For me, summertime has always been God’s time. I can still remember seven years ago, when God and I had a summer to remember. In two back to back weeks, I went to the Life Teen Leadership conference at Notre Dame and Steubenville West in Tucson. My head was spinning from all the talks, prayer experiences, and new friends. I rememebered that I felt like a whole new world have been opened up to me – that my crew of high school buddies weren’t the only kids who loved Jesus in the world. Each day, I’d try to remind myself of something I had heard in one of the many talks. I read and re-read my notebook. I wore my ‘official’ t-shirt. I prayed my shiny new Rosary.
Many of you (almost 10,000) are in the same place; you’ve come back from LTND, a Steubenville conference, or a week at camp and God’s rocked your face off. The question in the back of your minds, though, is ‘what now?’ From one summer alumni to another, here’s my advice on how to put that Catholic leadership into practice.
Daily Mass. Go to Mass as often as you can; find a local parish that has it and go! Early morning, noon, evening – whenever. The grace of going to Mass more (even if you can’t make it daily) is transformational. Go every day for two weeks and I guarantee your relationship with Christ will be changed. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith – make it the summit of each day of your life.
Learn, Learn, Learn. The more you know about your faith, the more you can share about it. Our testimony and relationship are always at the root of our witness, but when we supplement that with knowledge, the results can be powerful. Take time to learn about your patron Saint, or a Papal Encyclical, or even just a part of the faith that personally interests you! We are part of a universal Church, so there’s plenty of room to look around.
Communit-ize. Okay, I know that’s not a word, but it’s still important. We can’t walk the road to Christ alone – we need to take advantage of our Catholic family. Maybe you went to summer events with some other teens from your parish. If you don’t know them that well, it may be an opportunity to develop some solid Catholic friendships. Maybe you do know the kids in your youth group; well, start some real community. It doesn’t have to be anything big or formal… just take the time to get together to share about your faith. Maybe it’s reading a book about the faith together. Maybe you’re just sharing what you need prayers for. Either way, take the time to build up a community of people who can help each other get closer to Christ.
Those are only three small bits of advice – I’m sure you’ll discover more along the way. Use them as a starting point, stay prayed up, and know that I’ll be praying for you.
Peace in Christ