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A Conversation with Gabe, Liam, Luke and Sarah Cate

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Recently, I wanted to find out how some young people were feeling about COVID, faith and their prayer life.  It was a small taste of the disruption COVID has had on all of our lives and how we’ve all been challenged to dig a bit deeper to hang on to prayer, our connection to God and our connections to each other.  

Many of us had to adjust to online church services, on-line school and on-line meet ups.  It was a weird time for sure.  We felt an immediate and complete disconnection to relationships we’ve grown to love and depend on – our relationship with God, our relationships with friends and our relationships with loved ones we could no longer see in person.  

Not being able to physically go to church services meant we had to really commit to attending in a different way, through YouTube services.  It wasn’t easy and some did and some didn’t.  

Gabe Loomis said, “COVID has affected my faith life because I hadn’t been able to go in Mass and pray instead I had to pray at my house which is o.k. but I would rather, if I could, be in the house of God.”  At Mass I feel like I am more in touch with God but at home there are many distractions.

Liam Bradley said, “COVID has affected me because when they stopped having Mass I felt like I was pulled away from God and my prayer life was slowing and I wasn’t praying as much.”  

Sarah Cate Bradley said, “COVID has affected us because we can’t go to church events like Rise Up (note from me:  Rise Up did host PopUp Rise Up and hopefully, God willing, will be back on track this May) and we can’t hold hands…and sometimes we can’t even attend church.

Gabe, Liam and Sarah Cate felt an emptiness, a change and they were forced to adjust.  Gabe spoke about distractions when watching services on-line.  He said some of them were things like being able to see what’s going on outside, his little brothers were playing with toys nearby and he was really comfy on that couch.  I, as an adult, had some of the same distractions.  The couch was really comfy.  I had to really make myself focus and participate.  It was hard for sure.  But all of us felt a need to worship God who loves us so much.  We had to go to Him no matter how hard it was.   

Relationships with friends was hard too.  First of all, you couldn’t see them in person.  So sometimes the posts weren’t as nice and respectful as they could have been.  Some young people have told me about the bullying they received.  With heightened emotions, some young people didn’t know how to handle those feelings – feelings of loneliness, despair, isolation.  If you’re feeling any of these things, reach out to someone and let them know.  Talk to your pastor, your parent or other adult you trust.  They can help.  

And prayer is important!  Take some time to go into a quiet place and be still.  Listen to God.  Talk to him.  Luke Loomis says, “ I pray best at the end of the day before I go to bed and during Mass.”  Sarah Cate says, “ I pray best in my room…because that’s where I have the most focus.”  Liam say’s, “I pray best in my room because it’s quiet and I can focus.” You too can find your quiet place and the place where you can focus.  

Our relationships and prayer should go hand in hand.  Liam and Sarah Cate both pray before making hard decisions.  Liam says, “I ask Him to help me make the right choices when I’m with my friends.:”  Sarah Cate told me of a time when a friend pressured her to do something she knew was wrong.  She said, “I prayed to God for strength to tell her no.”      

So as things begin to get back to normal.  Remember all these feelings.  Remember how you felt when you couldn’t go to church.  Remember the distance you felt from your family and friends and don’t take all of that for granted.  Praise God.  Connect to Him and connect to friends in a positive uplifting way.  

And one last note about prayer…even Liam finds a time and place.  It’s right before a test.  How many of you have prayed then?  I know I have! 

Rise Up lifts all of your in prayer.  See you at Rise Up soon!

Who Do You Say I Am?

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Jesus asked his disciples this very question, “Who do you say I am?” Some of them said he was John the Baptist, some Elijah some Jeremiah.  These were all prophets.  But when he asked Peter, Peter responded “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

Peter was a witness to Jesus’ public life.  He heard Him preach, he saw Him heal, he even saw Him raise the dead.  Peter knew Jesus was not like the other prophets he had read about and studied as a Jewish young man.  No, this man Jesus was different.  And by faith and encounter alone, Peter understood who Jesus really was.  

If Jesus asked me that same question today, “Who do you say I am?” What would I say?  What would you say?  Do we think of him as just a historical figure who lived a long, long time ago?  Do we think of him as a prophet on the same level as others who imparted their wisdom and spirituality on the world?  Or do we think of Him as the Son of the Living God?  

The Son of the Living God.   A God who lives with us…loves us… formed us in His likeness and gave us His Son as a living sacrifice for our sins.  And Jesus, his Son, who came and dwelt among us…taught, welcomed, chastised the powerful and uplifted the poor, healed the sick and raised the dead, and the best part of all…even after His death and resurrection, he wanted to remain with us through His Holy Spirit.  

So today, if we really let it happen, we will feel Jesus through prayer.  Let that feeling wash over you and transform your life.  Let your prayer be sincere and rest in His presence.  Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God and He is right here…right now… as present as he was over 2000 years ago.  Reach out because He is who He says He is!  

