Wednesday, Jul. 13th 2016

Beyond Conception: Prayer and Action

Prayer and Action was created in the summer of 2006 to provide a “backyard mission experience” for the youth of the Diocese of Salina. Each week, a group of roughly 40-60 high school students show up and actively live out their faith by serving those in need around the community. While the bulk of our work consists of scraping and painting houses, doing yard work, and other odd jobs, the most important task we do is visiting with the people we serve. As Mother Teresa once said, “Find out about your next-door neighbor – do you know who they are?” That’s what sits at the heart of what we do – getting to know our neighbor, and bringing them the joy of the Gospel.

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As the name suggests, our work is rooted in prayer. We begin each day with Mass, the rosary, and silent meditation time. We say a number of other prayers throughout the day and close each night by praying Night Prayer.

I was involved with Prayer and Action as a high school and college student, and now have the privilege of helping to lead the program. This is my third summer working on the Prayer and Action staff. I lead a team of seminarians and college students who have an intense love for Jesus and His Church. It’s a fun, energetic group, and when we aren’t working or praying, you can usually find us trying to do headstands, debating the amount of meat needed in a healthy diet, and displaying our patriotic zeal for the Red, White, and Blue. Our greatest joy, however, is working with the youth of our diocese and helping them to grow in their faith.

Considering the fact that I have so much experience with Prayer and Action, I often find myself falling into the trap of thinking that I know everything, and can therefore easily run the program according to my own plans. However, my third summer on staff is teaching me two things: I don’t know everything – there’s always something new to learn. I can’t run this program – that is, not without help from above. The biggest lesson I have learned this summer is to trust in God and to let Him show you His plan for things. After all, He’s really the one running things, not me.

At the start of the summer, my team and I had the privilege of attending the first Mass of our diocese’s newly ordained priest, Fr. Luke Thielen (who also happens to be a graduate of Conception). The Mass was located at a small parish roughly 60 miles from the town that Prayer and Action would be working. The Mass also happened to be the same day that our first group of participants would be showing up. I had told my team that we could go to the Mass, but would have to skip the lunch afterward to make the drive back and finish getting ready. After all, we still had some preparation work to do and only a few hours to do it in. After the Mass, however, as I was trying to round up my team and hurry out of there, one of the priests who was present urged us to stay for the lunch. I tried to protest, telling him, “We can’t stay, Father, we have too much to do this afternoon, we need to leave now.”

He replied, in a tone of voice that invited no argument, “God’s work will be done. Sit down and eat.”

In other words, “Relax. God’s going to take care of everything.”

And as it turns out, he was right. We relaxed, enjoyed our lunch, and still had plenty of time to get our work done before the students showed up.

That lesson, however, has stayed with me throughout the summer: relax, and trust God to take care of what you need. Because ultimately, as hard as we may try to run the show, God’s the one who is calling the shots – and I am reminded of that regularly. When I find that we are running short on some supplies or equipment that we need, and I feel myself getting stressed and trying to find a solution, I tell myself, “Relax. God’s going to take care of it.” And everything we need shows up.

When things that are supposed to be getting done are not getting done, and I feel like the whole day is going to fall apart, I tell myself again, “Relax. God’s going to take care of it.” And He does.

And when refrigerators stop working, roofs starts leaking, sinks start overflowing, air conditioners break, cars won’t start, and it rains while we’re trying to paint a house, again, I tell myself, “Relax. God’s going to take care of everything.” And He does. Everything always comes together and works out – maybe not the way I want it to, but the way He wants it to.

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bmccaffrey

Brian McCaffrey is a seminarian for the Diocese of Salina in Kansas.

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