Life Teen Camp
Week 10 | June 2nd - 7th
Host: Brennen Cull
Brennen Cull is blessed to be married to his best friend, his bride Amber, as well as dad to his three little babies Emily, Ethan, and Sophia. Brennen is the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries at Holy Trinity Parish in El Dorado Hills, California. Brennen also serves as the Life Teen Area Contact for Northern California. Brennen feels truly humbled to have the opportunity to help lead teens closer to Christ through the movement of Life Teen.
What is Hidden Lake?
Camp Hidden Lake is a Catholic summer camp located in scenic Dahlonega, Georgia. It’s a place where parish youth groups from all over the country come together to experience summer camp at its best. Campers are given the opportunity to dive deeply into their Catholic faith and strengthen their relationship with Christ while having unforgettable experiences.
Session 1: Inspired by the Journey
Today, and perhaps even this week, marks the start of our journey. As the Edge Campers arrive from different parishes and different states, we recognize that although our journeys may be starting in very different places, we are all on our way to the same destination. That destination is heaven and our relationship with Jesus. We will journey with the love and support of our brothers and sisters in Christ. It is important that we check our expectations (good, bad, or other) as we enter into this week of camp. We know that our wildest dreams and our biggest hopes can never match the beautiful plan that God has for each one of us, and by letting go of our expectations, we invite God to move us and within us as He sees fit.
When we think of a journey, we think of epic characters, doing awesome things. It can sometimes be hard to imagine ourselves in the roles of those characters. We are convinced that only saints and holy men and women are able to do amazing things. God reminds us that this is simply not true. My wife and I recently watched a video series on Blessed Mother Teresa. Halfway through the movie, I paused the DVD. I told my wife just how insignificant (and SUPER un-holy) I felt watching Mother Teresa do all the wondrous things she did for others. My (SUPER holy) wife set me straight and reminded me that Mother Teresa was no different than each and every one of us. The only difference was that Mother truly understood the love of her Father, and knew that the only thing to do was to love Jesus in every single person (my wife is pretty darn smart!). We need to be reminded that we, too, (even crazy middle schoolers) are made for greatness.
In the Sacrament of Baptism, each one of us is literally given everything we need to be the saints we were created to be. It is time that we begin to recognize that, stop making excuses, and unleash the power and strength that was breathed into us at the dawn of creation.
Pray for us this week at camp, that we may recognize that our loving Father in heaven holds NOTHING back from us and that we will be brave enough to allow God to enter into our lives in a powerful (and maybe even uncomfortable) way so that we may be an inspiration to the world.
Today's Top Photos
Session 2: Inspired by St. Paul
As we journey towards Christ, towards Heaven, it is often helpful to have role models (or guides) to help us along the way. The Church, in her beauty and wisdom, has given us these models in the lives of the saints. For many of us, aspiring to live like a saint can seem unrealistic. We tend to look at the saints as Christian superheroes who were born with super powers that allow them to do the unimaginable. That isn’t really the whole story. The saints were given “super powers” but they are the same “super powers” that each of us was given in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. We have been equipped with all that we need for our lives in Christ. Some of the saints (like some of us) got off to a pretty rocky start, though.
For proof of this, we need look no further than St Paul. We are first introduced to Paul, then Saul, at the scene of a brutal stoning of a Christian. Saul was an infamous killer of Christians who fought hard to defend the Jewish law. In fact, Saul talks about how even though he was young, he rose quickly to the position that he held because of his zeal and passion for the law. The only problem with his zeal and passion was that it was a little misguided. So, God entered into Saul’s life in a huge way. On the road to Damascus, God blinds Saul with a great light. Saul falls to the ground from his horse and Jesus makes His presence known by simply asking him, “Saul, Saul, Why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4).
We have to realize that our sin is not only hurting us personally, but it directly affects our Heavenly Father. We are called to be His sons and daughters, and there is nothing worse than disappointing your father. Lucky for us (lucky being a huge understatement) our Father is constantly offering us His forgiveness and mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Our loving Father waits for us in the sacrament with open arms; it is our job to seek Him. It was only in Saul’s repentance that he was able to become the son of God that he was created to be. Saul, now St Paul, finally began to direct that zeal and passion according to the will of God.
Pray that we may see the beauty of God’s forgiveness and regularly seek it within the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Today's Top Shots:
Session 3: Inspired by God with Us
The journey to Jesus, to salvation, is a treacherous one. It’s a path full of ups, downs, hills, valleys and even some plateaus. It is not uncommon to be faced with a bit of loneliness along this journey. Let’s face it, the moment that we finally say “yes” to God, we are saying “no” to the ways of the world. We are going to be met by people who don’t understand us and some who just flat out disagree with us. Sometimes these people are strangers; other times they are friends and even family.
