One Pilgrim’s Journey

by Susan Grilliot

14368773_10157640991855082_2117620263764002384_nThe Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James) has become an increasingly popular pilgrimage walk in Europe. Last winter, I made the decision to quit my job and take this adventure. Alone. At first, I was open to going with someone else if anyone happened to be able to take a month off work or also quit their job at the same time. However, after some time planning and praying, I felt called to go it alone.

The Camino is one of those experiences that are difficult to describe, and every pilgrim’s description is different. That is the beauty of it. No two Caminos are alike. Different motives, different backgrounds, even different routes. That being said, my good friend, Paul (we met on The Way), has walked three times now, and he says, “Where else in the world can you find such a variety of people in the same place with the same goal?” I think this fact contributes to making The Way a “river of human kindness” as Paul says.

Making friends is easy, and if you are not comfortable making the first move, someone else will. If you are sitting alone, someone is bound to ask if he or she can join you. I loved this aspect of The Camino. I did not have to worry about the reaction, only whether or not we had a language in common! Pilgrims in general are so willing to help each other. Molly needs something for her blister. Bob, across the room offers her a band-aid. Claire has a strange sickness she cannot beat. Arnau, a doctor, writes a prescription for the correct medication. Susan gets sick, so Karl and Florian take turns carrying her pack so that she can still travel with the group. Yes, I am talking about myself here.

The first couple of weeks were filled with such joy and beauty. Between the warm, sunny weather, the picturesque landscape and new friends, I felt such genuine happiness. A German man, Florian, who I met the first day, would play his ukulele and we would sing songs as we walked. We were always laughing or smiling about something!

14642259_10157591176730082_2609657771707717621_nCarrying twenty or so pounds on your back takes time to adjust to. Never mind walking inclines and declines on uneven surface. Blisters, sores, bed bugs, injury and illness- All may be a part of the experience whether personally or through fellow pilgrims. Though these topics are widely discussed, they hardly brought us down for long before we would be caught up again in the beautiful scenery or in hunting down the next yellow arrow that indicated the way.

The trail passes almost every single Catholic Church within a few kilometers. Unfortunately, not all were open at the time I walked by or were turned into museums and charged an entrance fee. Despite the lack of European religiosity, I could not get over how old everything in Europe is, especially the churches-most dating back to the 1200-1300’s. I found one of my favorite churches after a wonderful day of hiking up a mountain. It was located in the small, cold, and touristic town of O Cebreiro. While looking up mass times, I discovered that a Eucharistic miracle happened there in the 1300’s! There was a side alter with the remains on display for veneration. So cool!

I intentionally made the journey spiritual. Each day I prayed for someone specific or a group of people. I prayed a rosary and offered the days sufferings in his or her name. It seemed to help me focus and stay on track when it was so easy to obsess over how close the next meal or bathroom was. It was also very easy to let the other pilgrims distract me as I suffer highly from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).

I was quick to find a Camino family, and so never walked an entire day alone.  I enjoyed meeting many unique people to share stories and experiences with. I now have friends in Australia, France, Spain, Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Maine, California, and beyond!

untitled-2I gained so much confidence in myself and my abilities. I learned more about who I am. There is something very special and powerful about sharing your true self, that is, the you beneath the makeup, fancy clothes, or photo filter. I also grew in trust of God and His plan for me. Numerous times, God put the right people in my path at the right time. For example, one night while cutting cheese with a pocketknife, it slipped. Luckily, Jules, who is a nurse, was with us that day so she was able to get the bleeding under control and properly sterilize and bandage the deep wound.

Though I do not plan to walk this again for a long time, many pilgrims find themselves on the trail multiple times in his or her life. As for me, I would like to explore the countless other countries I have yet to see!

 

Susan, originally from Ohio, made it to this great state by attending Ball State University and is currently one of the members of the St. Catherine of Alexandria Women’s Formation House here in Indy.

Why it is a good thing to be tempted…

by Fr. Martin Rodriguez

Fr. Martin did a reflection for young adults on how temptations can help us prove our love to God!

martinFr. Martin, one of our young adult priests in the archdiocese, is currently the pastor at St. Joseph’s in Shelbyville, IN. He recently started a YouTube channel where he shares short videos explaining different parts of our Catholic faith. You can subscribe to his channel HERE. Many are in Spanish, but he is starting to publish videos in English as well! Gracias Padre!

