Category Archives: Pre-Launch

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“Do not conform to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing, and perfect”

-Romans 12:2

My name is Andrea.  I can, in almost all aspects, be considered a completely average teenage girl.  I am of average intelligence, average appearance, below average height, and of fairly average talent.  I came from a Catholic family and I went to Catholic school for 9 years, but for most of my life I would have also been considered an average Catholic.  And an average Catholic, as depicted by society, is one simply in title and not in practice.  To me, Mass was “eh” and the Eucharist was a nice snack break amidst the “eh” and Jesus and the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary were also “eh” + a little bit of “whatever”.  There were moments where I felt touched by God, where I felt some glint of divinity in the Eucharist or in the stories of the Saints, but two seconds later I would see a cute boy and that precious glimpse of truth would go flying out the window.

It wasn’t until a little over a year ago that I made a pledge to take the “average” out of my life.  And it has been the most difficult affirmation I have ever made.  I believe the Bible verse at the beginning of this entry is so incredibly applicable to all young adults, especially myself.  Because truly, we are young ADULTS.  Teenagers are completely capable of making life altering decisions and of affecting people in profound ways.  It’s easy for us to avoid that fact.  What we do is beyond the scope of our individual personhood.  Our thoughts and actions not only affect ourselves, our friends and our families, but they affect the Salvation of the world.  We are that important.

Yes.  It just got real.

You might be thinking that I’m some intense zealot sitting in my bedroom chugging sacrificial lamb blood while watching EWTN and blasting Gregorian chant.  But like I said, I only immersed myself in the Catholic faith about a year ago.  And oh was it a rocky journey.

The story of my deeper conversion begins with my move from Minnesota to Alabama right before my sophomore year of high school.  And let me put this out there, moving in high school may not be a huge deal for a lot of people but I felt like it was literally the end of my life.  When I found out I was moving to Alabama I figured I would be living in Cowtown, U.S.A fighting off stray farm animals and racists.  But it turns out, the suburb I was living in was not much different than the one I had lived in in Minnesota.  Only the climate was much more humid, wood roaches were everywhere, and cicadas wouldn’t shut up at night.

My first year in Alabama was the most difficult year of my life thus far.  I had promised myself that I wouldn’t bother with making friends or being social because I was just going to leave and go back to Minnesota or somewhere that wasn’t Alabama in three years anyways.  But that didn’t quite work out.  Because every person yearns to feel united with someone else.  And I just couldn’t fight that desire to be desired.  And so high school turned out to be not that bad.  I was really involved with theatre, going to competitions and even writing and directing a play my senior year.  Theatre was my life in high school.  That was where I belonged and that was where I was accepted and praised.

Religion was not a huge priority to me at that point in my life.  However, it’s almost impossible to move to the South and ignore all of the raging “Bible thumpers”.   The largest Baptist Church in my suburb seemed like the size of the Mall of America.  And I’m pretty sure it had just as much parking.  Thankfully, I made friends with a girl who was in several of my classes who was very active in the local Catholic Church’s youth group.  So I thought hey, if everyone has their own little Church cliques, maybe I should join in on the fun.  So I went to a few events now and then but mainly just the “fun” stuff and none of the boring “Jesus” stuff.  That just wasn’t for me.  I was a free-minded artist.  I wouldn’t be one of those close-minded, ignorant Christians.

So for much of high school, if I went to mass it was solely for “God points”.  I figured, if there is a heaven, and if God exists I can just go to mass and daydream for an hour and then God would give me anything I wanted because I was being good and going to church.  FALSE.  That is not how it works.  If you think that’s how Church works, you are sorely mistaken.  I had to learn that lesson the hard way.

I cannot wait to continue this story but for now, I’m just going to have to leave you hanging because it’s 12:07 am and I have class at 9:oo am.  And if I don’t get what I deem an appropriate amount of sleep, I will cry.  I’m serious.  Sleep is important to me.

Okay so GOODNIGHT!

Be Christian First, Then Catholic

A few weeks ago my Youth and Young Adult Minister shared with us what he gained from participating with LA Catholic Congress last March. What he said completely changed how I viewed myself as a Catholic.

“Before you become Catholic, you need to be Christian. Being Catholic is your faith, being Christian is to be Christ-like”

Jesus left Saint Peter to build the church and from that point on the Catholic Church was born. But if we looked into the life of Jesus he didn’t preach about Catholicism but rather he shared a lifestyle. A life of being righteous and just. A life filled with love, compassion, service and selfishness. Christ taught us to be more like him, a lifestyle of saying good, doing good and being good.

