“In the Silence of the Heart…

…You speak.”

Audrey Assad’s song, “You Speak,” speaks volumes about how we can listen to God. With constant noise from the world, it can be painfully difficult to hear God’s voice. He is speaking to us, but the main problem is we’re not listening. I used to be among the many people who pondered how others “hear” the voice of God.

People usually credit their vocation with hearing the voice of God, but what does that even mean? Do they actually hear an actual voice? Is it loud and booming, or is it sternly soothing? I had all these questions before I finally heard the voice of God.

Even in 1 Kings 19, Elijah realizes the Lord is not in the wind, earthquake, or fire. Instead, the Lord is in the “sound of a gentle blowing.” The truth is, God is found in the stillness and silence. I know for myself, it can sometimes be difficult to focus when everything is silent. But, God does speak in those moments of silence.

The distractions of this world are usually too loud for us to truly be in the Presence of the Lord. For many, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is a beautiful opportunity to leave all the worries of the world and to come into God’s presence with an open heart and eager ears. Personally, the first time I really heard the voice of God, it was during Adoration as I was kneeling in the confession line while looking at the Host in he monstrance.

One thing that is interesting about hearing the voice of God is…you usually cannot physically hear it. It is not a voice that you expect to resonate in your ears. Instead, the voice of God is like a silent feeling, thought, or image that comes into your being. Some cases, it may be unsure where these thoughts come from, but that is why the discernment of spirits (by St. Ignatius of Loyola), is so incredibly helpful. It can help you to realize whether these thoughts are actually divine inspirations, or just something that you think of.

So, if you want to hear the voice of God, the first thing I would tell anyone would be to listen. And to actually listen. Don’t just sit there and let your thoughts wander off, truly immerse yourself in the moment that you are with the Lord. Calm your heard and recollect your thoughts. Pay no attention to whether you’ve been sitting there for an hour or 10 seconds. In that moment, truly open your heart and mind to the Lord. An idea, image, phrase might come to mind or maybe you’ll feel an immense sense of peace. When you hear God speak to you, there is such a beautiful peace that is simple indescribable, but I hope you all can experience it as well.

I’ll be praying for you, so please keep me in your prayers, too!

 

 

 

 

 

Reflection/Review on Recent Retreats

Christmas break has been giving me a wonderful time to reflect on my year, and I realized I was never fully able to write about my retreats or camps. So, here it is! I’ll be rating each event in three categories: spiritual growth, fellowship, and self-actualization. In spiritual growth/value, it refers to the religious aspects of the retreat and how my faith was impacted from the retreat. Fellowship is about the people I spent the time with and how we connected during and after the retreat. Lastly, self-actualization is about the lessons I learned about myself during the retreat, and also what I realized about my relationship to others.

High School Immersion at Mater Redemptoris House of Formation (FSGMs and Diocese of La Crosse)

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Adoration in the chapel.

 

For the past four years, I’ve gone on this week-long retreat. There’s never a moment where I get tired of spending time with Alton Franciscans or other young women discerning their vocation. This retreat provided me with many opportunities to get to know the community well, and it is always nice to reunite with my friends whom I’ve made over the past four years there. After the retreat, I remember asking my cousin if it was normal if I retreat high lasted for over a month. Then I realized, it wasn’t a retreat high, but simply a valuable shift in my life that made me more joyful and courageous in my discernment.

Spiritual growth/value: 10/10

-The classes were on prayer this year and we used Ascension Press’ “Oremus” program, which wonderfully discussed different methods of prayer that were tried during adoration and meditation.

-Praying the Liturgy of the Hours helped me to gain a better sense of the flow of religious life, and my favorite part was chanting “Salve Regina” with everyone at Night Prayer.

-Mass and Meditation every morning provided a great start to each day, and moments of spiritual mentoring/spiritual reading/adoration were incredibly helpful in growing closer to God.

Fellowship: 8/10

-Recreational times and group activities helped to connect everyone together, and also during the meals.

-Helping out at Catholic Charities with the other girls allowed us to see the connection between love and service.

-Overall, it was incredibly nice to spend time with others that were seriously discerning their vocation and were strong in their Catholic faith. It was also nice to bond with the religious sisters, they were incredibly joyful and extremely fun to be around.

Self-actualization: 9/10

-I learned a lot about myself and how I prayed during this week, and found ways to improve it.

-I realized that my vocation could be closely tied with the Alton Franciscans.

Diocese of Winona’s Camp Summit (FIAT Team)

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Group picture of Camp Summit!

