Thursday, September 30, 2010
If you were at last year's Food Fast, you saw this video clip. I think it is a very human portrayal that hits close to home. Why? Because it causes you to look at your own life in relation to the lives of those around you, those whom you encounter daily.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Feel free to comment and share your experience below!
Friday, September 24, 2010
This is last year's promo video.
See all of you tonight!
Monday, September 20, 2010
Last night after our meeting, I was checking the news and clicked on the headline that most intrigued me, "For First Time in Months, President Obama Attends Church Publicly." Now, I initially checked this out because I thought every time a person attends Church it is a public matter...unless you're having a private service/Mass for your family or something. Unfortunately after reading the article, I still don't understand that point...except that "publicly" means the media was in the know about it, and anytime a Head of State does anything in public, there are tons of logistics involved. Here's the link to the article, it's pretty short:
I start off by saying that I make no political claims here, nor do I intend any disrespect to our President. I am happy he attended the church service and am simply trying to judge the article based upon my own experiences.
The very first paragraph struck me, as it said, "President Obama publicly attended church Sunday morning for the first time in nearly six months, and shortly after a major survey showed that only a third of Americans can correctly identify Obama's faith as Christian."
This seems profoundly backwards to me. If faith is a part of someone's life, it should be clear and probably not require a public trip to whichever church he or she attends. In other words, faith is meant to be lived! If President Obama is a Christian, I would hope that his words, actions and manner of leading our country, correspond directly to his beliefs. If he is Muslim, I would hope his words and actions correspond to the teachings in the Qur'an. I would hold the same attitude if he were Jewish, Hindu or Buddhist.
This article seems to be another example of how often we compartmentalize faith, our religion. If faith is a thing we do on the weekends, that is some way connected to our status, or something we do without thinking, we're missing the point. Faith is meant to be lived. Christianity is a relationship, that, if truly an encounter, changes our lives. Notice how Christianity doesn't call us to change 15% of our lives, or that Christ didn't say to his apostles, "Come follow me, on Sunday mornings from about 9:30-10:30am. Forget about following me the rest of the time."
This article on President Obama struck me as relating intensely to what we covered last night at our "Living the Faith in School" Youth Night. In hearing reflections on cheating, gossip, language and respecting teachers, I was again reminded in my own life of how often I forget about the relationship with Christ I am wrapped up in. I think the same held true for all of you. When you start to think about the small ways you fall to sin everyday, it's a wake up call. How do we live this life in such a way that your life is a unity? How do we live this life so that we don't have to broadcast that we attended Mass in order to convince others that you indeed follow Christ?
Most every situation that came up last night probably requires a different response. Coming up with a black and white answer about how to deal with struggles and temptations would be to reduce the human element involved in all of our encounters. As we deal with unique situations and unique people, we need a unique response. Christ provides the answer, like a good friend you seek out for advice in time of need. The closer we come to Christ in our relationships with him, the easier the seeking becomes...you move away from having to "go over to your friend's house" in order to get advice, to knowing in your heart what Christ is calling you to do in a given situation. He becomes a part of your whole being!
Now, this is easier said than done...and I don't think we fully got into the "How to do this" during our sharing last night. If any of you have any concrete insights about how to correctly handle the situations we discussed last night, please post some comments. If you have any thoughts about the CNN article, post those thought as well. Let's continue the discussion that began last night.
When a man creates an automobile, he wants it to work the way he intended, namely by filling it with the proper gasoline. If another man decides it’s much less expensive to fill his car with water, it will indeed be less expensive, but it will also be a lot less effective.
God, who created everything, wants everything to work the way He intended. The Mass is what God created for us so that we might not only worship and glorify Him, but be saved by Him.
The Mass is about God.
Unfortunately, the changes of the Second Vatican Council have seemingly inspired us, the lay congregation, to make the Mass all about us. But because of this, we are not fed, in the one place where we should be filled. Through the proper practice of the Mass, God is able to fill us with what we need the most. But we must be open to Him; we must be vulnerable. By taking the Mass into our own hands, we become less vulnerable and willing to the do the work of God and more focused on how we would like to see the Mass done and what we get out of it.
