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!

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

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 Short Reflection on Unborn Children

Whenever people ask me how many siblings, I usually respond with, “I’m an only child.” But, truthfully, that isn’t true. I stumbled across an article by a woman that opened my eyes up to something new. The article was about a sibling that a woman had not acknowledged before, since he died because of miscarriage.

Thinking about this topic of miscarriage made me shed tears today, because my parents had gone through one and various struggles. It wasn’t until nine years of their marriage that I was born. I sometimes wish I had an older sibling or younger sibling I could talk to and spend time with. The reason I mostly got really close with my cousins, was because I was longing for a sibling. But, maybe my older sibling was yearning to be recognized by me, and I had not thought of them.

Just a few days ago when I was starting the post, I cried as I thought about this sibling that I had. I felt like a horrible person…I am pro-life, and fully understand that the unborn are human beings, yet I failed to understand that in the most personal way. I’m truly sorry to my older sibling, for being ungrateful and thoughtful. My older brother or sister was someone that I never considered a true sibling before, but this new revelation proved I was wrong in my thinking. I couldn’t be pro-life, and not acknowledge my older sibling to be a human being, because the unborn definitely are human beings.

Then, it struck me, those that are unborn are definitely human beings. Not that I didn’t believe this before, but it suddenly resonated deeply with me. There would be no reason why I would cry over “a clump of cells,” I was crying over a human being. Why would anyone cry for a “clump of cells?” It’s not logical. But, to cry over a human being’s death is something most would cry over personally. To simply state that an unborn child isn’t a human being is entirely false, they are.

It’s now more clear to me that unborn children no matter their stages of development, are human beings fully deserving of respect and love. As the woman stated in post, the next time someone asks me about my siblings, my response most likely won’t be, “I’m an only child,” but instead, it’ll be, “I have an older sibling in heaven.”

 

Music-List Mondays: Anthem

Music-List Mondays: Where VibrantCatholic chooses a song and talks about it.

Song of the week: Anthem by Tom Conry

Listen to it here: Link (although it’s not the full version, it gives you an idea of how it goes)

We are wonderful, we can be weak, but we are created beautifully by God. We are so splendid in many ways, we are each unique, and made in God’s image. We all have a vocation, and we need to discern it.

Okay…did you see that up there. That was me trying to write as many “we’s” as I could. It reminds me of a certain song, and that song is Anthem.

Let’s first look at the refrain:

“We are called, we are chosen, We are Christ for one another,
we are promised to tomorrow, while we are for him today.
We are sign, we are wonder, We are sower, we are seed,
We are harvest, we are hunger. We are question, we are creed.”

There’s an abundance of the word “we” in the refrain. Thinking about this song during a Mass, it would seem that everyone is just singing to another person. Seems like a song used to empower a group to be closely bonded on their mission. But, wait, isn’t our mission as Catholics more than just becoming a community? Aren’t we essentially forgetting the reason as to why we would be at Mass together?

More than half of the refrain deals with us, the things we are, and what we will be. I don’t necessarily understand the meaning of the entire refrain, since how are we question and creed? That’s the one that really stumps me. Although, the refrain seems to bring about a sense of unity, especially trying to state that we are called to be a multitude of things, it doesn’t seem to bring about a good strong message.

Now, the first verse:

Then where can we stand justified? In what can we believe?
In no one else but Christ who suffered, nothing more than Christ who rose.
Who was justice for the poor, Who was rage against the night,
Who was hope for peaceful people, Who was light.

It seems to say that we should only believe in the suffering and Resurrection of Christ, and other aspects of his life. How about other key factors of the Catholic faith, such as Scripture or Tradition? Also, the “no one else” seems to state we shouldn’t believe in anyone else, but Christ. How about the Trinity? This verse raises questions, but does not give the listener a fulfilling answer at all. It does glorify Christ, but it is in a past sense. Christ is “justice for the poor”, He is “rage against the night. He is “hope for peaceful people, and He is light. Not was, but is. 

Second verse:

Then how are we to stand at all, this world of bended knee?
In nothing more than barren shadows, No one else but Christ could save us.
Who was justice for the poor, Who was rage against the night night,
Who was hope for peaceful people, Who was light.

“This world of bended knee.” Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with humility or humility. And I think that’s what this line is saying. We can’t stand if we’re humble or modest? If we’re being reverent, and kneeling or genuflecting? “In nothing more than barren shadows,” is it all just an act that has no meaning. Of course not! There are reasons why do we do certain actions!

Take a look at James 2:14, “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?” and James 2:17, “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” With that being said, we need works! Not just plain faith. We hope to earn salvation by both our works and faith. The second verse seems to say we don’t need acts of reverence or humbleness, we just need to have faith, no works or anything.