This year was the first year I participated on the FIAT team for my diocese’s Camp Summit. The theme this year was “Glow in the Dark,” and it still resonates with me to this day. I definitely applaud the diocese for doing a magnificent job of promoting vocations and including solid explanations of the Catholic faith. It was a humbling experience to serve others on the FIAT team, and it was wonderful to meet other Catholic teenagers in my area that actually cared about their faith. I still keep in touch with many of them, and am super grateful of the experiences and lessons this camp has brought me. As it was mentioned on the last day, you can’t stay on the summit of the mountain forever, you need to share what you’ve experienced and shine your light on others.

Spiritual growth/value: 10/10

-Now this is how a good religious experience should be! If you want to attract young people to their faith, show them beauty! And this is exactly what the Diocese of Winona did:

-A combination of young religious sisters in habits (Nashville Dominicans), diocesan seminarians, a religious brother in a habit, a faithful married couple, amazing priests, and humble single lay persons provided an opportunity like no other for youth of all ages to witness the beauty in all types of vocations.

-The talks were splendid, and were understandable and relatable for people from sixth grade to a lot older.

-Mass was extremely reverent, and Eucharistic Adoration and confessions were just as great! Middle schoolers were able to be still and find the Lord during moments of prayer.

Fellowship: 9/10

-Everyone got along really well, and it was beautiful to spend time with all these wonderful people in the Diocese of Winona!

-The FIAT team was wonderful to be on, and I’m grateful for their support and enthusiasm for the faith. To me, I am eternally thankful because I realized I was not alone in my views, and desire to live my faith to the fullest. These were people were cared about their faith, sought to learn more about their faith, and lived out virtues.

-The campers were fun to be around, and it was truly an experience to humbly try to lead them towards Christ.

Self-Actualization: 10/10

-Without going into too much detail, Eucharistic Adoration during training days helped me to realize what God was calling me to do in my life.

-I left Camp Summit knowing I had grown in multiple ways, and I still remind myself on a daily basis to continue living my “FIAT/Yes” to God, and to serve others by glowing in the dark.

-I realized that if we aren’t open-minded, we may not see the surprises that God puts into our lives.

Veni Si Amas/Come and See Weekend (FSGMs)

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The always joyful Alton Franciscans!

After the high school immersion retreat, I was looking forward to finally visiting the Alton Franciscans’ provincial motherhouse. Although this weekend retreat ended up lasting a little longer resulting in me staying another day at the convent, which was actually great! Road trips with Sisters are a lot more fun than one would expect.

Spiritual growth/value: 9/10

-Immersing ourselves into the prayer life and daily lives of the sisters was difficult at first, but it was wonderful to be able to pray with them.

-There were many amazing talks that really helped me discern and understand the faith more.

Fellowship: 8/10

-In just a weekend, it was difficult to get to know everyone that was there (about 20 young women).

-But, it was great to have met other Alton Franciscans and really be able to experience more of their convent life in real time (waking up at 4:35 am!).

Self-Actualization: 9/10

-There was something during this weekend that just made me want to return..

-I understood that when you’re truly joyful, you sometimes don’t even realize it.

Senior Retreat (Catholic school)

I don’t have too many good things to say about this one…

Spiritual growth/value: 1/10

-This retreat only gets a one because we started the day with Mass.

-The topics and activities were just about “meditating on the body,” or “how to breathe.” And while a talk was in the church, the speaker mentioned someone that was “a Catholic…that was also a Buddhist, Jewish, etc.” I’m sorry, but that’s how it works.

Fellowship: 4/10

-I mean, it was nice to be with my senior class, but there wasn’t much to fellowship this retreat either.

Self-Actualization: 1/10

~Additional comments: The only good thing about the retreat was when it ended, and I ran into one of my favorite priests (who was at Camp Summit!). Other than that, it was mostly a waste of time, and how a Catholic school would allow this baffles me.

Kairos retreat (Catholic school)

The rumored “life-changing” experience was more or less of a letdown. The week after the retreat felt alright, but then any retreat high wore off. I was looking forward to a time to grow in my spiritual life, but nothing changed. The more I reflect on the retreat, the less I like it. If you’re looking for an orthodox retreat that’s focused on bringing everyone towards Christ and His Church, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for a place to connect better with classmates, then that’d be here. The priest that told me I’d make better use of my time visiting a religious order…he was probably right.

Spiritual growth/value: 3/10

-Well, let’s just say some things should have been left in the seventies and eighties. If you thought liturgical abuses didn’t happen any longer, well you’re probably wrong.