If a chef is cooking for you, do you tell him how to prepare your meal, or do you accept what he gives you? And which meal tastes better?
There has been much abuse in the Liturgy over the past fifty years, and though the lay people who worked towards it claim it is in the better interest of the Church and will ultimately benefit the Church as a whole, how come Churches have become more and more empty since the new translation?
The Liturgy has become more human, and thus more shallow. It is in human nature to want things greater than ourselves, yet we accept a more human Mass because it is more “relatable.”We shouldn’t be able to “relate” to the Mass. If we can, we wouldn’t be on Earth, we’d be in Heaven already.
The Mass is not about what we get out of the Mass by our own power; it’s about what we receive from God through God. The Mass is about worshiping the Lord and being open to his graces. A greater act of love calls for a greater response. Jesus Christ committed the ultimate act of love, and so we are called to make the ultimate response in giving ourselves fully to God during, before, and after Mass. And with a greater response comes a greater reception of God’s love.
And we want God's love. We want greater things. We want more than just mediocrity and relatability. We can find that anywhere. The Mass should be the one place where we are filled with more of the greatest things in creation until we overflow. But we must be vulnerable. We must be humble and accepting of God's Will rather than our own.
Friday, September 17, 2010
The night will focus on the daily trials many of you face each day at school. It will help us to understand how faith is not just a compartment of life, but a relationship we live out in every part of our day.
Join us from 7-9pm in the Parish Center!
I leave you with some classic school clips:
This clip reminds me of a joke I once heard at the barber shop:
When you're with your honey, and her nose is runny, and you think it's funny, it's snot.
See you Sunday!
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
At the end of the day, as I try to lay my spinning mind to rest, I realize I didn't get very far in pursuing answers. For example, I spent two and a half hours yesterday plowing through articles for and against Aquinas' proofs and faith and reason. And, I seriously got nowhere, except confused in my thinking and re-thinking. I took this frustration with me to Mass and was kindly reminded that in pursuing answers, I had left the most important resource in the dust, namely, my experiences.
There is a certain danger with ideas. They can become lofty and detached from the reality in which I live. And so, these ideas swiftly become abstract notions buzzing aimlessly around my mind like a swarm of bees. This is not good. It is actually quite annoying. If any of you have ever spent a long time thinking about a great mystery, you probably know the feeling.
So, onto the level of experience...
Nobody in our program has been able to escape this, even if you are a Moeller rival. The death of Josh Pflum is tough to face. The guys I know who attend Moeller are hurting. When my wife and I found out about his death on Saturday after Mass, we drove home in disbelief.
I really didn't want to believe it.
At that point, I didn't know any details. But, as I learned them, as the evidence of the accident was placed before me, I had to face it...just as the boys at Moeller, those guys who are so involved in our program, must face it...and you as well.
The details are painful: Josh's mother had recently passed away, he was skateboarding to go get his younger brother (a Moeller junior) from a house down the road, he was hit by another Moeller student going the speed limit, no drugs, no alcohol. It was a pure accident.
This is really tough.
The men at Moeller want a reason as to how this could happen (as I saw on Mr. Kindt's facebook page). I want a reason for why this happened.
At Mass yesterday, I found it almost mysterious that Josh's untimely death and our Prove It! night happened on the same weekend. It's mysterious because there is something about death that proves God's existence, though I never put words to this until today.
You see, everything about the accident can be evaluated, measured, examined by science. Collisions are measurable by physics and understandable by reason. Speed. Acceleration. Stopping distance. Force. Momentum. All are scientific terms. Ways we measure things. Ways we understand the world around us through our human capacity to "reason." These are the facts about how the accident happened.
But science doesn't completely satisfy my desire for an answer here. It doesn't even come close.
Sure, science helps me wrap my mind around the event and the circumstances surrounding it, but it cannot answer the deepest questions I have about this. And if I have the capacity to desire deeper answers, there must be something that can satisfy. Every question has an answer, and as I engage in self-reflection about this accident, science's answer is very limited.
