria said, "We're family now."
But along with all the work we did around Emporia, we got to listen to some amazing talks from the P&A staff. So I'm going to give a little run-down of some of the things that I really took away from each of these powerful presentations.
Day 1. (Seminarian) Dan's talk about the Trinity:
This whole talk was amazing. The main idea was that the Trinity is a big triangle of Love among the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I attempted to re-create Dan's diagram of where we are in the Trinity, so that is the (badly drawn, sorry) picture below. The arrows are the love going from one to the other, which are all God, because God is Love. Then the little smiley face in the middle is us. Something he said that really stuck out to me was that "Prayer is us listening in on what the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are saying about us." I mean, how cool is that?
I also really enjoyed this talk because she made it super relatable to all of us. Susan explained social justice as being like the Google Earth app for the iPad or iPhone; When you see the whole world, it looks really pretty with cool colors and stuff... But then we all get focused on ourselves and are like, "Hey, I'm going to find my house!" So we zoom in so far that the colors fade and it gets ugly. That's how we're NOT supposed to live -- focused on ourselves. We are called to the seven themes of the Catholic Social Teaching: 1. Life and dignity of the human person. 2. Call to family, community, and participation. 3. Rights and responsibilities. 4. Option for the poor and vulnerable. 5. The diginity of work and the rights of workers. 6. Solidarity. and 7. Care for God's creation... And something I really took away from this was how she said that when we think of justice, we think of like fighting evil. And that's exactly right. We're fighting Satan, and kicking him straight in the nuts. (Click here to see Chris Walters' blog post "Straight in the nuts." It's epic.)
Day 3. (Seminarian) Dave's talk about Chastity.
This was one of my favorite chastity talks that I've ever heard. It wasn't your typical "abstinence and modesty!" talking that you always hear. It was more of the other side, the guys' perspective. And Dave's two main focus points were Beauty and Love. With beauty, he discussed society's ridiculous distortions of how people (particularly women) are supposed to look to be beautiful. But every human being is a temple for God and, therefore, every single human being is beautiful and created exactly in God's image and likeness. This leads to the broad topic of love. But I really like how Dave stressed how women bring out the best or worst in men, and we should be the best version of ourselves to encourage guys to be the best version of themselves. We talked about how God loves us more than any other human ever could, and how He will NEVER let us down. Because God IS Love. Powerful stuff, I tell ya.
Day 4. Caleb and Karlie's talk about Reconciliation.
Both of these amazing young people really stressed how important the sacrament of Reconciliation is in growing in our faith. They both talked about God's never ending mercy and forgiveness, and how he will always bring us back to him if we seek his forgiveness through confession. No matter what we've done, no matter where we've been, we will ALWAYS be his beloved children. Karlie talked about how even when others around us are falling, if we seek God's forgiveness, He will never let us fall (Psalm 91). God's love and mercy are uncomparable to anyone or anything else. He is that awesome.
Day 5. (Seminarian) Matt's talk about the Eucharist.
I've got to say, if I had to pick one thing that really stuck with me this week, it was the importance of the most holy Eucharist. Matt explained how the Sacrifice of the Altar is the living re-presentation of the Sacrifice of the Cross. It's kind of a lot to take in at first, but once I understood this connection, the gift of recieving Christ's body and blood becomes so much more intense and awesome. He talked about how the Eucharist is way greater than any martyr, because Christ's sacrifice for man in the mass triumps over any man's sacrifice for Him. That was stinkin' amazing to me. I later talked with Dave about the Eucharist, and the way he described the importance of the Eucharist to the Catholic Church was so eye-opening, as well. He said, "To physically have the Love of your life, Jesus Christ, inside of you is the most intense connection you can possibly have with Him. And no other church has that deep, physical connection." Wow, Jesus rocks.
And finally, Day 6. (Seminarian) Jeff's talk about how to take this stuff home to our communities.
It's pretty obvious that everything we learned can totally change our lives, but if we don't know how to bring it all back with us, it's not too helpful. So Jeff had four main ways that we can bring this stuff back and keep our Jesus fires burning strong. 1. Pray the Rosary daily. 2. Daily Adoration (if available) or silent prayer. 3. Night prayer (Liturgy of the Hours) and the Salve Regina. 4. Pick a Saint and connect with them, learn about them, pray through them. All the things Jeff said are pretty reasonable, we just have to keep up with this faith we grew at P&A. We can totally do it, with eachother's help, of course.
We are like a family now. The Prayer & Action KC family. It's our job to help eachother through the rough times, to remind eachother of what we learned, to love eachother, and to pick eachother back up when we fall down. -- "This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." (John 15:12-13)