From the Mission Field: JPII Inspiration

JPII Calcutta

When one saint preaches the homily at another to-be saint’s beatification, you know it’s good. That was the case when (to be) Saint Pope John Paul the Great preached at Bl. Mother Teresa’s beatification. This homily is worth the read and perfectly timed for any Love Begins Here missionaries who want to celebrate the legacy of JPII this weekend.

Also, if you’re curious where the words above came from, check out this short quote from Jason Evert’s book Saint John Paul the Great:

When visiting the poorest of the poor at Mother Teresa’s home for the destitute and dying in Calcutta, he reminded them, “You are not God’s abandoned children. Quite the opposite. God will find joy in your faith and courage.” … He felt so at home with the poor that when visiting Mother Teresa in Calcutta, someone nearby heard him whisper to her, “If I could, I would make this my headquarters as Pope.”

Happy Canonization weekend! (In case you’re looking to throw a canonization party, check out this Pinterest board.) Saint John Paul the Great, pray for Love Begins Here, our missionaries, our Core Team and all Madison Catholic Youth!

From the Mission Field: Triduum

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As this Good Friday dawns, from the mission field and beyond, we would like wish you all a solemn remembrance of the Paschal Mystery in the coming days and all the joys of Easter.

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In case you want more to meditate on beyond the LBH Twitter account, enjoy this short reflection from soon-to-be Saint John Paul the Great’s Easter Vigil homily in 2000.

As she keeps watch on this Holy Night, the Church closely scrutinizes the texts of Sacred Scripture. They portray God’s plan from Genesis to the Gospel and, together with the liturgical rites of fire and water, give this remarkable celebration a cosmic dimension. The whole created universe is summoned to keep watch this night at the tomb of Christ. The history of salvation passes before our eyes, from Creation to the Redemption, from the Exodus to the Covenant on Mount Sinai, from the Old to the New and Eternal Covenant. On this Holy Night, God’s eternal plan reaches fulfilment, the plan which embraces the history of humanity and of the cosmos.

– Blessed John Paul II, Easter Vigil, 2000

From the Mission Field: Be The One

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Nicky, the LBH Intern, is diving into the #LBH2014 theme today on the blog. Enjoy!

You know that feeling after you’ve consumed a package each of Sour Patch Kids, Whoppers, and Peanut Butter M&Ms in the darkness of a movie theatre? Maybe you don’t possess my “6 year-old child like love of candy,” but the feeling is two part. I first wonder, “Who ate all my candy?” Then, like a sudden storm rolling in, I feel incredibly thirsty and proceed to drink about gallon of water. This ridiculous self-inflicted feeling pales in comparison to that of another. Hanging on the cross, shortly before his death, Jesus spoke the words “I thirst.” He had to be feeling physically thirsty as he suffered so, but there was an even greater thirst Christ was experiencing. Water couldn’t touch this.

The words “I thirst” can be seen beside each crucifix displayed in The Missionaries of Charity’s chapels. It is a reminder for them of a particular truth. Jesus thirsts for our love. You can walk away from Him, or you can respond with Mother Teresa, “I will be the one.” This summer, we will strive, through our LBH2014 theme, to “be the one.” We will fall deeper in love with Christ and love Him through the people we serve and are in community with, as each individual responds to His thirst.

The more we spend time with Christ, the more we will feed the thirst he has for our individual souls. Christ longs for each one of us, and this summer we will, “try in a special way to come as close as the human heart can come to the Heart of Jesus” (Mother Teresa). On our weeks of LBH, we will continue to build a life of prayer. Through prayer, Mass, Confession, adoration, and daily collatio, we will respond to Christ’s thirst for love.

It isn’t enough, however, to give Christ our love in prayer. He dwells in the hearts of all humankind, and we need to respond to his thirst visible in the needs and suffering of others. If we allow God to open our eyes we will see that, “the greatest evil [in the world] is the lack of love and charity, the terrible indifference towards one’s neighbor” (Mother Teresa). This summer, through the service we do, we will work to restore the dignity of others and put our love for Christ into action.

It is a tall glass to fill (pun intended), but God has an incredible way of blessing the mission of Love Begins Here. We are praying for all the missionaries, chaperones, youth leaders, communities, and individuals being served this summer, as we all prepare and seek to be the one.

Survey Says!

