All posts by Team RiseUp

“The Real World” – Change
by Lola Martin

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“​Change.​ ” That’s quite a daunting word, if you ask me. A lot of us don’t like change, especially when it seems like the world around us is set just the way we want it to be. Sometimes, change is necessary. As you grow, the world surrounding you is growing as well. Keeping the same mainstream lifestyle can seem a bit outdated, don’t you think?

In life, we are not only meant to grow, but flourish. You’re probably thinking, “​Those two words mean the same thing!”​ Ah, they are similar, but not quite the same.

By definition, the word, “​grow​” means,
“​To undergo natural development by increasing in size and changing physically; progress to maturity.​ ”

The word, “​flourish”​ means,

“​To grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment.​”

Up until recently, I never realized that there was a difference between those two ideas. By the time you read this, I will be preparing to start a new journey in my life: college. This may be a journey that you are starting within the next few months or years. The one question I often get asked is, “Are you scared?” 99.99% of the time, I respond with great confidence, “​No​.” But if I am being completely honest with myself, I most definitely have fears.

I am most content with how I’ve grown in my faith throughout high school. I have become very involved in my faith community, something that holds a dear place in my heart. However, I fear that something so DIFFERENT and VIBRANT as college, may distort the idea of “faith” for me. This might be something different for you. You may be afraid of leaving your home, your city, your family, or your friends. Though I will miss all of those things, I am most afraid of being stranded from my faith.

I will never forget the time my parish hosted a visiting priest (I feel horrible for not remembering his name). This priest held a Q&A session for the youth at one of our youth nights, and I remember asking him (still being four years away from college), “​How do you keep your faith in college?​” I vividly remember his response, “​You must take your faith and own it.”​

“​Own it? What does that even mean?​” my fifteen year-old self thought. Over the years, I learned that there is only one person in charge of me: Me! In college, the “Real World” as they say, no one is going to be watching over me. No one is going to tell me to go to Mass on Sunday’s. No

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one is going to tell me to read Scripture or pray the rosary. I have the free will to do it (or not to do it) all on my own.

As I realized this in high school, I did everything I could to build a firm foundation for my faith. Holding myself accountable, I continued to attend youth group weekly, I started going to Mass by myself, and I began to read Scripture as often as I could. I made my relationship with God a priority. Before I knew it, I had made my faith my own. It wasn’t anyone else’s responsibility to tell me what to do with it. It was mine, all mine.

Here I am, just weeks away from college. I no longer fear for my faith, for it is my own. I am eager to start a new life, in my home away from home. What is the purpose of growing, if you’re not going to flourish? What is the point of developing, if you’re not going to develop in a “healthy or vigorous” way? Don’t settle for a mediocre faith. God is eager to know you… so let Him know you. This new change in my life, college, is going to be OKAY, because change is OKAY!

Whether you are years or weeks away from college (or currently in college), I encourage you to seek the campus ministry on your campus. I’m positive that almost every campus has one. If yours doesn’t (bummer), find the nearest one off campus! Do so, whether you are far away from Christ or hold Him close to your heart. He will always be close to you, regardless.

Whatever you do, don’t stop searching for what will fully complete your heart in the end. God matters, and you matter to Him. He should matter to you because He created you. He knit you uniquely in your mother’s womb, and He knows exactly where He wants to take you in this crazy world of ours. He wants to show you. He wants to make Himself known to you. God matters, and you matter to Him.

Embrace change with an open heart. After all, it’s God’s work at hand.

“​You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you​.” ~ St. Augustine.

Faith > Fear.

Breakthrough and Miracles
by Nancy M Powers

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In theaters now is a movie based on the true story of a teenage boy who fell through ice and was submerged for over 15 minutes.  After being rescued from the ice, he was rushed to the hospital and for 45 minutes the doctors attempted to revive him with CPR to no avail.  It is a story of hope, perseverance and prayer and begins with a mothers cry at her childs bedside, “Holy Spirit, please come and give me my son back.”  

So often when faced with challenges, we throw our hands in the air and embrace defeat.  We ask where is God in this without reaching out to Him.  The Mom in the movie asked big for sure.  Some challenges may need just a small ask.  But ask we should.  So my question to you is how can miracles happen when we never ask for them?  

I’ve cried out to God a couple times recently.  One big cry was for a friend diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.  I wanted a miracle and I prayed for one along with his Mom and a throng of other people.  I claimed it because I knew if God felt like there was more to do here on earth, He’d hear our prayer and heal my friend.  Now I’m not saying I’d hate God if it didn’t happen but I am saying that I felt strongly I had to ask.  So I believed and saw little signs of encouragement along the way…Like the guy in the hospital elevator who’s t-shirt said “God is bigger than cancer”…And the first set of scans that were blurry…And his wife who wanted to slow things down a bit as it was coming too fast, this death sentence.  So when the news came that there was NO stage 4 pancreatic cancer, I praised God for hearing the fervent prayers of us all.  But I have to say, as I told the story over and over again, many wanted to say it was mistakes made.  Their comments left me feeling, “No wonder we miss so many miracles.  We don’t look at life through eyes of faith”.  Miracles must be reviewed, revisited, reflected on.  Look back in your life and reflect on those challenges when you cried out to God.  Maybe the response you received wasn’t the original one intended but I bet you can see Him there.  