If your “yes” is leading to loneliness, God assures us that we are never alone. God knew are need and desire to love and to be loved, and therefore sent His only Son to live among us. Jesus modeled what it means to love and serve in the name of our Father. And on the night before His death, Jesus Christ gave us the greatest gift we could ever imagine, the Eucharist. Found within transformed bread and wine, is the true presence of God. The Eucharist is not a symbol, but rather the actual body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. So even in those times of loneliness, we can rest assured knowing that God is not just present in our hearts and in our prayers, but present in a very real way in the Blessed Sacrament.
The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith. It truly is the bread that keeps us alive and that promises to feed us until we sit face to face with our loving Father in Heaven. In times of loneliness or despair, times when the journey seems to tough, we can turn to Jesus in the Eucharist for our “daily bread”. Not only do we have the wonderful opportunity to receive our Lord at Mass (daily if you so desire), but we also have the opportunity to sit with Him in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
I have been doing youth ministry for 6 years now, and I am constantly moved to see how a teen’s face lights up in the presence of our Lord in Eucharistic Adoration. Can’t we speak with Jesus anytime, anywhere, in our own prayers? Of course! But sometimes, just like in our earthly friendships, nothing beats a face-to-face chat.
Pray for us, that we may seek our “daily bread” and recognize our need for love and companionship that can only be truly found in the arms of our loving Father.
Today's Top Shots:
Session 4: Inspired to Serve
There is a great story from the early days of Mother Teresa’s ministry to the sick and dying in Calcutta. As the story goes, Mother was walking the streets of Calcutta when she happened upon a man who was lying in a gutter dying. A crowd had gathered near the man, but they wouldn’t get too close because of the horrible stench that was coming from his rotting body. The man’s body was infested with maggots and other unthinkable parasites. Mother Teresa knelt down by the man, looked deeply into his eyes, kissed him, and carried him back to her Home for the Sick and Dying.
After this encounter, many people asked Mother Teresa how she was able to care for the man, how she could even bear the stench of his body. Mother Teresa beautifully responded that when she looked at that man, she saw Christ. Mother Teresa made it her mission to live out the Gospel passage, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me” (Matthew 25:35-36).
All too often, we approach service as the haves (us) serving the have-nots (them). I remember being told countless times growing up, “We should be grateful for all that we have and give back to those who have so little.” There is nothing wrong with that, and we should certainly be grateful for all that God has blessed us with. True Christian service, though, comes from a place of compassion. The word compassion literally means, “to suffer with.” Mother Teresa served the sick and dying because, to her, the thought of someone leaving this world without proper love and compassion was heart breaking. She suffered alongside them.
Pray for us, that we may understand the ways in which God is calling us to serve His children. May we be an inspiration to those whom we serve, and bring to them the face of Christ.
Today's Top Shots:
Session 5: Inspired by the Holy Spirit
Imagine being on a basketball team filled with amazing players who are all dedicated to winning. What would happen if when it came time for the game, the coach huddled everyone together and said, “Do whatever you want. We aren’t going to run any plays, and we’re definitely not following any rules.” It would be chaos! Even though the team has the will to win and the talent to do so, without a united direction the end result could never be accomplished.
It is important for us to be led by our Heavenly Father and to see that He has amazing things in store for us. He has a game plan and He reminds us of the boundaries so that we can all attain our goal together. Because he loves us, our Father doesn’t leave us on our own to figure this out. He leads us and inspires us.
This week we have been inspired by the journey. We have been inspired by St Paul. We have been inspired by Christ in the Eucharist. We have been inspired to serve all whom we encounter in the name of Jesus. Our campers are beginning to see themselves as the sons and daughters of God they are called to be. But, not unlike the first apostles, they may find themselves wondering, “Now what?”
After the resurrection, the apostles were sent out to baptize the world in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 2819). They were frightened at the thought of doing this without Jesus by their side. Jesus reminded them that they would never be alone, and that the Holy Spirit would serve as their strength and guide on their journey. The same is true for us! We are only capable of being God’s hands and feet when we turn to the Holy Spirit for guidance.
Pray for us, that we may be more aware and open to the ways in which the Holy Spirit wants to enter into our lives. Let us remember that with the Holy Spirit we can do great things.