How are you doing? What’s new?

Hoeben Film

Merry Christmas Eve Eve!

Chances are you are going to find yourself socializing with family and friends quite a bit over the next couple of days. If your life is anything like mine, you will find yourself chatting with old acquaintances and family members you have not seen or caught up with for the better part of a year. Then come the questions: What’s new? How have you been? Is anything exciting happening in your life?

How do you capture how wonderful, yet routine and normal your life seems to be in the matter of a couple minutes over Christmas dinner?

As a little pre-Christmas gift, I have an idea of how this conversation could go for you —

Introduction Lines:
These last few months have been really great. I have been growing in my faith a lot through the Year of Faith that Pope Benedict called for starting this past October. One thing I’ve been doing lately is (pick one: reading Scripture more | attending Mass more regularly | diving into the study of my faith | thinking about a new year’s resolution to make that will help me grow in holiness.)

Meaty Subject Matter:
One great thing the Diocese of Madison (where I’m blessed to call home) has been doing for this Year of Faith is making films to help the faithful better understand what this journey of faith is all about. They are really beautiful, professional and inspiring. It’s great to be a part of the Church who knows the importance of using new media and wants to reach out to all Catholics and others through the internet, even if they don’t always come to Church.

— Actually, the Christmas video just came out. It shows the story of a great couple and their young family. I think you would love it. Let me show it to you. It’s really quick.

Have a computer, tablet or smart phone ready. Cue up the following.

Next Move:
Isn’t that beautiful? It has really reminded me to not let Christmas just be about these wonderful gatherings with families and friends, eating good food and giving gifts. It really is about our faith and that great event so many years ago when Jesus entered the world.

— So, yeah, that’s what’s new with me. What about you? 

Okay, you may not do exactly that. However, how could it hurt? Our families are stuck with us; it may not hurt to share who we really are and what is so important about this holiday to us. And really, these Year of Faith videos can show a new dimension of the Church to some who are under the impression that we Catholics are stuck in the dark ages.

In case you want to forget you ever read this and plan to never have that conversation over Christmas dinner, perhaps consider one of the following suggestions on how to share this video —

One: Follow the Madison Diocese on Twitter and RT (retweet that film)!
Two: Like the Madison Diocese of Facebook and share the film.
Three: Do numbers 1 and 2 throughout the real Christmas season — all the way into the new yea.r
Four: Send an e-mail to friends from your Parish, fallen away family members or co-workers to with them a merry Christmas, while passing along the link to the video.
Five: Watch it a couple times for yourself, preferably with your favorite warm beverage in your hands.

Make the most of those suggestions. We are entering some of the most incredible days of the year — enjoy the celebrations, the prayer and remembering the real reason for this season.

To my co-workers in the Diocese and all others who stumble across this post, I wish you a very blessed Christmas. You are in my prayers.
– Lindsay

Cardinal Virtue Spotlight

Cardinal Virtue

Draco is about to set in, which makes this a providential time for such an exciting blog post. Our guess here at Madison Catholic Youth is that we will have a good number of blog readers tonight and tomorrow due to the blizzard passing through the Madison Diocese and most of the schools being closed in the area. To our new readers – especially those from Middleton High School – welcome! We’re glad to have you. Make sure to come back often to this blog for other sweet posts.

Today on Madison Catholic Youth, we are happy to be spotlighting a new apostolate called Cardinal Virtue. This great outreach to the youth of Middleton High School is a collaboration between the High School Youth Ministry programs at St. Bernard in Middleton, St. Francis in Cross Plains, St. Peter in Ashton and St. Martin in Martinsville, as well as their respective Coordinators of HS Formation. Their goal is to reach out as a group of Parishes to all students, especially those who are Catholic and invite them into a fuller participation in the life of the Church with their peers within their High School.

One thing they have begun is providing breakfast after 8:15am Mass on B-Days (approximately every 4 days) at the High School, when the school day’s start is delayed until 9:45am. Check out some of the sights in this little trailer — featuring 15 young people who came out for Mass and Bernie’s Breakfast!

They are also getting ready to launch their monthly large group sessions. Check out two MHS Seniors talking about their first event which will be happening on January 17th.

While this event is sponsored by Cardinal Virtue, they are welcoming High School Youth from around the Diocese to this event. If young people are not a part of one of the Parishes listed above, there will be a $5 cover charge. A bunch of other great information can be found on Cardinal Virtue’s blog, facebook and twitter. Stay connected with them for the latest and greatest.

After their large group meetings kick off, they will be expanding into small group, Bible Study discussions and more outreach events to help the students at Middleton High School stay connected to the Church and grow in their faith. Go ahead and offer up some prayers during this next month for the success of this incredible apostolate! It is such a beautiful example of Parishes collaborating together, reading the signs of the times and meeting the needs of their young people — all in all, a perfect witness in the midst of this Year of Faith. Praise God for Doug, Kevin and Michelle who took the initiative to begin this work and for their Pastors enthusiastic cooperation!

