Alive Again

ImageI’ve always loved being a Confirmation peer, but I don’t think I ever realized just how much it matters to me.  I really do think that leading people to Jesus and faith is the greatest joy in my life.  Right now, I’m so at peace, my heart physically aches, if that’s even possible.  Do you ever have moments in your faith when you’re just so incredibly taken by otherworldly joy that your whole being aches for more?  I haven’t had a moment like that in a while—until now.  Lately, faith has been a struggle to some extent.  I’ve been so surrounded by cynicism and bitterness and despair, it seems.  So many mixed feelings about my own inadequacy, my guilt, the burden of feeling like nobody’s on my side and I’m fighting an internal faith battle alone.

 

This past year, I think, I’ve been a little lost.  I stopped going to youth group stuff because I was busy or tired or couldn’t get a ride.  I couldn’t go on the Confirmation retreat in September, and I’ve been so worried about my sister and her apparent disinterest in faith.  But last night, I went to a retreat lock-in for Confirmation peers, and for the first time in months, I felt at peace.  I love the people in my church family, I love how close we are, I love the acceptance, I love the giggling and goofing off, I love how dedicated we are, and most of all, I love—with my whole heart, I love it!—seeing and feeling and experiencing God shaping each one of us in beautiful ways.  In my experiences as a Confirmation candidate and later as a peer, I’ve seen so many iceberg hearts just melt, so much bitterness fall in surrender to His love for us.  In my almost-eighteen years, I’ve never known anything nearly as incredible as being a part of that love and sharing it with others.  Lately, I’ve just forgotten that part of me, I guess.  I’ve been mixed up about what I want to do with my life, but last night reminded me that He knows just where I belong.  I feel so called to actively melt hearts and change people through Jesus’s love.  I’m praying that I don’t lose my way again.

 

Thank You, Lord, for everything.  Captivate my heart and lead me to You.

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Letters to a Young Catholic >> Martyrdom (Chapter 2)

Another Tumblr post from last year.  I’m proud of this one. 🙂

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Hey!

So, as you may know, I go to an all-girls Catholic high school run by the Nashville Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia.  I absolutely love my school’s religious curriculum. Juniors take Church History, and we’re all reading Letters to a Young Catholic by George Weigel.  If you don’t know, Weigel is a distinguished Catholic apologist from my own hometown of Baltimore, Maryland.  Bl. John Paul II actually handpicked the guy to write his biography.  This guy is incredible.  Mind you, I don’t usually read heavy apologist writings.  I mean, I’ve read some stuff from Peter Kreeft, but for the most part, my Catholic supplemental reading revolves mainly around Jason Evert, Mark Hart, and the like. c: You know, light Catholic material intended for people my age.

Anyway, back on topic.

I haven’t yet read any of Weigel’s other dozen or so books (I plan to), but I can see why he, of all the Catholic apologists, won the late and great Pope’s favor.  He has a very unique style of writing that helps him to gently ease the reader toward his intended message.

In this book, he’ll start each chapter with a little history lesson or tell us a little about a place that holds significance in the Catholic world.  Chapter 2, for example: “Rome —- The Scavi of St. Peter’s and the Grittiness of Catholicism.”  Weigel begins the chapter with some background information on St. Peter’s Square.

The Vatican Necropolis, also known as the scavi, is a series of underground excavation sites that hold the ruins and remains of many early Christian martyrs of of Roman persecution, among them St. Peter.  Archaeologists have uncovered all of Peter’s remains, except for his feet, which lead us to believe that he lost them during his martyrdom at Caligula’s Circus.

Weigel does not, however, aim to simply give us a lesson about history: at this point in the chapter, he changes the subject to martyrdom itself and what it means to give your life for Christ.

Peter…is being told, gently but firmly, that his love for Christ is not going to be an easy thing.  His love is not going to be a matter of “fulfilling” himself.  His love must be a pouring out of himself, and in that self-emptying he will find his fulfillment.

All in all, the chapter is really about the “grittiness” of Catholicism, the reality that faith means suffering and sacrifice.  Weigel tells us that, especially in the secularized modern world, it is vital that we are willing to make these sacrifices to defend our faith.  ”Catholics have relearned that lesson the hard way, in the scandal of clerical sexual abuse and the crisis that scandal caused when it was so badly handled by some bishops—-the successors of the apostles.”  Even today, Catholics face the same persecution that the early Christians faced, and more than ever, we really are called to be martyrs, His witnesses to the Truth.

He closes the chapter with a message that really strikes a chord in me, and hopefully it will inspire you, as well.

“Weakness and failure, too, are part of the grittiness of Catholicism,” but “failure is not the final word.”

Cardboard Testimonies

We do this at my parish’s Confirmation retreat, and it’s one of the most powerful experiences I’ve ever known. I did it last year as a peer, and it was so overwhelmingly beautiful.

The front of my piece of cardboard said:

“I hated myself. Felt worthless and didn’t want to live.”

When I flipped it over, it read:

“He told me I was worth dying for.”