Do you ever compare yourself to others? I once heard the quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy” and I couldn’t agree more. Oftentimes when I read Proverbs, 31, for example, I read about, “The Perfect Wife” or “The Perfect Woman” and if compare myself, I know I have a long way to go. But that’s not why the readings this Sunday include Proverbs 31. She, of course, is an example for all of us women, but she is so great because she fears the lord. The Psalm goes on to emphasize, “Blessed are those who fear the Lord.”
So what does that mean to fear the Lord? I think this is where the other readings can fill us in. Paul writes to the Thessalonians reminding them that they are children of God and are in the light of God, not darkness. Those who are in the light ought not be lazy, and not ‘sleep’ or stand idle, but stay alert and sober.
Then the gospel reading is the Parable of the Talents. (Talents are a measurement of currency back in those times.) There are three different servants who were asked by the master to keep his valuables safe. The master entrusts each man a few talents according to his ability, and when the master returns, he expects that his servants DID something, invested in something and gained interest for him and two of the three do just that, and he is happy. BUT, the third servant just buries his talent. Out of fear of losing it, he just hides it so no interest can be earned. The Master gets mmmmaaaaaadddd! So mad, in fact, that he says, “You wicked and lazy servant!” Then continues, “throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”
So what we can get out of the gospel message and Pauls letter is this: To fear the Lord, you must PUT SOME EFFORT INTO IT! So many times Christians simply accept Jesus into their hearts, but don’t DO anything about it. Jesus is good, but work needs to get done and WE are his hands and feet! We are called to be like the Proverbs 31 woman and work constantly for those around us. Paul tells us to always be awake and alert, doing God’s work, not lazy and resting all the time.
So ask yourself… Are you working hard in your faith? Are you always learning more about scripture? Do you pray, even when you feel super busy? Do you help others? The poor and sick?
The readings this Sunday are a wake up call for us (especially me!) that we have some work to do! Let’s keep our eyes focused on God and fear the Lord so he can actually USE our hands and feet to change the world! Let's get down to business... and Fear the Lord!
If you know me at all... you know I am not a planner. I mean, I want to be! I usually have ideas about what I need to pack for trip and will occasionally write lists and everything! Sometimes, when I do write my list out, pack accordingly (the night before), I feel great and can enjoy the day of travel stress free! I have also done the opposite, just put off packing and am a stressed mess the day before the trip, and oftentimes I forget a bunch of things too! So my trip usually starts off rough because I am stressed from packing AND I usually forget my toothbrush or deodorant! The moral of the lesson is... be prepared. You are able to enjoy the trip AND not be stressed.
This Sunday's gospel has a similar moral as well... When it comes to the time when the Bride Groom (Christ) comes back.... Will we be ready? The gospel is the Parable of the 10 Virgins. 5 of them are prepared with plenty of oil for their lamps to look for the bridegroom in the dark, and 5 WANT to see the bridegroom, but are NOT prepared and did not bring their oil. They set out to meet the bridegroom on his way through the city and when it gets dark, the 5 virgins without oil ask the prepared virgins if they would share their oil... to which they reply, "NO, you should have been prepared!" So when they leave to get more oil for their lamps, the bridegroom comes! Talk about bad timing!
Well here is the thing, Christ comes every Sunday to us in Mass, and the timing of Mass isn't always good timing. What about when you feel called to pray at the worst times? #ilovetosleepin
Also we are SO CLOSE to Advent, the season of waiting and preparation for the Coming of Christ. We should always be preparing our hearts, minds, and actions with Christ in mind. He is what our souls long for. He is really what we are looking for! But if you are not prepared (Aka, if we do not regularly seek Him and talk to Him and know Him), will we even recognize his face?
Ask yourself, "What am I doing to prepare for God to dwell in my life?"
