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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!

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Reclaiming my Faith

If it wasn’t for my family, I know that I wouldn’t have any faith right now. My Mum was, and still is, a tireless example of what a good Catholic mother should be and my father introduced me to the wonderful traditions that the Church has such as the Latin Mass.
That being said, I still succumbed to the pressures of the world leading me to privatize my faith and in my 20’s I even stopped going to Mass altogether.
Looking back, I suppose one would say that I turned into a practical atheist.
Now I’m 35 and my husband and I have seven wonderful children that truly are each one gifts from God.
How did the Holy Spirit turn me around? I would say that people were praying for me, not just those here on earth but also those that have gone before us. Little by little He is opening my eyes to the truth. How great must the power of prayer be to be able to work such extraordinary things?
I will be writing a regular section for Universal Faith on the YOUCAT or Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church. I look toward to you joining me in the journey towards truth. Mary

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.

Not your average Joe..?

My name’s Joseph and I’m currently a junior at a Lasallian high school somewhere in California, discerning the call to become a priest. To be honest, I’ve never been that good at writing “about me’s” since I’ve never known where to start, but my testimony to the faith can pretty much be summed up by the following quote:

“Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in a love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings, what you will do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.” – Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ

And reflecting on these words, I’ve found that the joy that comes with completely surrendering yourself to the will of God out of love for Him changes your life completely.

For the longest part of my life, however, I could say that I experienced one of the driest moments of my spiritual life due to spiritual laziness, my constant struggle with sins of impurity, indifference, pride, and ignorance.

But it has really been through the intercession of our Blessed Mother and the saints that has really helped me to overcome all these obstacles. Since then, I’ve grown from a rather lukewarm Catholic who took his faith for granted, to someone who has conversations with his guardian angel, decorates his room with pictures of the saints, whines if he’s too busy to go to Adoration, and has a lifelong aspiration to dance with Mother Mary and individually hug each of his patron saints when he gets to Heaven.. Well, hopefully you get the idea already. :P

Apart from being this passionately Catholic sorta guy, I also play basketball and ping pong, play the guitar and piano, read books about Catholicism whenever I get the chance, and write. I also enjoy listening to music and watching movies. Oh yeah, and I also run a personal blog that’s a mix of personal reflections, random bits of apologetics here and there, and other stuff I find amusing.

I can’t wait to get to know you guys more! God bless. =]

Mariella’s Introduction: “Study.”

Hi. I’m glad you stumbled into Universal Faith. It’s my prayer that you learn much, make friends, and begin your journey to sainthood with renewed vigor while you’re here. We’ve tried to make our movement as homey and accessible as possible; we are a family, after all.

My name is Mariella Cecilia, but I also go by my Confirmation name, Catherine-Rose. Somehow I was blessed enough to get two patron saints for my Confirmation: Catherine of Siena and Rose of Lima. Back then I didn’t know them very well, but now I understand how these two great saints are going to help me through life. I also consider St. Cecilia one of my patron saints; we share a name, and I attached to my Rosary a St. Cecilia relic medal (yes, they do exist) so she prays with me. Recently I’ve had an increase in my devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and I turn to St. Faustina for advice on all my religious projects–reading her diary, I’ve found we have a lot in common as far as devotions, goals, and fears. But everything I do is for the sake of Jesus and His Sacred Heart, because He died for me and loves me more than I deserve.

Among many other things He gave me, the LORD gifted me with a passion and talent for writing novels. I discovered this talent early, when I was eight–I remember hiding under the table with a notebook because it felt so epic. In the years between that and my 17th birthday, I’d written 16 novels and even more unfinished drafts. I abused the gift GOD gave me, and wound up with a severe case of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome that put all my projects to a halt when 2011 came. The last significant thing I achieved with my writing was getting one of my novels to the top 5 on a website called inkpop; it got reviewed by a HarperCollins agent, and then all my projects just…stopped.

My hands hurt too much to write anything else.

May through August 2011 was excruciating. If you’re an artist, you’ll probably understand the agony of having to drop your art–and only means of expression–completely, after having let it define you all your life. I felt empty, devoid of personality or purpose. I sank into a depression that I still struggle with now. All I could do was read, but reading Young Adult Fiction only gave me more ideas that I could not write; they would torment me. I put all those books away.

That left my shelf full of books about Jesus and the Church. Here’s an old blog post from back in those awful days, where you can see how my perspective changed.

Go back three years. I was clueless about my religion, and all my friends were Christians of different denominations who would pull me into debates which I would lose. Without meaning to, my beloved friends damaged my faith in Catholicism, so I was left to wander without a clue regarding the spiritual life. When I searched the Internet for answers, I ran into anti-Catholic websites that rubbed salt into the wounds and sometimes made me cry. Where was I? I can say now that nothing hurts more than damaged faith–not even Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

But GOD gave me strength from nowhere and whispered, “Study.”

So I gathered up books on Catholic theology, joined Catholic Answers Forums, and finally learned the reason why I’m Catholic. Nothing can shake my faith in the Church ever again, and while I was suffering with CTS I read about her and fell even more in love with her. I dedicated my life to sharing this beauty with other teens going through what I did.

That’s why I started this movement, with the prompting of Jesus. There aren’t enough people trying to be saints anymore, and this saddens Him greatly.

The Church helped heal me when I had nothing to look forward to, and was at the verge of losing hope. Now, I want you to discover this beauty too.

I live in the United States, somewhere in the west. I’m 17 years old, 18 on December 14. I’m obsessed with country music. Every single day, I love Jesus more. I was baptized in 2005, and I’m grateful for my parents and brother. I love them all dearly. I have lots of stories to tell, and I can’t wait to share them with you. I pray that you warm up as we get ready for Christmas Eve, and ready to change the world.

Through a great miracle and the wonderful mercy of GOD, I finally got surgery for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome on September, and am still recovering; in the meanwhile, I remain in prayerful study, waiting for my chance to serve the LORD and His Church. Thank GOD for my mother and father, and my brother, who saw me through this agonizing episode of my life. Now, on the verge of my 18th birthday, I’m ready to start anew–a different creation in Christ.

Thank you for reading, and God Bless. My other blogs are:

A Catholic Sheep
MariellaCecilia (the Tumblr)
The Escapism Project