CATHOLIC BUZZFEED: 9 Tips for Growth in Holiness

This week’s Freshly Brewed SHOWNOTES are taking on a slightly different form. Listen to the podcast this week and hear Lindsay and guest star, Bekah, create this Buzzfeed-esque list of tips for growing in holiness.

9 Tips for Growth in Holiness
Created especially for our high school and college age friends. 

1. God gives us our daily bread, not the whole loaf.
Trust in God’s plan for you, day by day. You will likely not have your entire life laid out before you in prayer. Following His will, most often, happens in little ways each and every day.


2. Be watching for whales.
God wants to shower you with graces every day, but if we’re waiting for something so specific, we may miss these gifts. Watch for the ways God surprises you and loves you each day. (Listen to the podcast to get the full story.)

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3. Take off your negative knickers, put on your positive panties.
We all know it’s true. Comparison, negativity, being down on ourselves, gossip, and the like only lead us farther away from Jesus Christ. Stay positive about yourself, your friends and family, and strangers you meet. You will most certainly be happier because of it.

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4. It’s never too late for a new start.
There is nothing that God can’t resolve in our hearts or our lives. There is not sin too large to be forgiven. Especially in this Year of Mercy, we should keep this in mind. As long as we approach the Lord (especially in the Sacrament of Confession) with humility and a genuine desire to change, we can set off on a new path any day. For folks in the Diocese of Madison: check out the times for Confession available in the parish. During this Year of Mercy, there should be an extra two hours in the schedule!


5. Be who God made you to be, and you’ll set the world on fire.
God did not create any two human beings exactly the same, so it makes a lot of sense that he would not desire for any two human beings to become saints in the exact same way. Pray about the unique gifts and passions the Lord has given you, and strive to use those to grow in holiness and set the world on fire. Check out this song for inspiration: The Saint That Is Just Me.

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6. Live in the world, not of the world.
We are called to live in the world, with our eyes fixed on heaven, our eternal destination. In the in between, use your interests, favorite movies, and GIFs, to develop friendships that can lead to sharing your faith, in truth and love. Of course, part of living in the world is growing in the virtue of prudence, so we know what will lead us closer or further away from the Lord.

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7. See ourselves as God sees us.
We are precious to the Lord. His love for us is great. This means that we should live like we have been given priceless dignity. Hold yourself to high standards, and then be sure to look for significant others who hold themselves to the same high standards. You are not meant to be in a relationship with someone who does not respect the human person. (This plays out in how people spend their free time, treat their family, and look out for those on the peripheries.)

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8. Don’t put yourself in situations where you’re tempted.
We should always avoid what leads us to sin, but let’s talk about a particular part of our youthful days: romantic relationships. Spending time behind closed doors with a significant other you’re attracted to is a poor choice. Instead of putting yourself in the way of temptation, spend time around friends, invest in your families, serve your neighbors in need, and go on dates in public.

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9. Know the power of prayer.
God has great plans for you. The way you are going to know His will is through prayer. Prayer is also where you learn about your great dignity and are strengthened to avoid temptation and sin. If you are looking for peace and happiness — let’s be honest, we know you are — prayer is a must in your life. Check out this great prayer from Saint Ignatius of Loyola: Suscipe.

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You’ve got this. We’ll be praying for you, as you strive for holiness!

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Listen on ITunes

If you’re curious what Lindsay and Bekah were making for dinner, check this out: America’s Test Kitchen – Sweet Potato Soup. It turned out really well!


Above: This is the second day Lindsay and Bekah had known each other. They met at World Youth Day in Madrid back in 2011! (Yes. That is #saratheintern, Freshly Brewed co-host, to Lindsay’s left!)


Above: Now that Bekah lives in Madison, she and Lindsay enjoy visiting the Farmer’s Marked on a regular basis!

Thanks for checking in, friends. If you’ve got questions, let us know here in the comments or on Instagram @madisoncatholic!

Freshly Brewed: Episode 6 – Bless Us for the Journey

Bless Us for the Journey

Howdy friends! As Camp Gray continues to have huge impacts on individuals’ pursuits of holiness we decided to hear from the perspective of a long time camper, Erin Moran! Listen here as Chis talks with Erin about the many different programs Camp offers and how each different experience has played a role in how Erin continues to strive for sainthood!

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Camp Gray Summer 2015 Schedule

Camp Gray Instagram

St. Francis of Assisi 

National Geographic Instagram

As we go on… Catholic Graduation Season

JPII Graduation - John Paul II - World Youth Day 1986

Graduation season is upon us. Whether you have loved ones graduating from college or high school, there are celebrations to be had, choices to face and inspiration to be given.

Thanks to Lifeteen, we’ve rounded up some great blog posts to share with the graduates in your life, or anyone gearing up for summer vaca!
– How to avoid the Senior Scramble?
– What kind of choices will you make at graduation?
10 Fun Things to Do This Summer
10 More Fun Things to Do This Summer

Also, we have a resource to give you. This is the synthesized list (from our spring Regional Gatherings) of GREAT ideas on how to celebrate graduates in our parishes and reach out to them as they leave home this summer! Download your copy of this Graduate Advice. If you’ve got anything to add, be in touch.

To the class of 2014, it is our prayer that you move on to do very great things – big or small – with great love for the Lord.