“The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” The Gospel reading this upcoming week finishes with this quote from Jesus. This passage reminds me of the many great Catholic men and women who have gone before us as we celebrate the great feast of All Saints Day this week. Although the saints have many different stories, one common theme in their lives is that they always give God the glory. They don’t live to be exalted by men, but rather they live their lives to exalt God and to show others God’s love and mercy.
I was talking to Fr. Pins the other day, and he told me the story of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. Pier Giorgio’s life is an incredible story, and he was a great witness as to how we should live out our Catholic faith. I want to share his story with you all because Pier Giorgio epitomized a servant who humbled himself in service to others. As a little bit of background, Pier Giorgio lived in Turin, Italy in the early 1900s and was from a wealthy family. His father founded a newspaper and was also involved in Italian politics.
At a relatively young age Pier Giorgio had a dynamic faith and a deep spiritual life. When he was only 17 years old, Pier Giorgio joined the St. Vincent De Paul Society in order to serve the needy and later also joined the Lay Dominicans. He relied on frequent reception of the Eucharist and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for strength in living out his faith and mission of service. Pier Giorgio could have lived a life of luxury and had a high social status, but instead he dedicated his life to service of orphan children, the poor, and the sick.
Pier Giorgio cared for others throughout his everyday life. He would give his bus money away to people who needed it. Then he would run home but would sometimes be late for meals, which would not make his parents happy. One night when it was very cold outside, he showed up at home with no coat on. Pier Giorgio’s father was very upset with him for having no coat, but of course he had given his coat to someone who didn’t have one. When he received gifts of money from family members, he would give the money away to those in need. Pier Giorgio also made sure that poor children received the sacraments, and he nurtured them in their faith.
When Pier Giorgio was only 24 years old, he contracted polio and died very suddenly. It is believed that he contracted polio while taking medicine to a sick person who needed the medicine. At his funeral, the church was packed with Pier Giorgio’s family and his family’s friends. Because of his dad’s status in the community, those in attendance at the funeral were the wealthy and influential people in society. But when they left the church, his family saw the streets lined with people there to honor Pier Giorgio. These were the poor and marginalized people that he had ministered to for seven years. His family never expected this and realized they didn’t really know who Pier Giorgio was. They had no idea the impact he had had on the lives of these people in their community. Likewise, many of the poor who Pier Giorgio had served were surprised to learn that he was part of the influential Frassati family.
This is a brief snippet of Pier Giorgio’s life, but it shows the humility with which he lived each day of his life. He put the needs of others before his own not looking for any payback or reward. He lived a life of self-sacrifice in service to those in need. While he sets quite a high bar, what a great person to remember as an example of how we all should show Christ’s love to others especially those in need.
As a high school youth minister, I too often hear that young people are not attracted to Christianity because there are too many hypocrites, too many people who claim to be Christian who treat others like crap. And my response is… you are absolutely correct. There ARE many hypocrites in our faith and it is devastating to ALL of us when we treat our neighbor poorly.
Who is our neighbor you may ask? I guess my answer would be anyone who is not you! Sorry I couldn’t be more specific. Our readings for Sunday point out a few groups in particular, like immigrants, for example. I see many Christians who justify their hatred for illegal immigrants as ‘JUST’. Hatred for our neighbor is never OK, as God is calling us to something deeper. God is calling us to welcome aliens to our country! Now this is not a political rant as I agree that there should be LEGAL was for aliens to come to our country and that illegal actions should not be justified. But I digress…
Another group mentioned, widows or orphans. I would say this refers to those who are lonely or have no one to stand up for them. How many of us know a widow or orphan? Not too many of us do. But how many lonely and or defenseless people do we know? God hears their cries! This ranges from the cries of the unborn, to those who have been abandoned or neglected worldwide, to that kid at your school no one talks to… They all need someone to stand up for them, to care for them, to show love to them.
Another group mentioned is the poor! I hear many people not want to help the poor with money for fear of what they will do with their charity! There are many ways to help the poor besides giving away that dollar at a stop light!
