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Not just our souls and intellects, but our bodies too. I am an intellectual person by nature and often use my love of study to learn about God. But learning about God and knowing God are not the same thing. Just like reading about how to ride a bike and actually climbing up on the seat are not the same.

It is easy for me to pick up another historical commentary on the gospels and feel like I am improving my relationship with God.

A Pocket Retreat for Catholics: Thirty book by F. Maucourant

These bodily actions are hard because they require sacrifice. And yet, I suspect the sacrifices I make for God are more important to him than whether I know if Jesus was born in cave or a wooden stable. Motherhood, too, is a bodily commitment and one that can be difficult to embrace with joy. Yet, as I commit to these physical tasks, I hope I also die to self a little more each day. With each physical act, with each twinge between the shoulder blades, I remind myself, that--in a much bigger way--this is what Jesus did for me on the cross.

Ironically, it actually was a book that helped me to understand the beauty of bodily sacrifice.

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The gist of the story is that a tree continues to give and give to a boy throughout the boy's life to make him happy. First she gives him her apples so the boy can sell them for pocket money, then she gives him her branches so that he can build a house, then her trunk so that he can build a canoe. The boy is so ungrateful! The tree gave him everything and he never even said thank you.

She literally let him cut down her trunk for him. Truly, to be loved by Christ is a humbling thing. Click here for more resources on Marriage and Family. Her daughter, Elizabeth, was born in January Honesty and Courage I really do. And so I avoid it like the plague. We all have our struggles in faith, and this is my biggest one. After all, God does know everything in our hearts. We can talk to him directly, and we should do so often! But we need more than just that internal dialogue with God. If you stub your toe, the whole of your body stops everything and focuses on that pain.

So, too, when we stub our spiritual toe, we create a ripple throughout the rest of the Body. The point is that each of our sins have an effect, not just on ourselves and on God, but on the whole of the Church, too.

A Pocket Retreat for Catholics: Thirty Steps to Holiness in Just Ten Minutes a Day

And who better to forgive our sins than a priest? It is. The result is always the same: God has forgiven me and wiped the slate clean. And I feel so good about it! In fact, I crave it. He took every sin each of us will ever commit, carried them up on the cross, and died as payment for it. Pope St. Whether you just went to Confession last week or, like me, have been putting it off for way too long, be courageous and just go. For more resources on Confession and the Jubilee Year of Mercy, please click here. Jay Schaefer is the Production Coordinator for the Catholic Apostolate Center, where he assists with training and technical coordination of the Center's webinars.

Jay also collaborates with the Center's marketing team to publicize and produce our live media content. One of the most exciting, profound, yet sometimes awkward and unnerving places of parish ministry involves welcoming new Catholics officially into the Church through what is called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults , or RCIA for short.

A Pocket Retreat for Catholics : Thirty Simple Steps to Holiness - in Just Ten Minute a Day!

Many parishes are now gearing up for the next season of RCIA, which generally runs from early Fall and concludes with the Easter Vigil this year on April 15, But every year there are things I learn and need to be reminded of to facilitate a truly transformative time for the candidates and catechumens.

Speak their Language For those of us who grew up Catholic or actively learn and read about our faith, we become very familiar with the vocabulary and theology of the Church that is typically foreign and confusing to newcomers. People are learning a new language of faith, which requires patience, clarity, and practice.

Without patience and clarity, people feel alienated and lost, not impressed, and you risk having your faith come off as pretentious and antiquated, not living and effective. Teach Them to Pray Going off the last point, we should remember that prayer is the primary language of the faith. Prayer is necessary for living out the Catholic life beyond RCIA, but instead of just telling people to pray, we need to actively teach new Catholics how to pray by praying with them.

Do some form of prayer together each week—the Rosary, Lectio Divina, a litany—to expose people to the richness of Catholic spiritual life. If we leave participants with anything, let it be the desire and ability to pray. Learn Their Story As passionate teachers of the faith, RCIA leaders often love to share their experience and favorite subjects about the Church and our faith. Be mindful in giving the candidates and catechumens plenty of time to speak and share their story with one another, not just for a brief minute the first day, but also as part of an ongoing process that extends the whole course.

Think Outside the Classroom Learning the content of the Catholic faith is essential, no doubt about it. But often our approach gives the impression that church teachings only live in the pages of textbooks. If all learning about the faith happens in the classroom, it has a tendency to stay there. Look for ways to make connections between Catholic beliefs and tradition and real action and practices. Learn about the corporal and spiritual works of mercy by scheduling time to go out as a team, do a few of them together, and then reflect on them.