-Laying down on blankets in the sanctuary? Pop music during Mass? A sad excuse of what could’ve been a wonderful time of Eucharistic Adoration with Benediction and Exposition? And other things not worth mentioning…

-What’s the point of naming it “God’s time,” when it really wasn’t on that…

Fellowship: 7/10

-It did bring me closer to other classmates by realizing that we all had our own problems, and we should respect others because we never know what they might be going through.

Self-Actualization: 6/10

-I realized certain aspects about myself, but it wasn’t that noticeable.

~Additional Comments: As someone who was really trying to be open about this experience, I really hoped that it would bring others and I closer to Christ. It may have for others, but it did not really do that for me. It would’ve have been much better if they had not named it after “God’s time,” since it didn’t really reflect the events of the retreat.

Longer visit (FSGMs)

I can’t say much about this since this was a very personal visit, and a lot of important events happened over this time.

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Spiritual growth/value: 10/10

-Beautiful time spent! I was able to spend so much time in prayer with absolute quiet to hear God’s voice.

-Praying with the Sisters is among my favorite things to do. The adoration chapel in the convent is just so peaceful, and it was great to have that time of prayer.

Fellowship: 10/10

-It was beautiful to be around this religious community. I even found myself enjoying cleaning and cooking when I was talking to these Sisters.

-The Sisters have an incredible joy, and I found myself smiling every second of my visit!

Self-Actualization: 9.5/10

-I learned a lot about where I should go in my discernment, and the Lord led me to the point where I am today.

Closing Remarks:

So I guess the diocese and religious sisters tend to put on better retreats? Either way, if anyone is looking for an great opportunity to have both faith and service, then try out Camp Summit! Or if someone is discerning, then try a “Come and See” weekend at a religious community. If you just want a retreat without any religious aspect…well, I’m sure you can find one. My favorites this year were definitely anytime spent with the FSGMs and/or Camp Summit. One thing I did find slightly ironic was how the diocesan camp had two young religious with habits (from out of state), while the Kairos retreat I went on had two elderly sisters without habits.

Also, the school retreats were not as bad as I made them sound, there was good to them, too. But the other retreats just had more good things to them! These are all just my opinions and perspectives, please respect them!

An Update: Hoping to Enter a Convent

I recently announced on my Catholic Twitter account that I am currently in the application process to enter a religious order. This blog post will hopefully answer a few questions, or if anyone stumbles across this article, that yes, young women still desire to enter the religious life (especially more “traditional” orders).

So, who am I? Well, I can’t completely answer that, but I’m a 17 year old senior at a Catholic high school. I participate in a few extracurricular activities, I love music, and I’m a hardworking student. Recently I heard from some classmates about the realization that religious sisters are “normal.” But, the sisters they had met belonged to an order with many older sisters, didn’t wear a religious habit, etc. This saddened and shocked me since I was so used to seeing young, joyful sisters, who are “normal,” and do many things other people do, too.

I realized that some people expect religious sisters to come from a certain mold; pious Catholics since birth, no social life, unhappy, and not pretty enough to find a spouse. Oh! But how that’s completely the opposite…God does not call a specific type of person. He has made us all unique, and so He calls us each in a different way. Some were atheists, non-practicing Catholics, home-schooled, dated, etc. The main point is, religious sisters were not born in a specific mold, and no vocation story is ever the same.

Anyways, it’s a little bit different to be surrounded by classmates who are occupied with college applications. The variety of questions similar to “where are you thinking of attending for college?” have made me a little bit annoyed. Of course everyone assumes that most teenagers will attend college after their high school education, but I can’t say that I’m entering a convent…well, because I haven’t been officially accepted, yet! I wonder why hardly anyone promotes the priesthood or religious life, it’s sometimes seen as a secondary option, and that saddens me.

So going off of the title of this blog post, it may seem a little against the culture of today’s society to enter a convent. To take radical vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience is a foreign, or crazy idea to many. “The world has so much to offer.” Sure, but nothing will ever compare to the love of the Lord. As St. Gerard Majella remarks, “Who except God can give you peace? Has the world ever been able to satisfy the heart?” Women and men that discern the priesthood or religious life are not losing, but they are gaining an incredible life. A life that closely reflects the life of Christ is truly a joyful life.