Here’s the thing… no matter the who our neighbor is or what the situation is, we can recognize a true Christian by their love. If you have good and true relationship with God, it merely means you are open to Him, His movements, and you openly receive His love into your life. If you have a good and true relationship with God, His love overflows out of you, so showing love for your neighbor is oftentimes effortless! To hate or treat your neighbor poorly would be more difficult if you are tight with the big guy upstairs. Likewise, if you are God are tight, it is easier to be kind to others, to share what you have, to encourage, to visit, to feed, to give, to live out the love you encounter with the God who has blessed you so abundantly. You'd have an endless fuel tank of grace!
Knowing this, Christ reminds us of our primary calling, the Greatest Commandment(s): Love God with everything you are, then (with the love you’ve received from Him) love your neighbor as yourself.
So if you have shown hatred recently, if you have wished ill will, if you have lied or done someone harm in some way, or decided NOT to do something you SHOULD have done… I challenge you… How are YOU and God right now? Are you letting Him fill you with His love, peace and joy? During Mass this Sunday, pray that He may take up more space in your heart and soul, then do something kind!
Our readings for this Sunday are a reminder of something vital in the direction we live our lives: God is in charge and has chosen us for great things! Don’t let other distractions steer you in the wrong direction!
The first reading is about God calling Cyrus, appointing him to a task, assuring him that He (God) would open doors, give him strength and make things happen EVEN IF CYRUS didn’t know God.
The Psalms remind us that God is good and deserves ALL of our praise! He is the reason we succeed and find blessing and abundance! HE is the source!
Paul writes to the Thessalonians about the grace of God and commending their endurance. He reminds them of what started their call to spread the good news of God, the Holy Spirit through the message they heard with conviction. They did not hear someone preach without passion, rather, they heard someone probably an apostle preach and teach with the Spirit of God, with passion and love! In the Gospel Jesus is cornered by the Pharisees who wanted to trap him into jail time by his answers. They basically ask Jesus if people should skip paying taxes because Caesar is not their god. Jesus answers, “give Caesar what is Caesars and to God what is God’s”. What a brilliant answer!
Now to apply this to the theme of these readings… Many of us do not consult God whatsoever in our plans for our live. God created us, he chose each of us for a purpose. If we discern what that purpose is and try to follow it, God will be with us, open doors for us, give us the strength we need, and let us know he is with us along the way! Along this road of God’s will we walk, we must give Him our praise and thanksgiving, acknowledging along the way that you are merely responding to his will, choosing to serve him, and offering to Him your prayers of supplication and thanksgiving! DO NOT BE DISTRACTED by 'what is Caesar's'. Many of us are motivated by money, greed, power, pride, etc. Those do not belong to God. Let God and our love for Him and His love for us be the motivation and map to help guide us in our live's direction!
Have you ever shown up to an event and been completely under-dressed? Or perhaps over-dressed? It’s super embarrassing and I don’t wish it on anyone. You have a way of feeling ‘left out’ of the group and that everyone can tell! Yikes. So imagine a grand ball, or a banquet that you have been invited to where they have a whole bunch of different forks and spoons and you have NO idea which to use for what. All of that embarrassment could be avoided if you KNEW what you were getting into. If you knew the host, you would know both how to dress and how to navigate all the forks and spoons on the fancy table, right? But if you went to the feast because ‘everyone else was doing it’ or because you wanted some free food, you would likely stick out like a sore thumb.
Now, the readings this Sunday tell us of such a banquet! God’s blessings for those in eternity with him will be spoiled rotten, all needs met! He will provide for those on earth too, just as long as they stay his people. The Israelites for example were God’s chosen people… and “He would be their God and they would be His people”… but they stopped being his people eventually… they stopped being faithful to God and started worshiping false gods… they distanced themselves from Him and their lives fell apart. They were kicked out of their city, returned to beggars. You’d think we would learn from them…
Jesus then tells a parable in the Gospel. A parable of a wedding feast! The King wants all their invited guests (the chosen people, Israelites) to attend and NONE of them came. The King invited them yet again, telling them of all they would receive! And yet, they still did not come. In fact, the invited guests (Israelites) beat and killed the Kings Servants (prophets and God’s servants sent to tell the Israelites how God wanted them to be). Then, angry and probably hurt, the King invited Any and ALL to his son’s feast. Well, it is free food after all, so many came, both good and bad people alike.