So, I can draw three reasonable conclusions from my experience:
- Science/reason fails to provide me with an adequate answer. It helps me understand what happened, but it cannot address the pain felt at the heart of the issue. So, pitting Science against God, or using science to say that God doesn't exist, then leaves me without explanation for this event and the hurt it has caused. For the believer in science-only, blaming God for this event is unreasonable, because he or she didn't believe in His existence prior to the event! If one places all of his or her trust in science, I have no idea where you go from here.
- One could blame God for the event, and distance him or herself from God, by posing questions like, "How could You do this? How is this Your will?". But to do this would be like saying God himself caused the accident to occur, like a young boy crashing his toys together. By disengaging from the basic understanding that God wills our happiness (as seen throughout Scripture, beginning in the first chapter of Genesis), and seeing God's will as a way to manipulate and destroy humanity, is to place blame on an innocent Being. I think our pain, grief, sin, death, doubt, and fear is the furthest thing from God's will.
- This leaves the final conclusion I can draw from this experience: hope in the only One who can make this situation right. There has only been one man in history (a fact!) who has overcome death. There is only one Person who can satisfy my desire for justice in the face of this tragic event, who can answer my deepest questions about why this had to happen.
May all of us join in prayer for Josh's family, for the young driver who hit him, and turn to the only One who can respond to our deepest needs in time of suffering.
Eternal rest grant unto Josh, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
- Things are too good and too complicated for some "God" who loves us not to have created it.
- Reflections from Angela's group: "for thousands of years, millions of people have believed in God, then he must exist because that many people cannot be wrong. And second, many of them [the teens] said they know God to exist through experiences in Eucharistic Adoration."
- One group provided a list of reasons: "First mover, witnesses, physical evidence in nature, personal knowledge [reflection upon experiences], gut feelings, grand scheme of the physical world, miracles.
- All of nature testifies to God's existence. Whether we are looking out at a mountain, hiking through a forest, or contemplating the depth of the ocean and all that is contained within it, we realize that there must be something bigger to make something so beautiful. However, we feel that above all the greatest evidence for God lies in the complexity of the human body. The power of our brains, the perfection of our body temperature, our eyes, heart, nervous system, fingernails, and even how we blush make us marvel at how it all works. And as we stand in awe of our bodies we conclude that such detail would be IMPOSSIBLE to happen by chance. And if it didn't happen by chance, it must have happened by God (like God flipped the coin).
- It's better to believe, because if He does exist and you don't believe, the outcome will not be good. But, if you believe and He doesn't exist, you are no worse off. (Playing the odds and choosing to accept can lead to belief). This group summed up Pascal's wager.
Monday, September 13, 2010
This is a journey. It's called life.
And we're seeking meaning, understanding, purpose. In short, we're seeking Truth.
"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."
Jesus tells us this in Matthew 7:7 to challenge us to do the work. Seeking is not easy. Asking is tough. Knocking hurts your knuckles if you're not careful. But, Christ calls us to seek.
We have begun to tackle the question, "Do you know that God exists?" I'm compiling the proofs you came up with for God's existence and will post them tomorrow. Thank you all for your honesty and for your faith.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
The theme for WYD 2010 was the line of the young man in Mark's gospel, who, upon meeting Christ, asks him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”. Pope Benedict's message to youth unpacks this Gospel story, which just so happens to fit nicely with our theme for the year (To Know and To Love). I encourage all of you to take some time to read and reflect upon this post, and maybe even read Pope Benedict's full message (http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/messages/youth/documents/hf_ben-xvi_mes_20100222_youth_en.html).
By the way, the Pope wears red shoes...
Okay, back on topic...Here is the Gospel story the Pope reflects upon:
“As [Jesus] was setting out on a journey” – the Gospel of Saint Mark tells us – “a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, ‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honour your father and your mother.’ He replied and said to him, ‘Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth’. Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, ‘You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me’. At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions” (Mk 10: 17-22).
This story hits the highs and lows, right? The young man is like, "Dude, I do all of this stuff! Isn't that great!" That is definitely a high. But, Christ calls him to something more. He calls the man to live his life as a unity. Christ challenges the man to follow him entirely, not just in certain areas, or compartments of his life. This would appear to be the low point of the story that leaves us depressed and hopeless that we could ever live this life. "But not so!" says the good Pope, upon further reflection. Check out what Pope Benedict has to say about this:
"Christ interrupted his journey to stop and answer the young man’s question. He gave his full attention to this youth who was moved with an ardent desire to speak to the “good Teacher” and to learn from him how to journey through life."
