Romans 15:13

“Rycon season” [Regional Youth Conference] is notorious for being one of the busiest times of the year, and maybe even considered the most hectic time. This year was no different for me. With all the last minute preparation for competitions and my service role in YCOM (Youth Communications) on the documentation team this year, I felt as though I had spread myself thin, as being a senior in high school was already giving me a difficult time.

 

The prior weeks leading up to Rycon were filled with service team meetings, and weekly tests and quizzes, all while trying to balance my school work, family life, extra curricular activities and all the efforts that came with being a high school senior in their last few weeks of school. I was losing motivation to do things I loved because I was  overwhelmed with so many things. I was constantly having self doubts and feelings of loneliness throughout my journey to Rycon. I hurt a lot during the weeks leading up to the big event and my mind was constantly filled with things that were not bringing me closer to Christ and readying my heart for the upcoming weekend. I was too prideful to let anyone help me in my time of need and let go of things i could not handle on my own.

 

The last few days before Rycon were the hardest days in a while. I was struggling with being accountable for myself and those around which led to me disappointing myself over and over again. My appearance at Rycon was just to fulfill the service roles I had committed to. I really did not expect anything from this event. I thought to myself, “I have been to five of these Rycons already, I’ve seen it.” After my service role on the documentation team, I was ready to leave. When I first arrived, I was already tired. I headed to the sea of pink in the lobby of Chandos Pattison Auditorium to sign in. It brightened my day to see so many faces of my beloved cluster – East Cluster! I was able to see people from the region who I have not seen in a long time as well. After awhile of waiting, we were allowed into the venue and began with the rosary and mass. My service role had not yet started so I was able to participate in the sacrament of the Eucharist. In mass, I really asked the Lord to open my heart because I knew how closed off I was. I waited patiently throughout the event for Christ to answer me.

 

Opening worship and the opening remarks began after mass and so did my service role. I had always admired the service YCOM have in the community and I was pleased to be part of the “servants of servants.”  I got to watch creative competitions from a different perspective – from behind a lens. It was different to be part of the background action, but it was humbling and such a joy to see each cluster fully and genuinely support their clusters. I also got to compete for East Cluster’s senior band. I had not sung in front of a crowd of people in a very long time but I was honoured to perform with such talented people who want to impress Christ just as much as I wanted to!

 

The night continued with our first session of the weekend. It was title “Road Map” and led by Ariel Bejer, one of my greatest inspirations. She reminded us that we are Heaven bound and our journey home to Heaven is an exciting one! We are made to meet our maker, the lover of our souls, a God who continually spoils us. To continue our journey, we must be homesick for Heaven. As I was sitting alone, I was able to give time to myself and reflect on the state of my heart. Through this session, I was inspired by Ariel’s kind words and this was where I began to open my heart to the lessons I was going to learn throughout the weekend. The session ended with a beautiful creative where the lyrics to Moana’s “How Far I’ll Go” were changed to reflect the journey we are all taking to our Home, Heaven. Day 1 of Rycon ended with closing worship where I was able to experience it by myself at the back of the auditorium. I got to witness Pacific Region as a whole, worshiping the Lord with their whole beings, and it was a beautiful sight.

 

As I arrived for the second day of the event, I settled into the auditorium to reflect some more and ready myself for the Holy Rosary and the Eucharist. After the mass, we went into opening worship and the chant for the weekend. I was assigned to begin taking photos throughout the chant portion. I was able to witness the genuine joy and contentment of all the clusters united as one.  It was a blessing being able to capture the unforgettable memories. As the chant portion came to a close, the rest of the competitions for the event were about to begin. Throughout the day, I was doing my best at taking photos of all the joyous and momentous occasions. From seeing my counterpart, Josh Leopoldo, do his long awaited poetry slam, to cheering on all the East Cluster teams I encountered, even playing basketball for the first time in forever, and meeting youth from all over Pacific Region, I was filled with immense amounts of joy. Though my heart was weary and heavy at times, I was continually being filled with the light of Christ from even the littlest things.

 

The day proceeded and the workshops for the day began. I was placed in the “One” workshop, which was led by Ralph Aguila, Erwin Fung and Peter Byun, and focused on the Holy Spirit. I really needed this workshop because I did not realize how little I knew about the Holy Spirit. I was reminded that I cannot reduce the Holy Spirit and He is what He is. The Holy Spirit has so much power. They had explained that our words, as humans, come with so much power, so how much more significant are the words of the Holy Spirit, God’s breath of life, the giver of my life. The workshop ended with a simple worship, of me telling God I love Him, and promising that I will be home one day!

