Friday, July 22, 2011

Who is going to make you happy?

At dinner last night, I was struck by the story of a girl who recently broke off a long relationship with a boy, only to turn around and begin another one, with a different boy.  This is a rebound.  Many people have experienced it to some degree, at some point.  A friend leaves you (painfully), and replaces you the next day with someone/something else.

This conversation happened at the dinner table.  You see, I sit right across from my daughter.  She just turned 21.  Months old. 

I couldn't help but draw the connection to her. 

Someday, in the future that comes at us so quickly, she will be a girl searching for love and meaning and happiness.  Things will appear to be crashing around her, and she will grasp for something. The temptation will be there to simply rebound onto another [false] thing. 

So, I looked at her last night and asked her who would really make her happy.  She stared blankly, then gave me a toothy grin.  "Say Jesus," I said.  "E-thsus," she said. 

"So who will make you happy?" 


Maybe this is the most important thing I can teach her.  Maybe it is the most important question I will ever ask her.  Maybe this is the most important question I need to answer, and keep answering. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Steubenville 2011

On Friday, our group leaves for Steubenville, OH, where we will meet up with 2000+ other teenagers for a weekend of dynamic talks, Mass, Eucharistic Adoration and hot nights in non-air conditioned dorms.

This year's theme is "Rooted," and it echoes the theme for World Youth Day, which will be happening in Spain next month.

Colossians 2:6-7 is the source of inspiration.  It reads, "As therefore you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so live in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving."

Here is what Franciscan University has to say about the theme:

"We live in a culture that easily seeks identity in the things of this world, which are sending us messages of appealing false, half-truths and counterfeits that seem to promise joy in this life. With this year's theme, Rooted, we will emphasize that true identity is in Christ.  To authentically live the abundant life that God calls us to,  it is very important to remain “rooted and built up in Him” as a daily journey of receiving God’s Truth. The image of roots denotes strength, stability, and growth.  The Sacraments and prayer are a living and effective source of strengthening our roots for the Christian journey ahead."

Monday, July 11, 2011

Email Exchange - The Jump to Christ

Last week I had an interesting email back-and-forth with Andrea, a former member of our Core Team at St. Gertrude.  I'm going to copy and past some segments of the exchange for your reading enjoyment (and commentary if you wish):

From Andrea:

As I have encountered people both on my European trip and now here in PACT it is easy to get people to recognize that we all have the same questions and that we all seek a total answer.  I also think, and have seen for myself, that most people find that the only reasonable answer to those core questions come from Someone bigger than themselves.  This makes sense.  We did not make ourselves and by looking at the world it is hard to image that everything could come from someone that was not infinite.  Good. 

Now here is the question to ponder - how do you make what seems to be a huge leap from recognizing that there exists Someone (and who knows what this someone is called?) to the Person of Jesus Christ that loves us conditionally and died so that we may live.  How do you arrive there in a conversation?  Where does Christ fit into the picture?  I am struggling to find the right questions to ask people to get there. 

My response: 

1.  Jesus Christ presents himself as God.  This was something new.  A man, within the confines of time/history declares himself to be God.  He states that He is the Way, Truth and Life.  That nobody has life but through Him.  Jesus Christ is a historical fact.  His life really happened.  His death really happened.  His resurrection really happened.  He is as true as Kennedy, Napoleon, Francis of Assisi, Caesar, Plato, etc.  Except, he claimed to BE GOD.  This is a problem for us and for everyone.  It demands an answer...Christ demands an answer when He says, "I am the resurrection and the life.  Do you believe this?" or following the Bread of Life Discourse in Jn. 6, "Will all of you leave me also?"  He either is who he says he is, or he is a liar, or he is a lunatic, a crazy person.  Nobody else has claimed status with God.  They have claimed to be prophets, mystics, messengers, anti-God, etc.  So, within history, we have enfleshed for us, One to states that He is the answer to our deepest longings for truth, goodness and beauty.  Do we believe Him?  Can He satisfy us?

2.  This leads nicely into the second point:  Witness.  It makes sense to me that as one comes to ask the questions and understand life (your first paragraph), that someone ought to look seriously into an answer to his/her problem before life.  You and I have done this.  We know tons of other people who have done his.  We have found Christ to be who he said he is - savior, redeemer, Love itself, healer, our greatest joy, happiness, goodness, beauty, etc.  How do we get a person to "make the leap to Christ"?  By presenting the Fact of Christ (point 1), and by witnessing to your present experience of Christ - His very presence in your life, in your encounter with Him, in your experience of relationship with Him.

By getting a person open by asking existential questions (your first point), and sharing your experience in this regard, you should have common footing with which you can launch into your experience with Christ - the answer to your heart's deepest needs and desires. 

Andrea's closing thoughts:

The two points you made are powerful.  Both are entirely reasonable.  Either Christ is God or He is a lunatic.  Any other conclusion is illogical – especially the position of Him just being a great moral teacher (for what great moral teacher would constantly lie about who he is?).  However, I also know in my life that it has been the witness of so many that have shown me that not only is Christ reasonable, but perhaps more importantly, that He matters.  He means something.  Believing in Him changes everything because He changes my identity, my life, my very being.  Christ becomes relevant in the witnesses of others.

Even Lebron's witnesses left him.
But witnessing takes time.  It takes more than just a one-time conversation acknowledging that we all have the same questions.  It takes a relationship, love, and service.  We can talk about life forever but until we live it with purpose and meaning in Christ all that talk is just nice philosophy.  Ministry, education, friendship—all take patience and the humility not to be discouraged and leave it to Jesus.  It also takes a willingness to be vulnerable about our own stories and how Christ has healed the places that we are most broken and ashamed about.  This vulnerability is hard too– well at least for me.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Raising Awareness

Tomorrow (July 8) is Cow Appreciation Day! 

Get to Chick-fil-a if you can!

Monday, July 4, 2011