WYD: Fearless, together, alive. We are the Church!

July 29, 2016

By Anna Wernimont

A couple of years back, I was asked why I loved being Catholic. At that point, it honestly was a question I'd never directly addressed, so when my reply came out so effortlessly I surprised myself a little. I replied, "Because it's hard. Ever single day."

In a world where there is so much division, so much sadness, loneliness, fear, and hate, I have been humbled in the invitation of our dear Pope Francis to be courageous in truly leading the world for good.

To truly follow Christ, we must recognize and embrace just how challenging this call to leadership is. We are called to be empathetic and to love without borders. To accept people where they are - with all their brokenness included. We must stand up for what our Church believes in. We have to fight for those who are forced into segregation and certain types of slavery because of the freedom of others. We must come with an open mind, heart, and soul to learn and grow and be formed.  And as the wonderful Mathew Kelly says, we must strive in working towards being the best version of ourselves.

It is the hardest thing I've ever done.

But also beautiful, right? Because, you see, within the challenge we are so privileged.

His hands are outstretched to hold ours when we are fearful, to cup our tears when they are raining down, to move the clouds and allow the sun to radiantly bring warmth when our hearts turn cold. We are privileged to have Christ walking with us in the sacraments. Daily, we are free to physically encountering him in the most intimate of ways in the Eucharist and to venture to the darkest parts of my life, that I don't want anyone to ever see, by receiving his endless mercy and love in confession.

It is the hardest thing I've ever done.

He makes me FEARLESS in leading the world. The Church is the only thing, in the entire world, that can so peacefully bring us TOGETHER. He is ALIVE.

Anna, Emily Schmid, Father Mark Owusu, and Des Moines Diocese seminarians Rodrigo Mayorga Landeros (left) &Jake Epstein (right)

Upon saying, "Yes" to joining my brothers and sisters in Poland, I had zero expectations for what this journey would hold. And I am not taking ANYTHING away from this place, and the gift from God for being here. I am forever grateful. But I have realized the beauty in the simplicity of the Church and that this is not found here, we do not need a World Youth Day experience. It is EVERYWHERE. It is you, YOU are the Church. It is me, I am the Church. It is US - we are who he wants, who he has chosen.

It is the hardest thing we've ever done.

Brothers and sisters, I pray for you. Please take some time for yourself today, asking him to show you his love.  Just sit for five minutes and see what he tells you.  I've had two of these moments this week, and they are ones that have changed my life forever.  I am eager to respond to him. I yearn for that heartful thirst for you as well, but I know it is possible because he chose you because he knows you can rise to the challenge. And you know he'll never leave you, always walking with you. So what are you waiting for?

Rise, go.  Live fearless, together, and be alive. Take the challenge. Be the Church. Be courageous.

Live the hardest, most simply, life you've ever known.

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and pray the seedlings of vocations planted on World Youth Day will bear much fruit.