 

After this workshop, it was time for session 2, “Crossroads,” led by Diane Dimacali. She went over how the devil tries to mess with our journey. The devil wants us to get lost in him, to pursue something not of Christ and never return home to Christ. His scheme is to make us live in isolation and fear, away from the beautiful things in the world, because everything that is beautiful contains the Holy Spirit. Diane reminded us that we are made to go back to Christ, as broken as we are, because “It’s beautiful when the eyes of the lover meet the eyes of the beloved.” At the end of the session, we were to meet with our Journey Partner. Everyone who attended Rycon was paired with someone from another cluster and they would be known and one’s “Journey Partner”. My Journey Partner was a very special sister named, Camille Dansereau, from North Cluster, who would soon become a source of great encouragement in my life. I really did not expect to develop such a supportive relationship with a stranger so quickly. We did activities with our partner and became vulnerable to one another. It was so easy for me to talk to her. We had figured out how alike we are and that we were going through very similar struggles. It was through this conversation that I had realized how much support I actually have. I had been struggling in my lonesome for so long. Camille really helped open my heart and brought an immense amount of light into it. We set a common prayer time so that we would be able to pray with and for one another, despite the distance between us, we would be connected through our love for God. I am forever grateful for her.

 

We returned to the auditorium after our activity with our partners and settled in. Surprisingly, we were given the chance to have adoration. The Holy Spirit really filled the room and the hearts of the faithful. I have only been to adoration a few times in my life and I have never really had a very fruitful experience, until this time. I looked up to the cross and began to cry, for I was so unworthy to be in front of His majesty. I was weak and in pain and I did not want Him to see me that way. Throughout the event, the Lord answered my prayer. I asked Him to open my heart to His love but He did it little by little, rather than all at once. I heard Him tell me, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). It was here where I realized how I was the only one not letting myself be joyful and have a peace of heart and mind. During adoration, I let Christ love me.  I had finally gotten the silence I needed for so long so I could hear the Holy Spirit talking to me. I decided to be joyful in all that I was going through because God is on my side! This is also where the verse “God is within her, she will not fall” (Psalm 46:5) became very important to me. This time in adoration was one of those things that I never knew I needed it until I found it, and it has been beautiful.

 

After adoration was over, we went straight into our third and final session of the event. It was entitled “Journey Onward” and was led by Angelo Casiano. In this session, he mentioned our continuous journey with Christ, and how incredible it is. We are all saints in the making, because God desires sainthood for us, moving forward with pure intention in the right direction. Angelo told us the story of Blessed Chiara Luce Badano where she exclaimed, “I suffered a lot but my soul was singing” and ever since I heard that, I have strove to see the joy in suffering. I am joyful because I know that God has more dreams for me than there are stars in the sky, the stars He even dreamed for me.

 

After the session, Sean Santos took the stage to lead the region in praise fest. I was surrounded by my household and my cluster, and though I had no room to move and it was really hot, I was so comfortable. I was comfortable because I was with my loved ones, and we are all on our way home – together! I had the chance to to pray and surrender with my life giving friends and it was one of my highlights, because no matter how different we are, we’re all working together and lifting each other up.

 

After praise fest was the awards ceremony and I am so honoured to be part of East Cluster, such talented beings! I am proud of all that we were able to accomplish, with and for God! I got to spend time with my households and people I have not seen in a very long time and they continually carried Christ’s light into my life. This Rycon has reminded me that God is with me until the end of age.

 

My name is Arden Medina, I am a unit head from the chapter of East 2, God is within me, I will not fail!


Arden Medina – East 2 Unit Head | CFC-Youth Pacific Region

Awakened Spirit

jour·ney

ˈjərnē/

noun

noun: journey; plural noun: journeys

  1. a long and often difficult process of personal change and development.

 

Out of all the different definitions of the word Journey, the one noted above stood out to me the most. A journey is not just travelling from one place to another, but also an internal journey; an emotional and spiritual odyssey. At this year’s Regional Youth Conference (RYC), I was able to continue mine.

 

In the months leading up to RYC, I was having an incredibly hard time with everything. School. Work. Family. Friends. Service. God. Juggling all these responsibilities and commitments was extremely difficult and I reached a very low point in my life. I was so close to giving up and in some ways, I think I did. Instead of learning to prioritize and take things on one at a time, I dropped everything. For weeks on end, I isolated myself, deciding to run from everything instead of facing my problems. I was lost.

 

I came to my senses when I realized that if I continued what I was doing to myself, the possibility of not graduating would become a reality. In an attempt to avoid the shame I would feel from disappointing my family, I turned my focus back to school and everything that I had been pushing away, except one, the Lord. Ironically, looking back at it now, I somehow turned my focus back on everything except the one that I should’ve started with in the first place. It had been a long road but my journey was just beginning.

 

RYC opened my eyes to everything that I had been missing in the past few months. In my toughest moments, when I felt like I was going nowhere, I often asked Him, “Why am I here?” Coincidentally, that was one of the questions that our session 1 speaker had asked us. “Why are we here?” We are here because we are made Heaven-bound. Heaven is where we belong. In that first session, God proved to me that I had a purpose, that I wasn’t the useless and irrelevant person I thought I was. He brought me here for a reason. Romans 8:18 tells us that our present sufferings are nothing compared to the glory that will be revealed to us in Heaven. My purpose is to get to Him. I’ve learned that in moments that I feel lost, I need not to sulk in sadness as He is my road map. He is our road map. God has written eternity in our hearts and has laid out His purpose for each and every one of us.