The Gospel parable continues… The king sees someone at the wedding banquet and the guest is NOT dressed appropriately. The king KICKS HIM OUT “into the darkness outside”. When I first read this, I was kind of shocked… I mean, hello? It’s just an outfit!? But I realized…
Do you think this underdressed man was kicked out because he chose the wrong clothing style? No! He was kicked out because the man OBVIOUSLY did not know the son, nor did he care to. His lack of dressing up or making any effort told the King that he was at a party to which he did not belong.
This parable tells us of the blessing God has in store for us! And ALL, every single one of us, is invited to partake in those blessings! But only a few or chosen to stay. And really, those few who are chosen are chosen because they want to stay, they put effort into knowing the son and respecting the son.
Let’s ask ourselves this question… If Christ has invited me to his banquet, what would I wear?
Matt and I were watching CNN this morning of the shooting in Vegas and CNN was interviewing a young man who was at the concert with his sister. When the shots rang out, everyone ducked down and his sister kept trying to climb on his back to protect him and absorb any potential bullets, shouting that she loves him. Although the young man said he was agnostic before the concert, this event helped him to become a Christian. His sister became Christ to him, using her own life to save his. His sister survived and stuck with him during their escape.
Her brave example shows us that in times of great anxiety, fear, and despair, we must be peace, courage and hope for others around us.
Must I point out the obvious state our country and world is in? Between natural disasters, hurricane after hurricane, the entire island of Puerto Rico out of drinking water and electricity, wildfires in CA, homes being destroyed, the bitterness and hatred for our fellow citizens of the USA, the impending conflict with North Korea and now, the deadliest shooting our country has ever faced with Vegas. We need a crapload of peace, courage and hope.
The readings for Sunday are such a well-needed reminder of the saving power of God . You see, in the first reading, the prophet Isaiah tells us a parable of a friend who does everything to grow a beautiful vineyard, yet only wild grapes grow. The grower, upset with the results, vows to destroy the vineyard, as it does not bear fruit. Isaiah tells us that Jerusalem is the vineyard and the people of Judah (God’s chosen people) are the plant/vine which was destroyed.
Enter Jesus Christ, our Savior
In our gospel reading, Jesus then tells this exact vineyard story and adds a little more to it... A landowner (God) does everything just right to create this beautiful vineyard (the world he created) and left it to tenants (people). He sends in his servants to collect and harvest but the tenants beat, kill and stone them. The landowner sends in more, they are also destroyed. Finally, the Landowner sent his Son, (“They will respect my son”) but the tenants did not respect him; they killed him to steal his inheritance. Jesus then asks, ‘What shall become of the tenants when the landowner comes?” They say that they should die a terrible death! Jesus corrects them and says, “The stone that has been rejected has become the cornerstone.” He is referencing Psalm 118: 2. Let’s read that whole Psalm here:
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
Let Israel say:
“His love endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron say:
“His love endures forever.”
Let those who fear the Lord say:
“His love endures forever.”
When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord;
he brought me into a spacious place.
The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?
The Lord is with me; he is my helper.
I look in triumph on my enemies.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in humans.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in princes.
All the nations surrounded me,
but in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
They surrounded me on every side,
but in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
They swarmed around me like bees,
but they were consumed as quickly as burning thorns;
in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
I was pushed back and about to fall,
but the Lord helped me.
The Lord is my strength and my defense[a];
he has become my salvation.
Shouts of joy and victory
resound in the tents of the righteous:
“The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!
The Lord’s right hand is lifted high;
the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!”