So where does this fit in with our lives? Simple – it redirects in how we share our faith with the people we come across. Our actions are a reflection of what we believe. St. Francis of Assisi understood this concept in his quote “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” We should being living the Gospel because as Catholics we believe that God is present in the Word.

To share our faith is simply sharing Christ with others. So if Christ is Love we share our faith by sharing love to others. We are all called to live the Gospel, to be Christians or Christ-like. Our purpose is to share and receive LOVE not our religion. Choosing to be Catholic is the choice of the individual. To be Christ-like is the life Christ called all of us to accept.

Share Christ. Stay Blessed.

-jon jon-

I Am Third: An Introduction

If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.

—C.S. Lewis

Hello, reader! My name is Charlene Marie. I am a 22 year-old resident of beautiful British Columbia, Canada.  Currently a newly-transferred Political Science/Sociology student in university, the blessing of a post-secondary education will most likely be my main vocation for the foreseeable future.

I am a cradle Catholic and was active in the Church even before I emigrated from the Philippines. My family’s dedication to experiencing the wholeness of Catholic life, on top of the genuine joy my parents showed while doing good works for God, got me to enjoy it too. I accompanied my mother with little to no complaint (excitement, even) to commute to the Redemptorist Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help for novena every Wednesdays, despite the discomfort of being uncomfortably surrounded by over 2,000 other devotees to the miracles and intercessions of Mary during Baclaran Day. I would sleep in my father’s arms while both my parents continued to lift up prayers in front of my grandfather’s tombstone overnight during All Souls Day. I would even wake up at the crack of dawn to walk with my parents to church to observe the Simbang Gabi mass novena during Advent.

(I really suggest you click on the links for even just a tidbit of insight as to what I am talking about.) :)

Praise God that my family’s connection to Catholicism did not wane upon moving to Canada when I was 7. After settling down, the four of us became active at the same parish we still attend. We barely ever sat/sit together! At one time or another a family member altar served, sang in the choir, taught Sunday school, or administered the bread and wine.

I am now currently a Program Head Volunteer for Youth ANCOP (Answering the Cry of the Poor) in my area, a youth social justice ministry affiliated with ANCOP International. I serve youth through conducting workshops, creating awareness of the state of our world and that of their surroundings, empowering our youth to change the lives of the poor, and planning mission trips for them to build homes for the poorest of the poor in the Philippines.

For quite a few years now, the Lord has really stretched my heart to not only love Him through the personal relationship I strive to foster with Him, but to help change the livelihood of fellow brothers and sisters whose basic needs are not being met: the poor, the hungry, the ostracized, the abandoned. I felt a strong calling to help feed, clothe, and shelter those who need it most for “whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for Me” (Matt. 25:40, NAB).

If you actually read  through the entirety of this bio, I firstly applaud you. Second, I extend a virtual handshake to you. I could only share so much in this, my first entry. Thank you for allowing the written expression of my faith to accompany you on your own faith journey and/or search for Catholic information.

God first, others second, I am third.

May God be praised.

FYI About Guest Bloggers:

Once a month we’re going to have a guest blogger from another denomination pitch in to promote Christian unity, but all the guest bloggers who were added as authors until now will have to wait their turn to be added again. It was getting crowded and the blog isn’t even out yet! O_o Thanks for the enthusiasm, guys! God Bless You!

~Mariella

BIO – “Jon Jon”

Life is a Be-You-Tiful Struggle: God has played a major role in our life, in helping all of us shaping us into the person we are today.

Howzit everyone! My name is John “Jon Jon” Ulep and I’m an active Catholic in my church along with the Youth and Young Adult Ministry, known as the A.G.A.P.E. Ministry. The AGAPE Ministry founded in Honolulu, Hawaii is the largest Religious Program in the state. I’ve have been actively involved with the ministry since my Sophomore year in high school in 2000. I’ve taught classes, organized youth and young adult retreats for different parishes, shared my testimony to hundreds of people. November 3, 2011 I was named Co-Director of the AGAPE Youth & Young Adult Ministry, Hawaii, along with my friend Kyle.

I am eager to share my experience and knowledge with people. I hope working together and sharing our story with bring our Catholic community closer and become more active in their faith.

Introducing Priscila!