Survey Says

All of the Youth Ministers and others who work with the Middle and High School youth in our Parishes were asked over the past couple of weeks to take an online survey about a couple of new day retreats/rallies that we want to offer in collaboration with Camp Gray! It’s an exciting time (and idea!), but before we dived into the planning and work on such events, it was important to us to gather this feedback. We had 42 folks take the survey, and we’re ready to share with you the results. Of course, nothing is set and stone and the results of this survey will not magically result in new and beautiful programming (without hard work, of course!), but we’ll do our best to provide for what you need!

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The first thing we asked about was if the parishes are interested in new programming for Middle School students, High School students or both Middle and High School students. The overwhelming response that was we need more for all of our youth!

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We’re not sure we could have asked a more controversial question. The response to whether folks wanted Saturday or Sunday events was split right down the middle. (For the solution, we will probably look to Camp’s availability and calendar for some more insight!) Regardless of what direction we take these events, it sounds like we’ll be looking into providing an optional overnight component for adventurous and interested parishes!

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The above photo is an indication of the responses we received from the following question: For a day long event (that would provide snacks, lunch, retreat components, Camp Gray fun (potential for canoeing, tower climbing, etc.), music, and local speakers) what do you think of the cost of $45 for the day? (Keep in mind that the cost of a day at Camp Gray summer camp is about $90.) 

Some (8 folks) thought this price was far too much; some (5 folks) thought it was a bargain. The majority agreed it was either spot on or that with opportunities to provide scholarships to kids in need, $45 would be a good price. Going forward, we’ll be running the numbers and finding out how we can maximize the value for the lowest price possible. Stay tuned!

Top Selling Points

It sounds like whatever we do, as long as we keep our Catholic faith at the top of the list, enlist the stellar Camp Gray staff and enthusiastic youth ministers of our Diocese, give the youth an opportunity for classic Camp Gray fun and adventure, and give them a day out in nature with other teens to bond with, we’ll be on the right track. Thanks for all the great ideas about what will sell this new offering to our teens!

Overall, we could not be more thrilled with the response to this survey! Hopefully in the next month or so, we’ll have more details and a clear idea of what these events might look like in the 2014 – 2015 school year. Also, stay tuned for future surveys! This collaboration business is mighty fun.

(Also, in case you’re curious, one interesting piece of information we learned from the survey on the topic of Confirmation is that HALF of the Parishes that responded are either moving to Chosen for their program or already have! That’s great news, especially considering the exciting announcement we made last week.)

From the Mission Field: Introducing the LBH Intern

We are introducing a new Friday series to the blog featuring stories, memories, announcements and more From the Mission Field of Love Begins Here. Enjoy meeting Nicky the intern today!

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If anyone saw my introduction video from this past summer, you know that I excel at introducing myself, or at least being interviewed on camera. See this link. You only need to watch 00:35 – 00:48, and that should give you a shining example of my abilities.

However, I was asked to introduce myself for a new role I have been blessed to start for Love Begins Here. Hi, I’m Nicky Kaehler. I teach second grade in Sauk City at St. Al’s, and I live in Middleton. I am overjoyed to say that I am the LBH spring intern, a position sponsored in part by the generosity of a grant through the Apostolate to the Handicapped!

Whenever you start a new endeavor in life, there is a natural inclination to have a “dear diary moment” as you reflect on how you got to this point. For me it was the summer of 2010. My awesome roommate, Lindsay Becher (Superhero Starter of LBH), asked if I wanted to volunteer for the HS1 trip. I had already heard so many beautiful things; I said absolutely. I arrived on Sunday with my sleeping bag, tennis shoes, and an open heart. LBH took me in and made a home in my heart.

That week I experienced beautiful, authentic, Catholic community. Every day we woke up and started our day with mass. That was the coolest thing, to be tired from the day/night before and telling Jesus, “I can’t do this day without you.” He in return provided the Eucharist and the grace needed to live that day for Him. As we set out in the morning for our work sites, the air was already filled with singing and laughter. When we all rolled in at the end of the day, we were dirty, sweaty, and tired, but that same joy could be heard. It was wonderful to unwind, pray a rosary, and share a meal with these young people who are an incredible witness to God’s love. Each night we shared hilarious stories from the day. Then we would get to hear how others saw God in their day. All of this happened in the midst of having crazy amounts of fun, going on random adventures, jamming out to tunes in the car, and celebrating life the way God intended.