I will not die but live,
and will proclaim what the Lord has done.
The Lord has chastened me severely,
but he has not given me over to death.
Open for me the gates of the righteous;
I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord
through which the righteous may enter.
I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
you have become my salvation.
The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.
The Lord has done it this very day;
let us rejoice today and be glad.
Lord, save us!
Lord, grant us success!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
From the house of the Lord we bless you.[b]
The Lord is God,
and he has made his light shine on us.
With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
up[c] to the horns of the altar.
You are my God, and I will praise you;
you are my God, and I will exalt you.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
This Psalm promises us God’s mercy, His goodness, and His salvation. The answer to our prayers is heaven and heaven is promised to those who love Him.
So in these dark times, we must continue to love God, become Christ for one another. We must no longer fear ridicule for living out our faith and loving God. We must wear persecution as a crown. “Blessed are those who have been. persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Mt 5:10).
I challenge you to be lighthouses, to shine the light of truth and God’s love to all who will see, to REFELCT and DWELL on the good things in this world, to be helpers. Fred Rogers gives us some great advice here:
Paul sums up all of this so nicely in the second reading for Sunday and says it much better than I could in his letter to the Philippians:
“Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters,
whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious,
if there is any excellence
and if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.
Keep on doing what you have learned and received
and heard and seen in me.
Then the God of peace will be with you.”
My prayers are with you all this week. Lots of love and peace of Christ be with you.
As you guys may know, I’m a huge basketball fan (this is Joe, not Stacy, by the way… not sure if Stacy is a huge basketball fan or not!). This is a while ago now, but back in the early 2000’s the Lakers with star players Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant leading the way and Phil Jackson coaching were dominating the NBA. Their team had a lot of talent and won three NBA championships in a row from 2000-2002. After losing in the NBA finals in 2004, Shaq changed teams and Phil Jackson quit coaching the Lakers for the time being. What could have been an even greater NBA dynasty was cut short due to dysfunction within the organization. Phil Jackson ended up writing a book about this team and what it was like coaching them. Jackson said, “Ask Shaq to do something, and he'll say, 'No, I don't want to.' But after a little pouting, he'll do it. Ask Kobe and he'll say, 'O.K.' and then he will do whatever he wants.” From this one quote, you can see how dysfunctional this team became when their star players behaved this way.
This story about Shaq and Kobe reminds me of the parable in the Gospel reading from Matthew this Sunday. Jesus tells a parable where a man has two sons and asks them both to work in his vineyard. The first son says that he will work for his father but then changes his mind and doesn’t go to the vineyard to work. The second son says that he won’t work in the vineyard but then he also changes his mind and goes to work. Jesus asked those who were listening which son did his father’s will. It is obvious that it was the son who actually went to work in the vineyard who did his father’s will. Like in the story of Shaq and Kobe, it was Shaq who did his coach’s will even though it was Kobe who initially said that he would do what his coach said.
I think there are ways in which I, and likely many of you, can associate with both Shaq and Kobe or with both sons in the parable. The sons in the parable are us and the father is God. Being a Catholic Christian means that we are telling God our Father that we will work in his vineyard and we will do His will. By being Catholic and having been baptized and confirmed or looking forward to being confirmed soon, we are all telling God, “Yes, I will work in your vineyard.” This means that we are telling God that we will live and work for Him and follow His will in our lives no matter what. It is pretty easy to go through the motions and simply say like the first son, “Yes God, I will work in your vineyard”, but it is much more difficult to live that out. It is tough work working in a vineyard! We get out in school and the workplace and it is easy to forget our promise to God. It’s easy to say I don’t want to follow God’s will today, I’d rather please myself and commit some fun sins and stay away from the work in the vineyard. Working in God’s vineyard takes on many different forms for different people. Some people are called to be priests or nuns, some are called into full or part time ministry, some are called to be married and have children. No matter what our individual calling is, we are all expected to be a good witness to the faith we’ve been given and to live that faith out to those we come in contact with in our everyday life.