 

In my journey to heaven, of course there are crossroads. There are moments that will attempt to hinder me from reaching my destination. There exists sin and temptation. In my state of spiritual dryness and isolation, I had been in search for other things, more specifically material things, in order to be satisfied. I’ve come to realize that rest and satisfaction, I can only find in Him. I often forget that God is an extraordinary God who knows me better that I know myself and who loves me better than I love myself. Two years ago, when I chose to accept Christ into my life again, I made a covenant, a promise, with Him. As with any relationship, it is a 2-way street. God is continuously pursuing my heart, and in return, I should also continue to pursue Him.

 

Something different in this year’s RYC was having a journey partner. We were randomly assigned a partner and through prayer, we journeyed together. I was blessed with a beautiful sister who, coincidentally, was going through some of the same struggles. We were able to open up to each other and in our discussion, she radiated Christ. Through my journey partner, God ensured me that I was not alone; that I will never be alone. I have Him and I have brothers and sisters around me who, if I just open my mind and my heart, will continually bring Christ’s light to me.

 

Padre Pio once said “How unbearable is pain when suffered far from the Cross, but how sweet and bearable it becomes when it is offered close to the Cross of Jesus”. In my journey onward, I’ve learned to be more trusting as He is actively planning out my map, my adventure towards Heaven. At this point in my life, after my experiences at RYC, taking the road less traveled, continuing to love even when it’s difficult and finding comfort and peace in God’s providence is what I am called to do. The journey ahead is long, difficult and requires a lot of personal changes but, similar to when Jesus gave the disciples the great commission in Mathew 28:16-20, He is surely “with [me] always, to the very end of the age”. Knowing Him, I have nothing left to fear.


Patricia Delos Santos – East 2 Household Head | CFC-Youth Pacific Region

To Save a Life

Over the years, the topic of abortion has continued to be a topic of extreme dissension and controversy in an increasingly secular world. Nowadays, a stigma has grown around people who proclaim themselves as either “pro-life” or “pro-choice”. Members of both parties are often subject to judgemental questions about their opinions and beliefs; not simply pertaining to fetal rights on its own but rather what this belief implies about their moral standing and character.

 

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you” – Jeremiah 1:5

 

In the Church’s eyes, to be “pro-life” is to see “human life [as] sacred from the first moment of its existence and not under the control of any human being” (CCC 2270). The YOUCAT asserts that “from [its] earliest beginnings an unborn human being is a separate person, and no one can infringe upon [its] rights, not the State, not the doctor, and not even the mother” (YOUCAT 383). Christoph Cardinal Schőnborn stated that, “everything you need to know about abortion is in the Fifth Commandment: thou shalt not kill”. Personally, I believe that to be pro-life is to uphold the sanctity of life in all its forms, whether it be the tiniest, most vulnerable embryo to the fully grown, elderly lady living in a lonely care home.

The primary argument of pro-life advocates is that every human has a right to life, and therefore an embryo, as a defenseless human being, is unjustly killed through abortion. This is why they are “pro-life” advocates, because they support the promotion of life and are against abortion. The pro-choice counter-argument to this is that it falls under the mother’s right to choose (hence “pro-choice”) whether she goes through with a pregnancy. Pro-choice advocates also argue that if abortion is made illegal, expecting mothers will attempt to end their pregnancy through more dangerous, and possibly lethal, means.

From a Catholic standpoint, the key issue with contraceptives and abortifacients is that they bestow the power to give and withhold life, which in actuality, should belong to the Father alone. God is the source of all life and using contraceptives or deciding to abort implies that the person in question is greater than the Father.

 

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” – Psalm 139:13-14

 

My first experience with the pro-life movement was with my high school’s Reverence for Life Club in grade 10. Honestly, at the time I understood the basics of what it was to be pro-life (thanks Catholic school!), but I also had no grasp of the urgency and gravity of the situation. Also, I mostly joined because members got to go to Victoria for the annual March for Life and going to Victoria (and missing class!) with my friends sounded like a really fun time. I have obviously learned more about the issue since grade 10, and in that time, I’ve learned a lot more about fetal rights and ways that I can advocate for the unborn in my daily life. So don’t feel intimidated or inadequate, there’s always opportunity to learn and better yourself!

 

One way that we, as Catholic youth, can defend the right to life for the unborn is to attend March for Life. March for Life is an annual rally protesting abortion that takes place, for those of us in the Pacific Region, here in Victoria, B.C. People of all ages come together to publicly, peacefully, and prayerfully advocate for the voiceless victims of abortion. The agenda is not to coerce anyone into changing their minds but instead to lovingly begin a conversation, to discover the reasons behind our beliefs so that, together, we may come to an understanding.