Finally, the third verse.

Then shall we not stand empty at the altar of our dreams?
When Christ promised us ourselves, Who mark time against tomorrow,
Who are justice for the poor, Who are rage against the night,
Who are hope for peaceful people, Who are light.

So I’m still confused on this verse. I hardly have any idea what it means. Let me try to sort my thoughts…What exactly is the altar of our dreams? Is it a physical destination, maybe a point in our spiritual life? Could it be heaven? The wording is confusing and not specific at all to the meaning. The second line is no less confusing. Is it about us having free will? The second part is just terrible grammar, honestly. While the second half of the verse is now in present tense, shouldn’t it be “is” instead of “are?” The “are’s” remind me of pirates…

Honestly, if anyone has any idea of what this verse was supposed to mean, please let me know. I’d really appreciate it!

Overall, I don’t like this song. Not only for its lyrics, but also because of the way it musically sounds. It doesn’t sound like a song that should be sung at Mass when we are partaking in such a breath-taking sacrifice, and receiving the Holy Eucharist.

Thoughts? Please let me know.

 

An Inspiring Pro-Life Performance

So recently, there was a Vietnamese actress, Puka, who went on a show that was made to test celebrities in fields that were not their expertise. Puka had chosen to do “magic tricks,” but inside her performance, was something very meaningful. Her performance was a very pro-life performance, clearly with the portrayal and the music/audio in the background.

The performance starts out with Puka as being in her mother’s womb, then she seems to be looking at several things she could do in life, such as singing or dancing. Then, the mood darkens, and she gets taken by men in black clothing, while pleading to her mother to save her. The rest of the performance shows her doing circus tricks while the emotional song is played in the background. Then, she has a short moment when she spoke on her personal views on pro-life, and I agree with everything she has.

I would recommend you all to watch the video! It was an inspiring performance, although when I was translating, I wasn’t entirely able to translate the fullest message. It was inspiring to see a young Vietnamese actress with the strong belief that all life is sacred.

 

Music-List Mondays: “Bread and Wine”

Music-List Mondays: Where VibrantCatholic chooses a song and talks about it.

Song of the week: Surprise! There’s actually not a specific song this week…I’ll be discussing the words “bread and wine” in countless songs.

I was paging through the Gather hymnal the other day looking for something to play as a communion reflection when I noticed something…the majority of the songs had the words bread or wine written somewhere in the lyrics or title:

  • “Bread of Life from Heaven”
  • “Jesus, Wine of Peace”
  • “Let Us Be Bread”
  • “One Bread, One Body”
  • “I Am the Bread of Life”
  • “Jesus, Hope of the World”

And those were just a few.

So, I continued on with my thought process. If these songs constantly tell the listener that all the Body and Blood of Christ is just a simple bread and wine, then wouldn’t the listener not fully understand or believe transubstantiation?

I see this happening when people refer to the Body and Blood of Christ as merely bread and wine. By using those two words, it takes away from the full beauty of what happens during the Eucharistic Prayer. Simply put, it waters down the True Presence of Christ.

By replacing the words with more general terms, the reverence and meaning is condensed and fails to remind the congregation what is truly happening. When many left Jesus for saying they should eat his flesh, they didn’t accept his teaching. They couldn’t believe it, and they wanted him to speak of it symbolically or metaphorically.

As Catholics though, we do believe that the bread and wine is then transformed into the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ at transubstantiation. When we simply reduce it to terms like “bread and wine,” we are forgetting the basis of what we believe.

Many who state they’re Catholic say they don’t believe in the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. I think one of the main reasons is because we have songs that get into their minds with the message that it’s just simply us “eating bread and drinking wine.” It also is a part of the reason as to why the Eucharist isn’t as revered as the Body and Blood of Christ ought to be.

These are just my recent thoughts, I’d love to hear your perspective on this, too! Thank you for reading!

With decreasing involvement from Cultural Catholics what do we need to do to revitalize faith?

This was originally supposed to be a one paragraph assignment, but I ended up going a little overboard. We were discussing Cultural/Cradle Catholics. These were just my views that I compiled together.

There are many ways to revitalize faith among Cultural Catholics. For example, DynamicCatholic has started to make their Rediscover Catholicism book for a lower price so parishes will be able to hand them out during Easter or Christmas masses. The lack of faith in Cultural Catholics comes from the loss of tradition in many parts. Reverence of the mass is lacking in many parishes and churches, and that is one of the reasons why there is a lower mass attendance. Cultural Catholics need to see true examples of vibrant Catholics in the world. We ourselves need to be Catholics, true Catholics, in order to revitalize the faith in other Cradle Catholics, and even in converts and those who are not Catholic.