In both of these instances, mine and the one in Breakthough, the miracle began with a cry of one, joined by the prayers of many and a God who cares so deeply for us that he is there in every situation…even the smallest of situations.  So don’t be afraid to cry out and then ask others to join you in pray too because where two or three are gathered God is there.  And trust Him.  Even if these people had not been healed, God would still be there providing comfort, encouragement and love.  He really does care that much!  So from this day forward let’s all look for the miracles in our lives! 

I Will Rise! Happy Easter!
by Onie Lee

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I was listening to the radio in my car, and the song “I Will Rise” by Chris Tomlin came on.  At first, my interest was piqued because the word rise was in it, but as I listened to the lyrics, I realized what a great Easter message it has. I even texted to the music director at church as a suggested song to use at Easter.  The song talks about how God overcame the grave and how we will rise us up if we have faith and do our best to follow Him.  The lyrics go on to show the love of Jesus and how He died on the cross so we can live with Him in heaven forever. “And I will rise when He calls my name/No more sorrow, no more pain/ I will rise on eagles’ wings/Before my God fall on my knees/And rise/I will rise”. 

On Easter, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.  Like the song says, death is finally conquered, and the victory is on!   While this sounds like such good news, when it comes to everyday life, this message might be hard to remember all the time. The world we live in can be a cruel, dark, and ugly place.  I know many times I don’t feel victory and even feel alone and abandoned. What gets me through these difficult times is relying on the love that God has for me. Imagine where we would be if everything ended with Jesus death on Good Friday.  It is only through Jesus’ resurrection that God can transform our darkest moments into the greatest act of love we have ever known.   The resurrection of Christ gives us hope in the promise of eternal life.  It is an invitation to follow Christ. No matter what is happening in the world and in our lives, the Resurrection is so much bigger than all of those things. His promise to us is so much bigger.  Jesus’ resurrection allows us also to rise with Him when he calls us.  

Jesus is alive and inviting us to Rise Up and remember that victory is on this Easter! Let us all strive to say yes to an invitation to eternal life with Christ. That is the reason to celebrate! Peace, grace, love, and Happy Easter to you!  

Rise Up Take Aways
by Staël Dantes

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Biblical and Spiritual Inspirations

Book of Esther<br/>Life of Saint Jose Sanchez del Rio

SUMMARY: Have you ever felt like you just don’t fit in, mocked as an oddball or weirdo for what you believe? Have you ever felt as if living your faith would isolate you from your “friends” because they want to do things that go against your values? It would seem that these days, living out your Faith is not the popular thing to do. Many people see faith as an obstacle to Joy, Peace, and Freedom when it is our faith in Jesus that is the key to achieving these. 

In John 14:6 Jesus says the following: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus tells us that the only way we can “come to the father” is by following His example. We need to live the life he has shown us. This means we need to live boldly! 

What does it mean to live boldly? To live boldly is to live confidently and courageously; showing a willingness to take risks. The message of the Gospel is full of power. The love of God for us demands that we live differently. It requires us to live counter-culturally as Jesus showed us. We have the truth, and it is up to us to live by that truth at all costs. 

An incredible example of this can be found in the life of Saint Jose Sanchez del Rio. He was a 14-year-old boy who was put to death by Mexican government officials during the Cristero War because he refused to renounce his Catholic faith. When the Cristero War broke out in 1926 Jose’s mother and the rebel general, Prudencio Mendoza refused to let him enlist. The boy insisted that he wanted the chance to give his life for Jesus Christ. The general finally relented and allowed José to become the flagbearer of the troop. 

During heavy fighting on January 25, 1928, Mendoza’s horse was killed, and José gave his horse to the general so that the fight could go on. Then he sought cover until the government troops captured Jose and imprisoned him in the sacristy of the local church. It was later reported that José was ordered by the government to renounce his faith in Christ, under threat of death but he refused.

To break his resolve, he was made to watch the hanging of another Cristero that they had in custody, but instead José encouraged the man, saying that they would soon meet again in Heaven after death. In prison, José prayed the rosary daily and wrote an emotional letter to his mother, saying that he was ready to fulfill the will of God to whom he dedicated himself. The following is an account of how St. Jose was Martyred: 

“Consequently, they cut the bottom of his feet and obliged him to walk around the town toward the cemetery. They also at times cut him with a machete until he was bleeding from several wounds. He cried and moaned with pain, but he did not give in. At times they stopped him and said, ‘If you shout, “Death to Christ the King” we will spare your life.’ José would only shout, ‘I will never give in. Viva Cristo Rey! (Long live Christ the King!)'”

Jose died on February 10, 1928. He knew what it was to live boldly for his faith and not hold anything back. He is a perfect example to the rest of us on how to live boldly for the Lord. In his world, one could die for practicing the Catholic faith. We must all live a bold example of faith, being unafraid to stand up for the cause of Christ in our everyday lives. We CAN live a counter-cultural lifestyle of faith and virtue and go against the grain of our culture.