Take heart, being an advocate is never going to be an easy task and it will frequently force you into situations and conversations far from your comfort zone, but the fight for the right to live is always worth it.

 


Genie Sequeira – South Cluster Advocacy Head | CFC-Youth Pacific Region

Homebound

This year’s Regional Youth Conference will be my 6th one and my heart can barely contain its excitement! The theme, Journey, immediately brought me into a state of reflection where the Lord revealed to me three things:

 

  1. In our personal journeys, Jesus meets us where we are at and calls us to something greater.

In last Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 24:13-35), we see two distraught men walking to Emmaus in order to flee the sorrow in Jerusalem. In the midst of their walk, Jesus meets them, consoles them and at the end of the journey, reveals Himself to them. In this one encounter, the two men are transformed and with hearts set ablaze they return to Jerusalem to tell the apostles.

It’s amazing how our darkest hours can give way to our most profound experiences of God’s love. We must, however, surrender ourselves completely to His will. In my journey, I remember a time when I struggled with forgiveness, a dark period when I carried resentment for others and held many pains to myself. In the midst of that chaos, I was brought to a retreat in where the Lord spoke these words:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matt 11:28

I later found myself in the confessional and with a heavy heart, I surrendered my baggage to Lord. Never was an experience of healing ever more timely and needed. It was a couple months after this conversion of faith that the Lord called me to serve as a Chapter Head.  The Lord is so good in that He does not reveal His love only when we are perfect. Like the men going to Emmaus, Jesus, in His love, intimately meets us in our brokenness and transforms us into something far greater than our wounds and insecurities.

 

  1. Though our journeys may differ, Heaven is our destination.

Each of us has our own story and each of us is called to serve the Lord in different ways. Yet, we all share a common call and destination: holiness and Heaven. In our journey, Christ molds us to become more like Him and draws us closer to become one with Him. We, who are made in His image and likeness, are destined for a greatness immeasurable by earthly standards. Wherever we are in our faith, let us rest assured it is Christ who we truly desire; we were not made for anything less than Heaven.

“Our Hearts are Restless Until They Rest in You” – St. Augustine of Hippo

 

  1. We are not meant to journey alone.

One of the biggest blessings that has helped me grow in faith is the gift of my household. Together, we have witnessed each other grow and have challenged each other to serve more excellently those entrusted to us. My household, chapter and the brothers and sisters of this region are a constant reminder that I am not alone in my journey. Parish priests, religious sisters and catechists also serve to remind me that I also belong to the greater Holy Catholic Church: the mystical Body of Christ. It is evident that Christ has blessed us with people to guide us; moreover, He calls us to do the same for others.

 

This RYC I look forward to encountering Christ in worship, reflection and in my brothers and sisters who will be attending. In all I do, I will surrender to Him my desires and pray: “Lord, reveal to me your plans and give me the grace to take the first step.”

This weekend, over 700 youth will come together to praise and worship God; a foretaste of the joys of Heaven. I pray this RYC will serve to spur us onward in our quest for holiness. May God give us the grace necessary to persevere in faith and bring others along to the place He has prepared.

Our hearts are meant to be with the Lord. Together, let’s lead each other Home.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” – Romans 15:13

 


Jarwin Sangalang – West 1 Chapter Head | CFC-Youth Pacific Region

 

Overcoming Roadblocks

Upon reflecting on this year’s Regional Youth Conference’s name, Journey, I came to an arguably simple conclusion: a journey is not like a road trip or vacation.  It is not a temporary endeavour but an ongoing adventure.  For us Catholics, it is the ultimate pilgrimage to our homeland: heaven.  As someone who has always had a deep love for travel, I think I can relate the aspects of a road trip to the features of a journey:

  1. For both, there are many joyful and profound checkpoints to reach and expect
  2. There are conversely just as much suffering and miles of bleak, dull asphalt roads to endure

On my journey to Conference, I’ve experienced my fair share of roadblocks and moments of discouragement. After North 2 chapter’s Camp Immaculate, I became incredibly ill and physically exhausted. On top of that, the stress of final exams seemed to hover over my shoulders like a cartoon anvil. The spiritual momentum from that weekend began to die down and eventually flat-lined into a mechanical prayer routine.  Part of me begged myself to rest and hibernate in my room for a few weeks, but I know this is where the Lord was asking me to persevere in my slothfulness.

For this year’s RYC, I am expecting my heart and mind to be stretched to better love, know, and serve my Lord.  I am excited to encounter Christ through the Eucharist and through the people I meet. Simply put, I am expecting an abundance of joy. As such, I should be equipping myself mentally, spiritually, and even physically for a weekend of blessings. I am currently challenging myself to grow in virtue, increase the quality of my prayer life, receive the sacraments, and be accountable for my household.  

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).  

