The focal point of my life was World Youth Day (WYD) in Rome. Forty-nine of the fifty students in my group were involved in Catholic Christian Outreach. One student—me—came after seeing a poster. The Lord’s generosity in that has always struck me. He had posters sent to every parish in Canada just for me.
I saw a joy in the hearts of the other college students that I hadn’t seen before—and I wanted it. I had been raised Catholic and my friends were Catholics, but I hadn’t experienced the joy of the Lord the way I saw it in their hearts.
I had everything else going for me. Life was great—but at WYD, I saw that God had more for me.
Putting Jesus at the Center
After WYD, I spent an afternoon praying in Assisi. It was really the first time I had ever prayed. I had said Hail Marys, prayed when I wanted a Nintendo, and prayed before eating, but I’d never spoken to the Lord and listened to Him. I surrendered: “Jesus, I want You to be Lord of everything. I no longer want myself at the center; I want You at the center.”
There was a peace that I had not experienced before—my heart’s deepest desires and what He was granting me aligned. This began something radically new in my life. He granted me a deep peace to know He would always be with me.
The Lord reoriented my life. Being a rich banker or CEO no longer interested me. The Lord invited me to pour out my life so other Catholics could experience Him as I had. My testimony isn’t dramatic. I wasn’t a drug dealer, on the street, or far away from the Lord. My whole life was just lukewarm, and I looked out into the Church and saw so many lukewarm Catholics. I realized I could testify to what the Lord can do when we’re caught in the mushy middle. The Lord has so much more for us!
That desire has never left. Most Catholics live their faith by going to Mass on Sundays and praying before they eat, and nothing more. The Lord revealed to me a vocation to ensure that people awaken to the truth that God is seeking us, and we’re made for something greater than this life.
Conversion and Discipleship
Without conversion, we cannot be disciples. Too often, we try to disciple people whose life is being lived for themselves and not for Him. He is not yet the Lord of their life. Once they recognize that and choose to respond to that grace, they enter discipleship.
Discipleship is like an apprenticeship. We learn from listening to Him, watching Him, and trying and doing. Giving Him our hearts begins an incredible journey.
Going deeper with the Lord conforms our lives more fully to Him. Jesus doesn’t want you to scrape by and get into heaven. Jesus wants you to say, “It is no longer I who live, it is Christ who lives within me.”
Our flesh rebels against sacrifice, self-denial, and repentance. But complete surrender to God makes life free, beautiful, and great. Christ wants to crucify everything keeping us from Him—everything that makes our life less happy or less like Him. Interiorly, we receive the deepest desire of the human heart—new life in Christ.
It doesn’t matter what our particular vocation is—the more He lives within us, the more we’ve allowed ourselves to be his disciple, the more his will unfolds in our lives, the more we become instruments of his kingdom.
From Disciple to Missionary
Pray for opportunities to share the Gospel. Our mission territory is our everyday life: our family, neighborhood, coworkers, fellow parishioners, and dentist. Everywhere we go, that’s where we live out our missionary vocation. There are a thousand ways that can be done.
Evangelization proposes good news: Jesus has come to save us and bring us to everlasting life, intimate friendship with Him, and communion with the Father. We don’t force it on others. But when we have good news, we want to share it. What holds us back is that our hearts haven’t been touched so deeply that we can’t help but share. We have to taste so deeply of the Lord that we never again ask, “How can I evangelize?” We just figure it out. We find some way to share with others the Jesus that we have come to know.
This article is condensed from Peter Herbeck’s Fire on the Earth interviews with Mission of the Redeemer Ministries Founder Michael Dopp. You can listen to the Dec. 5-9, 2022, programs here.
The article originally appeared in Renewal Ministries’ March 2023 newsletter.