[gtranslate] How To Work With Christ and In Christ: Lessons From YCP’s 2024 Conference - Eglise Catholique Saint James (Saint Jacques)

How To Work With Christ and In Christ: Lessons From YCP’s 2024 Conference

How To Work With Christ and In Christ: Lessons From YCP’s 2024 Conference

Sanctifying our work with Christ and in Christ—easier said than done, right? We’ve all heard it before. What does that look like, realistically?

“Start praying the Litany of Humility. Who here has heard of it? Give me a show of hands.” Msgr. Eugene Morris of the archdiocese of St. Louis scanned a room full of Catholics in their 20s and 30s, who were about to burst into laughter at his next question: “Have you heard of the internet?”

Every year, more than 700 young Catholic professionals, priests, religious, and seasoned executives from all over the U.S. gather in Frisco, just outside of Dallas, Texas, for the Young Catholic Professionals’ national conference. The nonprofit—called YCP for short—was started 14 years ago by Jennifer Baugh. She effectively stepped down as Executive Director during the conference, handing the reins over to Peter Blute, who has been with the organization for a decade.

This year’s conference—held the weekend of April 26-28 at the Omni Frisco Hotel at the Star—was entitled “Workers in the Vineyard,” drawing on the writings of St. Josemaría Escrivá. It offered practical solutions for doing ordinary tasks with a great love of God, all while pursuing excellence.

Msgr. Morris serves as YCP’s national chaplain and delivered one of the conference’s keynotes. His speech focused on the detachment of self.

“If we are seeking to transform the world, if we truly believe what we profess, that we are receiving the Living God in the Eucharist, and that God makes His dwelling inside you, are you not armed with all you need to confront what lies ahead?” he asked.  “There is no need to fear, doubt, or despair.”

He also reflected on the state of Catholicism in the U.S. today. “We were different, we didn’t compromise with the culture of the world, or seek approval from outside sources. People saw something in us, even if they did not agree. They still understood that there was something unique about Roman Catholic leadership. Detachment from self is embracing the mystery of the Cross and being willing to suffer. The Cross is not a byproduct of Christian life—even during Easter. It’s there during every Mass.”

“In belonging to God, our path to achieve holiness is to take up our cross and follow the Lord—not only when it’s easy and convenient. He gives you a cross you can handle, so take it up daily and follow Him,” Msgr. Morris said.

“Big crosses don’t exist if we’re carrying our cross daily. Just like St. Peter who took three steps on the water before sinking, you may think you’re ready for something big. But if we can’t even deal with minor inconveniences, we never prepare ourselves for a big cross. We must focus on the love of God.”

He then offered some concrete solutions: becoming familiar with the Ignatian spiritual exercises, reading The Spiritual Combat and a Treatise on Peace of Soul by Dom Lorenzo Scupoli, and doing the examen daily.

“The examen is an opportunity to grow in self-knowledge. First, we embrace an increased trust in God every day, giving us an awareness of all God wants to bestow on us. Second, we meditate on the omnipotence and mercy of God by reflecting on the Scripture. Third, we pause before every one of God’s actions to meditate on His love and power.”

He also encouraged attendees to ask St. Michael to intervene when turning to God for help, as well as properly situating pressure points and spiritual enemies. Msgr. Morris then urged all those present to develop a relationship with Our Lady. “She is there to assist us by being a model, an apostle. She is there to assist us in our weakness,” he explained. “We must do well what God has entrusted to us. The world will be transformed as we die to ourselves, and we will become instruments of God’s glory.”

There was also a mentoring workshop, led by Undivided Life Co-founder Jeff Schiefelbein, addressing some of the biggest challenges young Catholic workers face today: battling burnout and evangelizing in the workplace.

Among the takeaways: go to daily Mass, pray the Rosary every day, go to Confession at least once a month, build friendships with your coworkers, and consider wearing products from Sock Religious, to let St. Thérèse of Lisieux or St. Michael take the first step when it comes to spreading the Good News at work. That pun was, of course, intended.

And then there was the Gala—the highlight of the conference. It started with a fireside chat featuring three-time Super Bowl Champion and star kicker for the NFL Kansas City Chiefs, Harrison Butker.

“How can I strengthen my role as a football player by being an outspoken Catholic?” he asked. “All of these records are part of God’s plan. […] I don’t know why God has given me this platform. I’m blessed, and I know all of this comes from God. And God’s will one day is that I no longer be a player. I’ll follow Him wherever the path is.”

Butker also shared some advice. “Do the simple things well and consistently.” He talked about his deep affection for the Latin Mass and the Blessed Mother. “The goal is to glorify God, it’s not about ego or money. The most important thing is changing society for Christ and working together as young Catholic professionals.”

Father Luke Mata from Spain, who’s currently serving as the Vicar of Opus Dei in California, also gave a speech over the weekend. He had eight minutes to give a brief history of the Church—and as he remarked, there’s only so much ground you can cover in that amount of time. He described how St. Josemaría Escrivá received an inspiration to start a new movement focusing on lay formation, which he named Opus Dei. That’s Latin for “Work of God.”

“The message was: All Christians are called to holiness in ordinary life,” Fr. Mata said. In other words, that call is an invitation to be what St. John Paul II called Fr. Escrivá: a “saint of the ordinary.”

“Mary and St. Joseph are the best models of how to be saints in ordinary life,” Fr. Mata continued. “Joseph—the worker, the husband, the father—taught Jesus how to work and pray.” And Mary—the wife, the mother, the homemaker—needs no introduction. “The two holiest people in the Church were lay people. Even Jesus spent 30 years doing ordinary work and living an ordinary life, leading by example.”

Let us lay people be encouraged and strengthened in our striving for holiness in the ordinary as well.

Photo by rivage on Unsplash

Seeking the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary through prayer