Blog/My Faith/Teen Faith I Think I Want a Relationship with Jesus… Now What? by Meredith Kelly “To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement.” -St. Augustine Does any of this ring a bell? You have just returned from a youth camp or retreat. You’ve met a group of amazing and genuine people who share your passion for Christ and His Church, you’re a part of three group chats that operate 24/7, and you’re the proud owner of a new t-shirt. Exhausted but thrilled, you return home. Bubbling over with emotions and excitement, you share all the details of your time at camp with your friends and family. Several eager questions and thoughts float through your mind: “How will I put this excitement to good use? How do I chase Christ? I want to know Jesus better. I need to know Him better.” The desire for a relationship with Jesus is an excellent thing; it is the realization that all our desires—great and small — can only be fulfilled in Him. The longing you may be experiencing can be the first step of a journey for seeking truth. He only asks that you seek Him and cooperate with his efforts to sanctify you. But that can seem like a daunting mission. How do we answer the call of our Creator to deeper union with Him? Have courage, dear heart! It’s a beautiful journey, one that we are all called to. Below, I’ve included a few ideas for keeping the spark. I hope they will serve as a guide for your journey. Journal Just as every existing flame needed a spark, some truth sparked your experience at camp. Whatever that truth is, write it down and journal about why it resonated with your soul. Whether it be the Wounds of Jesus, the Eucharist, a quote from one of the saints, the Blessed Virgin’s faithfulness, or Holy Hour, write it down. Later, if you find your faith in need of re-kindling, you can reflect upon the doctrine that kindled it in the first place. The truth will ring true even if your feelings fade. Once you have identified the truth upon which you want to reflect, research it. Learn the Church’s teaching on the subject, read the letters of the church fathers, and study Scripture. Pray Prayer is a powerful weapon and a reminder of the greatness of God and our necessity for Him. To communicate with the One beyond Time and Space is a mind-boggling idea. Even more amazing is that He desires that we be in communion with Him. Even still, it can be hard to find the words to pray. Pray anyways. Admit to God that you sometimes cannot know the words to pray but praise Him as Lord and Redeemer nonetheless. God sees you struggle to pray and loves you for striving to be near Him. When you pray, let your heart say, “Lord, work within me and make me the creature you want me to be. Take my heart and make it yours.” He longs to answer that request. Stay Connected No man is an island, and neither are you. God has created us to be social and to crave connection, which is a beautiful thing. Being a Catholic can be difficult in today’s world. Some of the Church’s teachings are beautifully counter-cultural, and you may feel like the odd one out sometimes. That is why it’s so important to have a circle of friends who share your faith and strengthen you on the journey. So, stay in contact with the friends you met at camp! This communication can take many forms: text, phone calls, chats over coffee, Skype, Instagram, Snapchat, the list goes on. Attend Mass If you want to strengthen your faith and discover the real meaning of a relationship with Jesus, attending Mass is a must. The most intimate union in the history of the universe is in the Eucharist, bringing us into the Body of Christ in a very real way. Mass reminds us of the sacrifice Christ made and the glory and enchanting beauty of the world to come. Going to Mass is like seeing a glimpse of Heaven, awakening the soul to God’s reality and uniting us with the saints and angels who are present at every Mass, watching with awe and trembling. Serve Others, Serve Jesus Jesus said, “And in response, the King shall say to them, ‘Amen I say to you, whenever you did this for one of these, the least of my brothers, you did it for me’” (Matthew 25:40). Serving others is not just a humanitarian effort; it is a way to serve Jesus and grow in holiness. By serving others, you show the selfless love of Jesus to the least of us and act as a mirror reflecting His Glory. But where to start? You could speak with your youth chaplain or priest and ask about opportunities to serve in your parish and community. If you are passionate about a certain cause, maybe you could start a service group for it. Read In the words of St. Jerome, “when we read, God speaks to us.” We can’t love someone we don’t know, and this applies to God. Reading Scripture and Catholic writings is a fantastic way to learn about Him. Spiritual reading can help shed light on the attributes of God and Catholicism that we may not have considered. Some books to help you grow in faith are The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton, Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales, Confessions by St. Augustine, Theology of the Body by Pope St. John Paul II, and Loved As I Am by Sr. Miriam James Heidland. Happy reading! Last but Not Least, Receive Jesus in the Sacraments In His Infinite Mercy, Christ has given us the Sacraments as channels by which we can access His Grace. Yes, going to Confession and attending weekly Mass can be tiresome sometimes, especially when we don’t feel like doing it, but the wells of grace that spring from their practice far outweigh any inconvenience. If you haven’t participated in the Sacraments in a while, take heart in the fact that Jesus delights in the lost sheep that returns home, and He is waiting with love for your reconciliation. The key to keeping your faith, even after the “feels” pass, is by seeking Jesus. Allow Him to breathe His breath of life into you through prayer and contemplation, so you can go out and bear good fruit. Go forth and spread His Kingdom and may the Joy of Christ be with you.