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What God has in store

First slide

I am often asked what it was like to be a FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) missionary. My response is always the same: I have the greatest job in the world. I describe it as having front-row seats to conversion stories, to God working in souls. 

When I first stepped onto campus, I don’t think I fully appreciated what St. Paul told the early church — “No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor 2:9). My time as a missionary took me many places that I have never seen: from the great state of Massachusetts, which I called home for my first year on staff, across the world to the Holy Land where the Son of God made his home among men. I even had the great pleasure of seeing Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, twice. She was just as beautiful the second time.

I heard many new things over these past two years. I had some of the best conversations of my life with fellow missionaries, chaplains, and, of course, students. I learned so much about our faith and was in awe of the beauty and thoroughness of church tradition. But I never heard something quite as moving as a friend sharing with me that he went to confession for the first time in his life when he had been a self-proclaimed agnostic the day I met him. 

What God had ready for me, what my heart had not conceived, was something even beyond these experiences. What God had planned was not only an adventure across the world with students and missionaries as my companions, it was an adventure within myself with him, the greatest companion. Stops along the way of my interior journey included joy, gratitude, anxiety, frustration, rejection, heartache, desire and grace upon grace. At every turn, at each crossroad between virtue and vice, at every fall, at every victory, the Lord was there with me, always extending the same invitation: Come, follow me. Being a missionary afforded me the greatest opportunity of my life to pursue discipleship intentionally, and to invite others to follow him with me. 

But Jesus did not stop there; he pressed his invitation further. In the midst of the silence of prayer on an eight-day Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola retreat, my heart ignited with a desire to be his priest. The consequences of such a monumental invitation weighed heavy on my heart for many weeks, but at the bottom of all the doubts and anxieties was the inescapable feeling that I had to give God everything. It was during my time with FOCUS when God asked me to follow him as his Apostles did: “And they left everything and followed him” (Lk 5:11). I responded to his invitation with the only thing that the Lord wanted: my heart. As my adventure with FOCUS drew to an end, I have entered seminary to discern the call to the priesthood and I go knowing that my heart is in his hands.

As I look back on my spiritual journey as a missionary, the wisdom that St. Paul shared with the Corinthians becomes evident: eye cannot see, ear cannot hear, the greatest thing that God has in store — the transformation of hearts. May the Lord continue to transform my heart and yours as we follow him all the days of our life. Amen.

Evans, who is from St. John the Evangelist Church in Warrenton, is in his first year of pre-theology at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019