I sometimes feel like shag carpeting with lots of life left and great stories to tell- but not as vibrant and exciting as the new Berbers. Yet, I believe with all my heart, that God called me to ministry at St. Andrew the Apostle.
God’s timing is perfect. Never in my life would I have imagined myself working first as a Youth Minister, and then in Marriage Ministry. Yet, as I look back at all that I experienced in life, I can see God’s hand laying the groundwork in preparation for this work for which I am called. God was moving me on the path that landed me right where He wanted me to be, doing the work He equipped me to do.
This can be said of all our amazing staff and clergy. Not one of us feels that we are worthy for the work we have been called to, but we said yes and left the rest to God. If ministry isn’t challenging enough on its own, fighting the devil and all- life tosses in the current pandemic. Church closures, work from home, and lots of ever-changing restrictions. Who would have ever thought we would be wearing a mask to buy groceries, not alone to Mass? We texted a photo of Mark and I to our kids the first time we ventured into Safeway with our hats, sunglasses, and masks on. “Mom, dad,” our kids told us, “you guys look like bank robbers.”
There is talk of opening-up America again, and of course that includes our churches. What will this look like? How many will stay home and play it safe for a while longer? How many will not come back at all?
It cannot be “business as usual” once again. Things will never be exactly the same as before, and it is unrealistic to think they would be. Some things, however, will never change. Like the necessity to keep the faith alive in our homes, hearts, and lapsed loved ones.
Our response during this crisis, or any crisis of this magnitude, is very revealing to those who are on the fence about the whole God thing. I was reminded of my own frequent lamentation years ago, “God, I help others come to know you, what’s going on with my own kids?”
When they were small, we might have been a three-ring circus at Mass, but we were there, and they were totally into loving Jesus. Their teen years were a different story altogether. They pushed back and found excuses not to go. It felt like they took turns having their crisis of faith, as they tried to figure out their place in the world, where God fit in, and the significance of their Catholic beliefs. As a mother and a Youth Minister at the time, it was absolutely overwhelming trying to figure out when to push, how hard to push, and when to simply give them over to God.
It is awesome to know that as your children grow, your teens mature, and your young adults strike out on the path towards adulthood; that it does not solely depend on you. In God’s amazing plan, He knows exactly what and who it takes, to bring your kid around, sort of speak. The Church in her marvelous wisdom, invites people back through various times in their lives, to rediscover Catholicism, and the God who dreamed them into existence. I see it all the time in marriage ministry. They have been away for years, usually starting in college, but love, true love, causes them to desire more for their lives and their future marriage and family. The values they fought so hard against in their youth are the very values they want to pass on to their children. Those snarky Lishko teens, turned into incredible adults who love the Lord, practice their Catholic faith regularly, and pass that faith on to their own children. God is so good.
Back in the day, as a youth minister, some of the teens used to tell my kids what a “great Youth Minister” they thought I was, “I just love your mom.” My kids would roll their eyes and make some indistinguishable snorting noise. The difference being, those kids did not have to live in the same household with crazy Barb as their mom, and my kids knew it. I often wondered at the time, how I could play such a pivotal role in some other kids’ faith life, and at the same time repel my own. But here is the beauty in God’s plan, He places others in their path who will make a difference for them, speaking to their hearts in their own unique way.
We have a wonderful catechetical team at St Andrew’s that you can be assured love your children, teens, young adults, and even you.
We each have our own path to take towards God. We must never give up praying. One of my frequent prayers used to be, “Lord, place someone in their path that will bring them home to you.”
Together, we make up the One Body of Christ. We are all children of our Heavenly Father. I have heard it said that some of the greatest sinners, made the greatest saints. St Augustine comes to mind. This fact should encourage us all. It reminds us to never loose hope, never stop praying, and always trust completely in God’s plan for our lives and those we love.
In the thickest part of the battle it is hardest to see the victory, but victory is eminent because we do not fight alone, no matter how scary and dark the trials we face.
Let us bravely walk into the unknown, confidently trusting God with joyful hearts. This faithful witness has the power to compel others to return home to the Catholic Church.
Heaven is the goal, and it is going to take all of us, to pray the rest of us home.