Dear everyone:

My name is Priscila, I was born the first day of the most amazing month of the year: December. I usually have no idea what to write whenever I have to write an ‘about me’, so here is a list of facts about me:

  • I love God, and want to love Him more.
  • I was born into a very Catholic family.
  • I enjoy my faith.
  • I grew up with the teachings of Saint Jose Maria Escriva de Balaguer, even went to his Canonization celebrated in Rome by Pope John Paul II (I am so lucky).
  • Latin American.
  • I am really bad at expressing myself aloud, hence why I much rather write.
  • I am studying opera, as well as business administration.
  • I sing at church choir.
  • Whenever I am really sad, I sing the Ave Maria, it does not work an instant miracle, but it makes me realize Mom is always around (and when She is around I know He is around).
  • I work at the opera house.
  • I am, apparently, the oldest in this lovely project. Almost 24 years old. That becomes unimportant when I start to act like I’m 12.
  • A huge C.S. Lewis fan! The man wrote every idea I had no clue how to express.
  • At some point in my life, my faith got cold, and our beautiful Mother Mary came to my rescue.
  • My family is one of my biggest blessings.
  • I love Harry Potter.
  • Owl City, U2, and Celtic Woman, are regular characters in the soundtrack of my life.
  • I enjoy photography *pats her Nikon*.
  • I am currently discerning, and it scares me to death.

I really have no idea what else is, well, interesting? I think that covers a bunch. I am kind of really looking forward to this blog. I have no idea what will happen, or where will it take us, but I am pretty sure it’ll be amazing.

So, let’s pray for our new mission.

God bless you all.

introductions are awkward, aren’t they?

Well, I certainly think they are. But here goes nothing…

I’m Sara, and I’ll be one of your bloggers when Universal Faith launches after Christmas.

Obligatory “about me” information: I’m a 20 year-old college student majoring in History and minoring in Religion, with concentrations in Russian/Soviet history and Christian traditions. Asking me how that translates to the “real world” is fruitless because I have no concrete ideas…good thing God’s got a plan, because I sure don’t!  I love my God, my family, my sorority sisters, and my friends. On top of being a Christian, I’m also a feminist, a Whovian, an academic, a verified geek, a writer, and a fat activist.

So, you ask, what could I possibly be blogging about on a regular basis? Boy, have I got a tale for you!

In case you haven’t noticed, despite Christ’s call to unity among the body of Christ, this is something Christianity is seriously lacking and it’s safe to say there’s a huge amount of misunderstanding between Catholics and Protestants particularly. I happened to have grown up in an Evangelical Protestant church –Society of Friends, to be specific, if that means anything to you, dear reader. After “leaving” the faith (I use that term loosely because it’s doubtful whether I really had faith before that point in the first place), I found myself existing in a strange place of quasi-atheism where I simply was not interested in God. By and large, it was the roughest period in my life; I struggled with self-mutilation and often entertained thoughts of suicide, going so far as to being ready to die more than once. I was probably one of the most hateful and moody people you could ever meet because I hated myself and I hated everyone around me. At 15, God met me where I was and essentially presented me with an ultimatum by revealing Himself to me: choose me and I will give you life, or deny me and you’ll surely die. At that point, I started falling head first into God because He gave me a reason to live. Ever since then, He’s been leading me to  a lot of places; in fact, He has a habit of taking me places I am reluctant to go because I know the path will be really tough. One of those places, as of late, is the Catholic Church. I am currently in RCIA with the full intent of receiving the Sacraments of First Communion and Confirmation in April and I can’t get enough of Catholicism.

So, back to the question of what I’ll be blogging about! As a Protestant in the process of conversion, in my mind, I have an interesting perspective on Catholicism in general and also Protestantism in general. Through my participation in this movement, I seek to look at various popular misconceptions of Catholicism and also to provide a Protestant perspective in order to foster inter-denominational understanding and respect.

Also, props to anyone who caught the Veggie Tales reference in this post. You win my respect. On that note, I’ll see ya’ll again after Christmas!

Until then, Kirk out.

(Any Trekkies out there to understand that or am I all alone here?)

What’s Next?

Hey guys! My name is Kirstie, and I’m 20 years old.

