BLOG: July Formation Reflection

Who better to tie together sacramental and community lives into one that St. Therese? Not only is she one of our patron saints as WOYA’s…but she’s brilliant and full of words of wisdom through her “little way.” She knows a lot about the sacramental and community life, despite the fact that she lived a mere 24 years, because she entered the Carmelite order at the age of 15. Need a little more information on her? Check out Father Martin’s video here.

As women of faith involved in youth ministry we have individually spent plenty of time developing our own strategies for how to develop communities of faith saturated in the sacraments. So rather than focusing on what we need to building such communities…I want to focus on what we need to beware of because they tear down communities. Two things comes to came to mind following our last Saturday formation meeting: gossip and pride.

Pope Francis further developed the first point (gossip) this reflection from May 2013. “When we prefer to gossip, gossip about others, criticize others- these are everyday things that happen to everyone, including me – these are the temptations of the evil one who does not want the Spirit to come to us and bring about peace and meekness in the Christian community”. “These struggles always exist” in the parish, in the family, in the neighborhood, among friends”. Instead through the Spirit we are born into a new life, he makes us “meek, charitable.”

The Holy Father then outlined the correct behavior for a Christian. First, “do not judge anyone” because “the only Judge is the Lord.” Then “keep quiet” and if you have something to say, say it to the interested parties, to those “who can remedy the situation,” but “not to the entire neighborhood.” “If, by the grace of the Holy Spirit – concluded Pope Francis – we succeed in never gossiping, it will be a great step forward” and “will do us all good”. For our Holy Father’s full reflection you can visit the Radio Vaticano website here.

The second of these is less obvious. We all work with young girls and we are all too well aware of the fact that gossip is nothing but painful. But what about pride? Well pride gets in the way of bring (1) gentle and (2)humble which are the two qualities we mentioned during the July formation meeting at qualities we need (and are given by God) in order to have a fulfilling sacramental ad community life. These are two of the qualities that come to my mind…but what would you add?

Just a thought!

And what better way to end than with a “tought” from our Holy Father while in Rio for WYD:

“We need saints without cassocks, without veils – we need saints with jeans and tennis shoes. We need saints that go to the movies that listen to music, that hang out with their friends. We need saints that place God in first place ahead of succeeding in any career. We need saints that look for time to pray every day and who know how to be in love with purity, chastity and all good things. We need saints – saints for the 21st century with a spirituality appropriate to our new time. We need saints that have a commitment to helping the poor and to make the needed social change. We need saints to live in the world, to sanctify the world and to not be afraid of living in the world by their presence in it. We need saints that drink Coca-Cola, that eat hot dogs, that surf the internet and that listen to their iPods. We need saints that love the Eucharist, that are not afraid or embarrassed to eat a pizza or drink a beer with their friends. We need saints who love the movies, dance, sports, theater. We need saints that are open sociable normal happy companions. we need saints who are in this world and who know how to enjoy the best in this world without being callous or mundane. We need saints.” 

– Pope Francis, World Youth Day 2013

*CORRECTION: The quote was wrongly attributed to Pope Francis…but it still a great bit of wisdom so I thought I would leave it up!

BLOG: Sacramental and Community Life

In 1997, I was privileged to make a pilgrimage to Paris for World Youth Day, my first time The group that I accompanied was the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal and Youth 2000, two communities that were joined only because of the Eucharist and leading youth to Christ. What an awesome experience to be with them and celebrate with the Holy Father in France. After World Youth Day was over we had the opportunity to travel to Lisieux and to the site of St. Theresa’s birth, death and communal life in the Carmelites. What a joy to spend time in prayer where she prayed and lived. Her life was so short but so eventful and prayerful. She literally craved community! She begged the Pope to let her enter community life because she was able to listen to what God had in store for her. Even though she only lived a short 23 years, her love of community and the sacraments were such that it led her to be the great Saint and Doctor she is now.

I read “The Story of a Soul” many years ago and was touched by her discussion of community life and what it was like to be with those she loved and struggled to love. We all know that there are people in our lives that we love more than others and there are those that we struggle to love. After all, God said we had to “love one another” not “like one another” right? She struggled to be in community it appeared every second of every day, yet she stayed there because she knew it was what God wanted for her. Her struggles and joys were such that it led others in her community to be closer to God and even Saints! Isn’t that what we are called to do? Shouldn’t we be doing that in Community as well?

Community life is difficult but the Sacraments can overcome any difficulty. The more we celebrate our community life with one another and join together in the sacraments, the closer we grow to God and what He wants for our Community. It brigs us closer to each other and helps us to love one another even more. As it is said in “Les Miserables”, “to love another person is to see the face of God”.