What Is Your Life Pointing Towards
by Katie Nelms

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There are times when things seem so hectic and uncertain that we feel the need to just be. We think that only a simple word from our mouths will cause an uproar or that if we go outside the safety of our homes, we will be judged or unsafe. I have felt this way to many times over the past six months. If I am being entirely honest with you, I have felt this way several times in my life, especially in high school. I felt as if anything I said would turn people away from me, or that if I lived true to who I was, I would be judged and picked apart for being me. For three years, I lived in the safe space of my personal bubble. I dreaded going to lunch and having to walk through the room, seeing tables that marked different friend groups’ territory. This was something I did not have, I dreaded walking the halls alone, so I became addicted to my phone, something that gave me the slightest bit of comfort, and do not get me started on the heart-stopping moment of being called to the board by my algebra teacher. All of these things left me questioning what I needed to do differently to avoid experiencing this anxiety anymore… and then one night, I asked myself what is my life was pointing towards. And the scariest moment of my life occurred then when I realized it was pointing to nothing. I couldn’t bear the thought that I was living such a vanilla life I had literally become scared to live. 

 I knew it was time for a change, so I found myself signing my name on the list hanging on the door of our campus minister’s office to take part in the upcoming junior-senior retreat. I was terrified, but I recognized Christ did not call us to comfort, and I had been living there for a very long time. A few months later, I arrived at the campgrounds with a pillow, sleeping bag, clothes, and a very closed heart. But throughout that weekend, as I heard each of my peers open up about some of the deepest, most hidden moments of their lives, I realized I wasn’t as alone as I had felt for so long. I remember thinking to myself, you mean to tell me… the captain of the football team … the guy I pass in the hall every day, who is always surrounded by people trying to get his attention, yeah him… his life isn’t perfect? My world was pretty much turned upside down, and in realizing everyone has a story to tell, I also was able to step out of the cozy little bubble that had held me back for so long. Spoiler alert … This was just the beginning of a journey that I am still on, and one of the roadblocks I continue to try and overcome is the fact that I find myself hoping my life points toward me and not Christ. One of my greatest fears has always been that I won’t be known, I think this stemmed from the great loneliness I experienced during high school, and to prevent that from happening, I would do things that brought me further from God that I could be closer to others.

In this, I always felt incredibly empty. The harder I tried to be relevant to others, I realized I had lost what was most important to me, the love of the Father. In this realization, I found where I am genuinely known. Let me tell you there is an incredible amount of peace that comes from knowing you are loved and recognized by the Father, and most importantly, that he calls you by name. That is what I had longed for my entire life. You know that moment when you come in contact with someone you recognize but don’t exactly know, and they say your name… I don’t know about you, but I am always taken aback. Wow, you know my name? You feel known. That is how it is with the Father, he calls us by name, and we call Him by His. When you believe that, even in troubled times, you will live a life of purpose, joy, and peace, and you will know where it comes from and what it is pointing towards, The Father.

How To Make Holy Week Holy
by Nancy M. Powers

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Holy Week is fast approaching. We’re half way through lent. Palm Sunday will be here before you know it. The day commemorating when Jesus entered Jerusalem a hero, a Savior, the Christ. People laid out palms in front of Him. They praised Him and shouted accolades. But soon He would be scorned, scourged, ridiculed and led to His death. The Via Dolorosa – The Way of Grief. Holy Week takes us on His journey as we enter into His Via Dolorosa.

We have to challenge ourselves to find ways in which we can really enter into Holy Week. A Way that is a culmination of our Lenten Journey towards the most important moment ever…the Resurrection of Jesus – Our Easter!

Here are a few ideas you may want to consider. If you have others, share them at our Facebook page at RiseUpYC.org.

Open your bible and read Matthew 26 and 27. Marks writes about it in Mark 14 and 15. Luke leads us in Luke 22 and 23. And John, who stood at the foot of the Cross writes about Jesus’ last days in John 18 and 19.

One of the most powerful moments in my life was when I washed the feet of another. Within your family, read the Gospel describing Jesus washing the feet of the disciples and then wash the feet of your family. It’s powerful!

If you’re a visual person, you may want to watch “The Passion of the Christ” – inspired by the writings of Sister Anne Catherine Emmerich, known for her purported visions of Jesus’ crucifixion.

Spend time in prayer..real prayer. Enter into it. Light a candle. Place a cross or other image in front of you. Enter into a song, a prayer, the quiet. I’m reminded of the lyrics by Kari Jobe.

The more I seek you
The more I find you
The more I find you, the more I love you

I wanna sit at your feet
Drink from the cup in your hand.
Lay back against you and breath, feel your heart beat
This love is so deep, it’s more than I can stand.
I melt in your peace, it’s overwhelming

Make Holy Week overwhelming. If you do I know your Easter will be epic. We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song!

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