This post originally appeared on the Cap Corps Volunteer Blog
“Each one of them is Jesus in disguise.”
Bl. Teresa of Calcutta
As I’m sure some of you know, the Cap Corps year of service is jam packed with retreats and ministry. Not only does CYFM provide retreats for encounter, and a deepening of faith, but we also provide retreats for confirmation programs and Catholic high schools.The Cap Corps Volunteers along with the Friars give close to 100 retreats each year to complete strangers.
At the beginning of the year, the CCVs took the Myers Briggs
test so that we may better know how to care for ourselves. And to our surprise, 4/5 of us are introverts. Meaning that we get our energy from alone time, rather than being around other people. Now, this doesn’t mean that we are all shy people, or that we don’t like to interact with other people, but it does mean that sometimes we need to just be by ourselves for five minutes or ten or two hours.
Now, each of us came into this year of service with the same goal: to serve the youth of the Catholic Church through youth ministry and retreats. However, like anything in life, we were unsure of what this would actually mean. And for this CCV, it has meant learning a lot about myself, my relationship with God, and learning how to care for myself. My personality type, according to the Myers Briggs, is an INFJ. Basically, I get my energy from inside (alone time), I am intuitive, I’m a feeler, and I am judging (I prefer closure and having things planned out). Seeing how these things actually play out in my life, has helped me to better interact with my community, and also how to care for myself.
Almost every day, I meet new people. And at the same time, I am expected to share my faith story, my witness of faith, with these strangers. I am expected to welcome them with true, authentic Christian love. These are some of the ways that a Cap Corps Volunteer serves God through serving others.
For me, when we have multiple day retreats, I become physically drained rather easily, and begin to forget why I am here. I often allow myself to become discouraged. Luckily for me, I have people in my life who remind me of why I am here in the Hudson Valley, and what a blessing it is for me to be here.
One of the things that drew me and my heart to doing a year of service, was the opportunity to encounter Christ through each person I meet, and to help them encounter Christ through my loving actions. I had some incredible experiences on Mission trips in college, and those experiences
helped me to see what a gift it is to love another person, even if that is the only encounter you’ll have with that person. When I become discouraged, I often think about how I am never going to encounter this tenth grader again, so if I decide to stay inside of my comfort zone and not talk to him or her, that’s okay.
I have been reminded that the majority of the ministry that we do is with complete strangers. It’s great when we have a group that we know; whether it’s at a parish that we work at, or a weekend retreat at CYFM with “the regulars”. However, that is not the norm. On a day to day basis, we are called to be loving and welcoming to people that we will probably never see again.
I have been reminded of what a blessing that is. That although we may only see these students for six hours on a Tuesday, we still have the opportunity to be Christ to that person. And we should take advantage of that, to get over the awkwardness and talk to that tenth grader who doesn’t want to be at CYFM for the day.
Fr. Fred is constantly reminding us that a Christian is someone
in whom and through whom Christ lives.
That’s something that we as Cap Corps Volunteers, and more importantly as Catholics, are called to live each and every day. And although it is difficult. And although it is tiring. We may be the only authentic example of true Christian love that that student may ever encounter. You never know how God is planning to use you today. Even if it is in small, simple, loving ways. We are called to love each and every person we encounter as if they are Jesus himself.
And I want to live that this year. Even if it means that I need to hide in the DDA closet for exactly three minutes during a retreat, so that I can better be present to my small group. Or if I need to spend some alone time in my bedroom at the end of the day, so that I can better be present to my community. These are things that I am slowly learning are okay to do. Because God made me the way I am for a reason. And as I learn more and more about myself and how to care for myself, I can see that my rest is just as important as my talk for that confirmation retreat.
“Intense love does not measure, it just gives.”
Bl. Teresa of Calcutta
With Love and Gratitude,