From Boy to Man

If you are reading this article, you probably already know the clichés I’m about to spout: “God has called you to be greater”, “The media portrays men as egotistical and prideful”, and so on. It’s always been said – but when push comes to shove, we, as men, don’t really understand the gravity of what it means and what it takes to be the man that our God has called us to be. Too many times have I heard these clichés, yet I see nothing is done about them, especially to the men (or dare I say, boys) in our CFC-Youth community. Allow me to break down what it really means to truly be [or not to be] a Man of God. (Dear Sisters, I apologize but this may not be applicable to you, but you can read it if you like! Alternatively, you can proceed to http://cfcyouth.ca/you-are-loved/)

What we are told

You are THE man. You are courageous, you are bold, you are someone to be revered. You ran into the burning down home to save the 2 little children who were stuck. You have enough money to drive a Mustang, wear a Rolex and have your wife stay at home to take care of your kids. Your muscles are massive… All the women love you.

What is expected of us

As men, we have a level of expectation that we are told to uphold. Our fathers instilled in us to be understanding of how a car engine works, to be the ‘man-of-the-house’ when they’re away, to stray away from being girly/feminine, and the like. Our friends expect to hear us brag about that one time you wrecked someone in pick-up basketball, or how far you got with that girl, or how many girls… you get the point. There is this unwritten ‘code of manliness’ that dictates how we are or who we are supposed to be. My own father was fearful and concerned about me because I wasn’t attracted to girls when I was in elementary school, so he pressed me with questions like: “where’s your girlfriend?”, “when I was your age, ______”, “are there any girls coming to your birthday party?”. These unnecessary pressures and standards that we (apparently) must obey can cloud the brighter picture of what it is and what it takes to be a man.

What the Church teaches us

You are a man made in the image of God. You protect others, you are a leader, and you are called to great things. You are strong in your faith and extremely courteous and respectful, especially to sisters. You have a calling to fatherhood, to priesthood even, and a wide range of other responsibilities that can seem like a lot. Like Saint Peter, you are the foundation of whatever you’re called to be strong for, whether it is in your family or future family, in your parish, or in your local communities (like here in CFC-Youth). We hear homilies week after week about being dutiful to our families and a myriad of other ways to be a Man of God…


In high school, the idea of a man was incredibly blurred to me. The Church tells me one thing, my friends say another. My dad and uncles have their own opinion on “Manhood” but so does my Youth Leaders. I couldn’t think for myself and it was such a struggle when it came to making decisions.

Like any high-schooler, I had my share of insecurities, doubts and pressures. I got the classic “let’s get HAM, bruh” (LIT wasn’t a thing yet) or “forest after school?” (place to smoke marijuana) and ‘No thanks’ was always the response. I knew what was right. I knew underaged drinking and smoking are illegal at the time and morally wrong.

I knew going to that birthday house party that had no parents home wouldn’t go well. I knew hiding my uncle’s Playboy and FHM magazines in my room was disgusting. I knew (too well, to be honest) that masturbation and watching pornography on my iPod Touch was unholy, shameful and disrespectful to women. I knew that all these carnal desires were temptations and easily avoidable…

It wasn’t when my friends came over for my 19th birthday and saw me incredibly intoxicated, acting stupid all the while wearing my Celtics jersey as if I just turned into the Hulk or something. It wasn’t when I had some friends over that they went through my search history on my PS3 and shamed me for having porn sites searched up. [Funny enough, they found it while I was pretend sleeping and talked about me in a negative light, but I heard every comment they made about me]. You’d think after all these embarrassing moments and the subsequent call-outs that I’d change my ways, right? With their help I can be the holy man I’m supposed to be?


So many voices screaming at us telling us who we are. Our friends, our family, our parish priests, all the way to random people online, to our acquaintances we talk to every 8 months or so, all have an opinion of who we should or shouldn’t be. Seriously consider this:

Have you ever thought of thinking for yourself?

Think about it: I’ve stated probably 30 or 40 different ways to be a man. Maybe your mind is agreeing and disagreeing with some.

Dig deeper into your soul, and ask yourself “who am I?”.

Honestly, to me, there is no true definition of what a man is.

I’ll hit you with another cliché, but believe me when I say this is legit:

“You are who God created you to be.”