I’ll have to be honest and say writing this little intro has been difficult, for me to write for several reasons. One of them happens to be one of the reasons I’m here.  My story is kind of long, but I hope to keep it as short as possible.  So basically to begin…I wasn’t raised Catholic. I wasn’t even really raised Christian all that much as well. It just wasn’t ever a topic that came up at home and we didn’t go to church. So my religious education was practically nonexistent. I knew nothing.  I’ve been fairly good my whole life though. I tried not to be mean or hateful. I didn’t pick fun at others. I was a virgin until marriage, didn’t drink, never did drugs. I didn’t get into trouble, and I’ve had friends describe me as excessively perky to the point of being annoying in some instances.

The excessively perkiness changed in about 10th grade. For an unknown reason I started falling into depression. It wasn’t a huge change, but it was noticeable to friends I’m sure. I don’t know why, it just did, and regular high school life obviously didn’t help things at all with all the drama that can come with it. 11th grade is when I really started falling fast. I was getting mixed up in a group of friends that were depressed and suicidal, in some cases sadistic, and a little bit controlling. I experienced 4 deaths, (3 people, one was a dog), and all the hurtful things people used to bully me with really started affecting me. I felt like I couldn’t connect with my old group of friends anymore…I was feeling pushed into things I didn’t want to do to fit in with these new people (whether they knew it or not I don’t know, but I’m so happy I never gave in!) and there’s just so much more I could say. It was a terrible year. This was the year when I became Angry with God, and then started doubting God’s existence all together. I couldn’t understand why God would let terrible things happen to me, other people, especially in the event of a natural disaster or a random drive by shooting or something. I couldn’t understand why God would let me hate myself so much. I didn’t know how I was supposed to know the bible wasn’t made up, or that Jesus even existed, and I felt that I didn’t have anywhere to turn or where I could get answers without being judged.

Right before my senior year of high school started I was invited to a party. It wasn’t a crazy party with alcohol or anything. It was good clean fun, we ate yummy food and talked to friends we hadn’t seen in a while, and it was great fun. There I met this guy named Justin. I liked him a lot, and we started talking and it turned out that he liked me a lot too so after about a month when we both figured this out, we started dating. Little did I know I was dating a Catholic. a couple of months or so after we started dating, I asked him a question about his faith. I can’t honestly remember what it was or what he said, but I must’ve like it because I remember so many times driving to and from dates where we would just talk endlessly about his faith. I started going to mass with his family. Everything just started making so much sense. I can’t even begin to explain it. It was amazing, and so after nine months going through the RCIA process, I was baptized, confirmed, and received my first Eucharist on April, 3rd, 2010, and Justin was my sponsor, and I can now proudly say that as of October, 8th, 2011, he is my Husband :)

I know this has already been the longest intro on the planet, but before I finish I have one last thing. So we already know I’ve had a couple sort of major life changes. I can’t believe the plan God has already set out for me. I often find myself asking “What’s next!?” because it has just been absolutely amazing. It hasn’t been easy though. Especially with what has been putting off my little intro. I’ve recently been looking into if God is calling me to go into Catechetics or music ministry or something similar. It’s a huge life change, but it’s been a little difficult to decipher if it’s something I want rather than a calling. That’s one of the reasons I’m here. I know I can’t tell anyone what God has planned for them, but I hope that I can help others by helping them, even if it just to pray for you or give any helpful advice that I can :) Okay…that’s enough from me! Thanks for reading my way too long story! God bless!

Other Blogs: kirstie-ann.tumblr.com

Jamyx1 introduction

Hello, I am new to the team to  Universal Faith, Catholicism for teens. My patron saint is St.Justin Martyr, a father of the church and also one of its Doctors. In my own eyes, I am one of the more blessed people alive today, and have to thank God every chance I get for everything I have.

For one my parents are not divorced, far from it I have 9 siblings everyone one of whom are amazing.

Early on in life my faith was not at the forefront of my life, and not my main focus.  I was and still am, your average and quite ordinary person. At 13 I liked to hang out with friends, watch movies, play games, and hated anything that took my focus from each and every individual day. However the next year found me discover something that I will never till the end of my days let go of… My faith. Theology sparked my interest and I loved the fact that, even if it was complex, there was no question I would not be able to answer with the help of God and the Catholic church. My story however, like in any good book, has its own harsh turn of events.

