The Mission to St. Lucia itself was a blessing, but if I had to select one particular blessing from God it was the joy the Catholic St. Lucian community celebrated Sunday Mass. While the Mass was much longer than a typical Mass in the United States, the happiness and enthusiasm for celebrating Mass and being with each other in community was awe inspiring. The music was huge part of the joyfulness present at Mass; it was lively but prayerful. The community was deeply involved with every aspect of Mass, from the Liturgy of the Word to the final blessing. The community was joyful I believe because of their involvement in Mass.
That joy in celebrating Mass and praising God is the one thing I want to take from St. Lucia. The entire mission has invigorated me spiritually and inspired me to take greater more serious steps to become closer with God and the Church. That joy is crucial for me and my relationship with God. I know I will not always be so joyful at Mass every Sunday, but I know that I will remember the joy of celebrating of Mass in St Lucia.
What I want to leave behind in St Lucia is a fear and unwillingness to share my faith with others in the Catholic community and beyond. I was, and perhaps still am, afraid to share my faith; I fear that others will judge or loose respect for me. Compounding my fears was my belief that my faith was an intensely private, personal, and intimate matter, something which only existed between me and God. Two events helped me to overcome my fears. The first event was presenting my testimony at the “Crusade” (a Catholic faith rally that the mission attended) gave me the opportunity to share an instance of spiritual and personal maturity. It gave me an opportunity to share with the community in St Lucia. The second event was Father Lach’s homily during the Mass which followed the Crusade. Father Lach referenced a talk given by the full time missionary James about five important parts of a Catholic’s faith life. He said that for every one of the parts (prayer, God’s word, the Sacraments, community, service) there was a “lie” which could prevent us from fulfilling those points. Through Father Lach, I learned that in respect to the community, my faith was meant to be shared to inspire others and be a part of the community.
Needless to say, the Crusade left me with many things to meditate on, pray, and think about. The following day was our desert day; at the beach the members of the mission team separated themselves and found a quiet place to pray or read scripture or other holy writings. For an hour, I finished the autobiography of St. Ignatius of Loyola which I had started during the week. I had read his autobiography before but I discovered new things that I had never noticed before. In particular, I noted that wherever Ignatius went, he gave his “Spiritual Exercises” to those men and women he deemed ready to go through them. He was willing to express his faith and in doing so he was “helping souls.” I knew that God, through Ignatius’ life, was trying to help me understand the importance of expressing my faith and belief in the Lord. It was a moment of grace and spiritual consolation.