I see this verse is an invitation to surrender to the Holy Spirit.  I am comforted in knowing that my true rest lies in the Lord and not in my own definition of comfort (aka Netflix).  And lastly, it serves as a powerful reminder that God will be with me through the stressful weeks leading up to RYC.

Loving Father, I ask that You equip and prepare us for this Regional Youth Conference. Dispel any stress of fears that may hinder us from trusting in Your will and plan for us.  Shower us with the courage and prudence to persevere through our struggles, so that we may glorify You this RYC.  In Jesus’ name,

Amen.


Mona Bawagan – North 2 Chapter Head | CFC-Youth Pacific Region

Preparing for a Long Journey

I am so very excited!

 

Regional Youth Conference is coming up in a month, and a lot of preparation is being done at the moment. I, too, am preparing. Preparing the pink I will wear to represent East Cluster, making sure my friends hand in their forms on time and preparing my mind and heart.

The few weeks after spring break have been crazy. There are projects to be done, tests to be taken, and other things I wouldn’t bother to name. With this coming Regional Youth Conference I really hope I can find some time to relax and sort out some thoughts. I have been thinking a lot more than usual these past few weeks. I aim to unload my thoughts over the Regional Youth Conference weekend and return to my usual, content state, loving the mystery that is God.

I have been going to Regional Youth Conference since 2015, and I learned that there is always the chance to meet new people, being that over a thousand youth attend every year, and the sessions and testimonies never disappoint. The creative competitions are what I look forward to the most. Though I have never participated in these competitions before, I prefer being an audience member and appreciating the final product and the hard work that is put into these performances.

Journey, being the theme of this year’s Regional Youth Conference, has a variety of meanings. In my opinion, it symbolizes the long path ahead that leads to Him– our journey of faith. My journey of faith has started long ago, when I was baptized. Only since grade 7 Confirmation have I begun to pursue this journey to continually forge a better relationship with other and, most especially, the Lord. There have been temptations on the way and everyone takes their falls, but Jesus is always with us by our side and helps us back up.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13

Regional Youth Conference brings so many youth together, it is an absolutely joyous and holy experience. I pray for the health and well-being for all the participants and those serving for this event, and that all are safe, learn something new to apply to their lives and enjoy this event!
See you at this year’s Regional Youth Conference: Journey!


Meagan Jose – East 2 Member | CFC-Youth Pacific Region

Vision for the Mission

In grade 8, I attended a youth camp called Camp Glorify because my friends were joining CFC-Youth. The idea of gaining a relationship with Jesus was a bonus. 

In grade 9, I returned after being away from the community for about a year. Some of my other friends were joining CFC-Youth and they wanted to be involved so I decided to go with them to my first Regional Youth Conference. It also helped that a mentor was placed into my life at the this time..

In grade 10, I served for my first youth camp in Abbotsford, Camp Exchange. I was surrounded by so many faithful brothers that I could look up to.

After I graduated high school, I stepped up and was given the opportunity to serve the community at an even greater capacity.

When looking back at my far younger years ,I have noticed that my journey has been very similar to the past leaders’ journeys. It’s a little crazy to think about that, actually! If it weren’t for those leaders, I can honestly say I would not be as happy as I am today. Having role models and mentors is very important for the formation of youth aspiring to be leaders of their own.

My journey in the community of CFC-Youth is a huge part of what makes me the leader I am, and the leader I want to be in the future. It was a huge struggle, but it was a very beautiful struggle. Some of you in the community may be in a part of your life where I once was. Whether you are stepping up to a new service role or you are returning to the community from being inactive, the journey with the Lord is tough. You may second guess your choices and abilities, and you may feel that your efforts are going unnoticed, but my brothers and sisters I urge you to stay on this journey with Jesus.

My 7 years of being in CFC-Youth is a testimony of how anyone is able to do great things for the Lord. It does not take a born leader or a natural extrovert to be amazing in the business of saving souls. As someone who can be described as shy and an introvert, I can honestly say that our service to God is determined by one question: “Do you love the Lord?” This question really stuck out to me whenever I felt insecure or doubtful of my ability to serve in the community. When I would tell myself “I cannot do this. I am going to screw up. I am not ready for this yet.” A few more questions would come up and I would think to myself, “RJ, how much are you willing to do for your Father? How far are you willing to go to love Him?”

Brothers and sisters, this mindset cultivated the importance of being Mission Ready in my life. If I did not have a good enough reason to say no to a service, then I had no choice to joyfully and lovingly say yes to my God. He presented me with a beautiful opportunity to love Him through the community. Do not get me wrong though; the human nature of fear and doubt persisted. There were many times where I thought it was not worth it or I should give up in the middle of my service, but the idea of the glory and praise that would be brought to my God was much greater than any of my emotions, and all of that kept me going. The temporary feelings and insecurities were nothing compared to the joy and love of the Lord. This motivated me to joyfully take up my crosses, and continue to journey with Him.

