November 26, 2021

National Catholic Youth Conference 2021

Talk on trusting God helps teens see ‘God controls everything’

Steve Angrisano talks to teens about trusting in God during a National Catholic Youth Conference session in the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis on Nov. 19. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Steve Angrisano talks to teens about trusting in God during a National Catholic Youth Conference session in the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis on Nov. 19. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

Maxwell Benefield admitted it—he has control issues, and that leads to trust issues.

So the 18-year-old National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) participant from the Diocese of Nashville, Tenn., attended a talk called “Trusting in God” by Catholic singer, songwriter and speaker Steve Angrisano.

“It was a really good talk,” he said.

Here’s a look at the heart of the session’s message.

‘Nothing fills us except for God’

Angrisano began by posing a question from God to those present: “ ‘Do you know me?’ That’s the question God has for every one of us.”

He quoted from saints who commented on trust in God.

“I have a holy card from my first youth rally,” he said. “It says, ‘There is a God-shaped vacuum in your heart that only God can fill.’ It’s a paraphrase of the words of St. Augustine, which are, ‘Our hearts will be restless until they rest in you.’

“What it means is, you were created by God and for God. … No music, no sport, no boyfriend, no girlfriend, no good thing, no bad thing—nothing fills us except for God.”

Angrisano also quoted St. John Chrysostom’s words on the trust of the early Christians.

“What does it mean that the Apostles were so bold, that these men who abandoned him when he was alive would stand for him at the risk of death after he died?” he quoted from the saint.

Those same men saw Christ resurrected, and their trust in God was sealed, he explained.

Angrisano noted that the Church “began with a small community of people who were given a choice: ‘Say it’s not true, or you will be burned alive.’ That’s the truth. Those are the origins of our faith,” an origin founded on faith in Christ and in what the Apostles professed.

The ‘reckless love of God’

Catholics are called not just to trust in God but also to trust in God’s love, said Angrisano.

“Genesis 1:27 says that you and I and not anything else were created in the image and likeness of God,” he noted.

He played the song “Reckless Love” by Cory Asbury on his guitar to further illustrate the point, inviting the young people to sing the chorus:

“Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.

Oh, it chases me down, fights ‘til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine.

I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away.”

Agrisano reminded the youths that “God desires to know you and be in friendship with you. That’s the word

[St.] Paul used in Latin, not ‘relationship.’ Jesus wants to be in friendship with us.”

He noted that friends come to know each other well by “wasting time together.”

“So how do we know God?” he asked. “We waste time with God. ... That means praying because you know what praying is? ... Prayer is wasting time with God. Prayer is about taking meaningful minutes of your day and letting God be God in your life, and then we begin to understand God and we begin to see his way in our life.

“You don’t have to pray for long hours,” he said before leading those present in a lectio divina meditation.

“If you have a long ride on the bus to school, just pull up the daily Gospel on your phone, read it, and reflect on the one word or phrase that jumps out at you.”

‘There is no fear in love’

Session emcee Donna Catherine and musician Thomas Muglia shared witnesses after Angrisano’s talk.

Catherine spoke of the plans she had for her life and the resistance and lack of control she felt when she sensed God calling her to a life of ministry.

“It’s either us hiding from God or running from him, never him running or hiding from us,” she said.

Muglia noted it was difficult to accept God’s love.

“As humans, we like conditional love,” he said. “The concept of not earning it, just being loved for who you are by God, that’s kind of a scary thing.

“But that has to be the foundation, it has to be. Imagine what we might have the courage to be and do in this world with God’s love as our foundation—not our efforts, but God’s love.

“[1] John 4 says there is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear. ... We love because he first loved us.”

‘I can’t control everything’

Shayla Drimsley, 14, of the Diocese of New Ulm, Minn., said she was glad she attended the talk.

“I liked how they had songs and made it so it was really understandable for us to get [the message] better,” she said. The talk helped her realize “that God will help you. Even if you think he can’t, he will. You can believe it or not, but he will.”

As for Maxwell, he appreciated Angrisano’s humor, but especially related to Catherine’s witness.

“What she said about wanting everything to be controlled, I could really relate to that,” he said. “I feel like prayer and relying on God has a lot to do with controlling that urge to control. That really spoke to me.

“I can’t control everything. God controls everything, so if I rely on him, it will put me on the right path.” †

 

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