Challenged to Rise!

Choose one way you can tangibly be bolder in your faith – whether that’s inviting your family to church, walking away from gossip, to write an essay about your values in school – whatever that looks like for you, DO IT!

Discussion Questions

1.    Has there been a time in your life that you were made fun of or mocked as weird or “different” for your faith? What was that situation like and how did it make you feel?

2.    What does it mean to live boldly?

3.    Who in your life is an example of living a bold life?

4.    What are some challenges that you face to living your faith boldly?

5.    How can the life of St. Jose inspire you to be bolder? 

6.    Who in your life needs the love of God, and how can you be bold in sharing that with them?

Push Your Fears Aside
by Lola Martin

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What a beautiful thing, being able to gather in one place and worship the same God in unity. Nothing makes me more proud to be a Christian than partaking in this fellowship. Rise Up has opened a multitude of doors for us to grow in faith. It is a place where all brokenness is welcome. It a place that allows that brokenness to be healed by Christ.

This past Rise Up was one of the best ones yet. We praised God with ALOB, who sang songs such as, “Lion and the Lamb,” “Build My Life,” and even his originals like, “God Hero.” Lead singer of ALOB, Andrew Laubacher, touched on his conversion experience as a teenager. At just eighteen years old, Andrew was an atheist. He spent most of his time partying and doing everything that his friends wanted him to do. At one point, he finally felt God calling him home to Catholicism. He turned his stony heart into a new heart, and devoted his musical talent to worship music.

After enjoying a fantastic concert, ALOB segwayed us into Emily Wilson’s testimony. Here is a brief summary of Emily’s witness:

Simply put, living out your faith in today’s world is by no means easy. We know that taking that leap of faith is the right thing to do, but it’s not the popular option at all. Sometimes it’s easier to live in fear, hiding your faith, than going out into the world with courage and sharing the love of Christ with those around us. Emily shared that during her college years at Arizona State University, her “friends” would judge her behind her back. They judged her because she never wanted to party or drink, she never brought guys back to her dorm, and all she wanted to do in college was devote her life to Christ. So she shared going to daily Mass at the chapel in the center of campus. Emily recalled that the scariest thing for her to do was put her hand on the handle of the chapel door, fearful that everyone could see what she was about to do. Each morning, however, Emily prayed a small prayer under her breath, “Jesus help me to be brave.” She even looked up to saints like José Sánchez, who died a martyr at just fourteen years old in Mexico during the Cristero War. Even to the point of torture, José never renounced his faith, but instead proclaimed with great bravery, “I will never give in, Viva Cristo Rey!” This translates to, “Long live Christ the King!”

After Emily Wilson’s testimony, we were given the opportunity to encounter Christ in a personal way; an experience that could be life-changing all on its own.

You see, publicly living out your faith can be done in small steps. Whether it’s praying aloud before a meal at a restaurant, starting a bible study at your school, or walking into the chapel for daily Mass, everything has a great reward: Heaven. This is what God promises us, eternal life with Him. We are called to push our fears aside and go bravely into the world, introducing Christ to everyone around us, regardless of the obstacles that may come our way. “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” (John 6:35)

Viva Cristo Rey!

Blessings, Lola Martin

Wonderful! Powerful!
by Sydney Barber

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Wonderful! Powerful!! Worship! Those are just a few words that came to my mind as the night began. It was my very first Rise Up event and I was left speechless. I could not believe how many people came out and shared a night of support, love, and faith. It was amazing to see so many parishes and family come together as one to share their love for Christ. 

I have never heard the worship music of ALOB but not long after they hit the stage, I found myself singing along with the crowd. I had not realized how big a hit he was. Everyone knew all his music and were singing along. They all rushed up to the stage with their arms linked and were belting out the words.

So, ALOB is just a nickname. His real name is Andrew Laubacher. It was amazing to hear his story of how he started his worship band. He went from the complete opposite side of faith and belief, to someone who found Christ through prayer and Church. He realized that he needed to put his life in Christs hands and see the wonderful power that he can do. 

We heard some great music that night, but that was not all. We also heard from an amazing inspirational speaker – Emily Wilson. She arrived, from California, a few hours early to prepare for the talk she was about to give. Emily is a vibrant, powerful, and amazing speaker who just had a baby four months ago! That really impressed me. Not only did she just have a baby and is now a new mom, but she brought him with her on this journey and exposes him to the wonderful work that God has called her to do. She expressed to us that it is not always easy doing the right thing and when God called her to follow him, she struggled at times. She felt that she was alone and she even lost friends along the way. However, the ones that supported her and believed in her made Emily that much stronger. She knew that this was the path God intended her to take.

Life is not a cake walk! Yes, you may struggle and yes, you may feel alone at times, but there is something greater God has planned for you and we all have to be a little patient. Just think, had Emily given in to her struggles and the peer pressure she felt in college so she could keep her “so called” friends that had abandoned her when she needed them the most, we may have not had the pleasure of listening and being inspired by her. 

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