I can think of many times in my personal life where I have been the first son. I’ve told God that I’m going to do His will and live for Him but then completely turned my back on what I knew was right. I rejected God and stayed away from the vineyard I agreed to work in by deliberately sinning against Him.
As the parable shifts to the second son, I like to picture him saying no to his father because he had in his mind more important things to do. These things may have been sinful activities he wanted to participate in or they could have been things that weren’t inherently bad (like for us school, work, friends, sports, video games, TV, etc.) but he had let them become a priority in front of God in his life. I can relate to this son as well because how often do I say no to God because I’ve put other things in front of Him. The great thing about this part of the parable is that it’s not too late to change our mind. It’s not too late to say, “Father, what was I thinking? I’m going to come work in your vineyard!”.
Whether you associate with the first or second son, we have the awesome Sacrament of Reconciliation (available Saturdays from 3:45-4:30pm and by appointment) for when we’ve failed where we can come back to God and commit to Him. We move on from our sin and become the second son when he decided it was time to amend his life and go to work. The second son realized that he screwed up and did what he needed to do to fix the situation!
The second reading for this Sunday is from Philippians 2:1-11, and it shows us how to live for God or how to be the second son when he decided it was time to work. It tells us to have the same attitude as Christ Jesus. He humbled himself and was obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. I would encourage you all to pick up a Bible or a missalette from one of the pews and spend some time reading and contemplating this passage of Scripture before going to mass on Sunday. It is a very powerful passage that teaches us to live our lives in humility for the glory of God.
I don’t know about you all, but in high school, I was kind of a judgmental person. Many of us have regrets from high school and although I do have some regrets in the boyfriend department (*throatclear*), most of my regret falls with the way I silently treated others. I was never outward or hostile towards sinners, but I often judged myself as ‘better than’ other people in high school based on the sins they were rumored to have committed (ie. sex, drugs, alcohol.) I thought because I was not doing any of the “big three” mentioned that I was better, somehow closer to God. This could not be further than the truth. You see we all suffer, we all sin, and we are all in need of God’s mercy and love and forgiveness. Oftentimes, especially in high school, teens are merely searching for love, for truth, for contentment, and perhaps even an escape.
What I wish I realized then that I know now is my life has been pretty easy, very loving and encouraging, and super peaceful for the most part. All of us have had our rough patches, but generally speaking, my family has always been amazing. I have always loved my parents and my 8 siblings and they have ALWAYS been very supportive, encouraging and affirming. So because of this background, my heart never really searched for healing or an escape, or even just a sliver of love/affection to revive the apathetic heart too many wounds may have caused. I wish the same could be said for many of my friends. Everyone comes from a different background. Some of my friends came from broken homes, crappy relationships, mental illness, all kinds of abuse, or a general lack of affection. It makes their search for love in all the wrong places a little more understandable don’t you think?
So back to my former teenage judgmental/bitchy self… I thought I could pass judgment on others based on their apparent sins. And I wasn’t alone. I think oftentimes we Christians are more concerned with what others are doing than our own personal relationships with Christ. The readings for this Sunday seem to point in that direction as well. Don’t get me wrong, being apart of a community and correcting them in charity is essential to a well-rounded Christian life, but when it comes to what is right or what ought to be, let’s worry about ourselves first, ok? If I could have just looked within my heart first, I would have seen my own sin.
In the first readings, Isaiah wisely states that it is not up to us to determine the punishments or rewards of others. We cannot presume to know God’s ways, God’s thoughts, nor the thoughts and motivations of our brothers and sisters. So what we SHOULD focus on is to draw close to him. Let’s focus on our relationship with Him and how he will be here for us, no matter what! Let us draw ourselves closer to him as he is unchanging. This Sunday’s Psalms remind us that The Lord is near to all who call upon Him!
