Another day at SEEK23 started bright and early and ended well into the evening! The conference certainly keeps us going for more than 14 hours a day!
It is always a good start to the day when it begins with Mass! January 3rd is the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. Bishop Earl Fernandez, of the Diocese of Columbus was the presider. It was a beautiful Mass, with a message of challenge from the Bishop. He encourages everyone to be a spiritual entrepreneur. There are five qualities that make up the personality of this type of entrepreneur. We were each asked to look at these qualities and ask ourselves if we have this quality. If the answer is no, then we were challenged to grow and develop that characteristic within ourselves.
We invite you to make the same examination.
1. Having a vision of God. If this is a struggle, a way to help you grow into it would be to always seek the face of the Lord in what we do, from the small tasks to the large ones since they can all be great tasks.
2. Focused. Eliminate distractions. Surround yourself with good people who love the Lord. Remember this is not a competition. Live an ordered life.
3. Salesman. This one is a little tough because we don't want to see ourselves as salesmen as we work in the vineyard of the Lord. The reality is, we can be salespeople because of the great product (the Gospel) we have. We should want everyone to be on a journey with the Lord. Do we share the Gospel with zeal? Do we need new methods and means?
4. Be a person of integrity. Be someone who you would want to be around. We must act with justice and righteousness to live a virtuous life. We are all called to be the person we are individually called to be. We are not called to be someone else.
5. Servant leadership. We must be willing to sacrifice self before others.
With those challenges, we were sent forth to a day filled with individual impact sessions. Our Campus Ministry staff enjoyed an appreciation brunch before a session designed to help encourage our staff, students and volunteers to be the best versions of themselves in service to the Church.
Our students were able to attend sessions with Father Mike Schmitz and Emily Wilson. Stay tuned for more details about the impact sessions at the conclusion of our trip when we recap them all.
During our dinner break, we went to a family-owned Italian restaurant for freshly made pasta and wood-fired pizza. It was a nice break from the fast food and sandwiches we have had so far on this trip!
Our evening was filled with two exceptional speakers. First was Sr. Bethany Madonna, SV. She is a member of the Sisters of Life and is currently the Mother Superior at their location in Arizona. Her topic was to tell us who Jesus is. We can find who Jesus is in the Scriptures because He told us who he was. He told us directly He was God. At that point, there are three options. Jesus is the Lord. Jesus is a liar. Or, Jesus is a lunatic. He may only be one of those things, and the truth is Jesus is Lord.
Next, was Father Mike Schmitz. He had more challenges for us, along with quite a few reminders regarding things we know, but may not have had at the forefront. First, faith is not a feeling. We believe it because it is the truth. Second, doubt is the reverse of faith. Third, there are consequences to faith, both when we believe and when we don't. The reality is there are times when it would be convenient to not have the faith we do. There are times when it would be nice to do whatever we wanted, or what felt good instead of what was right, but faith is holding on to something your reason has accepted despite your changing moods.
Faith is saying "Yes" to God.
Faith is a real relationship with a real God, not a god of your own invention or your own version of God.
God will love you as you are, but He asks us to love God as He is.
Father Mike reminded us that we are made in the image and likeness of God. God was not made in the image and likeness of us. He challenged us to consider if we had ever been convicted by the Gospels. The reality is, if we haven't been convicted, we haven't been paying attention because we all have areas of human weakness. If we can accept that, and look to change our behavior, we believe in God. If we accept what we like in the Gospels and reject what we don't like, we believe in ourselves rather than the truth.
The final thought he left us with was: "I can do nothing but say 'YES' to the God of Truth."