It is not what your friends or parents say about you, it is not what your pastor or spiritual advisor say to you, but it is who you are deep inside that God wanted you to be from the very beginning of time. The only way to truly know who you are is to ask Him.

In my high school days, it was so apparent that I was just doing what was expected of me. I was not supposed to do this because it’s against the rules. I was told to abstain from this because it is a commandment. Does calling me out really change who I am inside? People are constantly bombarding me with what my expectations are, yet, is that really who I am?

The name of the game is purity, my brothers. That, in its purest form is who we are and who we are called to be. If, at the time, I was in tune with our Lord, if I asked Him to reveal to me who I truly am, I wouldn’t be worrying about the other questions about who I am or who I could be. I wouldn’t need to be reminded to be the male archetype of what I supposedly should be. Rather, I can just… be. Be who I am and be who I was originally called to be.

The decisions I made as a high school boy were of those made by a boy who didn’t know himself. My actions were taken as a boy who didn’t bother to ask God “Lord, how did you intend me to be?”. I was just a boy lost, confused and unable to think on my own.

Previously, I shared some stories of myself where I made bad, stupid decisions and lived an unhealthy lifestyle of being who I’m not. Although I was aware of committing sin, I did it anyway SOLELY to crave my curiosity and fit in. In order for me to understand what I needed, I had to ask the Lord myself. I had to go to the source of my entire being, and be honest with myself. Do I really need to commit these sins to fulfill my duty as a “man”?

If your heart and mind are in the right place and if you actually take time in prayer to have conversation with God, doing the MANLY thing will come natural. Leading will become natural, and following commandments would be a breeze. Clearly, the only one who could change you is yourself.

Dearest brothers, it is so important to know exactly who we are. Why would we want to live our lives being someone we’re not? We are told to be so many things, follow so many rules. But really, there’s only one voice we should listen to — the voice of Christ who is already within our own hearts. He’s so, so, so close, so why not let Him speak? For me, once I allowed Jesus to speak to me within my heart, that act ultimately started my slow transformation from boy to man for me. (I, too, am on the path to true Manliness!)

Now, I will give you the answer to the original question “what is a Man of God?”. A Man of God is someone who is honest, pure and needs no approval from anyone but Christ Himself. He makes the good decisions not because he is told to or knows it good, but simply, just does.

I know, I said there isn’t a definition of what a man is. Obviously, there are probably a couple definitions of what a man is in the dictionary or whatever, but God created every man differently, and with every man comes a different definition of what a man is.

Our God is an honest God. If asked, He will respond truthfully. He knows exactly who we are because, well, He created us!

It all begins with: In the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

Amen.


Jeffrey Gache – YCOM Press Head | CFC-Youth Canada

You Are Loved

Love requires sacrifice.

We all know this. This line has been engraved in our heads for so long. We know that in our friendships, family, faith, and relationships sacrifices need to be made in order to offer the best versions of ourselves to whoever we are loving. But, the relationship where many people forget the importance of sacrifice is our relationship with ourselves. Self-love is so simple but in some ways, it is the hardest and most difficult love of all.

What is it?

Just as the phrase suggests, it is love for yourself and having “regard for one’s [your] own well being and happiness”. Self-love is a form of affection that only you can give, and the unique recipient is yourself. Not only does true self-love require you to offer it, but it also requires you to accept it, which often, is the most difficult part. It is not just about how you feel about your physical appearance, but it also includes your emotional, spiritual, and psychological well-being. Only you know in great detail your own state of being. In knowing yourself inside and out, it allows you to understand how you need to be loved, and gives you the opportunity to fulfil that role.

Its importance

Besides the obvious importance of having a positive mentality of yourself, self love also extends into your other relationships. As the common, but very accurate cliché goes, how can you love others if you find it difficult to love yourself? It is not just your actions that prove your love for someone, but also how you feel and the way it overflows into your actions.