    Religious sisters and brothers in traditional habits are good examples of the joy in Catholicism. Traditional habits are a sign of the vows of religious life. There is an increase in religious orders with traditional habits, and a decrease in the orders without habits. This means that young people are now finding something more special in traditional orders. They can see the joy and youth of those in traditional habits, and they’re an example for Cultural Catholics to know that there’s joy in the Church. From my personal experiences, I have not met any traditional religious sisters or brothers who have not been joyful. There is misconception on the religious life and how only those who are “not good enough for the secular world” waste their life and so decide to enter the religious life or priesthood.

    Traditional religious life needs to be shown to all, to let them see the inspiring joy that’s possible. Instead of showing orders without traditional habits, we should show the immense beauty in those orders with habits. How else are we going to show the world that people choose this radical way of living and following the evangelical counsels. Also, we should find ways to promote the priesthood, by publishing vocation stories or having conversations with seminarians and priests. In the Diocese of Peoria, seminarian trading cards were made to create a “culture of vocations,” and it was a successful idea in spreading awareness of the call to the priesthood.

    Many cradle Catholics think that mass is repetitive and they find no interest in attending. The focus shouldn’t be on gaining higher numbers in mass attendance, but to have a fire burning in every Catholic’s soul that won’t be easily blown out. Often time, music genres like Praise and Worship are used at mass as an attempt to attract people. Unfortunately, Praise and Worship fails to give true respect and glory to the sacrifice of the Mass. It strikes a series of feelings at that moment, but then the person will not be able to participate in Adoration, since they will find that not as interesting. Traditional music forms such as Gregorian Chant bring more reverence to the Lord. Modernism can ruin the image of the Catholic Church if it gets too out of hand, there needs to be reverence. When a cradle Catholic goes to mass, they should be able to experience that reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, so that they, too can show the same amount of respect. If we instead incorporated modern ideas and and concepts into the liturgy in order to “keep up with the times,” in what way would we be different than the Protestants?

    Events such as Steubenville conferences are targeted to bring a rediscovery of one’s Catholic faith, especially among the youth. They sound like a great idea, but often times, it  just end with a “retreat-high,” and end quickly, but of course, there are exceptions to it. What really needs to happen is a way to make known the reverence and “genius of Catholicism” as Matthew Kelly often states. There needs to be more promotion for adoration, liturgy of the hours, discernment retreats, etc. Although at first they might seem boring, but in the long run, it is from those hours in adoration that many vocations to the religious life have sprung to life. Cultural Catholics need to have a lasting impact of Catholicism, not something that is quickly found and gone.

    There is a Catholic community on Instagram and another one on Twitter, which many have joined and in the big picture, it’s all a part of the New Evangelization. Others and myself included have used our Catholic twitter accounts to reach out to those who many not be accurately informed about the teachings of the Catholic Church. Social media is one of the ways that many have utilized in trying to bring a revitalization among cradle Catholics. There are priests, religious, and laypeople who have incorporated Catholicism into their social media. Surprisingly or not surprisingly, the “MediaNun” on twitter is a religious sister of the order of the Daughters of St. Paul, an order that has a habit. So it doesn’t necessarily mean that orders keeping the habit are old-fashioned and can’t get with the times, it means that Tradition can still be relevant in all time periods.

    One of the most important reasons why many have strayed away from the Catholic faith is because of the recent scandals that have caused many to be heartbroken and confused. There’s a large number of uninformed cradle Catholics who still do not know the true teaching of the Catholic Church and this causes problems. There needs to be more individuals who can show the faith authentically, not by false actions deceiving others. Cultural Catholics are sometimes waiting to see those living authentically and striving for true holiness, and Pope St. John Paul II has often said, “Be not afraid.”

    Ascension Press is a very good example of the New Evangelization, especially Fr. Mike Schmitz. When Fr. Schmitz gives a talk, people can see his eyes light up with the Holy Spirit. This is how every Catholic should look to everyone, we need to be the first ones who have that excitement about our faith. Only until then can we inspire other inactive cradle Catholics and non-Catholics to explore the Catholic faith more deeply.

Reasons Why You Should Go to St. James Coffeehouse

1.There’s a chapel…with the Blessed Sacrament present!

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Chapel at St. James Coffee

Well, look at that! It’s not only a place to get coffee and other drinks, but it’s a place to quench your spiritual thirst as well. There are lovely stained glass windows outside the chapel. There are two chairs and one kneeler, so you can have your personal prayer time.

