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What Does Your Life Point To?
by Nancy M. Powers

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On June 24, 2019, Rise Up marks its anniversary! We celebrate the 4 year anniversary of the beginning of this exciting event ministry for our young church. And I love this date because it is also a day we celebrate St. John the Baptist, the precursor to Christ!

John the Baptist was a relative of Jesus. Remember Mary traveled to visit her relative Elizabeth who was pregnant with John. John leapt in Elizabeth’s womb when Mary approached, pregnant with Jesus. John was an all-in kinda guy. Approximately, in the year 29 A.D., John goes into the wilderness, dons clothes made of camel hair and eats nothing but locusts and honey (this is the garb of a prophet). It was a simple life, intentionally. A life without distraction because he had a job to do. A job that would require prayer, focus, courage and perseverance. John was to point people to Jesus Christ. “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” He preached repentance and shared the good news about Jesus!

So on this anniversary, it’s good for us to reflect on what our lives point to? Are we intentional in our prayer, focus, courage and perseverance in order to become who God created us to be? When people look at us do they see goodness, integrity, honesty? Do our lives point to Jesus Christ as the source and summit of our lives? It’s not easy! John boldly told Roman soldiers with a reputation of corruption to “Rob no one by violence.” He told tax-collectors who were known to be deceitful to “Collect no more than is appointed you.” He even opposed the unlawful marriage of Herod. I’m sure he was ridiculed and thought less of because of his views, but he was bold and he knew “one mightier” was coming to save us all.

This week think of ways your life could better point to Jesus Christ. It could be in the little thing like the way you talk about your faith. Speak bolder. It could be the way you strive to uphold christian virtue. Strive harder. It could be in the way you strengthen yourself. Pray deeper.

Thank you St. John the Baptist for the gift of Rise Up, a ministry pointing young people to Christ. Be our example and lets together build up our young church.

(A huge shoutout and appreciation to Sophia Lee whose original artwork of St. John the Baptist accompanies this blog. Thank you Sophia!)

Summer Trips!
by Elena Schiavo

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Have you ever been white-water rafting? Have you ever had adoration under the stars covered in mud? Have you ever been to a dance party with 2500+ teens all adoring Our Savior? If not, then you probably haven’t gone to Covecrest or Steubenville…

Hi! My name is Elena Schiavo and I’m here to tell you about my summer trips that I’ll be attending this summer! For most of my high-school years I’ve had the privilege to go to Covecrest and Steubenville many times and I can’t tell you enough how much I love them! Covecrest is a Lifeteen week-long summer camp up in Tiger, Georgia. Each week, there’s 8 or 9 parishes from around the United States that come together to learn more about our faith and to have fun with people who share the same faith as you do! The first day you get there, you are welcomed by College Students who get assigned to your parish for the week, leading your parish small groups, doing all the activities with you, and helping you on your faith journey. Throughout the week. we go on many adventures you wouldn’t even imagine doing…climbing mountains, having Mass everyday in the middle of jaw-dropping scenery, talks and endless dance parties, family dinners, giant games filled with mud, white-water rafting…just to name a few.

Steubenville is a 3-day weekend conference either led by Franciscan University or Lifeteen.  There’s about 25 conferences around the United States with anywhere from 2000-7000 teens attending. I’ve been to Steubenville Conferences 3 times now and I’m excited to say that I will be attending Steubenville Atlanta this upcoming July! The weekend is filled with Catholic Speakers who come from all over the United States to give testimonies and to teach us more about our faith. We have many encounters with Christ through adoration and Mass! You may have heard people say it’s like a big RiseUp, well I can surely testify that that is spot-on! If you love RiseUp, you will love Steubenville even more! A 3-day long conference just like RiseUp, with 75% more teens! My faith journey started at a Steubenville Conference and I can assure you that if you haven’t gone to it, you are missing a great opportunity! I want to encourage you all to take the next step in your faith and attend one of these summer trips, or any summer trips your Parish may be attending this summer!

“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

When can I go and meet with God?”    -Psalms 42:2

It’s been a pleasure sharing with you and I hope to see you at one of these amazing trips!

“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! 

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