Expanding on my vocation story, at one point in my prayer, I encountered the merciful love of God. It was at this moment that I knew, “How could I ever say no to this love?”I had been previously distracted with other things that did not bring me towards the Lord, but He looked upon me with love, just love. I realized He was telling me that even if I didn’t choose Him, I have free will and whatever I choose to do with that free will, God will still love me no matter what. That absolute love that I encountered brought me to tears, I felt at peace in my heart once I decided to follow His will, not my own wants.

Over the past two years, I have been making strides in my discernment. I’ve met various religious sisters, but one religious order had always attracted me. I made a weekend visit at their motherhouse, and recently came back from a longer visit. My time with them was beautiful, I had felt such a peace and joy that is indescribable, but I definitely felt the Lord calling me throughout my time there. During this longer visit, I asked to enter, and received the application papers.

Although I have a long way until I’m officially accepted, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about what will happen. Of course I realize that the past Thanksgiving could be the last Thanksgiving I ever spend with my family, and the same with the upcoming Christmas days. But, the Lord consoles and rewards us when we selflessly give ourselves back to Him. After all, we are only able to do all these things because God has given us free will, and more importantly, He has loved us first!

That’s all I have for now! I’m deeply sorry for being gone from this blog for so long, the past couple months have especially been hectic with my convent visits and school work. Thank you for your patience, and especially for all prayers! Please keep me in your prayers, and I will keep you in mine.

~VibrantCatholic

A Catholic Teen’s POV: Religious Sisters & Habits

I’ve been struggling to find topics to right about and also the time to write them, so I’m hoping this blog post will be somewhat interesting and detailed enough. Among the many drafts I’ve started, a few of them are related to the religious life. To be perfectly honest, I don’t have the most clearest idea of where this blog post is headed, but I’m sure it’ll be somewhat interesting anyways!

So, this morning I went to Mass and since our parish is the only one with Mass on Saturday mornings out of six parishes in our city, there’s typically a large crowd reaching almost 150 people. As I was looking around (yes, I get distracted…a lot) I noticed there were three different women religious orders being represented. There was a young Nashville Dominican, four sisters in a blue habit and white veil (I still haven’t figured out their order, but our pastor calls them the “blue sisters”), and several sisters belonging to the Rochester Franciscans. While I was observing these women, I gleefully noticed that the ones in habits were probably half the age of the ones without habits.

Now, to explain why that’s significant to me. For those that do not know, I have been thinking about the religious life since about second grade. After writing about that in an essay, my teacher made me pen-pals with a friend of hers– a Nashville Dominican. This Nashville Dominican’s parents are at the same parish as I am, so every summer I’m able to talk with her while she’s home on a home visit. She was and still is such a vibrant part of my discernment. When I grew a little older, there were several years in which I did not want to take part in any discussion about the religious life. My extended family always liked talking about the religious life and would encourage my cousins and I to discern the religious life or holy orders (for men). So through all that discussion, I did not want to hear them constantly talking about the religious life, and tried to get rid of any thoughts of the religious life.

But, I really couldn’t. I started going to immersion retreats at Mater Redemptoris House of Formation in LaCrosse hosted by Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George. For multiple years, I went to the retreats, and every year I left with my heart being a little more open to the religious life. And I do have to say, I admire the FSGM sisters a lot, and think they’re really really awesome.

So now, going back to a more general topic! All the schools I’ve attended have all been influenced by the Rochester Franciscans. As I was recently reflecting on which Sisters had impacted my discernment the most, I realized that I had never once thought about becoming a Rochester Franciscan. Many say that the habit does not make a religious sister, and I would agree…but it is the habit that can be a subtle sign of Christ and His love in the world. Also, I’ve honestly understood why someone wouldn’t want to wear a full habit. I mean, you’re basically proclaiming to the world that you’re married to Christ!! But even if it relates to humility or that’s a reason, there’s something about a religious sister in a habit that makes people revert their thoughts to God, even if just for a small fraction of a second.

On the retreat that I go to with about 10-15 other girls in the summer, one thing we all were looking for in a religious order was that they wore a full habit. As we searched through bins of religious orders, we focused our gaze on those with full habits. In this time and age, it’s harder to outwardly show that you love your faith without the fear of being persecuted. I mean, just a few weeks ago, someone related to me that I could be seen as intimidating to others since I talk about Catholicism and our faith too much. Although at first I thought that made perfect sense, I then realized it didn’t. Why should I be afraid to express my faith? After all, should I deny the wonderful Lord just because I wish to be accepted by everyone? No, because God deserves the best from us and the best does not include being afraid of expressing our faith.

