By John Beaulieu,
Director of Marketing and Engagements at Steubenville Conferences

The theme for this summer’s Power and Purpose Conference is “Awaken.”   At the conference, we are going to connect the renewal and ongoing life in the Holy Spirit with Baptism.  I am excited to once again be a part of the Power and Purpose team.

I think my spiritual journey is pretty typical of what a lot people experience today.  I was born and raised a Catholic in a family where faith, while important, was not our central identity and other than at Christmas and Easter was not really celebrated in the home.  I trudged my way through Sunday Mass and faith formation classes as a way to avoid conflict with my parents.  Whenever I was at Mass, my heart was somewhere else.

How could this be?  How could I sit time after time witnessing the miracle of the Eucharist and not be moved by what I was in front of me?  How could I be God’s child yet live like I was a spiritual orphan?

Well, the short answer is that the parts of heart, mind, and soul that should have connected were weak or dead through sin, neglect, and indifference.  I have since come to realize that with every sacrament there is a necessary human response needed to activate the grace of that sacrament.  For Reconciliation, it is sorrow for sin, heartfelt repentance, and penance.  For the Eucharist,  it is being in a state of grace, saying “amen” to Jesus and the Church with thanksgiving, attentiveness, and love.  This necessary human response to the sacraments in Latin is known as the opus operantis.  The grace of the Eucharist was hidden from me because I had not yet realized the fullness of grace that was given to me in Baptism.   So what is opus operantis of Baptism?  What is our part?

The answer is faith and acceptance.  Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation are the Sacraments of Initiation.  As their name implies, they are the sacraments that get us on the path of conversion, transformation, holiness, and love.  But they are not the end.  They are the beginning, the launchpad of our spiritual lives.   They help us live out our vocation as men and women of God.  And as the Catechism teaches in paragraph 1699, the vocation of man is, “Life in the Holy Spirit” – marked by radical love for and unity with both God and man.  So the continual ongoing opus operantis response that we need to have is an ever-deepening “yes” to the Holy Spirit and His work in our lives.

That is heart of the Power and Purpose Conference.  It is the heart of following Christ and following His will.  I want to personally invite you to come to Franciscan University for a renewal of your Baptism and a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  He wishes to come to each of us with gifts and power and to produce in us the fruit of love, peace, and joy.  Go beyond initiation this summer – allow the Holy Spirit to take you deeper into mystery of God’s unconditional love where you will find the fulfillment of your heart’s desires.  Let Him come into your life in a new way to strengthen and equip you to love as His disciple.

I hope to see you there!