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So, while my body might have been running on empty, my soul was so full. I just wanted more! I wanted to love God by serving his people in a way that was more life encompassing and less isolated. I wanted to be surrounded by these joyful inspiring young people, but I had to start my summer job. For the two days leading up to my nannying position, this was my conversation with God: “Lord, I know you want me here, but I really want to be on LBH. Help me.” Come Sunday, my start day, I showed up to start nannying. I was greeted with the news that they thought I was starting the following week. Oh happy day! I immediately called Lindsay and was back on LBH that afternoon.

I’ve been blessed to be a core team member these past three summers. In that time, the Lord has used this program to challenge everything I am, and mold me into who I am supposed to be. He’s allowed me to share my gifts, and I am humbled and grateful.  I knew last summer was my last core team summer (I still plan on volunteering), and I was already aching at the thought of missing out this summer. Yet again God hears and answers the cry of this heart. While working as a barista saving money for a trip to Rome this summer, Lindsay approached me about being an intern. I would be working to promote LBH, prepare things for the summer, and put out the word on social media. No brainer. This was perfect! I would get to work for a program I love, behind the scenes, so that Lindsay could spend more time developing and expanding the program as she felt God calling her to do.

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So here I am, your LBH intern, happy to answer emails, doing work that I love, getting ready for another amazing summer! Praise God!

John Paul II, we love you.

There are a few things we want to share with you on this spring day!

First up, in case you haven’t seen it, the Love Begins Here promo video launched yesterday. One of the coolest facebook posts we saw in conjunction with a share of it, was the following, by Dan, a former missionary who is in his first year of college.

Words cannot describe the joy and good fruits that so beautifully radiate from Love Begins Here and these people, so I am just going to leave this video here with a piece of advice: do it. You will never regret making that decision to take part in one of the most life changing things I have ever experienced.

 

 

Second, we would like for you to save the date of October 19th. At 1:00pm in the afternoon, Chris Stefanick (international Catholic speaker and the brains behind Chosen) will be making a stop in the Diocese of Madison. (St. John the Baptist in Waunakee will host us!) He will speak with teens and parents for a couple hours that afternoon as a part of the Revolution of Love Series that will be coming back for the 2014 – 2015 school year. We will have more information to share later this spring!

Third, congrats to Topher (from Camp Gray!) and Anna (2014 LBH Core Team member) on winning the JP2 Book giveaways last week! They will be in the mail on Friday.

JPII Demanding Love

On the topic of this great to-be saint, we thought that over the next few weeks we could share with you some inspiration and insights from the book. Today’s summary is of chapter 7, on his love for young people. (In case you are curious, chapters 1 – 6 are a biography.)

Blessed John Paul II’s great love for the youth and commitment to them can teach us many things. The following are four lessons we, especially those who work with teens, can learn from him.

1. Be present.
John Paul immersed himself in his interactions with the youth, from his young years as a priest unto his aging years as our Holy Father. An University instructor who spent time with him and the youth on wilderness trips recalled, “He lived and breathed these problems [on their hearts]. And because young people live and breathe love, he lived and breathed these young people’s love.” Not only did he enter into their deepest questions and struggles, he literally made himself available, regularly announcing to the youth where he was staying so they could visit him on his travels. We all have many things fighting for our attention. The fact of the matter is that we must put them down and order our days (and lives) to be available and present to the hearts of our teens.

2. Do not compromise on the truth.
John Paul did not believe in shying away from teaching and preaching the truth. He recognized that the world already sold the youth short, and he did not want to join them in doing so. As Jason writes, “if he had lowered the standard, he’d have missed the chance to invite people to live lives of heroic virtue.” Our young people want the truth and want to be challenged. Be a beacon of light and truth for them, in the midst of this often dark world.

3. Whatever you do, remain authentic.
What John Paul believed and what he said were one in the same. He took his call to witness to his Catholic faith very seriously. He made it known that encountering Christ changes ones life. We are called to that same witness, preaching that we have a “real capacity to become the image of his Son”, rather than believing we are “the sum of our weaknesses and failures.”

4. Make your who life about love.
Here Jason tells a story of the young people on John Paul’s first visit to the USA chanting “John Paul II, we love you!” The Holy Father, so delighted by their excitement and genuine love, responded, “Perhaps, I love you more.” He knew that by loving the young people, he could introduce them to the love that will solve all their problems and answer all of their questions. He called them to live in that love, in true freedom, regardless of how demanding of a task it might seem to be. Taking his witness to heart, we need to be devoted to loving the folks the Lord puts in our lives, so that along they way we can offer them His love.