Back to the topic of religious habits, I’ve heard people talk about how LCWR orders are receiving the same amount of vocations as CMSWR orders. But if you take into account that LCWR accounts for about 80% of religious sisters, then the numbers going into each CMSWR order would definitely be higher than those entering LCWR order. There’s got to be a reason why right? One thing for sure, is that the youth of today yearn for the truth. Our world is so filled with lies and innuendos about what happiness really is. It isn’t the material possessions or lustful relationships. That’s why those that realize those things bring about nothing but temporary happiness, try to find the Truth.

So what should anyone take from this entire blog post, mini rant (maybe?) of mine? It’s that young women and girls are thinking of the religious life. But to prevent these people from seeing more “traditional” sisters in their full habits, is something that should never occur. Most people appreciate the full habit because it is such a beautiful sign of a bride of Christ! Also, I don’t mean to be negative of any sort, but to share my experience and perspectives on this. Of course, not all religious sisters in one order or another may share the exact same views.

Also, it was another glimpse at my life and my ongoing discernment process. I would really appreciate all your prayers, and please let me know if I can pray for you! I found out this morning that the parochial vicar at my parish passed away, so prayers would be very helpful once again.

 

Vote for Hanoi Vietnamese Catholics!

Recently, on Vietnam’s Got Talent, a group of young Vietnamese Catholics from Hanoi participated in Vietnam’s Got Talent. This is incredible that they’ve made it to the semi-finals! Vietnam is typically known as a country mostly atheist and communist, but there are still very many Catholics strong in their faith.

Here are some of their videos:
Their first audition when they received a gold X: 

Their semi-final performance: 

One thing I especially found moving was their semi-final performance. It was performed the day before the anniversary of the Fall of Saigon. I myself am a Vietnamese Catholic, and my parents became refugees in America to have religious freedom. Over the summer at Marian Days, I also listened to a beautiful talk about the strong Marian devotion that Vietnamese Catholics have. I really do encourage you all to vote for these young people who are so courageously living out their faith in a country where it’s difficult. Many have been persecuted for their Catholic faith, so this is definitely a beautiful way they’re evangelizing about Catholicism.

With this opportunity, let’s vote for these young Hanoi Vietnamese Catholics and their choir! Even though you might not live in Vietnam, you can still vote for them. Here’s how:

Type in or click: google.com.vn

Next, type in the search bar or copy and paste: “Tim Kiem Tai Nang”

You should then be able to see:

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The Hanoi Catholic Youth Choir should be the picture with the most people or “Dan Hop Xuong Cong Giao Tre Ha Noi”

Just click on their image and raise the bar to three votes.

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Press Continue.

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Now, do not forget to press “Submit votes!” This is extremely important!

After you’ve pressed “submit votes,” this following screen should appear:

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And there! You’ve voted, and I want to thank you for doing so. I really hope that we can show how beautiful Catholicism is throughout the world!

~VibrantCatholic

A Catholic Teen’s POV: Being a Catholic at a Catholic School

You’d assume this would be easy. “You’re a Catholic at a Catholic school, what’s so difficult about that?!” But my answer to you would be, it’s actually very difficult. Before you wonder how knowledgeable I am about this topic, let me tell you that I’ve been attending a Catholic school ever since Kindergarten…So, yes. I do know what being a Catholic at a Catholic school is like.

There are definitely positive aspects of going to a Catholic school as a Catholic; Mass is offered once a week or a couple of weeks, theology classes, freedom to openly pray, and the list goes on and on for awhile. But, it’s not always positive being a Catholic at a Catholic school. The majority of teenagers that I know at my school have grown to the point where they simply don’t understand Church teaching, and are living in a state of “I’m Catholic, but…”

Just yesterday I witnessed classmates criticizing how the school would not let a same gender couple be in the Grand March if that happened. I heard the very popular, “It’s 2016 now! I don’t understand, they (the Church) need to change.” If you know me somewhat well, you’ll realize that I didn’t leave that alone. Afterwards, I remarked on how the Catholic Church does not need to “change with the times,” as if two thousand years doesn’t testify to the fact the Church does not need to get with the times.

So, what exactly am I trying to pull out from that experience? At my specific Catholic high schools, and possibly others, are either not doing a good job of catechizing the students or there’s something wrong with the students themselves and their faith. But no, the second option would totally make sense simply if many are not able to be catechized well in their Catholic schools. From my own experiences, kneeling during the Consecration might obtain reactions entirely negative, even from the campus minister, too!

