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.

 

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.”

 

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: 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!

 

VibrantCatholic’s 1st blog series: A Catholic Teen’s POV!

For those who have looked at my blog before, you may have realized that there is not a specific topic in which I discuss in my blog posts. I tend to find certain things that are interesting or sometimes annoying me and I will rant on them.

I have decided to create a new blog series: A Catholic Teen’s POV. I intend for this series to explore certain issues and popular events available in the common Catholic teen’s lives. For example, I recently wrote on my personal experience at a Lifeline at NET Ministries.  Some topics that I have thought of writing on include, but are not limited to; Steubenville Conferences, Kairos retreats, abortion, charismatic prayer and other forms of prayer, etc.

It’s also important to note that I will not speak on behalf of every Catholic teen, but I will only give my opinion which may be the same or different than others. I hope everyone will anticipate my blog series! Oftentimes it seems as certain experiences that “every Catholic teen loves” are very inaccurate in that truth, but more of an advertising device.

Thank you for reading this short notice, and please read about my first experience at Lifeline to have a glimpse of how I’ll be writing.

I’ll keep you all in my prayers, God bless you!

If you have any topics I should write on, please let me know in the comments or in any other way of contacting me! 🙂