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Congrats, EPIC!

Show some love to our EPIC teens; Lizzy O’Driscoll, Sabrina Thompson, and CJ Petetti who recently just received ‘The St. Timothy Award,’ from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia!

The St. Timothy Award, the highest recognition from the National Federation of  Catholic Youth Ministry, is presented to young men or women in their junior or senior year of high  school for outstanding leadership and service to their church and community.  Teens are recognized by the way they live lives as a disciple of Christ, setting a positive example for other youth as witnesses to their faith who exhibit Catholic morals and integrity, demonstrate Gospel values through service to others,  and exhibit Christian leadership in parish, school, and/or community.

Jesus is so proud of you three!

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Mass: A Celebration of Love

Have you ever just wanted to relax yourself and let yourself feel loved? This is such an important desire for us to seek. Sometimes we try to go out with friends, or family, and our boyfriends or girlfriends, and we still don’t feel the love we need to satisfy us. That is why we go to Mass! To hear God’s word tell us how much He loves us.  To receive the Bread of Love: the Eucharist, into our hearts to fill our whole bodies up with DIVINE and HOLY love. To then give that love to our studies, the people we meet, and the one’s we love.

*Watch a few videos here and here 

The Mass is all about you and Jesus –even in a crowd of 100 people, you are the guest of honor when you walk into Mass! Jesus personally heals you, talks to you, and loves you. Wow. God is so amazing!

Tips for a greater experience at Mass…

  • Mass is a “mini-confession”

When the priest welcomes us and says, “let us acknowledge our sins, and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries” remember that you are there because you are imperfect, and trying to become perfect like God, so you need to remember your sinfulness in your mind.

After this the priest says a blessing that removes our venial sins* (A venial sin
is a grossness that you feel after you do the wrong thing,
“I think that was the wrong thing to do”)

So basically, we have a mini-confession during the Mass! Boom!

  • We’re supposed to bring Jesus a gift at Mass!

When the people at Mass take up the gifts of bread and wine to the altar, in our minds we should picture ourselves bringing Jesus our own personal gift.  Our gift does not have to be perfect, in fact, Jesus wants a gift he can SAVE!

So, as if you were walking up with them, say in your heart, “Lord, I offer to you…” (examples include): Your bored/not caring thoughts, relationships, my family members, my best friend, the fight I had with my mom, the struggles I have with anger, my future husband/wife, my heart that is hurt and lonely. THIS IS CALLED YOUR SACRIFICE.

The priest blesses your gifts by the prayers He says when he prays over the bread and wine.  *If the priest uses incense, that holy smoke is supposed to represent your offerings being lifted up (with the smoke) to the Heavens! AWESOME.

Then the priests tells us to stand where he asks us, “Pray, brethren (brothers and sisters), that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.”

  • Open your eyes—God is ALWAYS around you, especially at Mass
  • Get to know the priests, and the people sitting around you. You are a part of a loving community by being welcomed to the Church
  • Go to events outside of Church and CCD (Like EPIC youth group)
  • Look at the crucifix//Pray a little bit of the Rosary in your free time
  • Look at stained glass windows
  • Write a letter to God or take notes during the Homily (yes, even during Mass) so you can pray on it later
  • Simply say, “God, thank you for making me Catholic. Help me to care more.”
  • Say ‘Amen’ like you mean it when you receive the Eucharist

 

 

 

Our Talents = Our Holiness

EPIC had its first ever Talent Show on Sunday, April 15th to showcase all the amazing ways God gifted each one of us! There are a lot of things that make us unique and we are called to use our talents at every moment we feel called to, in order to become holy.

God says if you ignore the holy spirit, you might miss one of the best moments of your life.

Sometimes a lot of us think it’s a humble thing to hide our talents and never use them. WRONG. God says, use your talents because they show off my goodness. When you are doing something you love, you get a taste of my goodness and your actions become a prayer.

  1. If Jesus didn’t use his talents, the catholic church wouldn’t exist.
  2. If Steve jobs didn’t use his talents, you wouldn’t have an iphone.
  3. If you didn’t use YOUR talents… what might happen?

When we look up to someone, and admire what they are good at, you get to see the beauty of God. When you’re attracted to something, or a certain lifestyle (singing, animals, speeches, flying planes, nature, etc) that means God is trying to talk to you THROUGH that. He wants you to REFLECT His love for you through it. 

How can my talent show God’s Love?

How can I ask God to love others, or myself through each action?

