Youth Ministry Corner
He is risen, alleluia!!!
I hope the joy of Easter is still alive in your heart, because Easter is far from over. We don't just have Easter Sunday. We don't even just have the Octave of Easter. We have an entire Easter season! The Easter season lasts from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday (which is on May 23rd this year). That's 50 whole days to celebrate Christ's Resurrection. I think it's beautiful that the Church gives us this time to commemorate and celebrate Christ's victory over sin and death and our ability to behold God eternally in Heaven.
So, what can we do as Catholics to keep the party going? First and foremost, we can continue to receive and adore the Eucharist. Going to Mass on Sundays is essential, but we can also make time to go to Mass and Eucharistic Adoration during the week. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith: everything leads up to it, and everything flows from it. This means that receiving and spending time with Jesus in the Eucharist is the best way to grow closer to Him. What better time to do this than during the Easter season? In fact, one of the precepts of the Catholic Church, or one of the laws of the Church that all the faithful must follow, is that we must receive the Eucharist at least once a year, and it must be during the Easter season. There's clearly a connection between Easter and the Eucharist, so let's embrace it!
Another thing we can do is continue to deepen our prayer life. Lent is a time for fasting, almsgiving, and prayer, but that doesn't mean it's the only time we can do these things. Committing to praying more often can deepen our relationship with Christ. I encourage you to try praying with Scripture if you have not already. The Bible is God's love letter to us. Reading it will teach and remind us of God's love for us, and it will help us grow in love for Him.
One last thing we can do is celebrate! Keeping in mind the virtues of temperance and prudence, we can do things like treat ourselves to a special comfort food, give small tokens of our appreciation to our loved ones, and spend time with family and friends (either in person or virtually). Do things that you would do on any other feast or holiday that glorify God!
St. Augustine is credited with saying, “we are an Easter people, and alleluia is our song!” My hope for you this Easter season is that you remember these words and let the peace and joy that Easter brings remain in your heart and influence the way you live, not just until Pentecost, but long after it.
That's all for now. Know of my prayers for you and your families, and please keep me and this ministry in your prayers.
Peace of Christ,
I apologize for not posting the past couple Fridays, but I'm back this week to talk about Holy Week! I honestly cannot believe that it's here. The beginning of Lent seemed to go fairly slowly, but the second half of it flew by. I truly hope that this season has brought you closer to Christ. If it hasn't, fear not; He is waiting for you with open arms. What better time than Holy Week to recommit ourselves to a relationship with the person who loves us enough to suffer and die for us.
Let's walk through what happens in the Church during Holy Week. It started yesterday, Palm Sunday, where we commemorated Jesus's entrance into Jerusalem. Just days before He is condemned to death, He is given a king's welcome. At Mass, we read an extra Gospel story before the procession, and we received blessed palms.
The first readings today through Wednesday all come from Isaiah and include the servant songs, which teach us what the ideal servant leader is like. These servant songs are prophetic: a close reading reveals that they tell us about Jesus even though they were written long before He suffered and died for us. The Gospel today is about Mary, the sister of Lazarus, anointing Jesus's feet with costly oil and Judas getting upset about it. The Gospels tomorrow and Wednesday tell about Judas's betrayal of Jesus.
Then, we have Holy Thursday, where we commemorate the institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood at the Last Supper. The Chrism Mass, where the bishop blesses the three oils that will be used throughout the coming year in the archdiocese, will be celebrated at the cathedral. At a regular Holy Thursday Mass, there is usually a foot washing, but because of COVID, that might not happen this year.
Good Friday is the only day of the year when Mass is not celebrated. Instead, we have a Communion service with hosts that are already consecrated. On Good Friday, adults have to fast. Fasting in the Catholic Church consists of having one regular sized meal and two smaller meals that do not add up to a regular sized meal. We do this to unite our suffering to that of Jesus on the Cross and to sacrifice for Him since He sacrificed His life for us.
On Holy Saturday, there is usually a food blessing in the morning. In the evening, there is the Easter Vigil Mass, during which those that have been going through the Rite of Christian Initiation are finally welcomed into the Church by receiving the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist.
Finally, we have Easter Sunday, which is the beginning of the Easter season. On this day, we celebrate Jesus’s resurrection from the dead and victory over sin and death.
There’s so much more I could say about this week, the holiest week of the year, but I figured I’d just give you an overview for now. Below, I have posted Divine Mercy’s schedule for Holy Week. If you’ve never been to one of these services, I encourage you to try to make it to at least one.
Penance Service Wednesday, March 31st
6:00 – 7:00 p.m. in the Social Center at 695 College Avenue
This is a Prayer Service with individual Reconciliation following, NOT a general absolution. Both priests will be present.
**Eucharistic Adoration, 9:00 a.m. — 7:00 p.m. **
All held at 800 Marquette Avenue unless otherwise noted
Holy Thursday (April 1) at 7:00 p.m.
Good Friday (April 2) at noon and 3:00 p.m.
Stations of the Cross in church to follow each service. Those wishing to stay should remain seated.
Holy Saturday (April 3)
Food Blessing at 10:00 a.m.
Easter Vigil at 8:00 p.m.
Easter Sunday Masses (April 4)
6:28 a.m. (Sunrise outdoor Mass at College Ave.);
7:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., and 11:30 a.m.