Our God calls us to be His servants, and do amazing things so that His love can be known to all. But how can we do that if we are not pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone? The Lord does not want us to love Him “next time.” The Lord wants us to love Him RIGHT NOW. So let’s go that extra mile and invite that kid you remember from catechism to a youth event, or say “yes” to that service role that we do not think we can do. Our God calls us to be fishers of men and to save souls who need Him so very much. If we always choose to have our God by our side then we cannot fail.

To my brothers and sisters who feel complacent or unsatisfied in their service, I encourage you to ask God, “Father, what more can I do to love You?” He deserves everything that we have, and everything that we are. He has put people in our lives that look up to us, and need us to show Christ to them. Come to Jesus as you are, and be ready to take on anything. He loves you so much, but do you show Him how much you love Him?

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:45 (NIV)

 

 


RJ Guevara – East 2 Chapter Head | CFC-Youth Pacific Region

Lent In Review

What is Lent?

Lent is the period of time between Ash Wednesday and Holy Thursday, where one is expected to pray, fast, and give alms. In Greek, Lent is known as “tessarakosté”, meaning fortieth. This term was first used in 325 AD, in the Council of Nicea. However, scholars debate whether the use of that term is meant to reference Lent or not. Nonetheless, it is certain, due to his “Festal Letters”, that St. Athanasius mandated his congregation to fast throughout a forty day period. As the fourth century came to a close, both the East and West observed Lent.

How and why do we fast?

Traditionally, throughout Lent we abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday as well as every Friday of Lent if we are fourteen or older. As well, on both Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, we are obliged to fast, or have one meal and two smaller meals that don’t add up to one meal’s worth of food, with no snacks in between. The fasting obligation is only for those who are between eighteen and fifty-nine and are in a state able to do so i.e. not sick, etc. There are many reasons why we, as Catholics, undertake this effort. As said in the Gospel, Jesus fasted for forty days before beginning His public ministry. Likewise, we too emulate Him by fasting and abstaining over a forty day period. As well, Jesus expected His apostles to fast, saying “The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.” (Matthew 9:15). In self-denial and obedience, then we too must fast. The hunger we experience, and the desire for what we have given up is also a reminder for us. If we feel so strongly about material things, how much stronger must we feel for our God, who we literally cannot live without?

Why is Lent important?

Archbishop Fulton Sheen once wrote: “Never forget that there are only two philosophies to rule your life: the one of the cross, which starts with the fast and ends with the feast. The other of Satan, which starts with the feast and ends with the headache.” The main purpose of Lent is to prepare ourselves for the greatest victory known to man – Easter. It is not enough that we simply commemorate the sufferings of Christ, but for us to, in a sense, relive it in our own way. As we continually die to ourselves by praying, fasting, and giving alms, we grow in holiness and wean ourselves off from sin. It is only when we are fully turned towards God that we can celebrate to the fullest.

“The glory of God is the human person fully alive.” – St. Irenaeus

May God bless you this Lenten season!

 


Lorenz Somollo – East Cluster Advocacies Head | CFC-Youth Pacific Region

Love is Not

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” -1 John 4:7

 

Love.

 

Everyone has a different idea of what this means, but who is actually right? Well, I guess one could say that there is no correct answer, but there are characteristics in which love is not.

Love is not being with your significant other 24/7.

 

This applies to being with your significant other physically, virtually, or even emotionally. Sure, their company is great. But like all things, too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. You do not have to physically be in the presence of the person to be with them. The obvious example of that is through texting, Skyping, and other mediums of social media. But the other method that is often overlooked is emotionally or psychologically. If you are constantly thinking about the person, wondering where they are at this particular moment, what they are doing, who they are with, then in a sense, you are still with them.

 

A definition of being in someone’s company is “to accompany or spend time with someone in order to prevent them from feeling bored or lonely”. If you are with them in your mind, then that prevents you from being present to where you physically are. Love is based on trust, not knowledge. Trust that they have your best interests in mind, for if you cannot believe this, then how can you call it love?

Love is not what you say.

 

Love is what you do. Everyone is capable of saying things, making promises, but it takes courage to follow through with what you say. Because of this, the value of actions is far higher than the value of words. Say what you mean, and mean what you say, and when words cannot express how you feel, show it. And I do not mean go out and buy your significant other a dozen roses, no. The littlest things with the purest intentions can have a great magnitude.

 

Love is not perfect.

 

It’s not like the movies. It’s not easy. It’s not as simple as fitting the glass slipper perfectly and then suddenly you have your happily ever after. Love requires compromise, sacrifice, and and suffering together. Love is about taking the flaws and working them into perfect imperfections. Love is about looking at the issues and instead of thinking “this is so hard, I can’t do this”, but rather thinking “yes, this is difficult but you are worth it”.

Love is not just between two people.