Our Vocation to Marriage – Reflections from World Youth Day

by Stephen Janssen and Kara Gregg    

When we met in May of 2015, I (Kara) was reading “Saint John Paul the Great, His Five Loves” by Jason Evert. A book about the life and loves of St. JPII. I (Stephen) soon read the same book and it changed my life and my entire belief on the human body, love, and marriage as a Catholic man and future husband. Throughout our relationship, JPII and our blessed Mother have been strong intercessors for us.

I (Kara) had spent several years before I met Stephen praying for my future husband.  During the time in the summer of 2015, shortly after meeting Stephen, I received a special gift on the last day of a 54 day rosary novena I decided to pray for the intention of my future husband. On my trip to Rome with my cousin, we were invited to attend a private mass, in which after the priest placed a zucchetto (a cleric’s skullcap: black for a priest, purple for a bishop, red for a cardinal, and white for the pope) of JPII on my head and before he did I asked that he would also pray for my future husband. JP2 has been so tenderly involved in our relationship!

During our pilgrimage to World Youth Day we ended a 54 day rosary novena for the intention for a happy and holy marriage. On that day, we visited the shrine of JPII in Kraków and kissed a relic of his blood that was saved on May 13, 1981, the day there was an assassination attempt on his life and the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima. What a blessing! We knew Our Lady of Fatima was so special to us and we to her. She has guided us and given us so many graces throughout our relationship. Through the sufferings we have endured and offered for each other and for our future marriage, JPII and Our Lady have interceded for us and given us the grace to receive the fullness of this life with each other.12 [Read more…]

The Gift of Our Priests – Reflections from World Youth Day

by Maria Cossell

Like my fellow pilgrims that traveled to Krakow for World Youth Day, I journeyed with specific intentions in mind.  My prayer and hope was to see fruits for these particular intentions by offering up sufferings.  Little did I know what prayer intention the Lord would actually place on my heart while I was in Poland.

One day Fr. Eric Augenstein graciously took a small group of young adults on a tour of sites that pertained specifically to the life of St. John Paul II.  As we stood outside St. John Paul II’s home parish, St. Stanislaus Kostka, Fr. Eric  recounted how the church was run by a group of Salesians.  All of the priests except one who was in his eighties were sent to concentration camps by the Nazis.  Eleven priests who served this church died for their faith.  They freely chose to love and follow Jesus till their last breath.  

All of a sudden I was overcome by a sense of sadness and anxiety.  At first I struggled to understand why I was feeling this way.  For five years I have taught sixth graders about World War II.  Each year I talk about how priests were killed.  I talk to my students about the truth of underground churches currently in our world.  Fr. Eric’s story should have come to no surprise for me.  However, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  Without priests we, the Church cannot come into union with Christ in the very intimate way of the Eucharist.  I never want to live in a time period where it is a struggle to be able to receive the heart of our Lord in communion.  

It was then I realized how I take for granted the gift of the priesthood and the presence of Jesus in the holy sacrament of the altar. On any day of the week I have a plethora of churches and mass times to choose from.  I can pop into an adoration chapel any time I feel like it, no matter the hour of the day.

[Read more…]

When Thousands Don’t Satisfy the Heart

by Erica Heinekamp

Untitled-4It’s in the soul of a mother raising her young children.  A young man at the office sitting at his desk everyday.  The question is there in the midst of the studies of a seminarian or grad student.  It’s in the hearts of teachers who are living summer break. It’s with the 250 young adults at Theology on Tap last week and the 8 with me at Mass this morning. It’s a question for the despairing AND the hopeful alike: “What am I looking for?”

Be careful that the answer isn’t too automatic.  We’re not answering “What are you looking for?” like a computer answering “What’s 2 X 2?”

Attention, everyone:  What you’re looking for is JESUS!!!!  There. I answered it. Do you feel better? Of course not. The problem is we’re still hurting, confused, and in some way, feel like we aren’t honoring such a meaningful, personally-diverse question with such a simple response.