LBH2013 Schedule

Cover Photo - 1

P1020063

Is it summer yet? Well, that’s a silly question. We know that there is the possibility of a foot of snow or so being dumped all over Southern Wisconsin on Thursday. (Yes, a potential snow day before Christmas break. How fun?)

As the flakes begin to fall, you may not find yourself immersed in making summer plans, but perhaps you should start. Right here on the blog, this December 17th, we are making the 2013 LOVE BEGINS HERE Schedule official. Go ahead and take a gander. Then mark your calendars. And, get excited. (<< Click that link. You are in for a treat.)

High School Trips
June 16 – 21
June 23 – 28
July 7 – 12
July 14 – 19

Middle School Dates
June 24 – 27
June 30 – July 3
July 8 – 11

Notice anything crazy here?

Yep. It is true.

We’re going to run a couple DOUBLE weeks this summer. Two Middle School + High School LBH trips will be happening at the same time. They are going to be hosted at Parishes in a couple small towns near one another. In case you’re wondering, there is not be a lot of overlap among the two groups, other than seeing each other at Mass once in a while or potentially having Confessions offered in the same location on the same night. But we will be praying for each other, working in the same communities and perhaps happening to run into each other at Culver’s stops.

This also means LBH is growing again, especially in our capacity to serve Middle School students. All weeks this summer are going to be limited to 45 young people in each trip, allowing us to serve up to 135 Middle School students and 180 High School students. Praise God for the growth (over 10% from last summer to this summer and a 460% growth since founding in 2009) and sending the Holy Spirit down upon this apostolate.

Check back tomorrow on the blog for a sneak peak of what our incredible promo items are going to look like this summer!

@pontifex, #frassatifest + social media, oh my!

Vatican Pope Tweets@pontifex

Our Holy Father is so hip. As of today, he is tweeting. Talk about inspiration in 140 characters. Check out the following questions he answered today:

How can we celebrate the Year of Faith better in our daily lives?
By speaking with Jesus in prayer, listening to what he tells you in the Gospel and looking for him in those in need.

How can faith in Jesus be lived in a world without hope?
We can be certain that a believer is never alone. God is the solid rock upon which we build our lives and his love is always faithful.

Any suggestions on how to be more prayerful when we are so busy with the demands of work, families and the world?
Offer everything you do to the Lord, ask his help in all the circumstances of daily life and remember that he is always beside you.

What a day to be out on Twitter. In honor of this great occasion, head on out to your Twitter account and give the Pope some love! Follow him, RT his tweets and like his posts. While you’re at it, visit @madisoncatholic, follow us, use the official #frassatifest hashtag, and spread around the following photo!
Hashtag

Frassati Fest – DAY 2 of Awesomeness!

afterglow-7

Welcome friends! We are super jazzed to bring to you today a guest blog entry from Danielle Amundson (left — you know Erin on the right from yesterday), who is a Junior from Waunakee, WI. The following is a preview of her article appearing in the Catholic Herald this week.

I will never forget my first Resurrection Rally. As a freshman, I was nervous, especially since I didn’t know the girls from my parish well. But on the ride to the Chula Vista, the Oreos and smiles appeared, and neither left throughout the weekend. The weekend was a beautiful blur of meeting new people, riding water slides, singing, learning, and praising God.

My favorite memory from the weekend was Saturday night.  We all got dressed nicely for Mass, but first there was adoration and Confession. I watched the line for Confession grow and snake along the back of the room. It was breathtaking to see so many teens want to mend their relationship with Jesus.

A few leaders held Lectio Divina in a nearby room. My best friend from another parish and I decided to go. I had heard the scriptures from that weekend countless times before, but this opened my eyes so much more. Different phrases stood out to each person, and as everyone explained how they interpreted the Gospel, I learned so much.

At the end, I remember my friend and I walking towards each other, and we both were so moved by the Holy Spirit that we began to cry and hug each other. As freshmen. In a room filled with people we didn’t know. Neither of us felt embarrassed. Neither of us said a word, but we both experienced the same joy and love in that moment.

Although you may not find yourself crying at Frassati Fest this year, I recommend the experience to any high school student. It will be a weekend filled with faith, fun, and friends, and it won’t disappoint.

Thanks for sharing your GREAT story Danielle! In the midst of this busy season preparing for Christmas, we hope you remember some good advice from our patron —

Keep Calm

Bl. Pier Frassati, pray for us!

First of all, if you’re playing at home — sorry about Madison Catholic Youth’s slow down last week on Thursday and Friday. You all are owed a couple blog posts. They will be coming early this week! Thanks for the patience.