 

You are probably thinking, “You’re wrong, obviously it’s between two people. A man and a woman. One plus one equals two.” Yes, you are right. A relationship is between a man and a woman but love is between three people: a man, a woman, and God. A relationship without Christ cannot be pure love for “God is love” (John 3:16). It must be built on a strong foundation, and what stronger foundation than the Rock Himself?

 

You know how a lot of relationships start because of mutual friends? Let God be that mutual friend. Before pursuing any relationship, pursue a relationship with the Lord first. And like every relationship, it requires communication. Communicate with the Lord frequently. Share with Him your trials, your struggles, your worries, your joys and victories. Once that friendship has been set into place, then start scrolling through God’s Facebook profile for mutual friends.

 

Love is not at first sight.

 

Love doesn’t start from the moment you lock eyes from across the room. I mean, how can you claim to be “in love” with someone that you know nothing about, other than how they look? Infatuation can be at first sight, but love requires work. Discernment, to be exact.

 

What is discernment? Simply put, it is the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, what is the Will of the Lord, and what is a worldly plan or want. Why is it important? Without discernment, one may follow what they want, what they may think is right but ultimately, is not what the Lord wants. They could be mislead by misinterpretations of what love is, which can cause them to pursue a relationship based on those misconceptions.

 

A common question that the youth have today is: “how do you know if the person you are with is the person you are meant to be with?” Well, through discernment! For me personally, when I am discerning a decision such as a service role, I will spend time in prayer and adoration and weigh all the possible options. Whichever one I feel most at peace with will be the path that I chose. When it comes to a relationship, what helps me most is using 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 as my criteria. For every time the word “love” comes up, I replace it with the name of the person I am discerning for. For example:

 

“_______ is patient, _______ is kind. _______ does not envy, _______  does not boast, _______  is not proud.
_______  does not dishonor others, _______ is not self-seeking, _______ is not easily angered, _______  keeps no record of wrongs.
_______  does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
_______  always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

 

If I disagree with any of the statement, I conclude that it is not a God-willed relationship. A priest told me a while ago, that instead of trying to find joy, I should become joy. The same goes for love, instead of looking for love, become love. Make every act, every work have the intention of love. Become love, and be with someone who does the same, for where there is love, there first must be God as God Himself is love.

 

Love is not what society tells us.

 

With all this said and done, I understand the struggles that come with being a youth in this day and age. Society tells us what they want us to think love is, and we buy into it. But, in reality, often they are telling us what love is not. The love that society portrays is superficial, shallow, and idealistic.

 

Most people, like me, believe the lies and in the end, they end up disappointed. For me, I fell into a relationship that seemingly was perfect, based on what I had believed what love was. I had wanted to be with my significant other all the time, and when physically that was not possible, I would spend hours waiting for my phone screen to light up stating that I had received a text from him. On the rather rare occasion that that did happen, I decided that the whole world could wait so that this text could be replied to. Looking back at it, I see how dumb it was. The communication was not there, and when there was communication, there were often misunderstandings due to the lack of voiced opinions prior. Love can mean missing your significant other, but it does not mean placing your happiness solely on this one person.

 

Words also had a powerful impact on me. Dreams for the future – our future – left me giddy and excited, blissfully ignorant. Excuses for date cancellations were weak, and I knew when they were a lie, but I always chose to “believe” them in order of maintaining peace. It didn’t matter how many times I was told “I love you” because I couldn’t see the love in his actions. Love is going beyond the words, and taking action.

 

Being a perfectionist, I strived for the picture perfect relationship that I saw in movies. There was the pursuit, the chase between two, one drawing back and “playing hard to get” and then the other racing after them, trying to make themselves into someone who is worth the other’s time. I wanted all the cute, intimate moments like walks through the park, being able to tell one another anything, etc. But the more I tried to get these results, the further and further I got from achieving them. I had an expectation for who my significant other was supposed to be and in the end my expectations were unrealistic. That wasn’t love, that was a dream, a fantasy. Now, I have begun to understand that you have to work with what you have, in cooperation with the other person. It takes two hands to clap, and just the same, it takes two people to find perfection among the imperfections.

 

And then there was the discernment, or rather, the lack thereof. Before, I didn’t know what discerning really was. I knew that it was a term that people in the CFC-Youth community often used, and was usually followed by the word “courtship”. I knew that it was praying about the relationship, so my discernment sounded a little like this:

 

“Dear Lord, if this was meant to work out, then let it work out. If not, well then it won’t work out.”

 

My flaw was obvious, I wasn’t asking the Lord for His opinion, I was basically saying, “Hey God, I’m going for this. If you don’t like it, make me pay for it later”. And that is the wrong attitude. You shouldn’t make up your mind before discerning, decision making should follow discernment. That way, upon entering into prayer, you can have the purest intentions of asking the Lord if this relationship is from Him. No external factors hindering the process, no influences, just a conversation between you and Him. And through this process, you can include the Lord in your potential relationship with your significant other. Many great things come in threes, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the three groups of sacraments: the “sacraments of Christian initiation”, “sacraments of healing” and “sacraments at the service of communion and the mission of the faithful”, and then you, your significant other, and the Lord. It’s like the rule of thirds, but even better!