I was at a regional meeting of leaders a few years ago for a Catholic lay movement called Communion and Liberation.  The question was posed to us, “What does your community need?” It was their version of “What are you looking for?” We broke out into groups, discussed it with others and came back with our responses: We needed money, more cultural presentations, better discussions at our weekly meetings, new people.  We said all the right things!

The priest in charge, Fr. Jose, in the midst of our responses, said, I can see the future of the communities you lead by what you ask for. You are asking for things too small.”  I’m not sure if on the outside I erupted, but on the inside I sure did.  Asking for things TOO SMALL?!? What in the heck was I supposed to be asking for? (Let’s be honest, I probably didn’t say “heck.”) [Read more…]

Love: it’s what I got

by Katie Sahm

49597-Lucy-In-The-SnowThis can be a difficult time of year, the holidays are over, the sun is not up for long and we have a vitamin D deficiency, it’s so cold that we’re stuck inside watching Netflix marathons and praying for summer, Feb. 14 approaches and we are reminded of the unquenchable thirst we all have to be loved fully. And this is not just for the single folks out there, we all feel it. During the harsh winter there is plenty of time for self-reflection and we are reminded that nothing in this world, not another person, a vocation, a career will ever fill our aching hearts.

However, this season of scarcity can be a blessing, because the longing we all have points us to where our true fulfillment and happiness lies… in God alone.  I’m writing this reflection for one reason: to remind you that you are a beloved son, a beloved daughter of the God of the universe!  Yup, it’s true. The God who is LOVE created you out of LOVE and constantly wants to be united in LOVE with you.

We’ve heard it a thousand times, we celebrate it each week at mass… and yet, if you’re anything like me, it’s one of the first things I forget when I’m weighed down by sin or have fallen into despair. I too easily forget that I am beloved, that Jesus came, died, and rose for me. The beauty of this mystery is far too great for my feeble mind to comprehend. Still, when I begin to contemplate this love, my soul is reawakened and my heart is filled with the impossible truth that I am TRULY loved by my creator, my savior, my comforter.  So much so that He would do anything to be with me forever, even unto death. [Read more…]

It’s worth it: Our Journey with NFP

by Liz Escoffery

Use NFPWhen I was in college, I attended an annual dorm retreat for women. During the retreat, a dorm chaplain and her husband introduced something called Natural Family Planning (NFP). They would prayerfully discern each cycle whether or not God was calling them to welcome a new child into their family. Then, with the scientific knowledge of the woman’s daily discharge observations, they would select days of fertility or infertility to come together. It seemed like this would be hard, involve lots of education on how our bodies work, and necessitate self-mastery and sacrificing on the part of the husband and the wife. Yet, I remember feeling a sense of awe and wonder about the vocation of Christian marriage. I thought to myself, “That sounds worth it.”

Around the same time, I had the opportunity to read Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae. I was drawn to the simple, yet compelling language. Humanae Vitae says,

“(Married) love is destined to continue, raising up new lives…Children are really the supreme gift of marriage and contribute very substantially to the welfare of their parents.”

It explains the nature of marriage, the goodness of sexual intimacy, and speaks pastorally to many couples’ need to space or limit pregnancies during the course of one’s marriage and says that this need is legitimate. The knowledge of one’s fertility can allow each couple to achieve or postpone pregnancies throughout the childbearing years.

When I became engaged to Bill, signing up for a NFP course was a no-brainer. We began meeting with our practitioner for one-on-one instruction and began charting. At first, I found that I was marking almost every day as fertile. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” I said, thinking I must be the most fertile woman on the face of the earth which made me skeptical that it would even work for us. We needed patience and quite a bit of further instruction to understand that it was not possible to be as fertile as much as I thought. Now as a practitioner myself, I smile when I think back to those days of early learning and hope it allows me to relate better to my clients with difficult or confusing charts.

[Read more…]

Receiving the Heart of Jesus

by Maria Cossell

How many times a day does someone pass you by, say hi, and ask how you are doing?  For me, this is multiple times a day.  Stating that I am fine or doing great and asking how the other person is has become so repetitive that I just spit it out of my mouth like a robot.  I do not even think before I speak that I am actually flat out lying to someone.  I am never one-hundred percent great or fine, nor am I always a sad person or a “Negative Nancy” either.  What I am saying is that I am not perfectly content.  There always seems to be a part of me that longs for more of something.  From time to relax and spend quality time with friends and families to desiring more of a specific food or new clothes for my wardrobe, I am constantly searching for more.

