So you’ve applied to YASC and been invited to the discernment retreat. I imagine you sitting in your room at Holy Cross Monastery. Sitting at my desk in my room after arriving for the first time at Holy Cross was one of the first times I stopped and asked myself, “What am I getting myself into?”
If you’re also asking that question, then let me assure you that you aren’t alone. I asked myself that question several times in preparing to go abroad in the service of Christ.
The other question I asked myself was, “Why me? What gifts could I possibly bring to missionary service? Is Elizabeth sure this is a good idea? Am I sure that this is a good idea?”
I can’t answer that question for you, though I wish I could. You and the people around you are the ones who answer that question as you discern (and orientate yourself towards) mission service.
So let me actually assure you, so far as I can, that you’re in the right place right now. Once you’ve arrived at Holy Cross, you’re in Elizabeth’s care, which is a great place to be in general, first off. But the Brothers and staff and other folks are here for one thing—to help you healthily discern whatever’s next for you. And should that lead to missionary service, great. If not, that also great, because as Brother Rob says, discerning the answer of “no” is a successful discernment. And all the people around you right now are here to help you on that step, wherever it is. That’s one of the reasons I love the Global Mission Office staff. They get the personal investment you’re making by being here, mostly because many of them have sat where you’re sitting.
You’re about to be dumped on with a whole bunch of information and rules and good humor and lots of great stuff. It really is great and I encourage you to soak it all up. And to add a few pieces of advice from the scads of advice I’m sure you’ll get, at no extra charge, here you are:
- Take time to do nothing. You’re discerning, it’s hard work. Take the time you need to refresh and recharge. And figure out what activities you can do to accomplish this.
- In the same vein, pay attention to you (as Brother Rob also says) as well as everyone else. Recording even mentally how this all feels or what questions you have or what you want to know more about are crucial to discernment. These sorts of responses help you build for yourself the answer of what you are called to do and even more importantly, why.
- Finally, take advantage of Holy Cross! Meet the brothers, “pull an Elizabeth Boe” and try to meet all the brothers (or at least talk to all of them). Go to the Offices and investigate why they are there and what they can do for you. Or take a walk and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
You’re in the right place. Now let Christ do Christ’s work in you as you journey on. However you end up doing it, service in the Name of Jesus Christ is the adventure of a lifetime. And I’m truly excited for you as you begin figuring out what that might look like.
Love from Liverpool,