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.

Wanderer Wednesday: Dolan Edition + A GIVEAWAY

Wanderer Wednesday

Welcome back to Wanderer Wednesday! Today we’re bringing a few recommendations from new evangelization master, Timothy Cardinal Dolan. He knows his people and loves his people. After all, look at how comfortable he is with reporters —

Cardinal Timothy Dolan laughs with reporters after holding a prayer serviceAbove all, he is a man who desires to conform his life with Christ’s and encourages others to do the same. One way he does this is through his twitter feed — @CardinalDolan. He knows how to use 140 characters up well, with tweets like the following:

“Our relationship with the Lord: to nourish it, develop it, intensify it is the goal of a lifetime.”

Another recommendation, especially pertinent to the next few weeks, is the SiriusXM radio channel (The Catholic Channel) where he is giving daily interviews on the goings on at the General Congregations, as the Cardinals prepare for the Conclave. Listening in every day for a few minutes will be time well spent in understanding what is happening and why. Yesterday’s interview covered the question of why the Cardinal’s have not yet decided on an official date to start said Conclave.

Called To Be Holy

The last recommendation today of Cardinal Dolan’s is his book Called To Be Holy. (Yes, it is best read with a cup of coffee drank out of an equestrian themed mug.) This book is a rendition of the first section of his great book Priests for the Third Millenium. Simple, straight forward, spiritually challenging and full of anecdotes is how this great man prefers to deliver his message. With topics such as faith, hope, humility, love and chastity, human formation, patience, penance, joy, obedience and devotion to Our Lady, there is something for everyone who is seeking holiness. (Read: there is something in this book you probably need to hear.)

An example of the great words included in this book, as found in the chapter on hope —

You see, a vibrant hope is contagious and will attract people. Its fruits are calmness, cheerfulness, tranquility, a good sense of humor, freedom from anxiety — and these traits people find very attractive. So, people can be attracted to Jesus and his Church through her hopeful members. This is not some Pollyannish, cheerleading, shallow optimism. This is   a realistic sturdy trust in God based on deep faith, born in experience, and bolstered by reason.

You may understand why “spiritually challenging” was one of the phrases chosen to describe his style. Living the Christian life is not the easiest task minute to minute, day to day, but it is what we are called to do. This book, appropriately enough, is a fitting field map when we want to actively, ardently pursue our call to holiness.

Head over to Amazon and pick up a copy for yourself.

Better yet, leave a comment on this post with an idea of a topic you would like to see covered on a future Wanderer Wednesday post, and you will be entered to win a copy of this very book.

Thanks for tuning in. Enjoy wandering less aimlessly today!

NOTE: Giveaway will be open until Sunday, March 10th at 11:59pm CST!

St. John Bosco Day — Coming soon!

John Bosco Day

After a busy month of January for Madison Catholic Youth with a rEVOLution of Love event, the March for Life Pilgrimage and Frassati Fest all in a row, we did not pay fitting tribute to the Patron of the Young – St. John Bosco.

| Sidebar: Due to the busy events of this past month, this dear blog has been a bit neglected. However, the facebook and twitter were rockin’ during all of those events. Please follow along on those social media sites to see what great things happened during those events. And one of these days, we’ll see some further reflection on said events.|

Back to St. John Bosco, patron of the young and the poor. This very blog also neglected to honor his feast day on January 31st. Despite the lack of blogging gratitude, we would remiss to not mention how grateful we are for his intercession upon the youth of the Church and the Diocese.

In honor of his feast day, we are holding this year’s St. John Bosco Youth Formation + Ministry Planning Day this Monday! (Hopefully this isn’t the first you have heard about it — it’s been in the last two e-mail updates from Lindsay.) Details are as follows –

Bishop O’Connor Center
8:45am – Gathering
9:00am – Planning Session 1
11:00am – Spiritual Reflection + Prayer
Noon – Holy Mass
12:45pm – Lunch (On us!)
1:30pm – Planning Session 2
3:00pm – Goodbye!

If you are coming and have not had a chance to RSVP, go ahead and leave a comment here. We’ll gladly take you without having done so, but this will just help in planning.

For those who are not going to be able to make it on this day, stay tuned right here on the blog where there will be interactive features throughout the day + summaries posted, so you can participate from afar!

We’re alive!

March for Life Preview

The title of this little post is relevant for a few reasons —

One, we’re back. Sorry for the blogging drought. From here on out this year, you can expect twice weekly blog updates from Madison Catholic Youth detailing the latest and greatest of what’ around.

Two, we’re alive. I heard a beautiful homily yesterday about finding beauty in the ordinary and letting these days of cold winter darkness not get us down. Instead, we can use it to prompt us to spend a little more time turning to God in prayer.

Third, we’re Marching for Life in Washington DC one week from tomorrow! Please keep our 75 pilgrims from the Madison Diocese in your prayers as they prepare for the journey during this next week.

If you haven’t taken a few moments to watch the following video yet, please do. It’s totally worth the time.

Our Lady of Guadalupe – patroness of the Americas, pray for us!
Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception – patroness of the United States, pray for us!
St. Gianna Molla, pray for us!

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

Frassati Fest – DAY 2 of Awesomeness!


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

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?