A couple of weeks ago at my church (of which I have been getting involved with again), there was a mission. It was a three night series and was designed to get back in touch with God. It was a great experience and was led by Fr. Ron Hoye, a Vincentian priest of the Congregation of the Mission. They are based in St. Louis and conduct missions across the country. The Catholic church I attend brought him to lead the mission. And in presenting this post I am not in any way establishing one way to look at things or one thing to believe. If you have differing beliefs or thoughts, that is fine. I am just presenting my thoughts, my beliefs. This, by all accounts, is my journey.
Let me preface this by telling a bit more of myself. I was born and raised Catholic and always have had a belief in God, but not because it was what I was taught, it’s what I believed. But I guess it is, sort of, in a way because of what I was taught. But anyhoo, I always kept that belief and I’ve always had my faith.
I carried that faith with me through my youth, through college, and then adulthood. There have been periods where I have felt I “lost my way,” and was looking for ways to get back in touch with my faith. I went back and forth like this in my early college years, and then in 1995 I transferred to the University of Central Missouri (then Central Missouri State University) in Warrensburg to finish my undergraduate college work, and eventually my masters.
I was able to get back in my faith by going on a retreat about mid-way through the first semester. It was an eye-opening experience for me. I never experienced anything like it before. I attended several of these retreats as staff to help others maybe gain an awesome experience as I did on my first retreat. For a while I stayed true. After college, I went back and forth for several years with my faith and attending mass when I finally stopped again for about another seven years.
This year has been a year of changes for me. I moved out, away from my marriage (4.5 years at that point) and slowly began to find myself again. I have been attending weekly mass again and have changed jobs. I am much happier now than I was during the last half of my marriage. When this mission was announced, I decided to attend.
The mission was entertaining, informative, spiritual, and uplifting. It brought me back on the path toward God and having a relationship with Jesus. That’s what the mission was about, developing and maintaining that personal relationship with Jesus.
Fr. Hoye was wonderful as he presented stories about personal experiences that challenged and strengthened his faith. He was personable to his audience and brought a recurring theme to mind when I attended those retreats in college. That theme was “Let go, let God.” Believe that in God, all things are possible.
The Main Thing
Something he did during the three days he spent here was at the end of the first night. He brought along several notepads of sticky notes. He told us to write three things down that we’re thankful or grateful for from the day before going to bed. Then, upon waking up in the morning take the note off and stick on the bathroom mirror (or some place where it would be accessible). Additionally, he said it has to be three different things each time. We can’t double up. It would be for about 25 days, because that is how many sheets of paper were possible in the notepad.
The exercise becomes more difficult to do as each day passes. I am a little more than half way through. It really makes you think and does put your priorities in perspective. In doing this, it also puts my faith in check. It keeps me on the path to do all I can to maintain that personal relationship with Jesus, despite what life brings my way. Even though I may get busy with work or other life issues (as has happened since the mission), I still stay true in my continuing journey with God.
One more thing about Fr. Hoye. He has written a book called “Awake.” It is intended for those who would like to grow more closer to God and have that more personal relationship. The book contains short stories and reflections on faith and following Christ. It is an enlightening and spiritual addition on the journey with Jesus.
For more information on parish missions, visit http://www.parishmissions.org.