For the majority of my life I thought that my happiness was based completely on my actions and what society said would make me happy.  From studying hard in grade school and playing those good old CYO sports to going to college and landing a job.  As each birthday passed I would always dream about how next year I would be happier with life and would continually try harder to make happiness come my way.  I was driving myself crazy because I was never living in the present moment and was always wanting more.

Then a couple years ago I heard a talk that turned my world upside down.  I heard that I will never be completely happy on this Earth even though we are all on a quest for it.  The desire for happiness is too big for any material possession, perfect job, or friendship to complete.  The Catechism states that…

“the desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself.  Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for” (27).

The Lord is using this longing for more to draw us to Himself.  However, as humans we do anything possible to try to quickly fill this ache for happiness within us, from searching for the perfect boyfriend or girlfriend to having the best material possessions. For example, we think that if we just have that new iPhone then we will be happy.  However, over time that happiness fades and we desire more.  So what do we do?  We buy the newest version of the iPhone, and the cycle continues.  We fail to realize that the finite can never fill the infinite desire in our hearts.  Only God can.

1383093_10151945394053910_126496696_n

As all these new concepts started to sink into my head, my heart ached to know the Lord better.  I desired for Him to complete the longing in my heart for more.  I began to aim my desires to Him and take time to learn more about Him on my own.  For example, as I took the time to learn more about Eucharistic Miracles my love for the Eucharist sky rocketed. [Read more…]

Help Me, Lord!

by Matt Duffy

I was out braving the cold & snow, while walking my dog a few weeks ago when a woman in heels, parked, got out of her vehicle, and started to unload her groceries. This woman was younger, probably in her 20s or 30s. She began to struggle, attempting to carry her groceries while concentrating on walking in her heels on the icy sidewalk. I approached her, introduced myself and my dog friend, and offered to help with her groceries.

She looked at me…

said “NO” vehemently, then started walking more quickly away from me. [Read more…]

The Angel Gabriel Moment

by Brooke Yessa

The past several weeks and months have got me thinking a lot about pregnancy. No, I myself am not pregnant, nor am I married. However, my dear friend Meghan is 8 months pregnant. Pregnancy is remarkable; there is a newly created LIFE tucked securly within the mother’s womb, hidden and slowly growing. As the baby grows, the parents also grow. There’s plenty of preparation exteriorly and interiorly as they anticipate raising a child, of creating a home for this new life which the Holy Spirit has brought into existence through them. Besides pregnancy, I have also contemplated Our Blessed Mother a whole lot these past few months in hopes to know her and imitate her more. So basically, you could say I’ve been in the Advent spirit for some time now.

“Advent is the season of the secret, the secret of the growth of Christ, of Divine Love growing in silence. It is the season of humility, silence, and growth.” (Caryll Houselander) [Read more…]

On a Mission to Win

 by Krissy Vargo

To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.

Can you guess who said this? Maybe a church father, a saint, or possibly a sports coach or a promising athlete? The beauty of this quote is that it can relate to anyone, a motto for a young adult enriching their faith or an athlete in training.

These words serve as a strong reminder of the very person we are called to be, not just how we perform on a sports field. This quote is by the international track star legend, Steve Prefontaine. Prefontaine knew what it took to win, and wanted it so badly that he never waited until the last lap to give it his all. Instead, he set his fast pace as soon as the race started, calling it a “pure guts race.” He set the American record for the 5,000 meter race and only had three defeats in his four years at the University of Oregon.

fr01So what do sports and the spiritual life have in common? Here are some examples from my life that may help explain. I was born Catholic and received a Catholic education growing up. I always felt rooted in the faith but as the waters of temptation began to grow, my relationship with Christ and His Bride became a distant priority on my “to do” list. However, during this time, sports remained at the forefront of my attention. Soccer, volleyball, basketball, softball, and golf became my focus. God always meets us where he knows we can meet him, and in my case, this was in sports. I had no idea that the next pitch He was throwing was going to be a fast ball right down the middle. [Read more…]

Why Theology of the Body might make me a Catholic Priest…

by Joey Martinecki

“Ma-waige. Ma-waige is what brings us together today.  Ma-waige, that blessed arrangement, that dream within a dream…”

~The Princess Bride

From my earliest days, I have always desired marriage. And now at this moment, my desire for marriage has never been as strong as it is today.  This is precisely why I am beginning a discernment year to form me for celibate priesthood.

