Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love

A few weeks ago, when my dad was in town visiting me, we went to see the movie Eat, Pray, Love. I hadn't read the book and my dad was part of the way through it, but we both wanted to see the movie. Despite what the US Bishops said about the movie, I liked it. They're discouraging people from seeing it because of the acceptance of divorce and the nonmarital and premarital relations that happen throughout the story line. Apart from those details, it was great! It gave a little insight into three completely different countries: Italy, India, and Indonesia. Each experience in the distinct countries corresponds to her title; she ate in Italy, prayed in India, and fell in love in Indonesia. The bishops also criticize the movie for it's lack of, or perhaps complete disregard for Christianity and "ignoring [it] as a source of insight." In the book Liz Gilbert does write on Christianity. The purpose of her year-long excursions to these exotic places was a self-indulgent, self-seeking "pampered pilgrimage."

While the movie doesn't follow the book perfectly, you get a general feel for the book and the adventures that Liz Gilbert experienced. After seeing the movie I zipped over to Amazon.com and bought the book. I cannot say that I agree with a lot of the decisions Gilbert made and how she went about things, but I can say that there are some valuable lessons to be learned from her travels and own insights. As I continue to travel along with Liz in her written account I plan on writing my own observations. I like to call it: Catholicizing Eat, Pray, Love.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

First Middle School Event

Last night I held my first middle school event called Saturday Night Live (SNL). They were very popular last year and for my first one I had no clue how many to expect. I had some games in mind and I thought it would be fun to make our own pizzas (using English muffins or the thin sandwich buns). Well, the kids kept coming and I think I had a total of about 35. I guess I was expecting, perhaps even hoping, for 20-30 to show, but once their bodies are physically present, 35 seems a lot larger than it did in my head. I was so overwhelmed and I really had no idea what to do; they had so much energy. Plus they're really bad at listening. Extremely bad.

I learned a few lessons: order pizza instead of making your own... that takes too long to do! Reserve the gym... they can be more wild and crazy there. Have more ideas for middle school games: during the night I realized that some games I had planned out were not going to work with the middle school bunch. Over prepare. 

Middle school ministry is not one of my strengths and if it was up to me, I wouldn't want to do another middle school event... but it's part of my job. Before my next event I'll be sitting down with the DRE to talk about planning middle school events and how we can un-do what happened last year (where they only played games and had no faith or prayer elements). We at least prayed at the end of the event last night. :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

In 5 years?

What do I want to be doing in five years? Yikes, I don't even know what I'll be doing next year! I assume I'll still be working at St. Andrew with youth ministry, and maybe I'll be doing that in five years as well, but who knows! I've been asked that question twice in the past few months. I have hopes and dreams of what I want to do, but right now I'm simply trying to focus on my immediate job. It takes some time getting used to and settling into a new position, but I'm sure in a year from now I'll have things running smoothly. And maybe then I can put a little more focus on things I'd like to be doing in five years. What is it that I'd like to do? I would like to write more, not only for my blog, but also a book. I think that would be really awesome; I even have a friend who would edit it for me! I'd also like to have some speaking engagements - whether it's for a local parish or conference, or maybe someday a larger conference in a different state. What do I want to write about and speak on? Good question. I've always had an interest in speaking on and sharing the importance of chastity and purity, but maybe my interests will change as I continue to work in youth ministry. Lord, let it be done to me according to your word. God's got His plan and I have my hopes... maybe they'll coincide with each other. :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Youth Ministry Obstacles

At times it seems like parents are the biggest obstacles to youth ministry when they should be its advocates! Not all parents are challenging and some understand what Comprehensive Youth Ministry means; I do not want to downplay the help they have already provided.

Last night was the first night of our "youth group" or "youth night." Ours may be a little different from other parishes because it also counts for religious education classes. It's open to all high school students and yes, there is a catechesis component to it. A mom came in to bring her daughter and to introduce herself, since she has been an important part of our middle school ministry in the past. When she heard that it also counted as religious education she was about ready to take her daughter home since she goes to the Catholic high school and gets her religious ed from there. And she somehow thinks that is enough. I suppose she assumed that my youth night would always be a social night... but I am not holding a strictly social night every Sunday! What about faith?  What about learning? Where does true fellowship and community come from? It looks like my challenge will be to teach parents what Comprehensive Youth Ministry means; it's not all about the fun and games, there are eight components that need to be incorporated into youth ministry. This could either be a rough year or a very fruitful year. I choose fruitful.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Why God Matters - Book Review

Why God Matters is a great little gem to have in your spiritual reading collection. It contains short stories and reflections on faith by a daughter and father, one a cradle Catholic, the other a convert. It has a simplistic beauty to it; the chapters are short, which makes it easy to put down and pick up on your own time. Each chapter is a great personal witness of their own faith, but what I like the most are the little extras after the stories. Each chapter contains a Life Lesson, a short Scripture passage, and a quote from the Catechism. The Life Lessons help the reader to reflect on their own faith life and can be a great guide for prayer, while the Scripture and CCC quotes tie everything together. This isn't just another book on faith and it doesn't tell you why God should matter in your life. I see it more as a witness to God's love and a tool for the reader to examine their faith and help them grow as witnesses of Christ.

Check out chapter two here:

And while you're at it, check out the book's website:

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Curb Check

This past weekend I unfortunately hit a curb. I blew my tire and caused some damage to my car. I've had a frustrating and difficult week trying to get my car serviced with many trips back and forth from the dealership (which is about a 45 minute drive). August was a pretty rough month for me, it seemed like everything was going wrong, and this curb check was the icing on the cake. I've only had my car a month and now this happens!?

Yesterday I got a loner car from the dealership (a 2010 Altima which I fell in love with) and as I was driving it back to Fort Worth in the pouring rain I thought I'd reflect on this whole experience. I asked myself what lesson I could learn from all of this and then I started laughing. The first thing that came to my mind was "wake-up call." I think it was a wake-up call from God; just how I wasn't paying careful attention to driving, I haven't been paying close attention to God and His workings in my life. Yesterday I was given a ride by a Nissan courtesy driver and we had a nice chat about faith and prayer. One of the things that sticks out to me from that conversation is "we know who our Lord is, Jesus Christ, and he will always take care of us, but we've got to put our trust in him, too."

September is going to be a much better month: I'm going to put my trust in Jesus and work on my routine for prayer.