ISSUES OF FAITH: Catholic youth convention helps still restless hearts

I WAS BLESSED to be at a Catholic youth convention (CYC) on the Puyallup fairgrounds the weekend of Nov. 12-13.

The column I wrote last month talked about placing oneself in a position to be heard or found by God, and it was this type of event where the power of God, and particularly the Holy Spirit, is as tangible as anything our senses can tell us.

The AgriPlex on the Puyallup fairgrounds was standing-room-only, with hundreds if not thousands, of high school-age youths from the Puget Sound area.

All walks of life

They come from all walks of life, ethnicity and strength of faith. You have the hard-cores and the skeptics, those who are searching for something or anything, those who know what they have and want to strengthen this.

At the end, though — and this is the cool part — we felt like one large family, a very large and diverse family, seeking truth, love, fellowship — all the things that Christ delights in us and continually points to as the key to happiness and peace.

When we speak of the Holy Spirit, we speak of that force that we don’t necessarily see but feel; in turn, this changes us for the better, which others may see or notice, and we transition as God desires into being witnesses to our faith.

Something in the eyes has changed, this window to the soul, because we came seeking God or something in that ballpark and what we found claimed our hearts (and there is no other way to put it).

Simple yet complicated

God is not very complicated, but he simply wants something that keeps us going from day to day, and this is our heart.

High school kids have a lot going on, I don’t really need to say.

They are transitioning into adulthood, which in itself can cause even the strongest to succumb to those things that separate them from God.

This is called sin, and we have all been members of this society.

Can we make it in this life without the help and grace of God? We can try, but how’s that working?

Something missing, anxiety, some turmoil, things just never quite right?

‘Rest in you’

This is the human race, another society we are all a part of, but before the age and scourge of social media, the former playboy St. Augustine said about 1,600 years ago, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

The Catholic Youth Convention stilled many restless hearts, at least for a time. How do you keep that going?

First of all, cede some control of your life to God, as in “give it away.” Admit to God (a difficult thing to do) that you can’t do this life all on your own.

Right now, you may have a happy life, as I admit I do. Is there peace? A much larger question that St. Augustine’s words efficiently make clear.

So are you praying regularly or just waiting for the next crisis to talk to God?

After 9/11, the churches were full virtually nationwide for a period of time, and then …

If you’ve never tried to “pray away” something, I recommend this for the major roadblocks that are impeding your faith life, but be careful: Many trials, the crosses of our life, are gifts from God that by God’s design are there to help us grow in our faith.

We are not alone, nor on our own, and there are people out there who need us. They are on the margins, or are supremely angry at God, or simply have no use for the idea of God.

One message that kept jumping out at me during the convention was the catchy phrase: “You may be the only Gospel anyone ever reads.”

Recognize your ability to effect change, both good and bad, and be the Gospel that people want to read.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. Mike Acheson is director of religious education at Queen of Angels Roman Catholic Church in Port Angeles and St. Joseph Parish in Sequim.

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