Confused?  Me too.

I love girls.  They are so pretty!!  I have known so many beautiful married couples that have really inspired me.  I long deeply within me to have kids and be a father, a good dad.  And just being honest, here are a couple of other things that appeal to me about marriage:

  1. Sex whenever you want it with your spouse.
  2. Never feeling lonely again.
  3. Being perfectly, totally loved by someone forever.

You can imagine then why I was shocked to discover some of the following that the Church teaches and what married couples have shared openly with me:

  1. It is sinful to lust for your wife.
  2. You can still feel lonely in a marriage.
  3. You are not married to your spouse in heaven.

What do you mean it’s not okay to lust for your wife? Isn’t that the point of waiting until marriage?  I was pissed at God in hearing these things.  I felt cheated because I had been faithfully following the Church’s teaching for several years.  I didn’t fall away from my faith in college but grew in it. In fact, I worked very hard to repress many desires in my heart that I assumed were bad.  That’s the holy thing to do, right? [Read more…]

Radically Different

by Amy Garrofamily photo 2

When I was growing up, I frequently heard the phrase “radically different”. 

As Catholics, as Christians, we are called to be radically different from the world. We are in the world, but not of the world. Our faith calls us to a life that is strange, foreign, even abhorrent, to mainstream society. (1) 

After discerning my call to the vocation of marriage, I wasn’t worried about being radically different. Abstaining until marriage? Oh yes, I believe in that. No problem. Being open to life, not using contraception? Check. I’m on board. The fact that all of my friends were doing these things, too, made this “radically different” not so different, and therefore, not so difficult.

And then we had kids. I thought I was prepared for that. I was not. At 24 years old, our firstborn son rocked both my world and my husband’s.

[Read more…]

A Personal Litany of St. John Paul II

by Mike McCarthy

Last May, I was blessed to be able to go on pilgrimage to Poland, where I visited a number of important sites from Karol Wojtyla’s life. As an artist, I’ve been moved to paint Pope John Paul II a couple of times. For those of you who know me, you probably also know of my unfinished painting of him. For these reasons, I was asked to write a reflection on what St. John Paul II means to me.

It was an honor to be asked, but the request also left me a bit uneasy. I was worried that I only appeared to have a relationship with him. I had to sit with the question, “What does John Paul II mean to me?” Thanks be to God, the invitation to write about his influence on my life turned out to be a gift of discovering just how much of it he has touched.

Looking back on my life, I’m now able to see the faithful saint’s hands at work, an instrument of grace that had been drawing me closer to God for some time. In the Catholic faith, we have the beautiful phrase, “To Jesus through Mary”. In a sense, as with a number of saints, I can say, “To Jesus through Mary through John Paul II”. Just as we’re able to see Mary’s involvement in our salvation, I’m able to see her devoted son’s involvement, direct and indirect, in a number of ways. His ‘yeses’ to God during his life have found their way into mine, and I dare say the whole world.  [Read more…]

Happy Lent (Part 2)

by Matt Faley

Prayer has become the only acceptable area of mediocrity in the Christian life.

I know, that hurt for me to read too.

Think about it.  Growing up, did your parents say, “You know what, just go to school and shoot for D’s.  As long as you try, it’s OK with us, kiddo.”

Or does your boss say, “Just come in, put in an hour’s worth of work and go ahead and send Matt invitations to play Candy Crush all day on Facebook for the other seven.”

Or if you are an athlete, did your coach ever tell you that eating junk food like Buddy the Elf instead of practicing was cool with him because winning is not really a part of the game?

Then why do we Christians think it is OK to do it with prayer?