 

All in all, I’ve had my fair share of seeing what love is not. Not saying that my past relationship was not at all loving, it was, but most of the time, it was superficial love, and no side is at more fault. It is through misinformation and miseducation as to what love is that caused much of the hurt, but like all things there is always good that comes from the bad. Looking back, I can take the imperfections that I experienced, and view them as perfect flaws in the future.

 

Love is a lot of things, but ultimately, God is love. It is in Him where any questions or doubts we have will be answered. It is through trusting Him where we will understand love. And it is with Him where we will experience the greatest love. Love comes from God, so who better to show us what true love is than the Lord?

 

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because He first loved us.” -1 John 4:18-19

 


Eleanor Wong – YCOM Press Head | CFC-Youth Pacific Region

On Keeping Your Heart

What if I walked up to you right now and told you to guard your heart?

Would you stare at me blankly? Would you laugh? Would you brush it off nervously? Change the subject? Ask what I know about you? Roll your eyes? Respond with conviction? Would you even understand what I mean?

To “guard your heart” is a phrase well known to our community. And in my experience, we can tend to throw it around a lot. With that being said, have we grown numb to the reality of this phrase?

This isn’t a concept. This isn’t something that should be taken into consideration. To “guard the heart” is a message given to us in the Word of the Lord. In Proverbs 4:23 NIV, we are told, “above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” . Now if we take that same verse from a different Catholic Bible translation (DRA), we’ll find that we are told, “with all watchfulness keep thy heart, because life issueth out from it”. I prefer this translation because emphasis is drawn to the importance of actively and constantly taking care of the heart, which I’m sure we could all do more.

So let’s stop throwing around this phrase around and let’s start actively living it instead. Here is what experience has taught me:

6 Practical Ways to Actually Guard Your Heart and Lead Your Heart:

  1. Pray. This is a given. But don’t pray passively; pray actively. This means praying for your emotional purity, even if you don’t have feelings for another person or know someone has feelings for you. We can’t expect to be ready for a relationship if we’re preparing for it the same way we cram for a test the night before.
  2. Decide who you want to be, and write it down. It’s not about what the other person can give you, but rather, who you can be and what you can do for them. Love is life-giving. Love doesn’t drag you to hell. And neither should you do so to your future spouse. Figure out with the Lord what kind of person you want to be for him/her. Write it down so you can reference it once you meet him/her, so you won’t compromise what’s written on your heart. Better yet, write down a vision statement of the person you want to be when you do get married. Begin working towards becoming that person.
  3. Make a “non-negotiables” list. Turning someone down is already difficult to do, but having a “non negotiables” list will make the process easier for you. This will help you know where to draw the line before you even need to. What kind of values should s/he have? How should s/he treat the people you love? What is the most important trait s/he should have? And how should s/he treat you? Run this list by someone you trust. Which leads us to our next point:
  4. Talk to someone who can guide you properly. Everyone has someone you can turn to about topics like this. Whether it is a friend, your parents, or a religious (deacon, pastor, nun, etc.), there is always someone who exemplifies the man or woman you want to become in the future and can point you in the right direction. Talk to someone you can be completely vulnerable and transparent with — someone who can hold you accountable.
  5. Trust the process and be real about it. There’s nothing wrong with getting to know someone. However, there is a huge difference between hiding it and keeping it low-key. If you’re sneaking around, brushing off people’s assumptions and avoiding being confronted, then it’s likely you’re already headed in the wrong direction with this person. But if you’re keeping it on the DL because you’re in the initial getting-to-know-you stages with someone and are being mindful of his/her dignity, then that’s respectable. Sometimes we get so caught up in thinking that we’ll get in trouble for wanting to get to know someone that we hide it from the people around us. Let’s remember that vocations are serious things, and if you’re getting to know someone in a Christ-centered way, then there’s no need to hide such an important part of your life. So brothers, don’t be afraid to pursue a sister with proper guidance. And sisters, don’t be afraid to let a brother get to know you.
  6. Pray some more. I’m adding this as the last step because it’s something I tend to overlook myself. It’s one thing to pray before sitting down with a girl to tell her your intentions or hangout out with a guy you like, but it’s another thing to reflect in His presence after everything’s been said and done. Here is where you will find peace. And more importantly, the answers in your heart.

 

Guarding our hearts is pointless if we don’t know how to lead them too. At the end of the day, when the lovebug bites you, it sticks. And after all the butterflies, phone calls, and mushy exchanges have come and gone, it’s up to you to lead them back to Him. So before your eyes get blinded by giant hearts, decide how you’re going to be Christ to the person you will one day strive for holiness with. Because if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. And if you’re going to fall for someone, you might as well do it right.

 

 


Angelica Cacatian – High School Based Program Head | CFC-Youth Pacific Region