 

For me, the road to self love has been one that is long, treacherous, and one that I continue to travel. For a long time, I had felt as if something within me was missing, as if I was a puzzle and the final piece had been lost in transit. I could not explain the feeling, nor justify it. I just knew that it was there. Eventually, I began trying to show my love for others through serving and volunteering which helped in patching the hole. I took on too much for me to handle, but I dealt with it by sacrificing my own time of rest and studying. I had the mentality that love require sacrifice, so I will sacrifice myself in order to better serve them. Helping others placed a little bandage over this gap, but it only healed me temporarily, and eventually left me with that same feeling of unfulfillment. Around me, people tried to love me unconditionally, but I was spread too thin to be capable of completely giving them the love they deserved. So instead, I would push them away, no matter how close of friends we were. It seemed as if the closer we were, the further I would push them away.

 

One friend in particular never ceased to try to get through to me. They would ask me how I was doing, and I would brush them off with a one word answer of “fine”. They would try to make plans, but to this I would reply with a half-hearted excuse such as “I have to study” or “I have a lot of homework to finish”. It was not as though I did not appreciate all that they were doing for me, and their constant support. No, it was that I did not know how to love them back. They deserved to be around someone who could love the way they should be loved, and I was not that. Eventually, I verbally ended this friendship, and pushed others so far away from me that in the end, I was left on an island by myself, slowly building up fences to prevent others from trespassing and coming near.

 

Isolated, I focused on my commitments, studies, service and volunteer work and kept myself busy so that I would not feel the sting of loneliness. I kept reminding myself that this solidarity was my own decision; it was my attempt to love by doing my friends the favour which was that they no longer had to deal with me in their life. But, ironically in my lonesome, I was met by my own wrath. I zeroed in on every grade, every comment, and every number. My mind would fill with thoughts such as “You got a B, Eleanor, B for bad. You’re a failure.”, “Look that that, you’ve gained a pound, you pig.” or “She said ‘it’s okay’, just okay. You messed up, this is the best you can do and it’s not even good.” These thoughts were constant. They kept me company, they became my toxic friends. And for some reason, unlike my other friends, I did not try to push them away. Maybe it was because I believed the whispers of my new friends, while the encouragement and words of affirmation from my others friends seemed impossible to be true.

The result of my self resentment was, as I mentioned before, pushing people out, and as a result, I hurt them because I did not allow them to love me. My negativity towards myself seeped into my daily routine, ruining a lot of my personal relationships, and affecting my performance at school, in service, and the way I tutored other students.

 

This negativity also made that hole in my heart grow bigger. It grew so big that eventually, there was nothing that I could do that would stretch over the length of the hole in an effort to fix it. So, I allowed the darkness to crawl out of this cave and settle within me, embrace me. I went about my life normally, I continued to do all that I had before, but this time on autopilot.

 

But our God is a stubborn God. He never once gave up on me, even when I had given up on Him, and He showed that through my friends and family. They continued to pursue me, and remind me to take care of myself first, before I worry about anything else. It was through these reminders that I learned that the reason why I could not fill the hole in my heart through loving others was because I did not love myself. I did not take the time to ensure that I was staying healthy, or following my goals, and I certainly was not making sure that I viewed myself in a positive light.

 

Once I recognized this and my need to change, I began making little sacrifices in order to love myself better. I do not mean that I made sacrifices such as money to buy a new wardrobe or something, but rather I sacrificed my strong desire for meticulous control over my life. In doing so, I broke down the fences that once guarded and and opened my heart to allow others to love me. I stepped down from responsibilities in order to give me more time to focus on my growth. And through doing all this, the gap in my heart has slowly started to heal. I now wake up every morning excited to see how the Lord plans to use me today, and life is truly beautiful.

 

It always seems easy to say “I love you” to our friends, family, and the Lord so why is it so difficult for us to say this to ourselves? Think of it this way, how does one treat a life-giving friend? Do they say hateful, or rude words? Do they greet us with a frown? Do they compare us to others? Or are they kind, and lift our spirits? Do they lovingly correct us? Let us strive to treat ourselves as we would a friend, with gentleness, encouragement, and humility. Be your own friend.

 

You are deserving of love, and you are capable of being that same source of love.

“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” -1 Samuel 16:7


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

In God’s Timing

Six years ago, in 2011, I was standing at the University of Alberta for my first conference: Armed and Ready. Six years later, in 2017, I found myself back at the University of Alberta, serving at a conference for the first time. If anybody told me that six years later I would be serving for conference that year, let alone serving for RAK Party, leading a mini praisefest and performing in creatives, I really wouldn’t know what to say. I was 14 years old at the time and I didn’t even know what the community was about, let alone how to serve properly. Conference was the first event I ever attended and I had no idea what was in store for me; but little did I know that the Lord was about to unfold a plan that changed the entire direction of my life. He really did call me to “be on guard” for what He had in store.