  1. Francis Of Assissi gave homilies to the local birds because He saw God’s beauty in them
  2. Therese of Lisieux loved roses and said she will send them to people as a sign of God’s love
  3. Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati loved hiking and nature and said “the higher you climb, the greater you can hear the voice of God.”
  4. Mother Theresa saw God’s love reflected in the faces of the poor.
  5. Where do you see god reflected? What is meaningful to you?


    The saints were not holy not because they lived in a church, but because they loved God and others in their own unique way. 
     

Your call is to becomes the particular saint God created YOU to be, not to be a copy of another Saint. Where do we start? 

We start by inspiring ourselves with courage to do what we love

With that, we choose to love God above everything else. 

When we get older, we will look at the problems of the world today, the challenges of society, and respond to them. 

Ask yourself: “What is my path to holiness?” And “What is God calling me to do?” 

“What is my road to heaven?”

 Talent Show highlights here 🙂 

“To be a Saint means to be yourself.” -Thomas Merton

The Beauty of Confession

“Some people say they don’t want to go to confession because it’s humiliating, but really, sin is humiliating, it makes us less than what we really are. Confession is humbling.” -Jason Evert

Confession is a gift. It is better than any expensive gift wrapped in pretty wrapping paper, which is ironic because sometimes it does not feel too “pretty.” We are welcome to receive this gift as often as possible.

When Jesus spent His time on Earth, He knew there needed to be a new way for His grace to really shine in us. And those graces come when we walk into the sacrament of confession, put on knee’s on the kneeler, bow our heads and say, “Bless me, Father. I have sinned.”

Your sins are not “news” to God. He was there when you chose not to follow His ways and sin. But, one of the most important things to keep in mind is that sin is not “doing the wrong thing,” sin is breaking your relationship with God.

When we hurt our friends or family, we feel distant from them. We don’t have a desire to talk to them, and we don’t even want to be around them. It takes a lot of courage to finally say, “can we talk about what happened and make things right?” Usually a lot of talking is said, and then the two people forgive each other and work on making the relationship good again. This is what confession does for you and Jesus.

This is NORMAL. This is GOOD. This is how relationships work, ladies and gentleman! This means you are learning how to love better. You’re discovering what kind of relationships mean more to you, which ones are worth holding onto. Sometimes we don’t want to make things right with a person, and that’s okay, but we are always called to make things right with God because He is perfect for us.

Check out the short video on the Welcome! page. In it, Catholic Speaker, Johnette Benkovic says, “If people utilized this sacrament, we would see a completely different world!” And she is right because people would feel free, happier, friendlier, and more forgiving. We would know what God’s love feels like better, and we would give that same love to others.

“It’s experiencing that joy of Christ’s presence and his mercy and starting over.” –Leah Darrow

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“The greater the sinner, the more deserving they are of my mercy.”

“Our sins are a grain of sand beside the mountain of His mercies.” -Jesus to St. Faustina

If you haven’t been, I encourage you to go.  If you’ve been in the last month, I encourage you to go.  Remember, at confession you’re not only forgiven, you’re changed. You see the world, your friends, and family in a better and more beautiful way.

It takes the weight off your shoulders! Maybe now you’re thinking, “wow that’s too good to be true…”  WELL, guess what, Jesus bought for us (at the price of His blood) the right to bring to Earth something too good to be true.

To understand what your sins are and how to make a good confession, check out the examination of conscience on the Resources page. (Parents, if you are looking for a good examination, click here)

“No matter how far you’ve been or what you’ve done, Jesus is waiting for you.”

Jesus didn’t die on the cross for you to be miserable, but for you to be free, loved, and healed.

Count on Jesus for EVERYTHING and “believe that you have already received it” -Mark 11:24

GO GET HEALED, I AM!

Stations of the Cross

For those that missed last Sunday’s event (or want a refresher) the Stations of the Cross are prayers you meditate on to better understand how God literally showed you how to get through the tough times in life and to know that He Himself went through what you went through (and worse).  Here He proves He loves you more than you know.

God’s #1 priority–God’s absolute favorite ‘daytime hobby’–is rescuing you from your misery, sadness, and sin. We can’t see this clearly because original sin has lowered our ability to trust God. That’s okay though, God never tires of spending His days trying to prove to you how much He loves and wants you (open your eyes, and find who and what shows you this).

BUT remember: love is hard work. There is nothing “cute” and “sweet” about Jesus’ time enduring the Passion.  Stations of the cross show us that love is an ability and a strength more than a “giddy” feeling.  So don’t expect anything that you love to come easy.

“The suffering makes the performance.”