We care about a lot of things in our life and take care to invest ourselves fully in them, because, well, that is what Christians do.  We care a lot about our work, so we are intentional about doing the best we can.  We care a lot about vacations, so we are intentional about planning them.  We care a lot about our free time, so we are intentional in keeping it sacred.  We care a lot about people’s perception of us, so we take care to make sure we look squeaky clean.  But with prayer, the lifeblood of our existence as human beings created by Love and for Love, we are OK with being just OK. [Read more…]

Happy Lent. (Part One)

by Matt Faley

Happy Lent.

Or, I mean, my condolences, it’s Lent?

I never know what to say around this time of year.   I say this because I know many of you are like me.  You look forward to Lent.  What I mean by that is, you look forward to the first three days of Lent.  You have big plans, your life is going to change forever because of this penance you chose and you are going to be voted Catholic of the decade by a jury of your peers by the time Holy Week comes around.

“Lord, beer me strength!  I can’t take this anymore!”  <–  This how you actually sound three days in.

We want with everything we are for Lent to make sense.  We want suffering to be easy.   We want to be able to suffer well.  We know there is meaning in suffering, but still, our humanity tells us to turn around and run like we are being chased at first sight of it.

[Read more…]

Catholics Don’t Date

by John Antonio 

“Catholics don’t date,” I thought.

With Valentines Day close by, a friend had suggested I write about “Catholic” dating. Now before some happily married Catholic couple protests my biased opinion, I should probably clarify.

Not too long ago I was at a young adult Mass with close to 200 people in attendance and the priest, during the homily, asked, “Girls, please raise your hand if you’ve been asked out by a guy at Church.” So of the maybe 100 girls at Mass one raised her hand. Roughly 1%. [Read more…]

Wait, Hope, Expect

by Katie Sahm
 

Back in the summer, I found this magnet… “Wait, Hope, Expect.”  Simple phrase, but these words really cut me to the core and I’ve been thinking about them ever since.  I realized that this is what God is asking of me… to WAIT with open arms, to HOPE in the Lord’s promises, and to EXPECT great things from the God who loves me so intimately and unconditionally.  Unfortunately I find all this to be very difficult, especially when I feel like I’m always waiting for my prayers to be answered!  I just need to somehow remember each day that I am made for eternity and that my time is so small compared to what God has in store for me FOREVERyeah, preach on Squints! [Read more…]

My First March

by Robert Newport

Only a few years ago I would have nonchalantly shrugged my shoulders if someone would have asked me where I stood on the abortion issue. I probably would have said something like, “oh, I’m pro-life I guess.” I didn’t give it much thought and I’m ashamed to say I didn’t view it as something to get worked up about. Although as time has gone by, events have shaped my position on the issue to the point that I can’t think of anything else in my life I am more convicted of: Abortion. Is. Wrong.

Last year around this time I started seeing the emails from the Young Adult Office to hop on the March for Life bus to D.C. [Read more…]

Mary, the Mediatrix of All Grace

by Dana Petricka

Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary…pray for me as I write this blog!

Our Blessed Mother Mary has been someone I have always wished I had a better relationship with, but I never really knew how to.  Growing up, I wasn’t catechized well in my Catholic faith, and I was heavily involved in a non-denominational ministry at my high school.  Of course, little was ever mentioned about Mary.  I learned a lot about Jesus, which was integral to my faith life, but Mary remained a figure in the Bible who I only thought about at Christmas time when we would read about the Nativity story.

In college, I began to learn more about my Catholic faith than I ever had in my life, and I was thirsting for knowledge.   I was also first introduced to the dogmas and doctrines on Mary, such as the Immaculate Conception and other devotions that I had a hard time grasping, at this time.  “Why was Mary focused on so much when we have Jesus?” I thought. [Read more…]

“Hearts on Fire” at World Youth Day

by Patrick Hofer

As I began reflecting on my time at World Youth Day, I couldn’t help but think of the “Hearts of Fire” young adult retreat I had attended a few months ago.  What did World Youth Day have to do with this seemingly unconnected retreat? I realized that the message I took from this retreat tied very closely to other recent life events and served as a great way to recognize how God had moved my heart in Brazil.

Led by a group of Jesuit priests who travel country-wide to introduce the youth to Jesuit spirituality, the “Hearts on Fire” retreat used the heart as a depiction of love and how love is embodied by the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Given the title, I anticipated talks echoing the zealousness of  well-known Jesuits, St. Francis Xavier and St. Ignatius of Loyola, but the talks ended up resonating very beautifully with another growing devotion in my life. [Read more…]

Put out into the Deep

Deacon Ben Syberg shares his experience of World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro!

