Picture this: it’s Saturday morning, you’re watching “SportsCenter” or “Say ‘Yes’ to the Dress” or insert your favorite show here; you’ve FINALLY made it. It’s the weekend, and let’s be honest, it was a rough week. It is time for some relaxation. You’ve earned it, right? Then as suddenly and unexpectedly as Katniss Everdeen shooting the apple out of the pig’s mouth, your mom says from the kitchen, “You know, I thought this evening we would all go to CONFESSION.” The Imagine Dragons provide the inspiration for the thought now going through your head, “I feel it in my bones, enough to make me systems BLOW.” The word alone makes your spine tingle; you’d rather do ANYTHING BUT! You think to yourself, “I don’t want to sit in front of a priest and tell him all my sins. Why do I have to do that anyway?”
That’s a good question; why do we have to go to a priest to receive forgiveness for our sins? I mean, didn’t Jesus already take away our sins by dying on the cross? We hear it in scripture, “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5) “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) So wasn’t that enough? Why do we have to go to the sacrament of Reconciliation to receive forgiveness for our sins? Read more
The first commandment states, “You shall have no gods before me,” (Exodus 20:3). Hearing the first commandment and then reciting prayers like the Hail Mary, Hail Holy Queen, Angelus, and rosary can bring about some confusion. It doesn’t help when we hear Mary referred to as Queen of Heaven and is recognized on specific days in our church calendar. To answer this question we must first understand those who have gone before us.
The simple fact is that in the history of our church there have been many great holy men and women who have gone before us. As it says in scripture we are “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.” They are called the Saints and we can draw strength from their examples to “run the race with perseverance,” (Hebrews 12:1). Of all the saints, Mary is held in the highest esteem. God created her Immaculate, meaning “without sin.” Through her total surrender to the Lord she became the mother of God. In her giving totally of self she was so in tune with the Lord’s will that she was crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth. As Catholics we honor her “yes” to the Lord. Read more
It’s like they say, “Summertime, and the livin’ is easy.” There is something about summer that just brings back memories of running around barefoot and eating corn on the cob at family barbeques. Life just moves at a slower pace and it seems like things could not get any better. Whether you are on summer break from school or on vacation from work, there are many ways to enjoy your time off. Here are 7 fun, easy, cheap things to do this summer:
1. Pray! It’s not a vacation from holiness!
Somehow, we get the thought in our minds that being on vacation means that we get to be lazy and do nothing. Don’t forget, we are all trying to be saints! Which means still trying to live a virtuous life. We can only do that if we are praying everyday. Start small and work your way up! Read more
I have had a lot of June 11ths in my days on this earth – 25 to be exact. There is one June 11th, however, that most concretely changed the course of my life. Even if I did not know it at the time, June 11th, 2004 was the first day of the rest of my life.
Now I am guessing you are thinking one of following things right now: either “what a cheesy line!” or “why did you name this post the SECOND day of the rest of your life?” Both are reasonable responses. I cannot help you with the first one, as moving to the Midwest has only increased my affinity for cheese. As for the second question, I can only say, “Wait for it.” To get to second, you must step on first. Read more
NET team six of 2013-2014 ministered to 7,600 young people and put on 138 retreats in ten states throughout the Midwest, traveling around 15,000 miles. We replaced two tires, recovered from one case of pneumonia & one case of bronchitis, and four teammates went home at different points to be home for family events. We triumphed through difficult retreats, long days, and unexpected difficulties. We rejoiced over news of two marriages, the birth of one niece & one nephew, two engagements, one entrance into the Catholic Church, and two freshmen college acceptance letters. We shared glory stories of Christ’s light in quieter small groups, young people who had “aha” moments, strangers who received our prayers at the perfect time, and the proof of many hearts changed. We united in prayers of healing over several family members in their times of loss and illness. Looking back on the last nine months we don’t see ourselves simply as “team six”; we have become a family united by Christ’s light, strengthened by prayer and the sacraments, and grown through trials and triumphs by our conscious decision to love one another through it all.
Roads are dangerous. If you step out of your doorway, you never know just where your path will lead. And it may be a long while before it leads you home again. Well, nine months ago this year’s team 7 stepped out of our doorways. And the road has led us through 27 states, over 20,000 miles, and through the lives of over 8,000 youth on retreat. Numbers are nice, and during fall training when we were told the things we would do this year, that’s all they were to us– numbers. But here in our very last diocese of Birmingham, Alabama, we can look back and see what those numbers really mean. They represent , not a romantic ideal of lives touched or miles traveled, but what has for months now been our daily lives.
Everyone who is serving on NET this year has a particular story on what brought them to serve on the road. The same is true for all those who have ever served, and those anxiously awaiting to serve on NET. Regardless of what took place in order to get the person to apply and go to the interview retreat weekend, at some point in time, we asked God to show us where He wanted us, to lead us. “Spirit lead us where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever you would call me.” The invitation to serve on NET came through, and out we went. We did not know who we would be with, whether or not we would be on a traveling team, what our route would be, who we would stay with, which joys we would experience, what trials we would go through, what adventures we would have, all we knew was that through it all, this year, we were being called to love.