Identify one of the Stations that you feel like you are going through at this moment and let it speak to you more. Whatever one is popping out at you, take it to personal prayer. Write about it, and talk to God about it. Then imagine Jesus actually going through it and relate it to how you are (or have) gone through it.  Ask God to meet you at your station, teach you something about it, and give you the graces to be brave, strong, and heal.

Prayers for you all!! ♥

Stations Meditations here

Stations questions for you below…

First Station: Jesus is Sentenced to Death
Here Jesus practiced being humble
Do I ignore people at school or work? Do I ignore the person that no one talks to?    Do I get bullied or humiliated in front of other people when I didn’t do anything wrong?    Do I feel ashamed for loving Jesus sometimes? Am I afraid to stand up for Him in public?

Second Station: Jesus Carries His Cross
Here Jesus showed us how much He wants to help us carry the weight of our problems
Do I forget that Jesus carried the weight of my problems? Do I thank Him for it, and invite Him to help me?  What kind of worries, fears, and sadness do I have?

How can I thank Jesus? Going to mass, praying more, helping others.

Third Station: Jesus Falls the First Time
Jesus shows us it’s okay to fall and mess up
Was there a time I felt like I was failing in life? Do I ever feel like I can’t get back up?  What temptations to give up do I face?  Do I try to do what everyone else is doing, or am I a leader?  Do I have hope that Jesus wants to help me?

Fourth Station: Jesus meets His Mother
Here Jesus reminds us how much Mary loves us and wants to help us
Do I experience loneliness? Do I remember that Mary wants to help bring me to her son?

Sometimes our own parents and friends don’t understand what we are going through, but there is always a mother in Heaven who is willing to help us, and knows what it is like to be lonely.

Fifth Station:  Simon helps Jesus carry His Cross
Jesus shows us how important it is to have a great friend because we can’t do things alone

Do I have a friend who helps me during my hard times? Do I ignore others who need help and just stand in the crowd and think “someone else will do it?”  Do I let what others think about me stop me from reaching out to others? Am I afraid that others will make fun of me weaknesses?

Do I need a friend? Pray for one.

Sixth Station: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
Jesus shows us the greatness and beauty in a woman’s loving heart.

Do I respect others? Do I respect myself? Do I take care of myself? Do I just do things that make me happy and no one else? Veronica had courage to love Jesus and treat Jesus differently than everyone else—do I do the same to others?

Ladies: Does the way I live inspire men and dignify them, or cause them to sin?
Gentlemen: Does the way I view or look towards women give me strength or lead me to sin?

Seventh Stations: Jesus falls the SECOND time
Jesus shows us it’s okay to fall again, to be weak, and to ask God to give strength
Do I fail to follow through on my promises? Do I lie to the people I care about? Do I remember to be faithful even when I fail? Do I let embarrassment stop me from being myself?

Jesus was the Son of God. Even He fell during the hard times.

Eighth Station: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
Jesus told us the only thing to be scared of in life is living without Him

Jesus told these women “do not weep for me” because he said they should weep for them self because they might not be doing anything moral, and that is more sad than Him dying. He told them “you need to get yourself, and your friends, to Heaven.”

Death, hurt, brokenness, and fear isn’t the scariest thing in the world. Life without Jesus is the scariest thing in the world.

Do the things I watch, listen to, or do lead me away from Jesus? Have I allowed the words of the Gospel to have influence in my heart? Do I know I’m doing things that are wrong, and still doing them?

Ninth Station: Jesus falls for the THIRD time
This time, He shows us how heavy our hurts and sins gets when we don’t seek the help we need 

It’s almost the finish line for Jesus but He is just so exhausted. Do I give up when it’s hard?  Was it my sin that became too heavy that Jesus fell a third time?   Why do I still struggle to follow Jesus’ commandments? What am I afraid of?

Do I need to go to confession?

Tenth Station: Jesus is Stripped of His Garments
Jesus’ dignity was robbed as they humiliated him, but shows us God knows what’s on this inside is more beautiful than the outside. No one can “strip” your loving heart the way they tear your clothes. 

Do I judge others by the way they look or what they’re wearing? Do I think my self worth comes from the clothes I wear, and my good looks?  Do I look on the inside of others and try to understand what they are going through

Do I only have a “crush” on the guys and girls who are good looking, or do I try to find someone who has a good heart and loves Jesus?

Eleventh Station: Jesus is nailed to the Cross
He loves you enough to face this awful “punishment”

Am I angry that all this happened to Jesus? Do I realize that Jesus did this to prove to me that He wants to forgive me and set me free?

Jesus died for you knowing you might never love him back. What does that mean to you?