In Baltimore where I live and work, we are surrounded by some amazing Catholic historical and religious sites. RCIA became a more memorable experience that expanded horizons and made people feel at home in their new faith family. Different personalities and gifts are important, but they should work in unity. Be mindful of what kind of personalities and gifts will resonate with the experience of people going through your program. Think Ahead New converts are frequently powerful and fresh witnesses to the joy of their faith and are often ready and excited to get involved.

Before the RCIA process is over, start looking for opportunities to move new Catholics into the service opportunities and ministries of your parish. Each year on August 15, we celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a Feast Day commemorating when she was taken body and soul into heaven after her earthly life was completed CCC By wholly trusting the Lord and following his will, Mary is the most exemplary model we have in living out our faith and trusting in God.

Faustina frequently referred to Mary as the model of her life. In her diary, St.

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Faustina would often ask Mary to teach her to continue to trust God even in sorrow, not wanting suffering to break her faith. Trust goes both ways. One of the many reasons God chose Mary to care for his son was because he could trust her as well — in the good times and the bad. God has a plan for every person, and it is up to us to show our trustworthiness in him and for him.

Trusting in the Lord can certainly be easier said than done.

With trust comes obedience to God. This kind of submission takes risk, but God promises us that everything will work out for the good in the end. Trust is the foundation in any relationship. Dana Edwards currently resides in Tallahassee, Florida where she works as a Digital Strategist, and volunteers as a lector, with communication outreach, and on the Parish Council at her local parish, Good Shepherd Catholic Church. Who was it that claimed the Church is irrelevant to young people?

Who was it that claimed young people did not seek or yearn for Christ? WYD is the largest gathering of Catholic young adults in a series of events sponsored by the Church.

How to Meditate

First initiated by St. John Paul II in , WYD is celebrated at the diocesan level annually and at the international level every two to three years at different locations around the world. People do not attend as tourists, but rather as pilgrims, since the nature of the composite events are religious in character. Typically, pilgrims will arrange lodging in the host city before participating in the opening ceremonies, catechesis, and cultural exhibitions.

Taking advantage of all the host city has to offer, pilgrims will usually also spend time exploring the region especially churches , shopping for religious souvenirs, and tasting the local cuisine… and very rarely alone! As the locals are quick to notice, the host city will be absolutely inundated with pilgrim groups, each identified by various flags, shirts, and chants. The focus of WYD events centers around the arrival of the pope: everyone wants to hear what the Holy Father has to say to the young pilgrims at various sites and events.

Traditionally, the Holy Father will address crowds from his residence, during Masses, Stations of the Cross, and the overnight vigil during which millions camp out together in prayer. The conclusion of the Vigil Mass the following day signals the end of the official WYD program, though at that time the next host city is formally announced. Encountering millions of young believers in addition to curious observers who are inherently joyful in their witnesses to the Lord, I am especially delighted to see them interact with each other through songs, chants, prayers, and games during scheduled events or out in the streets.

For me, some of the most powerful witnesses given happened outside of the official program though seeing millions kneel before the Blessed Sacrament with lit candles during the vigil was indescribably moving. I remember seeing a group of Italian pilgrims run over to help a local disabled man carry groceries up a number of street stairs; another group immediately rushed to comfort a female pilgrim who had broken down during our 12 kilometer about 7.

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  • At the beginning of Mass at the great Shrine of Czestochowa, Pope Francis missed a stair step and fell, thankfully uninjured. He later explained that, "I was watching an image of the Madonna, and I forgot the step. When I heard the news, I remembered a similar experience of my tripping on the stairs upon seeing a lovely peer of mine go by. To have that ineffably tender and peaceful focus on the Blessed Mother, to be in awe of the Virgin, reflects the perfect love God has for her and for each of us.

    WYD may have ended, but the mission entrusted to the young pilgrims by Pope Francis still burns in our hearts: Launch us on the adventure of mercy! Launch us on the adventure of building bridges and tearing down walls, barriers and barbed wire. Launch us on the adventure of helping the poor, those who feel lonely and abandoned, or no longer find meaning in their lives. Send us, like Mary of Bethany, to listen attentively to those we do not understand, those of other cultures and peoples, even those we are afraid of because we consider them a threat.

    Make us attentive to our elders, as Mary of Nazareth was to Elizabeth, in order to learn from their wisdom. May each of us always endeavor to accomplish it! To learn more about World Youth Day, please click here. For more World Youth Day reflections, please click here.