by Christopher Muer
World Youth Day becomes a surprising time of grace for a seminarian-chaperone.
World Youth Day is a time for the youth of the world, gathered with the Holy Father, to come together in prayer and faith as Christ's disciples so they may be sent out on mission to be Christ's light to the world. This was our goal, to be ignited in faith and sent out as other Christs to the world. Pope Francis in his homilies encouraged us to put down the phone, get off the couch, and be the change in the world that the world needs as ambassadors of Christ.
This was my second World Youth Day; my first being in 2008 in Sydney, Australia, where I went as a participant. This time, I went as one of eleven chaperones of a group of thirty-seven youth and young adults from three different communities: Guardian Angels Parish in Clawson, Michigan, the National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica in Royal Oak, Michigan, and representatives from the Diocese of Steubenville.
Attending as a chaperone had changed my focus: I was no longer concentrating on my growth but, rather, on the growth of the pilgrims in my care. This re-focusing provided me with many graces I had not anticipated. It was a privilege for me to watch as God worked so many graces in the lives of my pilgrims. These graces did not always come as they (or I) wanted thembut rather as God intended them.
One day during a bus ride, I was having a conversation with one of my teens about how God works in our live—in his way and not in ours. I shared with her my vocation story and how I had to find God's way in my life. She then said to me, You'll find your way.
Unknown to her, her comment would become a moment of grace for me. I took her words to prayer and I realized: If you asked us why we were there in Poland, we would all give you different reasons, but I think we were all there for the same universal reasonto find our way. We were all gathered to find our way through prayer in and through Jesus. We do not usually receive the entire plan from God but rather little pieces of it at a time. It was powerful to see as my pilgrims received these pieces from God.
This is just one of my many experiences from World Youth Day, of which I could speak for hours. World Youth Day has provided me with a renewed sense of God's love for me and assurance that he has a way laid out specifically for me. God continues to teach me to be patient and to persevere in my love for him and those he has put in my life.
Please remember that God desires to have a profound encounter with you, and he has a way marked out for you.
Christopher MuerChristopher Muer is a third-year theologian studying for the Archdiocese of Detroit.