I’ve tried to speak to those in charge of campus ministry at my school, and they simply do not listen! All I’ve been hearing is “trust me, I have a lot of experience in liturgy.” But does experience equal correctness? It’s as if I played a piano piece for ten years, but always played it incorrectly. Over time, motor memory would prevent me from correcting the mistake or even realizing I made the mistake. To take in the perspective of the students that you’re serving in your ministry is something that should be the highest in your list of things to do. Disregarding students’ opinions or questions is simply another form of pride, one of the seven deadly sins!

Whenever I speak out in defense of the Catholic Church at my school, half of the time I get eye rolls or sarcastic remarks. No, I am not trying to be “holier than thou,” but because I invest the majority of my time into learning my faith and trying to live it out, I can’t help myself defending the faith when I see it attacked by other students at my Catholic school. From my experiences with other classmates, there’s only about ten to twenty percent of students who are actually invested in their faith to the fullest, although there are others who are somewhat interested, but simply are afraid to do so because of peer opinion.

As I mentioned earlier, my school joins together for the Mass once or twice a month as one school community. There tends to be a lack of reverence at these Masses, and although I’ve brought up these concerns, no one seems to care. Although there is a morning mass before school, there’s about 3 or 4 students that go every time, including me. Since the chapel has windows all around, it’s easy to make judgement about those on the inside. Other people probably label me as a judgmental, traditional, and close-minded Catholic obsessed girl…but, I don’t care about their opinions necessarily. The one opinion that I spend my life worrying about is God’s. That’s why I follow God’s moral laws, not the laws or social norms of the world.

There’s a chapel located in my school as mentioned before. Some students take some time to go in there to pray, while others on the other hand do not. I’ve walked by the chapel seeing couples go in there just to talk with one another or go on their devices. But…they don’t pray. One of my best friends and her boyfriend go in there to pray, and I’m thankful for their beautiful witness to the faith! That’s not the only thing, everyone passes by the chapel every day when the whole school gathers together. Students walk past and across the chapel with no sign of recognizing the Blessed Sacrament is indeed present in the tabernacle located in the chapel. I’ve recently began to bow my head every time I pass, or genuflect if there isn’t a lot of people walking down the hallway.

This might just be a first part since this problem cannot simply be explored in one blog post that I write. Being a Catholic in a Catholic setting today is something that is quite difficult depending on the environment. I’ve been a Catholic school student for twelve years, but not all of those years have been easy since I’ve had to dealt with negative reactions and commentary from those who are supposed to lead me in my faith, not disagree with me when I ask for more reverence, or when I try to promote vocations (maybe another blog post for later)!

And I’m definitely not saying this is something that all Catholic students go through at their Catholic high school. These were just thoughts from my own personal experience of being at a Catholic school who typically focuses on sports and fine arts more than the faith of their students. Also, these were from the perspective of someone who is not as quiet when expressing their faith compared to those who are more subtle about their faith.

A Catholic Teen’s POV: Discernment/Vocations

Discernment…I’m mostly going to focus on discerning your vocation in life.

Once, a very wise seminarian told me, “You’re never too young or too old to start discerning.” And I think that’s something that everyone should keep in mind. Even if you’re only in middle school or already have a stable job, it’s never the wrong time to listen to what God really has planned for you.

I think it’s extremely important for people to understand the process of discernment and meaning of their vocations. Often times, when the word vocation is mentioned, only religious life is thought of. But, that’s not true since vocations includes all states of life; married, consecrated single life, holy orders/religious life.

Discerning a vocation is something I think everyone should spend some time in their life doing. To be honest, I was scared at first of discerning my vocation. What if it’s not what I want it to be? That’s the biggest question I had for a number of years, but through the past year I realized something. True happiness and joy doesn’t come from doing what I want, but it comes from doing the Lord’s will in whatever he wishes for my life. Even if I become what I want, but without considering the Lord, I’ll never be truly happy.

After I got through the stage of fear, it came to the point where I had to consider how much I trusted the Lord. For my confirmation saint, I chose St. Faustina. One of the most important sayings from her is “Jesus, I trust in you!” Taking from that statement, I devoted myself to put less trust in worldly things and trust more and more in the Lord and his incredible plan for my life.

One thing I think is crucial in remembering while thinking about discernment/vocations, is that all these things are revealed through God’s time. There’s a purpose to everything, even if we can’t tell what it is. Discerning our vocation is one of those things that takes time and trust, we can’t expect to get answers quickly. Sometimes the answer might be something we didn’t expect, but it’s the right one.

