Totus Tuus is a multi-tiered program for Catholic youth in the Archdiocese of Toronto. The program offers a one-week summer camp to parishes looking for youth programming during the summer. It also offers a three-month missionary program for post-secondary students who act as facilitators for the summer camp. The following post is written by Marie Trotter, one of the 24 Totus Tuus missionaries serving in our archdiocese this summer.
Our first week of Totus Tuus flew by in a blur of lessons, snacks , rosaries and games of tag. It was physically exhausting but also exhilarating, keeping up with so many little ones with seemingly endless energy. There was a sense of novelty and excitement to this first week – our first experience with host families; first time performing our skits and songs for an audience of children; and first time teaching our lessons. I was carried through the week by the anticipation of tomorrows – a new day full of missionary firsts.
As the week progressed, my eagerness and anticipation waned. It was difficult to adjust to the intense schedule and the demands of teaching. Feelings of worry and fear grew in my heart as I faced unexpected challenges.
These feelings of fear and my need for control revealed my lack of trust in God. I wanted to serve Him well and be a good missionary but I got caught up in trying to serve Him perfectly. It was through the children at St. Rose of Lima that God showed me His love.
He showed me their absolute and perfect simplicity through their joy, innocence, wonder and awe. I worried they weren't learning enough in my lessons about the glorious mysteries, and He showed me a little girl devoutly praying the Hail Mary with her eyes closed and her hands clasped. I worried the children didn't understand the Real Presence in the Eucharist and He showed me a girl who withheld from receiving Communion because she wanted to go to Confession first. I worried about scraped knees, water bottle spills, stray soccer balls and missing scissors. He showed me children who sang "Immaculate Mary" beautifully, who helped carry my songbooks after Mass, who held hands while crossing the church parking lot and who prayed for us missionaries by name during the Rosary.
It was in their joyful love that I saw the face of Christ. He does not abandon me or cease to love me when I fail; rather, He is there in the falling and in the rising. He wants me where I am, even if I may stumbleor fail. He doesn't want perfection, He wants faithfulness.
One experience best summed up the week: I was teaching a lesson about the Resurrection to a class of Grade 3 and 4 students on our first day. After explaining this glorious mystery, I asked the class what they thought the fruit of praying the mystery might be. A little girl hilariously replied, "grapes." In my planning and preparations, I didn't think to teach the students about the difference between spiritual fruit and edible fruit. It was definitely a humbling moment, one we all learned from.
The children inspired me to be childlike in my love of the Lord: to put all trust in His will, to love Him faithfully, to ask Him for help and to thank Him humbly for everything in my life. I am His beloved daughter and I desire to grow closer to my Father every day. In writing this reflection, I recalled Matthew 18:
"Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
This summer, I am a missionary for Totus Tuus; but, I am first and foremost a child of God. I must become like those I serve in order to love Jesus more each day.