Me and my family had our lives ripped from us, and it has never been the same since. We saw loss, death, and much more, our lives laying shattered around us.  Each of us had and still has our scars to bear from it. Some of us dealt with depression, me included, and in an effort to keep from getting hurt again, I left emotion behind for apathy. With the grace of God however, and in time, I have healed. Another thing to thank God for. Doors were shut to me and my family, but new ones opened in their place. We as a family never gave up, never gave in, and fought our way back. We rallied from shattered individuals into a working and functioning family once again. And because of what I have seen, what I have experienced, and how we all healed from it, I have been able to relate to others in situations of darkness along with times of joy. A gift to me, because God allows me to use it in my daily life. I find my self more and more helping people struggle through life’s harsher moments, and laughing with them when times are good. And through all of this, my faith became ever more entrenched in Christ and the Holy Catholic church. Suffering can indeed lead you to Christ.

My passion for my faith has lead me many places. I love to write, and when I do it is usually in the form of poetry involving some aspect of my faith. I love kids, and work in youth minisrty as a leader and co-youth minister. I also enjoy computers which is my chosen field, and one I am studying. I love being outdoors as well in among Gods creation. And again I must thank God, because I can see his work in ways I never thought I would.

I like to game on my computer and on other consoles, and have even established a gaming network for Catholics called VigilGamers.  I have tried to create a place where Catholics of any age can go, online, to play games in fellow ship, away from the profanity and bad behavior some games tend to offer.

It offers a place where we can be free to play games, and still retain a moral atmosphere, and good fellow Catholics as brothers not only in the faith, but in virtual arms.

My favorite music is by artists like Red and Breaking Benjamin, and my sports are Airsoft/military combat simulation, and Martial arts, and in the winter having massive snowball fights in the backyard with my little brothers.

Christ suffered, and redeemed the world. I only pray that I might be worthy of helping in his work of salvation.

Might my eyes be blind Lord, so that I might see your truth,

Might I be deaf Lord, so that I might be able to hear your voice,

And might my life be of turmoil, so that I might find peace in you.

Keep it real, keep it fun, and keep Christ beside you while you do it.

Can I Be A Saint? Part 1: The Hardships

Some people are wondering why it’s so important to become saints. Most people don’t even know what a saint is. Here’s the definition of a saint, credits go to saintspreserved.com:

Beginning with the early Christian martyrs in the first century, saints were chosen by popular acclaim. Legends of their lives were spread through word-of-mouth. Their stories evolved into some wonderfully fantastic tales, probably arising from our intellectual, moral, and spiritual need for heroes. They fed the hungry, clothed the naked, healed the sick, defended the defenseless – never expecting (and virtually always refusing) payment for their (sometimes miraculous) services.

St. Cecilia, Martyr

From this, we get that a saint is someone who does good works to help their neighbors and do it out of love and with full willingness. A saint does good works from the bottom of their heart, never expecting something in return. Anything received in gratitude does not belong to the saint, because everything they did was in service of Christ with no reward in mind.

saint
/saynt
noun 1 a person who is acknowledged as holy or virtuous and regarded in Christian faith as being in heaven after death.
2 a person of exalted virtue who is canonized by the Church after death and who may be the object of veneration and prayers for intercession. (informal) a very virtuous person.

verb 1 formally recognize as a saint; canonize.
2 (sainted) worthy of being a saint; very virtuous.
– DERIVATIVES sainthood

nounsaintliness noun saintly adjective.
– ORIGIN Old French seint, from Latin sanctus “holy.”

-Definition from Oxford English Dictionery

You don’t need a formal canonization to become a saint. There are probably thousands of saints that are known only among their brethren up in heaven. They didn’t get a canonization and they aren’t demanding one. I will blog more on the subject of canonization later. Right now I’m addressing the question, Can I be a saint?

The answer is YES, absolutely so! We’re all called to be saints. We’re called to imitate those already in heaven. It’s going to be hard in our own personal lives, but it’s going to be worth it. Sainthood today is far different from sainthood a hundred years ago. You probably won’t be burned at the stake for proclaiming yourself a Christian, but people will look down on you and mock you in different ways.

Read Hebrews 12 for encouragement about the suffering you’re going to endure on this journey: (NIV)

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

4In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,

and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,

6because the Lord disciplines those he loves,

and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”a

7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

12Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees13“Make level paths for your feet,”b so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

Strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. The devil is glad that so few people are seeking sainthood anymore. We’re about to turn that around. Starting Christmas Eve, pray about your calling and see how you’ll pursue it. It’s a hard journey full of sacrifice, but it’s worth it. Get ready to join us.

Note: I used the NIV because I couldn’t find the NAB resources for this on the Internet. I’ll edit when I’m able to, but this is basically the message GOD wants you to hear.