Some tips I’ve been learning as I’m still figuring out my vocation:

  • Find a spiritual director (most likely a priest, religious sister would be best. But, there’s also great lay people that can really help your spiritual journey)
  • Prayer and trust…always!
  • Adoration and speaking with the Lord can really help you develop communication with the Lord.
  • Mass and the Sacraments are other great ways to develop a better relationship with the Lord.
  • Talk to people! (Discerning the priesthood? Talk to the vocations director of your diocese! Discerning the married life? Talk to possible future spouses that will bring your closer to Christ!)

Well, that’s all I have for today. If you have any other thoughts on this, please let me know in the comments, or contact me! 🙂

Just know I’ll be praying for your discernment and vocations as well! Please pray for me also, since I’m still unsure of my vocation.

Have a wonderful day, and possibly just say, “Jesus, I trust in you!” And really mean it.

 

Tridentine Mass in Rochester, MN!

Hi everyone! If you’ve read my blog for awhile, or see my tweets…you’ve probably figured out that I’ve wanted to go to the TLM for quite an amount of time now…

And today I found out some great news about a Tridentine Mass in Rochester, MN this Saturday!! I thought I should spread the word just in case anyone else around the area would also like to go.

Date: March 19, 2016 at 12 PM

Address:

Fatima House

825 Forest Knoll PL SE Rochester, MN 55904

 

The priest that will celebrate the TLM will be Fr. Niehaus, and it will be a Low Mass.

Also, “Please contact Oscar Delgado by tomorrow (Thursday) if you plan on attending for he will need to know a count for food preparations. His contact is 773-573-6890 or email daidel@aol.com.”

Check out http://www.rochesterlatinmasssociety.org/ for more information about the TLM in the Diocese of Winona.

Thoughts on BuzzFeed & Call to Action

Ahh, Buzzfeed. The various videos that cause controversial videos, or just help your procrastinate. But, not today. The video I recently saw from them was more offensive and misleading than anything else. What’s this video, you ask? It’s “I Was Sexually Abused By The Catholic Church.

Now, my thoughts on this video:

First off, wow. Nothing like a liberal video focused on viewing the Catholic Church and Christianity in a negative light. Something that needs to be understood is that the man and woman in the video speaking about their sexual assault experience was not by the Catholic Church. It was by humans that lacked self-control, and couldn’t control their desires or trusts. Human beings that belong to the Church, do make up the Catholic Church, but they are not the Catholic Church. It was the human beings that sinned, and not the Church instituted by Christ.

This may not sound the best, but I think Buzzfeed and others need to be reminded of something. Sexual assault and abuse does not just happen in the Catholic Church, it also happens in families, schools (public or private), etc. To make this video specified only on the Catholic Church is simply wrong.

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As I was scrolling through the comments, there were a few things I read and wanted to address. One of the things I saw multiple times was about celibacy.

Priestly celibacy is something that people misunderstand a lot when thinking about the priesthood in the Latin Rite. I saw some people who were saying that priests shouldn’t be forced to be celibate. But, let’s delve deeper into why priests are celibate. Being celibate is obviously a huge part of a Roman Catholic priest’s life. It is most likely that all men entering the seminary to become a Roman Catholic priest clearly understands he will remain celibate for the rest of his life. So, to say that Roman Catholic priests are forced to remain celibate seems a little misleading.

As Fatherfan wrote in a brother blog,

“…our priests are central to the life of the Church!”

I entirely agree with this statement he made! The Church needs priests, and to say they’re unnecessary is completely depriving us of receiving the sacraments which are “efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ, by which divine life is ‘dispensed’ to us.” (CCC #1131) And in order to receive those sacraments, we need our priests.

These days, it is easy for people to choose to insult the Catholic Church because of the recent scandals that have arisen. The worldly part of Catholic Church has made mistakes in the past, but it was those in the Catholic Church that have made those mistakes, not the sacramental sense of the Catholic Church.

It is hard for Catholics to hear of such scandals, and to still remain firm in their faith while defending the Catholic Church. It is crucial for Catholics to strengthen our faith step by step every day in order to be “firm as a rock” when the time is needed for us to defend our faith courageously.

So please, spend time to pray and defend our Church. And remember the words of Jesus,

“I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” -Matthew 16: 18

CALL TO ACTION: I call on all Catholics, to defend the Faith, especially on the internet. Be willing to become a martyr on the internet! All for the greater glory of God!

A Catholic Teen’s POV: “Appealing to the young people”

(Part 1?)