(in Church at Marquette Avenue)
That’s all for now. I’m praying for you guys especially hard this week! Please keep me and this ministry in your prayers as well.
Peace of Christ,
Let me tell you about my best friend.
Her name is Angelica. We met at a scholarship competition for Franciscan University in the spring of our senior year of high school. We then became freshman year roommates, and that quickly led to us becoming best friends. We've laughed together, cried together, learned together, and grown together. We have a bond that's unlike anything I've ever experienced. We still talk every week even though we're hundreds of miles away. I can tell her anything, and I'm sure she'd say the same of me. She is one of the most extraordinary people I have ever met, and I'm positive I will be able to say the same thing years from now.
I am certain that one of the reasons that our friendship is so strong and fulfilling is that it's rooted in Christ. We talk about our prayer lives with each other, we encourage each other, and we call each other on. We pray for each other all the time, and we pray together too. We are both running alongside each other toward Heaven. Having someone to run with is one of the most helpful and encouraging things in the spiritual life. I've said this before, and I'll say it again: no man is an island. We were made to love and be loved; we were made for community.
So, is going to a Catholic school the only way to find Catholic friends? I hope you know that the answer is no. Having said that, surrounding yourself with like-minded peers is a fantastic way to make like-minded friends. Not everyone has the means to go to a Catholic school, though. How else do you find Catholic friends who are striving for Heaven?
One way is by getting involved at church. Attend Mass, go to youth group, volunteer, and attend other church-sponsored events. Getting involved at church is a great way to meet like-minded people. The people of our parish community are wonderful, generous, and holy. They are fantastic people to get to know. Don't be afraid to reach out to someone that isn't in your exact grade. Making friends that are a little older or younger than us helps us grow and mature in several ways.
Another way is by focusing on your relationship with God. Praying regularly, receiving the Sacraments, and spending time reading the Bible will help you root out anything in your life that's leading you to sin, even if that means distancing yourself from your current friends. The people we surround ourselves with impact our faith whether we know it or not. We have to ask ourselves: do my friends impact my faith in a good way or a bad way? If you don't like the answer you get, maybe it's time to reconsider who your friends are. I know this is difficult. I've had to set boundaries with people and even remove people from my life entirely because they were getting in the way of my relationship with God. I promise you it's worth it. God is never outdone in generosity. If you make Him the most important thing in your life, He will show up for you and provide you with the people you need to help you get closer to Him.
One last suggestion is to be bold. Wear a crucifix. Play Christian music. Post about God on social media. Don't give in to peer pressure. Make it known that you are a Catholic by living like a Catholic all the time, not just at Mass on Sunday. I know it's scary to boldly live the faith in today's society. I can't promise you that it will be easy. You will most likely receive some backlash, but you will also find others who are living a bold, Catholic lifestyle. By making it known that you are striving for Heaven and letting nothing get in your way, you will attract those kinds of people to yourself.
Finding like-minded friends is not easy nowadays, and COVID has made it even harder to meet people. Despite these things, I believe that God wants to put some amazing people in your life to run towards Him with. Do whatever you can to help Him help you. Remember that the key is authentic love. Love means willing the good of another. In all your friendships, make sure you are wanting what is genuinely good for the other person (i.e., what leads them to God).
That's all for now. Know that I am always praying for you, and please keep me and this ministry in your prayers.
Peace of Christ,
I have some exciting news! Divine Mercy Youth Ministry is finally starting up for the semester. Woohoo!!! I can't wait to meet y'all and walk with you on your faith journeys. We will be meeting on Mondays from 6:30-8:00pm in the gym at Divine Mercy School (695 College Ave., South Milwaukee, WI 53172). Our first night is March 15th; that's in 10 days!!! We will be doing a fellowship and Bible study series. Our fellowship nights will be just to get to know each other and hang out, and our Bible study series will help us discover what it means to say "yes" to God. You can register here and print the COVID form here. Feel free to bring friends!
I want to let y'all know how important youth group is. Youth group will help you apply the knowledge that you've been learning in Catholic schools and Christian formation classes and develop your relationship with God. It will help you meet and bond with other Catholic teens and build Christ-centered friendships that will last for years. It will help you encounter Jesus, which is more profound and more important than just knowing about Him.
I went to Catholic schools my entire life, but I also went to youth group. I know for a fact that I wouldn't be the Catholic I am today without the experiences and relationships that youth group gave me. I want that for y'all too. I want Divine Mercy to feel like a second home. I want you guys to feel welcomed and important here. I want y'all to feel comfortable and safe here. I want y'all to feel like you belong here. Being a part of the youth group can help tremendously with all of that.
Adults: Do you want to get more involved at Divine Mercy? Do you have a heart for high schoolers and middle schoolers? Are you passionate about the Catholic faith and sharing it with others? If you answered yes to any of these questions, I have an exciting opportunity for you! Divine Mercy Youth Ministry is in need of volunteer catechists to help run our youth group. You will be needed on Mondays from 6-8:30pm for youth group nights and one Wednesday a month from 6-7pm for a catechist meeting and formation. You will also have to be safe environment certified if you are not already. Please prayerfully consider volunteering to be a catechist for our youth group!
That's all for now. I truly hope to see you guys on Mondays.
Peace of Christ,