By David Ortega
I attended NCYC in Indianapolis [at Lucas Field] as a chaperone for the Saints John and Paul Parish teen group.
Our two daughters, Alissa and Noelle along with 23,500 teens from all across the US, including Alaska and Hawaii were also in attendance. It gave me great joy to see so many young people along with hundreds of priests and religious in attendance.
Many priests were wearing their clerics. Some of the nuns were in their habits. The speakers were dynamic, inspirational, uplifting, even humorous and quirky. They challenged our youth in word and in song to “Go out go out to all the world and tell the good news.” I was thinking,
“Did this conference truly transform me and the youth?”
If we were being transformed by the presence of Christ in the conference, would it yield results?
The conference inspired many of the teens to chant,
“We love Jesus, yes we do, we love Jesus, how about you?” And, “I believe in Jesus Christ.”
But one speaker challenged our youth to go deeper. He asked the youth to think about where Jesus might be vacant in their lives:
“Would Jesus be happy with what you post on Facebook or Instagram page?”
I looked for other signs that our youth might be yielding to the Holy Spirit. They are so full of life, energy and love.
Were the ushers at Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts, being touched and evangelized by the actions of our well-behaved teens?
What about when our students returned to their hotel rooms?
Were they being respectful of their roommates?
Were they conducting themselves in a worthy manner?
Were they keeping the volume down, cleaning up after themselves and avoiding inappropriate material on their TVs?
I believe that overall, the answer to those questions is yes. Perhaps they were not perfect, but overall each one of them was respectful and responsible. I am proud of them.
More importantly, I began to look for signs of transformation in myself. The Spirit of the Lord worked on me in the halls of the conference center. Whenever a priest or bishop passed by, I thought about the inspirational words of a holy person who once said,
“Greet and treat priests better than if an angel of heaven were to appear before you. For an angel does not have the gift of transubstantiation. An angel cannot bring you the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. Only a priest can.”
The result of that reflection was that I smiled at every priest I saw in the halls of the conference center. Some of them saw me smiling at them, others didn’t. What’s more, most adults and youth let them pass by without much of any acknowledgement.
Do they not realize that someone greater than an angel had just passed them by?
Do they realize that priests bring them the very Presence of Christ at every Mass?
I began to pray that I could cherish this moment and hope that others would grow in their love for priests.
Yet, beyond the walls of the conference center, how else might I myself be transformed at home? How else can I yield results of the love of Christ that I experienced with the teens this weekend?
I couldn’t wait to share the uplifting moments with my spouse and 6 remaining family members. I rehearsed what I was going to say when I got home. Yet, it has always been the pattern for me that whenever I have a deep spiritual moment with Christ, the Evil One will counter attack. God seems to allow Satan to try our patience. After all, love is patient.
On the return trip, there was a long line for lunch at the fast food restaurant, a car accident ahead of us that delayed our bus an hour and some family members at home that were not at the height of their joy when we arrived.
I was prepared to share the moments we had with Christ, but they were not ready to receive them. Moreover, I needed to use the restroom right away and found that the toilet on the lower level was clogged. So I hurried to use the one on the second level. It too was clogged. In all of this, how was I to react?
What would Jesus do?
Have I been transformed by the conference?
Will I yield results?
Withholding my sense of anger, I quickly used the plunger to clear the problem and use the facility. After having the thought that whoever clogged the other toilet should clear it, I went ahead and plunged it myself. I then enjoyed a meal with my family.
I thanked my wife for preparing it and told her how tasty it was. Matters seemed to be settling down. However, upon attempting to begin our family rosary, there were arguments among the children and other delays.
God helped me realize that this is where the rubber hits the road. If I was transformed by the love of Christ in this conference, I was to allow Him into the most challenging moments of my life and let Him shine through with patient perseverance.
My daughter Noelle had this to say about the conference,
“I had the most amazing four days of my life with people from all over the U.S at NCYC. It was amazing to see the thousands of teens come together to express and grow in their faith. All of the speakers were amazing and very enlightening! I met so many people and had an amazing time while growing in my faith! Thank you to everyone who made that even possible because you have touched over 23,000 teenagers lives! I pray that God helps me spread His love to everyone I encounter!”
Let us pray that conferences such as these, whether they be for youth or adults will transform us so that we can yield the results of Christ’s love especially in trying times.
[Thanks to David Ortega for sharing this reflection with Quiner’s Diner readers.]