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This post by Dorothy Wagner is reprinted from http://simplymomnipotent.wordpress.com/
For ten years, I’ve been volunteering and/or working in youth ministry. Our family is anticipating reentering the mission field domestically or abroad in the near future. Additionally, after organizing or assisting in many domestic mission trips with our youth group teens or young adults, we are helping to prepare for an international trip to the Dominican Republic. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard some form of the question: Why are you (and the teens) going abroad to do mission work when there is plenty of work that we need done here?
Many of my deepest moments of conversion that have led me to this life of commitment to serving the Gospel have occurred on foreign mission trips. The reality is that the desire for adventure runs deep in heart of a young person and a mission trip abroad often taps into that desire to do something great. On my first mission trip to Jamaica, everything was difficult and uncomfortable. The food was awful, it was hot, there were bugs, the culture was different, and I had no cell phone or “creature comforts.” The days were long and demanding but, in the absence of all that I was accustomed to, I was challenged to give, to serve, and to love. Here in this great adventure, vulnerable and challenged to love unconditionally, I experienced Christ face to face. Christ was there in the poor and Christ was there in me. He was giving strength and grace to serve and love. The same was true when spending a summer in Uganda, and the same encounter with Christ permeated our year of mission in Central America as we came to know our own weaknesses and places where conversion was needed amidst the demands of mission work. A mission trip to another nation provided the catalyst for conversion again and again. The environment that made me comfortable and blind to the needs of others was taken away, and I was immersed in another culture, another way of living, and another world where I learned to see. I learned to see Christ in my community here in Florida. I learned to see Christ in my neighborhood, my church, my city, and my culture. The fruit of foreign missions (with young people especially) is that they come back ready to be missionaries here in the their own culture.
The Church knows this. That is why she says “every disciple of Christ, as far in him lies, has the duty of spreading the Faith (Ad Gentes 23)” and “The Church, sent by Christ to reveal and to communicate the love of God to all men and nations, is aware that there still remains a gigantic missionary task for her to accomplish. (AG 10)”
In other words: everyone is called to be a missionary in their daily lives.
This post by Christina Mead is reprinted from LifeTeen.com
I do a lot of bizarre things but this ranks higher than DJ Tanner’s hair:
Every couple of weeks I solemnly walk into a small room where another person is sitting. It kinda feels like a closet, kinda looks like the smallest grandmotherly-parlor-sitting-room you’ve ever seen (complete with appropriate seating and decoration).
We sit there, me and this other person, and have a nice little conversation that consists of me telling them all the things I’ve done wrong recently. It’s a varied, and unexciting list that doesn’t change nearly as often as I change the tone of voice I use to disguise myself. (Don’t judge me. You know you’ve done it too.)
So we talk for a little bit. Sometimes we laugh. Sometimes one of us cries while the other doles out the tissues like candy from a parade float. Tissue for you! Another tissue for you! Betcha can guess who the tissue receiver is. (That shouldn’t be hard. Do you even know me?)
And then we pray and I leave with a smile on my face and nothing on my soul because my SINS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN.
Last, but not least, I have a mini, “congratulations for overcoming your fears” and “you now have a clean white soul” celebration by having a #treatyoselfmoment.
I am a Confession addict. I’m addicted to the grace and the freedom and the peace found in being as close to God as I can be on this earth. All it takes is a couple minutes and my sins are SMOKED.
Now, my soul may be fresh as baby’s but I wasn’t born yesterday. I know there are a lot of people who don’t agree with me and who think asking God’s forgiveness in private prayer is just as effective as the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Why do we need another person, the priest, when God hears our prayers and can forgive our sins in the quiet of our homes without a third party to awkwardly listen and judge our wrong-doings? (Which, btw, the priest will never do. See Fr. Mike’s blog for more on that.)
For me, as a Catholic, it’s allllll about God forgiving me through the priest because that’s the way Jesus established it. This is what He said to the apostles, the first priests, when He instituted the Sacrament of Reconciliation:
[Jesus] said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them,“Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (John 20:21-23).
Since when did Jesus NOT know what He was doing? Since when are my ideas better than His?
Never. So who am I to say that it’s okay for me to skip the priest, His appointed servant, and the process (sacrament) that He established?
Sidenote: That’s not to say that we shouldn’t pray to God for forgiveness; we absolutely should, and we can be confident that God hears that prayer and accepts our apology. Asking forgiveness is just the first part of being reconciled back to God. Sin harms our relationship with Him and in order for that relationship to be repaired, we need to follow the structure, the sacrament, that God Himself set up.
This post by Life Teen is reprinted from LifeTeen.com
Editor’s Note: To protect her good name, the author of this post has chosen to remain anonymous.
I’m the kind of person who eats at 11:58pm on Holy Thursday before the fast starts on Good Friday.
I’m the kind of person that leaves 8:52 to go somewhere that I know is a textbook eight minute drive even though I know that inevitably I will hit every one of the six red lights.
I’m the person who will buy something for $9.89, but refuse to fork over $10 because it just seems like too much.
I’m also a person who thought she could be a partier on Saturday and a Sunday morning, front pew, singing loudly, donuts in the back afterwards girl.
In high school, and I was so proud of the fact that I had never been drunk. Instead of being ashamed when I talked to my peers, most of whom got drunk regularly, I proudly admitted it with an annoyingly superior attitude. I saw it as a personal victory- a testament to my own strength. I went off to college not really thinking about drinking, and assuming that I was God’s gift to my unsuspecting fellow classmates.
It turns out that after being with the same people in high school for four years,starting over and making new friends at college is scary and overwhelming. Not only that, but there is whole new level of coolness, and a whole new set of freedoms just waiting to be tested.
A MASKED DOUBLE LIFE
I was scared, intimidated, and insecure. In my insecurity, I looked for the people who seemed to navigate through this strange college life with ease. That is how I found the partiers. For the first time in my life, I began to question everything I thought I knew about drinking and the party scene. I was blessed to make some really amazing friends in my dorm and in class, but I also made a group of friends that I kept on the fringes of my life. Friends that I did not mention to my other friends. Friends that I drank with.
It’s funny how fast it happened, and it’s even funnier how I was convinced that I wasn’t leading a double life, although I clearly was. I would drink with my party friends on Friday night, and then wake up to meet one of my “good friends” for Mass, breakfast, and studying. I would always drink just to the point where I would start to feel guilty, and then I would stop. I would visualize the Confession line in my brain, and weigh each choice against whether or not it would land me in that line. If I saw myself approaching the point that I would need to go to Confession, I would stop drinking, because to me that meant that I was alright.
I became an expert at wearing every different kind of mask. I could have a meaningful conversation about living a virtuous life and turn around and skip class and verbally bash a professor with the guy who didn’t really care to be at college. I would join in recounting the drinking adventures of last night in the cafeteria, after making sure none of my “good” friends were around, of course. I got so good at pretending I should have declared it as my second major.