To begin Frassati Fest week, we are featuring a two-part article about Frassati Fest from members of our planning team. Today, please enjoy the following from Erin Moran, who hails from Waunakee, Wisconsin. Not only does she love Christmas sweatshirts, but she loves Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati too! Enjoy the read —

afterglow

My counselor had told my group about a young man that went mountain climbing, selflessly served the poor of his city of Turin, Italy and devoted his life to praising the Lord. During that week at summer camp, my cabin group continued to learn to love Pier Giorgio and strive to follow his example. This admiration towards Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati stayed with me after I left camp also.

Towards the end of August 2012, I was sitting in a planning team meeting for Resurrection Rally when I heard the most joyous news in the world. We were changing the name of the retreat to Frassati Fest! I was so exhilarated, I burst into tears of pure joy.

This year’s Frassati Fest is going to be an incredible weekend. Since it is being held at the Chula Vista in Wisconsin Dells, there will be opportunities for water slides, lots of prayer, and meeting awesome new people. There will be inspiring workshops, energetic keynote speakers, and quality time with Jesus in Adoration and Mass.

I can guarantee that this retreat will impact the lives of all the participants in a positive way. Frassati Fest will be a truly unforgettable experience for all the high schoolers in attendance. So mark your calendar for February 1st through the 3rd and sign up now for Frassati Fest!

Get online to get more info today!

The God Who Waits.

photo-1The long wait is over — Madison Diocese Seminarian Bill VW is back to guest blog.

It has been a really, really long time since Madison Catholic Youth’s favorite guest blogger has graced these pages with the deeply profound thoughts you had all become accustomed to. My bad for that.

In reality, I have intended to write a post or two or seven many, many times over the last couple of months, but have been kept busy by my studies and formation as a seminarian for the Diocese.

As part of my formation at Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Winona, MN, I have the opportunity to visit, pray, and study with some men incarcerated at the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, MN. The FMC is a medium security prison. As you can imagine, the men don’t have much freedom. They get told when to wake up and when to go to sleep and when and how to do everything in between. It’s actually quite a bit like the seminary —  just kidding.

When my fellow seminarians, one of our priests, and I visit the FMC, Father celebrates Mass for the inmates and then they are invited to participate in a discussion about the readings for the weekend and their own personal faith journey. The discussion is typically filled with brotherly banter. In fact, some of the older inmates frequently like to remind us seminarians that they are smarter and wiser than us.

Between the friendly mocking and tests of wit, the inmates offer some incredibly profound reflections on the love of God working in their lives. During our last visit, one inmate shared something that has been on my heart and mind ever since. He said, “Ya know, I think Jesus is the little God who waits.” He went on to describe his marvel at Jesus’ humility in becoming human like you and I, offering us the gift of his eternal love, while still allowing us the freedom to choose that love.

This statement on the nature of Jesus Christ is particularly relevant during this Advent season. Since the beginning of time, God has “waited” for humanity. When the Father created the world, though he created man perfect, he left us with the power to choose to love Him. Ever since our first parents, Adam and Eve, chose against that love in Original Sin, God has been waiting patiently for mankind to be ready once again to accept His love.

God to spoke to many people throughout history, slowing revealing more and more about who he is, who we are, and who we were made to be. God remained patient with the Israelites, who, even after being freed from slavery in Egypt, continually turned away from the Lord towards false gods and idols. God remained patient with His people even as they rejected the prophets He sent and the message of love they desired to bring.

Little by little, God made known who is He is to the people whom He loves. This process of revelation ultimately culminated in the most spectacular event in human history to date: a baby was born. Just a simple little baby. God could have finally revealed His entire self to the people in a magnificent display of His splendor and power. I have no idea what this would look like, but I imagine if God really wanted to do something crazy, it would be a bit more than your average firework show.

But instead, God reveals everything about Himself by becoming one of us, taking on our frailty in all things but sin. As if that wasn’t humble and patient enough, Jesus waited another 30 years before He even told anyone who the heck He was! Even after His Passion, death and Resurrection, Jesus Christ still waits for you and I. He waits with patient love as we struggle to make Him the center of our lives. As long as we’re alive, Jesus Christ’s patience will never run out on us. Even though we so often fail, choosing against his love, and falling into sin, Jesus continually offers us His love.

I think a man in prison would probably know something really special about God’s patient love for him. This Advent, I hope we can learn from this man to never give up on God’s patient and merciful love for us. The fact is we should never be discouraged by our own sin and weakness, but remain hopeful in the fact that Jesus Christ’s sole purpose for becoming human, born of the Virgin Mary, was to ensure our salvation and restore us to His love. On Christmas, when we celebrate again the birth of the Jesus, let Him love you like the beautiful creation that you are. And make sure to spend some time with Him during the Christmas season, because who doesn’t love playing with babies, right?

Come. Go.