2. It’s a Catholic local non-profit coffeehouse.

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Chapel at St. James Coffee

Whatever drinks or items you buy at St. James Coffee, the majority of the profits go to different charities in the local community and in the world. It also serves as a wonderful instrument in the New Evangelization,“St. James is a non-profit Catholic coffee house whose mission is to be a place where people encounter Christ and His Catholic Church.”

3. The workers are all volunteers!

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You heard me right! The people you’ll see behind the counters are all volunteers (with possibly an exception of one). So, you can definitely expect sincere people who are being generous with their time that help at this wonderful place and will make awesome drinks. They’re always open to talk about the faith, so have any questions, start a discussion with them 🙂 Also, if you’re around the area, new volunteers are always welcome!

4. Variety of Drinks to enjoy at low prices!

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The prices at St. James Coffee are definitely cheaper than Starbucks, Caribou, and other coffee shops nearby. There are a variety of drinks; coffee drinks, smoothies, tea, etc! They are also cleverly named; Capuchin-O, Immaculate White Mocha, or St. The-reese’s Peanut Butter Mocha for example.

5. Great Atmosphere and Events

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St. James Coffee has a great atmosphere for meetings, events, concerts, and just personal time! You can definitely feel peace there, and it’s a great place to be productive. There are occasional concerts, talks, and meetings. The talks are usually given by great speakers who help others to grow in their faith.

Other Info About St. James Coffee (I can’t just tell you these things and not tell you where it’s located!)

Location:

4156 18th Avenue NW

Rochester, MN 55901

Hours:

M-F 6a-6p
Sa 7:30a–6p

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/StJamesCoffee

Instagram Account: https://www.instagram.com/st.jamescoffee/

Any questions? Send them to sjchdirector@gmail.com

Music-List Mondays: Be Glad (GIA)

Music-List Mondays: Where VibrantCatholic chooses a song and talks about it.

Song of the week: Be Glad (GIA)

by David Haas, with others such as Marty Haugen, Lori True, Tony Alonso, Michael Joncas, Paul Tate, Ricky Manalo, etc.

Listen to the song here!!

Let me just tell you the first time I heard this was in my high school liturgical choir. And the mass we were going to sing it for? Mass on the feast day of St. Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions, who are Vietnamese martyrs.

Some of the lyrics that stuck out:

“This is my servant, my soul’s delight.” I can’t tell. Who are we even referring to at this point??

“The earth and sky tremble, but the Lord God will defend his people. I am going to bless you till you’re satisfied. Overflowing in abundance, my people will never be despised.” Wait…so why is there suddenly a change in the POV. You really shouldn’t just change from third person to first person. Also, what is the meaning behind emphasizing that the children of God will never be “despised.” 

Anyways, let’s get into the actual review:

Well, my school chose to sing this on the Vietnamese martyrs feast day. As a Vietnamese American, how do you think I felt having to sing this during the mass with our campus ministry leader telling us to smile during the song. There’s something utterly wrong in one of the messages, and it seems as if the writers forgot some important bible verses,

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.” John 15:18

“If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also” John 15:20

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:10-12

Those are only a few verses on persecution, so why is a main message that those who believe in Christ will never be persecuted. As a Vietnamese-Catholic, who’s ancestry and ethnic people who have encountered the hardships of Christian persecution, there is no way I agree with this message that the song has portrayed. Christians are still being persecuted in places all over the world, it has not stopped.

I don’t understand the reasoning behind choosing this song especially for such a memorable feast day, a feast day honoring those that had died for their faith. I don’t think the people that chose to use the song at my school thought through the meaning, and instead probably thought “this is such an upbeat song, the youth will surely love it.” Wrong. I despised it, and no, the whole “smile everyone!” thing didn’t help me feel that better, either.

Change in point of view during the song, why?!? Not only why, but when is it ever right to put words in God’s mouth and pretend that’s okay. I’m pretty sure there’s never a time for that. As for the first line I mentioned, the servant should only be referred to Christ, it should not imply the entire Church. Also, they wrote in God’s voice saying that he will bless “you, until you’re satisfied.”

It seems as if they’re glossing over the fact that Christians are persecuted and despised to this day still. I am still unsure of the entire meaning of the song, it tells the listener to “be glad,” but am I supposed to be glad when I know that there’s still ways I can improve in? It gives the listener thoughts that they’re good enough, that they don’t need to change, and that God’s already pleased with how we are at this point. But, we aren’t perfect, we need to keep improving, our faith cannot just stop at this point when we think we’re ‘good enough.’

Although I have a lot of problems with it being used for a mass on feast day of martyrs, I also do not like the music style and do not it’s appropriate for mass…in other words, the electric guitar and upbeat rhythm do not appeal to me.

So that’s it for this Music-List Mondays!