The Gospel story of the workers in the vineyard pretty well illustrate my high school self. I was that person who joined the workers early. I was eager to get to work, to live according to God’s will and do what’s right! But then at the end of the day, point fingers and complain to God that “these people go the same wage as I did and they’ve don’t half the work!” God reminds all the Stacys in the world:
“My friend, I am not cheating you.
Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?
Take what is yours and go.
What if I wish to give this last one the same as you?
Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money?
Are you envious because I am generous?'
Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last."
Take what is yours and go. Accept the love and mercy God has shown you, the grace he has given you for the beautiful life and effort you have put in… and go. Jesus encourages us later in the Parable of the Talents that if he gives you much, spread it, make it even more! So if you have been fortunate enough to have a healthy upbringing or have even overcome a bad upbringing and are living a virtuous life! Thank God! What a gift!! Don’t bury that gift by spending your time trying to figure out what is just… that’s God’s job. Just concern yourself with growing towards Him… then the Christ inside you will bring others to Him. THAT is what I wish high school Stacy knew…
Don’t be a high school Stacy. Show mercy, let God shine through you and love on people. He will know what to do with them!
All you beautiful college freshmen were my first class to go through Confirmation Prep and Youth group with me! So you're kind of like my own children. So because I feel all "mama bear" towards you, I'd like to offer my loving suggestions to help make your years at college ones of growth, love, and PEACE!
Keep going to Mass-it's your connection home. So I went to a college about 3 hours away from home. I loved it because it was far enough away to feel 'on my own' but close enough that I could easily come home for a weekend. But the first month I was so homesick. I battled SO MUCH anxiety separating from my family and friends. It was hard to sleep and eat... needless to say, I really struggled. So I remember talking to my dad, who told me that I would not always feel this way but that until I got used to being on my own, I should receive the Eucharist because when I do, I become "One Body" with all my family and friends. He said when we both receive the Eucharist, we are closer than if he and I were in the same room. You guys, it's true. If you miss someone, miss your church youth group, miss your family, etc, then go to Mass and unite with them there. It helps so much!
Prepare for Mass: I can't underestimate the power of preparing for Mass ahead of time by reading the readings! I will write a blog each week which will link to the Sunday readings and share a couple of thoughts about how the readings may apply to your lives right now! When we prepare, we are putting effort into our Mass experience which makes it so much richer. God's grace is so much more felt and received. So click on this link and keep it on your homescreen: http://stjosephignite.weebly.com/blog. I promise you, the more you put into Mass the more you will get out!
Pray Daily: I know you are busy. You stay up late and sleep in. Some of you work, and most of you have homework and study. Also, I understand that it's college, and many of you stay out late socializing.... BUT here are a few SHORT and POWERFUL prayers you could do daily. Just set the alarm in your phone for noon each day and lable it with prayer!
Find some faith-filled friends: Most of you have at least one friend you can talk about your faith with. But if you don't, head to the Newman Center or Catholic Youth Group on campus, each school has one, and sign up for one activity. Be brave and share your struggles, your hopes, what you want to be and your friends there will support you and most likely be in the same boat you are in!
Don't forget about confession- I get it. You are in college. You are finally free to do whatever you want! So many of you may be looking for fulfillment in attractive places... but don't be surprised if the excitement melts away into anxiety, lonliness and sadness. I pray you remember the healing power of Confession. It helps, not hurts and gives you strength to be the person God is calling you to be. If you are looking for peace, patience, confidence and freedom, those temptations you face will only distract you then leave you feeling empty. The Sacraments like Mass and Confession will fill you and give you what you are truly looking for! Plus I'll buy you ice cream if you go to confession ;)
Come back and see us! I truly adore you all. I pray for you often and wish you the best. But I want to see you too so keep visiting me! You can write me via facebook, instagram, email or even stop into YG any Wed night! We will be going to adoration every last Thursday of the month from 6-7pm! Here is our Youth Group Calendar! I'd love to see you!
We will be praying for you all!
All my love in Christ,