WINNIPEG — While the question of the purpose of one’s life usually arises in times of soul-searching solitude, it was posed to a theatre full of Catholic school teachers and administrators in the brightness of mid-morning Feb. 13 at Winnipeg’s St. Mary’s Academy.
The answer, said speaker Ken Yasinski, “is to know God. Not to know about God but to know God,” he said, adding a quote from St. Augustine: “We are restless until we rest in you.”
Yasinski was addressing an audience of 450 from schools in the Archdioceses of Winnipeg and St. Boniface and the Ukrainian archeparchy, brought together for Catholic Schools Day.
Yasinski warned that a relationship with Jesus can’t be a 50 per cent or even 99 per cent commitment. “How committed is Jesus to you?” he asked. “Does that cross look like a 99 per cent commitment? To me, that looks like Jesus is all in.”
Since the age of 25 in 2002, Yasinski has been proclaiming the Catholic faith. He is the founder of Face to Face Ministries, is a Lighthouse Catholic Media Speaker, author, and songwriter. After Winnipeg he was headed to Florida and California.
Yasinski moved to Saskatoon from St. Walburg, Sask., to attend the University of Saskatchewan and it was there, at the age of 19, that he had a renewal of his Catholic faith and his desire to share Christ grew, but not after a good deal of hard partying. Yasinski said he was brought up in a devout family and in high school was on the basketball team and in a rock band. At university the only way he felt he could fit in was by drinking and carousing.
“The person I am now is completely different and I feel like it is by the grace of God. I can’t blame anyone but myself because I was living life on my terms and pushing God to the corner.”
He started playing casual basketball with a team of Catholics and because of them he heard a speaker who said, “If you were the only person on earth, Jesus would still have given his life for you. St. Augustine said God loves us as if we are the only ones. I didn’t know that.”
Yasinski said what changed his life “were the decisions I made because of my experiences. I don’t belief in life-changing experiences, I believe in life-changing decisions. The experience is not a prerequisite to becoming a disciple. We don’t need the experience to become the person God wants us to be, it comes from a decision.”
Many different things can put a smile on our faces, Yasinski said, “but these are momentary times of pleasure. I’m talking about the long term.”
He said his 93-year-old grandfather talks about how fast life has gone and Yasinski asked the audience, “How many of you are getting older? It’s not a question of getting older but getting better. Maturity doesn’t come with age and sometimes age comes alone. Time is ticking and what we do with this time makes all the difference.”
Yasinski related an anecdote about being a boy with his dad and a bunch of cousins and a new motorboat and a new canoe and an uncle who suggested having the motorboat tow the canoe and the canoe not lasting the day. Not surprisingly, he added, there were no moms around.
“Things break when they are used in contradiction to their design,” Yasinski said. “If we live life in contradiction with God’s design for us we break, we hurt ourselves, or someone else. It doesn’t just affect us. Hurt people hurt other people, joyful people give joy to other people,” he said. “I don’t want to get to the end of my life and realize I lived life wrong.”