Keep the Pen in His Hand
I, like many other Catholic/Christian teens, have “given in” to youth group after years of faith formation, only to find it was nothing like I expected. I have not just made friends and ate mini corn dogs, I have embraced God in a whole new way. Instead of thinking youth group is a roadblock in the highway of my teen life, I now think of it as a “gas station”, a place where I can reflect on how far I’ve come in this earthly life and where I’ll go in my future. My Catholic/Christian education has influenced my personal values by helping me with my choice of friends, a better understanding of hard situations, and my opinion on adulthood.
Have you ever had a friend who is full of putdowns? They never have a nice thing to say to anyone. Even though this friend is mean and cold-hearted, they are popular, and always have the best of everything. Being around them makes you feel popular too. In the Ten Commandments, it tells us to not covet our neighbor’s goods. You shouldn’t be hanging out with this person if it only makes you feel popular. Do they make you laugh? Do they include and pray for you? Youth group encourages us to interact with everyone, and treat everyone with kindness and respect. It doesn’t matter if friends have the best things, it matters what they have inside.
My Catholic education has helped me better understand hard situations. I am adopted, and before youth group, I didn’t really understand why my birthmother let me go. On September 17th, 2005, my father was delivering a baby girl. The mother knew she couldn’t take care of this girl, what with having two kids in hard times. Her sin had taken the pen out of God’s hand, and she would have to pay the price. She told the doctor (my father) her situation and he informed her he and his wife were in contact with an adoption agency. Three days later, I was adopted by my father and mother. My Catholic education has helped me understand why my birthmother had to let me go. My faith has helped me understand God’s plan for me.
Like many other kids, I have an opinion on my future. As I learn more about the Lord, I know what kind of career I should have, one that is good for both me and society. I have also changed my opinion on choosing a spouse. I have learned, in order to have a healthy relationship, there are many factors to consider. It is a good idea to find someone who is a believer so we can support each other in our spiritual love. I want to share the sacrament of marriage with someone special.
Besides teaching me about Jesus, youth group has taught me some powerful lessons! I learned that God works in mysterious and unexpected ways, but whatever he does, trust in him. I better understand hard choices, such as my adoption. My opinion on adulthood is coming together, helping me to better understand God’s plan for me.
Council 6038 - Oakland Diocese Chapter -& California State Winner
Tied for 2nd Place in the Knights of Columbus International competition.
How Does My Family Keep Its Catholic Faith In Action?
A recent survey done revealed that 80% of Catholics lose their faith by the time they are
23 years old. As I continued my research, I learned that two of the major reasons for this
depressing statistic were the participants slowly lost interest in Catholicism and their families were never that religious when growing up anyway. It was perplexing for me to read this because my family and parents are so nurturing in providing me with spiritual sustenance and excitement in my faith everyday. By taking part in sacraments and praying together regularly, engaging in artistic and intellectual activities to learn about Catholicism, and watching out for each others actions and habits, my family keeps its Catholic faith in action.
A large part of being a good Catholic is participating in the sacraments bodily and
spiritually and talking to God. You can find mentions of the importance of each and every
sacrament all over the bible. My mother takes the commitments of a Catholic very seriously. Not only does my family go to church and try to pray the rosary every Sunday, but we all go to
confession with each other. Growing up in a family of five children, we all always try to
participate in the Mass to set good examples for everyone else. In addition, by getting sent to
Catholic schools, my siblings and I are educated deeply in the rest of the sacraments, apologetics, and basic teachings everyday.
In order to keep faith alive, you must find a way to make it fresh and compelling which is why my parents have thought up creative approaches for us to experience our faith not only learn about it. One of the greatest periods in art history was the Baroque period which brought many Catholics back to the faith because of its moving paintings. So, to take part in this period of the church, my parents take my family and me to the Legion of Honor, an art museum in San Francisco. At the Legion of Honor, my sisters and I observe the masterpieces that have inspired many generations of Catholics. Intellectually, my family actively lives its faith through dinner discussions. My family loves to hold eloquent debates, so meeting at the same time every night gives us all a chance to express our opinions, become strong defenders of our faith, and correct each other where we do not understand certain issues. Pope Francis once said,“ Peace will be lasting in the measure that we arm our children with the weapons of dialogue, that we teach them to fight the good fight of encounter and negotiation.” Our faith lives are enlivened by the dialogue which is encouraged by Pope Francis.
The choices we make and the habits we form everyday may seem unimportant but are actually the lifeblood of a healthy relationship with God which is why my family vigorously corrects and aids one another in decision making. To keep one’s faith, a person must act on it along with knowing about it. So, when my sisters advise me not to gorge on chips or to not get upset when we are settling a disagreement, they set me up for future success in my relationships, health, and attitude which overall leads to a better connection with my faith.
My family pushes one another towards doing the right thing so that we can decide what to do for ourselves and keep our faith alive by choice, but not by force. This encourages us to learn about Catholicism and have our hearts occupied by it in our decision making and outlook on the creations before us. Many Catholics are leaving the church, but I am not worried. If there are people like my siblings and parents in the world, who are constantly working to keep people committed to God, then there is always hope!
Council 6038 - Oakland Diocese Chapter -& California State Winner
Ways I share My Time Talents & Treasurers at Home, School and in my Church Community
Love your neighbor as yourself. Who told us that and why? Jesus told us this commandment to achieve peace everywhere we go. Jesus taught us by example how to share our time, talents, and treasures at home, school, and in our church community. It is not always easy to do this, as we can see from the way to the cross, but I try my best everyday in everything that I do.
I share my time, talents, and treasures at home by doing chores and helping out at home. I assist my parents by making my bed, tossing out the trash, washing the dishes, mopping, watering the plants, and helping with cooking and laundry. To do these chores, I have to cut time off shows and movies on the television. Lending a hand to Mom and Dad and doing not only my own chores, but also other chores that are not mine without being told or asked is also appreciable to my parents. If I have a playdate at my house I have to go 50-50 with my toys and practice the virtue of generosity. I not only share my gifts at home, but I also share them at school.
At school, I have learned to share, lend a hand, and be an example for the younger kids. When a new kid comes to my school, I can play soccer with him or her with my ball. Also, picking up the trash is setting an example for little kindergartners so they can also learn to take care of our school. I also like to lend a hand to the teachers whenever I can, and pray in class for those in need. If I am a student that is focused and responsible, God will be jumping for joy up in heaven. I like to make God happy and that's why I also help out in my parish.
At my parish, Saint Francis of Assisi, I offer my help however I can. I love singing with my parents in the 7pm Sunday mass. At church I also have the opportunity to clean up around the parish, and help the elderly by spending time and chatting with them. I also have the opportunity to donate food through the program of St. Vincent de Paul. Sharing my time with the elderly and helping out around my parish, is a way to honor God.
To share my time, talents, and treasures at home, school, and in my church community is a way to follow Jesus' path and spread peace everywhere I go. Because the second person of the Blessed Trinity said so, you should love your neighbor as yourself, and give yourself as a gift whenever you can. My parents, school, and priest have all taught me this and I am happy to share my time, talents, and treasures with them.