Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Maintaining the "Camp High": The Sacraments

Coming from the protestant church, I have spent many happy weeks at amazing bible-based summer camps.  The people I met, the teaching I got, the songs we sang: they were a package that packed a powerful spiritual punch.

Often, towards the last day, the camp speaker would talk about the "camp high" and how to maintain that increased enthusiasm about our faith we were all feeling.  Find a good church, go to youth group, read your bible, read your bible, read your bible.

Invariably though, that excitement couldn't be maintained.  By October or November, life had crowded in.  Church got missed: I had to study!  Youth group numbers dwindled: school, sports, music, and family nights caught my friends to differing degrees.  I read my bible - but less.

This past weekend I attended the Catholic Women's retreat in our archdiocese.  I have to laugh - coming from the protestant church sometimes these titles sound like the least fun thing to do.  BUT - and here it is - it was amazing.  I truly don't know what I expected, but I didn't expect this weekend.  4 speakers - each gave 1 unbelievable talk.  Actually, by the last talk, I just felt so emotionally spent, I couldn't imagine getting anything more out of the weekend - BUT - the last talk was a charge!  It knocked me on my pins. Michelle Benzinger challenged and empowered us, as women, to go forth and listen to the prodding of the Holy Spirit - and then act.  To not miss His guiding.  Wow.  It was such a powerful message.  I felt like I couldn't take much more.  Every corner of the weekend filled me up - I was flying.

Here's the thing: I know about camp highs.  I know about the crash that inevitably comes.  Or does it?  The last night of the weekend, I went to confession.  As I stood in line, I felt this overwhelming joy that I didn't have to lose the inspiration I felt.  God has given me gifts through His beautiful church to keep me connected to His heart, in particular: confession, the Eucharist, and the study of scripture.  When I feel flat - it's often because of sin in my life.  I have a spiritual vacuum in confession that can clean house to leave my whole life open to God any day of the week.

The Eucharist is my time with Jesus.  I can receive Him and be with Him.  I hope to add another day in each week.  To carry me to Sunday.  Finally, I can read my bible - but I can read it alongside the teachings of the Catholic church.  The Magisterium of the Catholic Church serves us by beautifully laying out the full meaning of scripture.  It opens scripture up in ways and to a depth I simply didn't know existed.  Amazing that my decades of life as a banker, mother, and education assistant didn't make me a perfect theologian...  My tool of choice (currently costing a whopping $11 USD) is the The Catechism of the Catholic Church. (If you don't have one, grab one with no shipping cost - in your currency - to anywhere in the world here: https://www.bookdepository.com/search?searchTerm=the+catechism+of+the+catholic+church&search=Find+book)

I feel deeply thankful to the women who worked faithfully and tirelessly to put together a weekend that ignited the hearts of 250 women in our corner of the world.  Fortunately, I don't need to pack them in my suitcase for year 'round encouragement.  Jesus founded a church on the Apostle Peter that does just that.

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