Blog/CYM Blog Gold or Nothing! by Tricia Tembreull So, I might have reached Olympic exhaustion by sitting on my couch every single night the past two weeks. It is difficult work to sit, watch, and cheer on athletes who have trained tirelessly for their entire lives. It’s my American duty to cheer on my country, and I have to say, I rose to the occasion at a gold medal level. But now, I’m done for… completely. I have been watching athletes who disciplined themselves in every way possible – body, mind, and spirit – while I was the least disciplined person on earth. They inspired me by the trails they have faced, the injuries they have physically and mentally overcome, and the long hours of training only to remain seated in my yoga clothes not sweating a drop. How many of us will get inspired by the Olympians only to stay stagnant in our spiritual journey, our physical laziness, and the mental limitations we place on ourselves? If we allow our Father in heaven to become our personal trainer and give us the kick in the butt we need, we will endure the trails that lie ahead. Maybe this is the year we allow God to work on us in a radical way. Just like a good workout will leave us sore, God wants to stretch us, discipline us, and strengthen us at our core, where we need it most. Allow me to propose a spiritual workout regimen for my fellow brothers and sisters in ministry, inspired by today’s readings. The Isaiah Stretch Before any workout, it is good to stretch your muscles. Isaiah 66:18 reminds us that the Lord has come, “to gather nations of every language.” When I was at my second parish, I was pushed in a way I never thought I would be. It was a metaphoric combination of hot yoga, palates, and a Bare class that overextended ministry muscles I didn’t even know I had in me. I was blessed with a very multi-cultural community complete with the most incredible Philippine, Vietnamese, Spanish, and Anglo brother and sisters in Christ. To gather nations of every language in the youth ministry and confirmation programs I had to reach out and listen to every culture, recruit Core Team members from every community, and give a voice to each person. One of the beauties of serving in a “Universal Church” is that we all hold the same truths to be sacred. There is nothing that should divide us since we celebrate the same Mass, sometimes in different languages. But what we have in common is the Church. So stretch out your arms to every community, young and old, at your parish in the year ahead and get ready to welcome more teens than you every have into the arms of Christ. Psalm Workout Walking is probably one of the best workouts for your body to help get your heart rate up. Psalm 117 challenges us to, “Go out to all the world and tell the Good News!” You know what this means don’t you? Pokemon Go? It could mean that, but what I believe it is telling us is to put on some running shoes and get out of our office! Put on your ministry Fit-Bit and get in your steps, but while you are doing that, go where your teens are and tell them the Good News Jesus has for their lives. Don’t just go where you have always gone to encounter teens either. Create a new running route, go to a different Starbucks, attend a different sporting event, or visit a different high school and strive to reach ALL the teens who attend your parish. Hebrew Weight Lifting When you want to mold your muscles into a six-pack or get rid of that flab under your arms, you have to lift weights. Hebrews tests us to lift more than we think we can lift and, “endure your trails as discipline,” not so we are in pain, but so we can, “bring the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:7, 11) This year will bring you trails you will not be ready for personally, spiritually, and in ministry. However, if you are fervent in prayer, disciplined in the sacraments, and living a virtuous life worthy of heaven, you will be able to take on the trails that come your way with Christ at your core. What might your daily weight lifting routine with God look like? Getting up 15 minutes earlier to pray Liturgy of the hours in the morning Attending daily Mass Not gossiping about ministry to staff, Core, family, or friends Confession monthly Scheduling time with a spiritual director Gospel of Luke – Gold is the Only Option “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.” (Luke 13:24) When I first read this, I immediately pictured all the Olympians on the medal stand receiving gold, silver, or bronze medals. The reality is, we are striving for the Gold medal version of ourselves and striving to bring as many teens up on the podium of heaven with us. Silver is like purgatory and bronze is last place, so you know where the Hades that will place us. Just like the person in the Gospel who asked, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” we compare ourselves with others verses trying to be the best and holiest person God has designed us to be. We must first mentally believe we are worthy of heaven, and then we must strive for Gold. Through physical, emotional, and spiritual discipline we have the ability to make a daily decision to follow God and God alone. Like every athlete that broke my heart in the most glorious way this week, the heavenly Kingdom must be our Olympic Village. We must strive to enter the narrow gate, for behold, “some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” Are you willing to make this the year you mold your spiritual and physical body to be an Olympian worthy of heaven? That will be my prayer for you as you start this new school year.