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Sunrise, morning of closing mass, World Youth Day 2013

What I Discovered About My Church

by Veronica Fuentes

As young adults, seeking our vocation and God’s will for our future, it is easy to be confused with where we fit in.   We can easily fall  between the cracks, but this should not be the case!  The church is strong, yet it is counting on its youth to do their part.  St. Paul strongly exhorts Timothy to “Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12).  No matter if we are still living under our parent’s roof or living on our own (maybe even in a different town or city from our roots)…we are still part of the family of God.   And as part of His family, we have a role to play.  We still have a lot of work to do!  But it is important to first look at where our faith journey started…

In 2011, Benedict XVI proclaimed the message, “We can only follow Jesus by the hand of the Church.”  As young adults, we need to start within our own church; exploring and seeing where we fit in this large body of Christ.  Pope Benedict was very clear when he said “let me remind you that following Jesus in faith is to walk with him in the communion of the church.”  We cannot follow Jesus alone, we cannot be guided by the individualism that predominates our society!  It is easy to fall into the temptation to go our own way, but we risk never finding Jesus Christ.  Because it is in the context of the church where we will discover our gifts and talents and how they are to be used for his glory. (1 Corinthians 12:4-6) [Read more…]

What is a Gentleman?

by Nic Kovatch
 
As I often times do with words, I would like to break down the word “gentleman” and look at the true meaning behind it.  With this word I went with the basics, a gentle-man.  So how is it that over the course of human history, in the English speaking world, we came to associate the word gentle with a man?  Often times I here that gentle is a “pansy” word, or one that is more effeminate than manly.  Through my experiences however, I have to come to find that the word ‘gentle’ is rather more manly than most people give it credit.
 

I once attended a retreat where it the theme was “Go Gently.”  I spent a good amount of time reflecting on what this meant.  I thought of the famous phrase “walk softly, but carry a big stick.”  Here are some words associated with gently: softly, gracefully, easy, and so on.  The idea is that to be gentle to a degree is to be weak. However, I propose that gentleness is not weakness.  Rather, it is simply power restrained (namely out of love). [Read more…]

Divine Mercy is in My Soul

by Maggie Hagenauer

 

Do you ever think back and wonder, “How did I get to where I am today?”  I think about this constantly with my faith journey.  How did I become a person who goes to mass daily, prays all the time, and loves saints?  Well, it all started with the Divine Mercy devotion and the rest is history.

One day, a friend and I were talking about this prayer having to do with Jesus’ mercy and St. Faustina.  I had never heard of her or the prayer before and when he finished, I was intrigued and went out and bought her diary.  Now, at this point in my life, I was not really into saints, their stories, or understood why we really spent time on them. HELLO, I was missing out!

I started reading her diary and I was hooked.  I didn’t really understand at first why I was so inspired, but I kept reading.  About a hundred pages in, I stopped reading it and moved on.  I began praying the chaplet every day, but didn’t really understand why.  Then it happened…

At a New Year’s Eve party going into 2012 I picked a saint for the year.  GUESS WHO I GOT!??  You know it, St. Faustina.  Long story short, I had just been at World Youth Day the August before and had a life changing experience.  Picking St. Faustina was Jesus saying, “Here is the next step to draw closer to me.”  This is what the paper I picked out at New Year’s said about St. Faustina: [Read more…]

God is Dad.

God is Dad.

by Jake Firestine

In our present time we hear much about the divisive issues.  Some that come to mind are abortion, same-sex “marriage”, separation of church and state, and contraception.  These issues are certainly of supreme importance, and I do not wish to trivialize them; however, I would like to shift the focus from society to the individual person.  Amid all of the division in the world, there likewise lies a division in the heart of each person.  That is to say that we all are experiencing an internal conflict.  On the one hand, we all desire true and lasting peace, love, and joy. On the other, we lose hope so easily and throw in the towel because we doubt the existence of true love.   As Christians we believe in a God who is truly Love itself.  Therefore, all that He does is out of the greatest good for us because He does it with the most pure, uncorrupted love.  As all Christians know, this idea is much more difficult to live out in our thoughts, words, and deeds.  Let’s examine this a tad more, shall we? [Read more…]

