Be open to his voice resounding in the depths of your heart: even now his heart is speaking to your heart”
-Pope Benedict XVI, Sep 18, 2010, Beatification of Cardinal Newman
West River Catholic Articles
Matthew Eastmo - WYD:
Amidst my preparation for World Youth Day, Fr. Mark suggested that I pray about what grace I would like from God during our pilgrimage. A couple nights later, in adoration, I sat before the Lord and really thought about what my life needed from God. In what way could the Lord make me a better Christian? I immediately thought of my vocation. As a 19-year-old kid with his whole life in front of him, knowing some pieces of my vocation would be wonderful! However, I knew deep in my heart that I will find my vocation someday, I just need to keep living a faithful life. I then thought about my weaknesses. What parts of life could I improve upon? It became clear in my heart that I am not able to love the way Jesus loves. His love is self sacrificial, even to people who don't deserve it. It was clear to me that this was an area of my life that needed God's grace. So, still sitting in front of the monstrance, I prayed an honest prayer: God, please teach me how to love the way your son loved. I want to be able to love without hesitation. I want to be able to put others in front of myself.
I kept this desire in the back of my mind throughout world youth day, and I looked for ways God might be working through that desire in my experiences. During the opening Mass in Krakow, there were so many people, that Eucharistic ministers went out into the crowds and were just kind of swamped by the congregation in no apparent order. It took a long time for the line to move, so my mind started to wander from my Lord who I was about to receive to a friend from school that I hadn't seen all summer. I started day dreaming. She jumped into my arms and I gave her a huge hug. We were both so happy it caused me to smile. Then my day dream changed from her jumping into my arms to me jumping into Jesus' arms. This time, we were both so happy it caused me to cry. I was so moved. My mind and my heart were focused intently on what I was above to receive in that communion "line." When I finally got the the front, the priest looked as though he had just run out of hosts, then he lifted up the cloth around the bowl, and one final host fell into his hand.... for me. How lucky am I that my Lord opens his arms to me everyday and offers himself to me! God taught me that I can learn from the love of Jesus everyday at the Mass.
Later in the week, I ended up in confession in Pope John Paul II's hometown. The theme of WYD was "mercy", and this theme crept into my confession because I had the most honest confession of my life. I confessed the things that maybe I had confessed before, but maybe not. The things that I have buried and tried to forget. I had this intense desire for Jesus to love ALL of me, even the parts I'm most ashamed of. I offered it all to him in that confession. When I walked out, I looked at the monstrance and was moved to tears again. How? How could somebody love the parts of me that I don't even love?
I asked to learn how to love like Jesus loves. What better way to learn it than to experience it firsthand? The key thing is that Jesus can't love someone completely without mercy, and that mercy is something my life has been desperately lacking. Through the grace of God, my desire was in some way fulfilled, and I experienced the love of our Lord in a way I never have before.
Paige Gehlsen - Steubenville of the Rockies:
So, I just got back from an amazing Catholic youth conference called Steubenville of the Rockies. This was my fourth year attending and probably the most impactful year by far.
The past year has been an extremely stressful one and I found myself furthering myself from Christ and those who I truly loved. I was angry a lot earlier in the year and I felt like keeping myself busy would keep my mind off of he pit of anger that I had inside me. So that's exactly what I did. In doing that, I made less time for God and eventually only thought about him when I had to (at mass or when someone else prayed).
As it got closer to this conference, I began to really analyze my life. Why was I feeling this way? Why did I think this was okay to do? How can I fix this? And many other questions like those came to my mind. I grew heavier and heavier with these thoughts as this trip drew closer and when it finally came, I wasn't sure I would get the answers I needed or forgiveness I sought (not just from God but other people I had hurt as well).
A lot had happened at the conference and I learned what it truly meant to forgive and be forgiven. I could tell every detail and every story that really changed me, but I not going to; too long and not enough words to describe it lol. One of the most important parts for me though that I will share, was after forgiving and being forgiven, an ounce of me still felt like there's no way God would pick me up and put me right back where I had been spiritually before I started falling behind. I thought that maybe he would pat my head, say, "there there. You can always try again next time!" But he didn't. Instead, at adoration (this is when the body of Christ is placed in a golden display called a monstrance upon the alter), I felt like a little kid lost in the darkest part of a maze, scared and afraid that no one would ever find me. But then, right as you fall to the ground and curl up in the corner of this maze, you see your father (in this case God) approaching you, flashlight in hand and arms spread wide, waiting for you to run into his arms so he can hug you as tight as possible and never let you go.
Guys, I've never felt so at peace. Below is a song that played during adoration and really helped me realize that God would never let you go. I found that anytime I sang this song, I could sing all the words, but as soon as the line, "wanderer come home, you're not too far." came along, I would start to cry pretty hard. Those words in particular were the equivalent of getting hugged by God and being told that it's okay. I just really wanted to share this with you guys cus I know some of you out there are feeling similar or have felt this way before. So I want these people especially to listen to this song.
Thank you all for being amazing people, and I hope you all come to see that you're all a beloved son and daughter of Christ, no matter what you've done, who you are, or what you believe. I love each one of you, but God loves you more :D Have a fantastic day everyone!