 

Because my first conference, my first event, was in my hometown Edmonton back in 2011, this year’s conference really had a special place in my heart. Being in the community for six years now, I’ve had my fair share of True North Conferences (TNC), Regional Youth Conferences (RYC), Youth Camps, Summer House Trainings, General Assemblies, Households, you name it, and this year it felt as if I was finally coming full circle with my time in the community. I remember hearing that conference was in Edmonton while I was still in Europe for World Youth Day the year before, and I couldn’t have been more excited to finally serve at a conference, let alone, one that was happening in Edmonton.  In coming back from Europe, I was on a huge spiritual high, it felt like nothing was going to stop me from saying yes to any role. It wasn’t long until I came back to reality that the Lord used this conference as a humbling experience for myself.

 

In the past, I’ve had major roles as part of previous RYCs, and I couldn’t help but to expect more of the same for conference. I was prepared to say yes to a big role for conference and have a major part in the preparations that happen before hand. But as the year went on, I was able to find a full-time job for the upcoming summer and the reality of balancing a major service role with work became a tougher pill to swallow than I realized. By the time I was asked to serve for conference, I had to prioritize the work that I had and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to fully commit to my service for conference as I would’ve liked. With the way things worked out, I didn’t end up getting a service role at all and this really had a huge impact on my pride. All around me the brothers and sisters I was serving with were busy with meetings on meetings about conference and I wasn’t part of any of the planning. And funny enough, I would end up quitting the same job I prioritized. Unfortunately for me, that left me with nothing to do for a majority of my time and it made it hard to be excited for a conference that I really held close to my heart. It affected my pride that I wasn’t as involved as I wanted to be and I was hurt at the irony of my situation. It felt that God was punishing me for something and I didn’t really know what for. I was frustrated, upset, and disappointed.

 

SO WHAT WAS NEXT?

 

In the month leading up to conference, that’s when God started to work behind the scenes of my life. I never realized it then because I was still upset, but reflecting on it now I can see that He had a plan for me all along. What started off as a simple yes to being a part of Edmonton’s Senior Dance, led to many doors that allowed me to be a part of different creatives within the Production Team. The Lord then called me to be a part of the Secretariat Team to serve for this year’s Random Act of Kindness (RAK) Party. Slowly but surely, I found myself getting busier, but still I remained very upset about my involvement in the preparations for conference.

 

As conference drew nearer and nearer, God gave me a taste of what was to come during the weekend through all the business that I experienced throughout the week before conference. It was then when I realized how foolish I was being and how truly grateful I was for the opportunity to serve what I was called to serve in. I started to understand the significance of my “yes” regardless of what my role was in the conference and it became clearer to me that I would only be able to get through all the preparations and practices because of my love of God. It was this love that I had and remembered that allowed me to be able to serve the Lord’s people with all of my heart and strength. I really needed to understand the extent to which I let my pride control my thoughts and actions and humble myself to see the truth that God was showing me. It was this realization that gave me the strength I needed to sustain myself throughout the entire conference weekend. I never realized what I had said yes to, and had I not been reminded of the Lord’s love for me and my love for Him, it would’ve been so easy to burn out.

 

Throughout the conference, I found myself being heavily involved in a lot of the program. This meant a lot of waiting on stand-by, being on stage, helping out with competitions, or just practicing in the service team room, the Lord kept me busy. And looking back at the conference now, I can see that the Lord tested my patience, and I failed – but He remained faithful to His promise to me, nonetheless. He was able to remind me why I wanted to serve in the first place, and He reminded me of where my faith was rooted. He gave me the grace to serve His people and to love my service too. The Lord humbled me and let me take a step back while others prepared, while still allowing me the opportunity to serve. It just goes to show that God is God and I am not and everything is AND will be done in HIS timing. He is my Solid Ground, and He continues to remind me every day that though my faith is shaky, I can trust in the foundation that I have set in Him, and stand firm in the belief that His love will never fail.


Joseph Lucilla – CFC-Youth Edmonton

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