Gather Your People Together

“Gather Your People Together”

by Scott Williams

I have my opinion about a lot of things, but I’ve never had such a gut feeling about something like this: the Catholic Church is making a shift.  You can feel it in the spirit of our youth and young adults.  You can feel it when you go to the March for Life and see 650,000 people standing for the unborn. You can see it when you go to world youth day and three million pilgrims from around the world unite to rejoice with our Holy Father. You can see it when people are constantly yearning for more. We are taking a stand for what is right.  We are sick of it!  We are fed up with what society tells us is normal.  Our foundation was built on solid rock and that Rock is Peter. Christ founded our Church and it will not be shaken. [Read more…]

Say Yes

“Say Yes” by Brie Anne Eichhorn

Tension and me do not get a long, I back away from conflict, and avoid confrontation.  As I’m writing this reflection, I imagine God laughing. He’s probably enjoying the irony of this situation. I’m sure there is a method to the Father’s madness, and what he does, he does out of Love. I would have never guessed that I would be asked to write a reflection on one of the most controversial topics in today’s culture. As I begin to reflect on the Pro-Life month of January, I realize how fitting it is, for this is where my journey began.

My mother calls me her pro-life baby. I was born in January which as you may know is when the Catholic Church celebrates the sanctity of life. Actually, my birthday usually falls on or around pro-life Sunday. I always get excited if I happen to receive a red rose from the Pro-Life groups at church who are selling them for the unborn children. It’s always a reminder of my mother’s love for me, that she chose life. [Read more…]

One Simple Word

“One Simple Word” by Rebekah Alva

Think about the last time you freely said “yes” in giving away your time, talent, or treasure to someone in need. Was it hard to do? Were you selfishly holding on to the “what I could be doing” or the classic “what will I get in return?”

Surrendering ourselves is not exactly the easiest task set before us on this earth, but it is a task of the upmost importance in order to make way for the coming of our Lord.

My friends, we are entering Advent, (in my opinion) the most exciting time of the calendar—and liturgical—year. We are waiting in joyful hope, the coming of our savior, Jesus Christ! [Read more…]

Seeing Christ in EVERYONE

“Seeing Christ in EVERYONE”  

by Andrew Costello

 

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).

                                                                  Although this Bible verse is recycled and reused many times when trying to illustrate the need for compassionate action among the “least” of society (e.g. the poor, impoverished, homeless, etc.), it is very rich and an essential element to the Christian Tradition. These famous words uttered by our Lord in the Gospel of Matthew constantly remind us that being charitable and loving to EVERYONE is a non-negotiable aspect of our faith, and rightly so, for we are called to see Christ in every single person, putting all prejudices and hesitations aside. [Read more…]

Journey to the Unknown

by Lindsey Stripling
 

Bonfires, pumpkin carving, apple cider, candy corn and scarves.  Fall has definitely arrived.  There is a distinct beauty fall brings: a refreshing coolness after the sweltering heat, the leaves turning from various shades of green to vibrant oranges, reds, yellows, purples and browns, even the air smells different: clean and crisp.

With the new season, God has turned my life upside down in a very dramatic way.  I don’t understand a lot of it, but changes are popping up so abundantly I’m not sure any part of my old life exists anymore!  So, as I stare out the window and watch fall come in, I can’t help but liken it to the changing season in my life. [Read more…]

The Great Pursuit

by Matt Faley
 

“I do not want to be in love,” said nobody ever.

Love is real.  It is, unequivocally, the greatest desire of the human heart.  

This is not news.  It’s like Lloyd Christmas from Dumb and Dumber, “No way.  That’s great!  We landed on the moon!” news.

EVERYTHING we do is in direct correlation to our desire to love and be loved.  You have heard of the six degrees of Kevin Bacon?  You know the idea that everyone in Hollywood can be traced back to Kevin Bacon in six easy steps by the laws of separation?  It is the same with our desire to be in love.  I dare you to try this.  Every memory, every joy, every sin, every shortcoming, every wound we carry can lead us back to our search for this desire in some way. [Read more…]