This past week, Orin and I had the great privilege of serving in a variety of roles at the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis. For much of Thursday, Friday and Saturday, he and I were on a dead-run hosting the Music and Message Stage, leading music at two Masses, and even getting to do a small presentation on the main stage. It was amazing! If you’d like to look back at our week, you can check out our various posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
I am admittedly still a little worn down from the conference, but I wanted to take a moment to reflect a bit on what makes NCYC so great. Certainly, it’s hard to beat the sheer magnitude of the event: 25,000 youth and adults, main sessions in Lucas Oil Stadium, professional sound and light support, the best Catholic presenters and musicians, and hundreds of exhibitors with services and products aimed at helping Catholics be better Catholics. These eye-popping facts and numbers are impressive, but they aren’t the reason NCYC is so amazing, not by a long shot. There are two reasons why NCYC blows people away: Jesus and the teens. Let me explain.
First off, Jesus is awesome. I mean, when in Matthew 18:20, Jesus says “…where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them”, he means it. Jesus never disappoints. Whether Jesus’s presence looks like love, mercy, joy, peace, forgiveness, or some other virtue, Jesus always shows up…always…and NCYC is no exception.
Secondly, the teens that choose to come to NCYC are incredible. These teens show up ready and open, having already been through months of preparation in the form of fundraising, prayer, and community building. They come into the experience expecting to see Jesus in the sacraments and in one another, and that’s exactly what happens. They walk in the door ready to be swept up in the Spirit, and they are. These teens, together, create a community, a safe space for faith to be celebrated, discussed, and shared. In short, NCYC-goers very quickly become the best version of Church, and are spiritually set ablaze to reinvigorate their fellow Christians and churches back home.
So, that’s what’s special about NCYC, but those aren’t characteristic that are exclusive to NCYC. We don’t need to travel hours on a bus and join tens of thousands of other people to experience Church in that way. We just need to be sure Jesus is always at the center of our lives, by expecting to meet Jesus in the sacraments and each other. Then, I promise, our hearts will be as full as the loudest-singing teen at Lucas Oil Stadium.