LBH - FB 2

It’s 55 degrees outside right now. I know we are a mere twenty days away from the great Solemnity of Christmas, but I cannot help feel like [or wish that] Spring is settling in. It is always at this time of year that I start to get restless. I have been in the office so many days in a row. I only work with young people on occasional weekends. I feel removed from the joy, hard work, laughter and conversion that I’ve have become accustomed to during the summer months of Love Begins Here.

Love Begins Here
(noun)
1. an apostolate of the Catholic Diocese of Madison’s OEC, that works to provide Middle School + High School youth with an opportunity to encounter Jesus Christ in a life changing way through weeklong, local Mission Trips where they live in Catholic community and continue His work on earth
2. “The best week of my life.” – 2012 Mission Trip Participant
3. “Fun. Exciting. Spiritually uplifting. Something I look forward to all year. A place to meet friends. A place to see old friends. A place of prayer. A lesson in religion. A challenge. Pleasant memories. Full of people like me. Life changing. Worth it. Strengthening. UNFORGETTABLE.” – 2012 Mission Trip Participant

To help fill this void, I make to do lists of dozens of things to do to prepare for the summer. What makes the top of the list is entirely dependent on what will help set the tone for this next leg of the journey. (It’s already our 5th summer!) To begin the sharing of what this next summer holds, Love Begins Here would like to formally announce the 2013 Summer Theme.

Come. Go.

Quote - Blog 1This theme came about in a number of ways.

1. The Pope has declared the World Youth Day 2013 theme to be, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” His message for the occasion is incredible. It is packed with solid catechesis and information on forming young disciples. This obviously fits well in with Love Begins Here.

2. Cardinal Dolan has been quoting this piece of good advice from Venerable Fulton Sheen again and again, during this Year of Faith. Love Begins Here is looking forward to sharing this call to conversion, which is so crucial for this Year of Faith, with our young missionaries.

3. It defines the two fundamental aspects of Love Begins Here. COME – LBH focuses on everyone developing a relationship with Jesus Christ and encountering his love. GO – LBH works to spread His love to those in need and the community we are living in.

4. We think our missionaries will like this. And, we hope that it will be a memorable one that will remain in our minds and hearts for years to come!

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us!

Listening.

 

Don’t let this busy season stress you out —photo 2

photo 1

 

Instead, take Mary as your model.

The Virgin Mary perfectly embodies the spirit of Advent, which consists of listening to God, a profound desire to do His will, and joyful service to others. Let us be guided by her, so that God who is coming may not find us closed or distracted, but might extend to each of us a small part of His kingdom of love, of justice, and of peace. – Pope Benedict XVI, First Sunday of Advent, 2012

 

photo 3

Rejoice! Rejoice!

O come, desire of nations, bind
in one the hearts of humankind:
bid ev’ry sad division cease
and be thyself our Prince of peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.

Happy Advent and Happy New Year, one and all. Thanks for stopping by Madison Catholic Youth’s blog today. In case you’ve been a faithful follower for quite a while, sorry for that draught we just experienced. November was quite the month. It was great seeing almost 100 great co-workers in the vineyard at Regional Gatherings in November, and we held our Unveiled retreats for the first time. (If you missed them, check out the facebook and twitter for a few little highlights. Though, we will get some on the blog soon, too.)

Back to this New Year in the Church we just began. In the name of resolutions, please find our plan for the blog this December. It promises to be a mix of reflection, happily awaited information, photographs and inspiration.

Calendar - Blog Smallest

From today until December 31st, we are promising a (week) daily update right here on these pages. Please enjoy.

To help you navigate this month, we’ll be linking up all of the December blog posts right here —

12 | 3 – Marian Advent Reflection
12 | 4 – LBH Theme Reveal: Come. Go.
12 | 5 – Guest Blogger: The God Who Waits
12 | 6 – St. John Bosco Day Announcement
12 | 7 – Film Contest Launch

12 | 10 – Frassati Fest – Catholic Herald, Part I
12 | 11 – Frassati Fest – Catholic Herald, Part II
12 | 12 – Frassati Fest on Twitter
12 | 13 – Frassati Fest Workshop Previews
12 | 14 – Frassati Fest – Keynote Speaker Surprise

12 | 17 – LOVE BEGINS HERE – Special, Part I
12 | 18 – LOVE BEGINS HERE – Special, Part II
12 | 19 – Cardinal Virtue Spotlight
12 | 20 – MYSTERY
12 | 21 – Lindsay’s Christmas Gift

12 | 24 – CHRISTMAS
12 | 25 – CHRISTMAS, Guest Blog
12 | 26 – New Evangelization, Part I
12 | 27 – New Evangelization, Part II
12 | 28 – New Evangelization, Part III

12 | 30 – New Evangelization, Part IV
12 | 31 – New Year’s Resolutions