Confirmation/My Faith/Sacraments/Teen Faith “I Didn’t Feel Anything”: Searching For Christ After Confirmation by Jurell Sison I work with hundreds of teens every year and when it comes to confirmation, theres a handful of teens that dive in with their whole heart. They’ve had powerful experiences of God working in their life–so much so that going to confession, mass, and Eucharistic Adoration are at the top of their to do list. But what about the others? Most of the students I teach know the terms and theology, they pray every night but they simply did not experience God like their peers. I can’t tell you how many times a teen comes to me and says, “I didn’t feel anything… I don’t think it worked.” But trust me when I tell you that the Lord is working with you. God works with every person in a unique and mysterious way. And while I don’t have any answers for why you experienced the things that you did, I believe with my whole heart that God is seeking you. God waits for you and yearns for your broken heart because He has the medicine to heal it. So what happens if we don’t encounter God in these life-shattering ways? I’m here to give you three simple ways to continue your quest for a meaningful faith life. TALK TO GOD LIKE A FRIEND In Thessalonians 5:16-18, St. Paul writes “rejoice always, pray unceasingly, give thanks in all circumstances.” You’re not asked to say formal prayers all day. Let’s be real — that would be crazy. Rather, St. Paul begs us to talk to God as our friend. Having grown up as a cradle Catholic I always imagined God in the sky dictating what my life needed to be like. In some instances I thought he was mean and cruel. But over time I began understand God less as a “supreme being” in the sky and more as “mystery itself.” Now suppose for a moment that God who is “mystery itself” — infinite, awesome, and full of love — desires our friendship. This was powerful for me. It was a game-changer in my prayer life. For the first time in my life I experienced a sense of humility and I began to understand that God wasn’t some dude up in the sky but rather an infinite mystery of love that fought for my well-being and my happiness. Slowly, over time my formal prayers became prayers of gratitude. They were honest and authentic conversations with a friend who had my back. And, despite all the terrible things happening in my life, I was still left with God’s countless blessings. These conversations connect us to God more than you’ll ever know. GIVE RETREATS ANOTHER CHANCE Its very possible that you hated the retreat you went on but please give them another chance. Just because the one retreat you went on was “lame” doesn’t mean that all retreats are lame. There are different retreats for everyone and it’s possible that the one you experienced didn’t resonate with your specific personality. However, “It is what it is” and it’s time to move forward. Don’t let a not-so-good experience ruin a great thing. Some retreats are rowdy, filled with crazy activities and some are very reverent. In fact, some retreats are completely silent. Part of this process is to to ask yourself what style of prayer will open your heart most to God’s love and friendship. Why retreats? Because lets face it… you’re searching. We’re all searching. It’s part of our human condition and retreats provide a space for us to reflect, ask hard questions, experience the sacraments in new ways, and to do so with others who are going through similar struggles. Retreats are a crucial part of your journey towards peace and happiness in Christ. Do your best to de-stigmatize the word “retreat” and challenge yourself to move outside your comfort zone. If you’re hungry to experience Christ in powerful ways, do some research on the retreats offered in your diocese and take a leap of faith. Just do it. There is a reason why so many sacrifice their weekends to go on retreats. I’m begging you to give them another chance. GO TO A DAILY MASS Mass? On a day besides Sunday? Yes. Daily mass is different. First of all, its typically much shorter than a Sunday mass. They typically last around 30 minutes. Secondly, many Catholics say it is much more intimate. It’s as if the prayers of those around you are magnified, allowing you to deeply experience its honesty, beauty and Truth. Christian author, Donald Millar, writes, “Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.” Daily mass creates a space for you to open your heart with people that are profoundly in love with Jesus. There’s less distractions, you’re able to focus more on the readings, and the homilies seem much more personal. Many of my students come back to tell me things like, “It seemed like the priest was talking directly to me.” Moreover, every time I walk into a chapel for daily Mass, I feel a different energy. It’s mysteriously reverent. The space is sacred. And let’s be honest, finding a place like this is difficult in today’s culture. To this day, some of my most powerful experiences with Christ happen at daily mass. If you are on a quest for the living Christ, there’s no better way than by participating in these daily Masses. It will give you a new perspective on your Catholic faith and leave you refreshed for the rest of your day. These daily Masses happen multiple times a day at almost every Catholic parish in your diocese. KEEP SHOWING UP Obviously these are not the only things you can do. I simply wanted to provide you with a starting point. But my most important advice is the simplest: keep showing up. God works in mysterious ways and you’ll never come to know the great plans He has for you if your heart isn’t open. Opening up is frightening and takes loads of time and trust so be patient with yourself and trust in the slow work of God. It’s quite impossible for me to know where you are in your faith life but I wouldn’t feel right just letting you off the hook. Why? Because I’ve found so much goodness and beauty in the way of Jesus that it would be wrong of me not to share it. While my faith is something I can’t fully explain, I stand in awe of God’s goodness every day and all I can do is share the ways I have been deeply loved in the midst of my darkest hours. I hope and pray that you discover this same love that so many have found from the love of Jesus Christ. Sisters and brothers, never ever give up. Peace be with you.