This phrase is thrown out quite often when spoken by those who believe that “praise and worship” or “glory and praise,” along with interesting and fun things are needed to interest young people about their faith. But, honestly, this is a phrase I tend to dislike.Why is there such a need to “appeal to the young people” about the Catholic faith? In some common circumstances, this leads to watering down of our prime Catholic beliefs.

Honestly, it would incredibly prudent to ask young people themselves what they want. But, if that might be difficult…here’s a few things that would appeal to me as a young person of the Catholic Church. For some, it may or not be surprising to comprehend the things I’m about to list. Maybe you’re agreeing with my thoughts, or maybe you’re vehemently shaking your head. I don’t entirely know.

Gregorian Chant and the Pipe Organ. Yes, young Catholic people actually like these two things very much. (I myself play the pipe organ, so I especially appreciate it). The pipe organ is the “king of instruments!” It seems like other Protestant denominations put more emphasis on the pipe organ than Catholics sometimes. Some might consider Gregorian chant to be boring or too slow for millennials, but honestly, if millennials wanted upbeat music, they might just easily turn on the radio to the nearest pop music station. Many do really think Gregorian Chant is great! The reason? Because it’s beautiful, the immense history and depth of Gregorian Chant is something young people appreciate. In the world today with the busy noise and beats, when someone hears Gregorian chant, it’s possible that they stop a little and take time to think or pray. Just because something may be old in the number of years it’s been around, it doesn’t mean that it’s worse. The Catholic Church has a rich and meaningful heritage, and some of those things include Gregorian Chant and the Pipe Organ. And just a gently reminder that in the Vatican II Ecumenical Council document, “Musicam Sacram,” it is stated:

“Gregorian chant, as proper to the Roman liturgy, should be given pride of place, other things being equal.” (50. a)

“The pipe organ is to be held in high esteem in the Latin Church, since it is its traditional instrument, the sound of which can add a wonderful splendor to the Church’s ceremonies and powerfully lift up men’s minds to God and higher things.” (62)

Mass. Yes, young Catholics like going to Mass. The more reverent, the better. But, of course there are those that are simply bored whether they’re at a Mass with guitars or a Mass with a magnificent choir singing Gregorian Chant. It is more likely for them to find the Mass with Gregorian Chant more fascinating though, simply because it truly takes them closer to the deep beauty of our faith. Please don’t make Mass more focused on community than God. If the Mass is made into a performance or community event, it will be harder for teenagers to understand why they’re even there. Performance? They’d rather be at their favorite artists’ concert. Community event? They’ll prefer hanging out with their friends.

The more reverence those leading the congregation portray and expect, the congregation (even the youth!) will reflect the reverence expected. If the expectations are low, it’s easy to lower those expectations and not receive wanted results. But, I’m pleading all those in charge of liturgy, music, priests, and others trying to engage the youth during the Mass. Let us experience the Mass! Face the correct way (cough cough ad orientem), create a reverent moment through music, and most importantly is to direct our focus during the Mass to Jesus and His sacrifice, not about the people next to you.

Truth. Honestly, please tell us things about the faith truthfully and straightforward. We don’t prefer hearing sugar-coated versions of dogma. We’re all striving for the truth, especially young people who are at a stage of their lives when we hope for authenticity. Sometimes it seems hard to be blunt about something, but it’s better to clearly explain than to glaze over the topic. Yes, it may not sound pleasing to the ears, but that’s not what is important. Truth is important. Two thousand years of Scripture and Tradition shouldn’t be watered down and made to sound less “offensive.”

Value our opinions. I do know many that value the youth opinions, but at the same time, there seems to be some adults who only value certain opinions; those that agree with them. Most of the people that try to appeal to young people are obviously not millennials. Simply put, find out what it is that young people want, not just your own perception on what it is. Please! Just because something is fun or in with the times doesn’t automatically make it attractive to the young generation!! If we looked at a reverent person versus someone shaking their head back and forth, “having fun,” we would easily get bored looking at the second person, but there will continue to be something attractive and appealing about the person being reverent.

Prayer and Adoration. And Silence. There’s the common notion that young people need to be doing something every minute to stay engaged. That’s not true at all, it’s imperative that young people and adults have quiet time to pray. It’s a lot harder to pray and think when there’s background noise, it can become a lot easier during silence or adoration. Although, the mind can tend to wander, it would be wiser to let young people experience the silence that can help them listen to the voice of God.

This honestly feels like a “Part 1” of something. So, that’s it for today, please please please take this message into account!! I’m not only speaking for myself, but there are many other millennials who will think the same, too.

(Also, if anyone would like to correct my citations from the document, please let me know!)