What an excellent starting point. Instead of feeling down about this interaction, let's look at what actually transpired. As the young man approaches, Jesus stops and focuses His entire attention upon him. What a phenomenal example to us, who often think that our concerns are too petty to be brought to the feet of Jesus.
Pope Benedict goes on to point out some very curious words from the passage, "In his Gospel account, Saint Mark emphasizes that 'Jesus, looking at him, loved him' (Mk 10: 21). The Lord’s gaze is at the heart of this very special encounter and the whole Christian experience. To be sure, Christianity is not primarily a moral code. It is an experience of Jesus Christ who loves each of us personally, young and old, poor and rich. He loves us even when we turn away from him."
Herein lies the key for understanding this passage. Jesus wants more than my upholding of the moral code, more than my fear of breaking the moral code, he wants more than my correct answer. He wants me, my heart, completely and without reservation. He wants me not just on Sunday nights at Youth Group, or in religion class at school, but in every area of my life, at all times.
The encounter with Christ is an event that, if truly an event, is meant to be lived.
Benedict furthers this by saying, "In this love we find the source of all Christian life and the basic reason for evangelization: if we have really encountered Jesus, we cannot help but bear witness to him before those who have not yet met his gaze!"
May we all find strength in these words to live the challenge of the Christian life.
I promised a drawing for 2 Graeter's gift cards on Friday. Everyone who is a follower has been entered. Those of you who posted a comment have a second entry....and the winners are: Paul & Mary Schneider, and Alex Parra! I'll get you the gift cards on Sunday.
Friday, September 3, 2010
So, if you currently follow the blog, you'll be entered into a drawing for Graeter's gift cards.
If you don't follow, but become a follower, I'll enter you into the drawing.
Plus, for every comment you post below (within reason) answering the question "What is your favorite type/brand of ice cream?" I will enter your name into the drawing.
So, become a follower, you're in. Then post a comment, and you're entered again.
I will post again on Tuesday morning with the winners of the gift cards...so you have between now and then to follow and post. If you're confused about how to follow, or what that means, you can check out http://www.google.com/support/blogger/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=104226.
Remember, no Youth Ministry this weekend...enjoy your holiday!
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Far too often I fall into the trap of merely existing. I trudge through the day, through my work, just doing enough to stay afloat. There is often no vivacity, no struggle on my part for something more. And the entire problem is me. I am not fighting for Something, Someone, greater than myself. I am not straining, willing to risk everything, to pursue Truth. I settle for mediocrity.
On a rare occasion, maybe you've felt this way too, I feel alive. It's like a little taste of the way I long to live my life...fully alive. But in reality, it's a compartment. I feel alive in this one compartment, maybe when I pray, maybe when I play sports, but this vivacity doesn't penetrate all of my daily activities.
“The faith given to me in baptism suggests to me surely: by yourself you will do nothing, but if you have God as the center of all your action, then you will reach the goal.”
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati has become a model for me, a saint I can relate to in almost every area of my life. His words here, beckon me to pursue the one Person who can awaken every aspect of my life. If I come to know Christ, if I encounter him (or maybe better said, "am open to encountering him"), I can't help but be changed. If I come to know Christ and He becomes my core, my desire for "having life to the full," will be satisfied.
If you don't know much about Bl. Pier Giorgio, I encourage you to read up on him. He is a patron of youth and a Third Order Dominican (which is why his pics are plastered all over the wall in the school cafeteria). He is known as the "ordinary Christian" who lived all aspects of his life with courage. You can check out this bio on the Third Order website http://www.3op.org/frassati.php.
This pic of Pier Giorgio has the words, "Verso l'alto" scribbled on it. He wrote this phrase, which translates to, "Toward the Heights," on the picture near the end of his short life. It is a reminder to us that as we struggle to climb the mountains in our daily life, our hope comes from the Lord, who gazes upon us and draws our gaze upward to Him...if we are open.