Twelfth Station: Jesus dies on the Cross
Jesus said, “it is finished.”  Which really means, “You are saved, my love.” 

“Jesus, help me never forget your love for me. Help me to know that you died for me. Fill me with comfort in knowing that I never suffer anything you don’t understand.”

Thirteenth Station: Jesus is taken down from the Cross
When it feels like there is no hope, Jesus keeps us waiting and trusting for the victory. 

Even for Mary, all hope seems gone. She never stopped turning to the Father to help her, though.  Do I turn to God when I loose hope?

Fourteenth Station: Jesus is placed in the tomb
Jesus reminds us that we have to learn how to let God be bigger than death because He conquered it.

How many times has death felt like the end? When I’ve lost a loved one it can be so hard to remember your victory. How often do I miss the opportunities to say, “I love you’ to those special people in my life? Do my family and friends know how I feel about them?

Nothing makes Jesus happier than turning to him and saying….

Jesus,  I love you, I need you, and I trust you.
Amen. 

How Can I Love Others More?

The holy season on Lent is two weeks in!  14 of the 40 days are complete.

How is your progress?

I was chatting with a friend and he said the enthusiasm of Lent is fading, “I feel like I lost the fire I had a week ago.”

I agreed.

Lent is that time of “spring-cleaning.” Here we clean out our hearts. Cleaning our hearts from our obsession with bad habits and overusing things, or from our selfishness.  It is also a time for clarification.  Clarification opens our eyes to understanding our purpose to reach our full potential.

The Church is looking out for us! The Church is an amazing friend because she dedicates to us 40 days in the year to remind us that we are made for unique greatness and deep love.  So put aside (give up) distractions you have and be a better friend, son, daughter, employee, and lover of Christ!

Lent isn’t about “giving up” something for nothing.  It is the time to pause and think to yourself; “Who am I”?  And “What is God planning for me?”

Just like my friend pointed out, the journey feels a bit harder. Anything worth doing is hard. Hard work is a reminder that wherever there is denial, temptation, and trial, there is a great reward.

The reward is this; a deeper way to discover who you are, and to uncover the plan God has chosen for you through sacrificing your body.

This might mean to give more of yourself, your time, and your money. It might mean working on yourself, going to confession, stopping bad habits, or letting others help you.

The Cross of Jesus shows us that without sacrifice love means nothing.

I challenged EPIC to pick a specific person to dedicate their Lent to.  I told them to think of a relationship they can make even better than it was two weeks ago.  You could have picked a friend, family, member, future spouse, current girl/boyfriend, or even yourself.  For forty days, this sacrifice of great love for that person will change your heart (and their’s)!

It is a bit overwhelming and hard.  It seems impossible.  That’s why we distract ourselves from getting deeper into prayer or mass and we put confession aside.

Remember that God wants to heal your heart. He wants it because it was made to be loved, not broken.  The more we give to God our broken heart, our gross habits, negative thoughts, bad relationships, or selfish ideas, and instead practice ways to love greater, we end up the happiest we could ever be.

Jesus’ joy was so attractive and so strong because He spent His whole life loving others. He spent His whole life showing divine, heavenly love to the world.

So when we feel the desire to live heavenly love with our friends we are participating in the unique ways God reveals to us who we are.  The Saints all had different personalities, interests, and desires.  What they had in common was that they always showed God’s love to the world by doing what God called them to do. 

Mother Theresa helped the poor. St. Gianna Molla was a doctor who loved her patients, and loved her husband and children.  St. Therese prayed for people who traveled because she never got to.

No saint ever lived a miserable life!

Jesus’ temptation in the desert is a holy time—not a punishment from Our Good Father.  Don’t start to think Lent is hard because you’re being punished, you’re not!  The Holy Spirit gave you the desire to be better, and now the Spirit is leading you to the path that helps you achieve that.

When you’re tried, tested, and tempted, you’re pushed to the edge of true greatness and find out if you can do it or not.  Jesus felt the deepest temptations we feel and knew how much things take us away and distract us from our mission to love others.

What would you do for you friend if you knew they were going through a hard time?

You’d be motivated to help them.

What motivated Jesus to get out of the desert, say no to Satan, and not eat any food?  You.  Jesus had YOU and your happiness as His motivation to get through the desert.  He knew you’d go through a hard time and wanted to help.

Increase your ability to love, my friends!  Check out the Resources page for ideas.  Examine your conscience. Read the Bible. Fast from gossip. Tell a friend how special he/she is with a note. Make your family cookies.

Know of my love and prayers for you all,

-Shannon ♥