Joy and Prayer and Grace

Fr. Louis, the chaplain for the Abbey's Summer Camp, reflects on the joy of guiding young souls to Christ--and finding Christ in children!

Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven. And he that shall receive one such little child in my name, receiveth me. (Mat. 18:4-5)

It is the project of every Christian, every disciple of Christ, to expend all his energies in the life-long search for the Face of Christ. It is this Face, to be sure, that will be the prize after our long journeying has ended and we wade into the eternal waters of our Heavenly Homeland. But It can be found, even while we are yet on the way, while we are still wayfaring across the plains of this often challenging life, while we are yet thick in the battle of our Christian struggle. The contours of that Most Beautiful Face lie hid in all the many grace-filled moments of our daily lives, all the moments that we often take for granted because they are simply all too familiar, too close.

But Christ is waiting to be found by us.

In no other work that I have undertaken as a young priest here at St. Michael’s Abbey have I found the traces of the Face of Christ more clearly than in the Apostolic work the seminarians undertake each year with great fervor and joy: St. Michael’s Summer Camp, where all boys have fun.

With over 100 boys each week for a span of five weeks, I have the great privilege of operating as Camp Chaplain for the campers and as director for the seminarians of our Abbey as they each dive into the wonderful work of forming the young boys of our day: teaching the boys how to grow in all those virtues so necessary for thriving in a difficult world where soon they will become men. Here at camp we learn how to have all the fun we can, but without sin. And the biggest part of that is learning how to play every sport, to hunt for every stink bug, to capture every tarantula, to prep for every Bunk-inspection, to throw every waterballoon, and to march on every hike—all this in the pervading spirit of prayer and grace.

With Holy Mass, rosary, and catechism every day, our Camp life is literally in the shadow of a monastery. By the grace of God I have the joy of encouraging the seminarians to find and build up the Kingdom of Heaven in the hearts of the campers that come here. And by doing this we strive to receive each boy in the name of Christ, and so in very truth to receive Christ Himself. Behind each face of those as humble as a little child, there I find the marvelous traces of the Face of God.

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