Here we are in our final week in New Ulm, and God is good! What a journey God has taken us on since the first day at Cathedral High School. Being the first team in the school, we were a little nervous about what everyone would think of us and how they would act around us. But as soon as we met the students and families, we were amazed at how welcoming and accepting they were. In ministry, we have seen God work and move throughout our lives and those around us. He has shown us just how in control He is and how little control we have.
August 15th, 2013: The day it all started.
Weeks into NET Training, back in August, teams were selected and mission life officially began. Now it is eight months later and we’re approaching the conclusion of this segment in our lives. It honestly seems like last week when we awkwardly stared at one another on Team Announcement Night, internalizing the fact that we’d be living with one another for the next year. It seems like last week when we traveled to a Catholic middle school to put on our first, of many, retreats. It seems like last week when a teammate broke her collarbone, when we climbed over the waterfalls in Sioux Falls, SD, when we drove through the countryside of Wisconsin during the autumn season as leaves began to change color. It seems like last week when we fed the homeless in Philadelphia, when we met up with NET alumni on the road, when we completely butchered a drama during retreat yet witnessed fruit from our failures. It seems like last week when we walked the streets of Chicago, Detroit, and Pittsburgh, when we became nervous to present our testimonies to hundreds of youth, when we were transformed in that little way by a retreatant themselves.
Final greetings from team 9 at Providence academy, and WOW what a year it has been! This year we started out as just 8 strangers ministering to a school of roughly 560 students, and here we are at the tail end of the year. We can look back and see tangible growth in not only ourselves as NET team members, but also all the people we have ministered to. I know each of us has experienced in one way or another certain feelings of sorrow as we start having final small group meetings and final goodbyes to students that we have grown close to. However; this takes us back to our training days (which seem like a bazillion years ago) when it was continuously told to us “Your goal is to not be remembered by these students. Your goal is for them to remember who you should have led them to; Jesus”.
“Be a saint and do it with a smile!” was the advice given to me as I set out on the second half of my second year with NET. I didn’t know what that meant at first. I know I am called to be a saint, so I have recently been reflecting on what it means to be a saint in my life. I have been revisiting some saints and realizing that each one reflects a different virtue, represents a unique calling, and shares a particular story. For example, Saint Kateri felt called to a life of Catholicism after encountering missionaries who visited her Native American tribe. Kateri eventually converted against her family and her tribe’s wishes, and eventually left her tribe to join Caughnawaga, a community of faith, where she lived a life of intense Christian virtue until her death. Saint Francis of Assisi’s compassionate heart led to his love for animals and his care for those around him. He practiced extreme humility, yet thought himself to be the worst sinner in the world. St. Quiteria was quite literally a straight up OG (Original Gangster)! She started a gang with her octuplet sisters and busted people out of jail who were imprisoned for practicing their faith. She was eventually martyred alongside two of her sisters. Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati willingly gave everything he owned to anyone who needed it. He played pool against people and bet his opponents that if they lost, they had to come with him to an hour of adoration or to daily mass. He was a man who had everything he needed at his fingertips, but chose to give it to others who needed it more.
Each of these saints expresses very different stories and very different virtues; however, each is a saint (or well on their way to becoming one). What sets them apart from us today? What is so different and how can we become more like them? How can we be saint? Read more
Greetings from Forest Lake, MN! My oh my, has the time gone by. March was a very productive month for Team Five. If we could sum up what this month has been about, I believe we could categorize it into four topics: healing, service, fellowship, and snow!
At a particular host home, one of our host moms was planning on into surgery for a certain medical condition. We asked to pray over her for safety during and after the procedure. At the beginning of the time we prayed over our host mom, she shared with us how she doesn’t often see God perform miracles and that it has become difficult for her to pray with others. However, she was gracious enough to allow us to pray with her every night while we were staying at her home. Soon after, our host mom shared with us how she began to enjoy the peace and unity that prayer gave her entire family, and thus felt closer to God through it. Within a few days, we got a phone call from our host sister telling us that as her mom was going to the doctor for a check-up before the surgery, but miraculously, she didn’t need to have surgery anymore – she was completely healed! Our host mom later on shared with us once we got home how she was so amazed to see how God chose to heal her in this way. It was a beautiful testimony of God’s great healing powers in our everyday lives! Read more
Hi everyone! As the month of March ends, we are beginning to see a glimpse of the end of the Minnesota tundra. Thanks be to God! The snow is melting and we are rejoicing at the sign of spring (except Randall Edwards). We have been able to take walks outside with the teammates or the students at Cathedral after school. We have rediscovered the goodness of sunshine! Since I last wrote, Lent has begun, and us women were blessed with the opportunity to be hosted by the Handmaids of the Lord in their convent and the men at the Cathedral rectory with Fr. Matt Weiring and Msgr. Richter for two weeks. Most of us didn’t know what to expect but we were all excited for what was to come. Many of us are still unsure of our vocation and where our gifts would best serve and glorify God, so this would be an anointed time to encounter consecrated life in a special way. Read more
Hello from Team 7 in the Diocese of Mobile, Alabama! Since last we wrote, we have traveled through the entirety of Georgia and Florida, with the exception of Florida’s panhandle, and have reached the southern extremity of our route in Miami before setting our eyes on Alabama. I find that I can best describe these past weeks by borrowing a few lines from my good friend Mr. Dickens:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…
-(Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities)