A little heavenly humor

Special attention will also be given to youth from both global and existential “peripheries,” including people with disabilities, and some who have struggled with drug use or who have been in prison.

At the end of the gathering, notes of the various discussions will be gathered into one comprehensive concluding document, which will be presented to Pope Francis and used as part of the “Instrumentum Laboris,” or “working document,” of the October synod.

Alongside Nishimwe at the news conference were Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops; Bishop Fabio Fabene, the synod dicastery’s undersecretary; and Italian youth Filippo Passantino.

In comments to journalists, Passantino said participants are expecting to hear “an echo of their requests, of their needs, of their proposals” in the meeting, not only in the synod hall, “but also on social media, so that social media can become [a] great and luminous reflection to shine on their problems.” Full story...

Youth look forward to sharing hopes, concerns in pre-synod meeting
By Elise Harris

Vatican City, Feb 16, 2018 / 11:24 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Ahead of the pre-synod meeting set to take place next month, several young participants voiced excitement to meet with peers from all over the world to exchange ideas and talk about life's major questions.

“This is a step the Church is making to listen to all youth,” said Stella Marilene Nishimwe, a participant in the pre-synod gathering. “It will give us an opportunity to say everything that we think. This is an opportunity that we must really take.”

A young Burundi woman living in Italy, Nishimwe told journalists that she believes the March gathering is “something that God wants from the Church, to do something new for all the youth of the world.”

“Because youth from all over the world, whether they are Catholics or from other religions, we have the same questions,” she said, adding that she thinks it is important that the Church wants to walk with youth “in this world with so much pain, with so many questions that don't have answers.”

She said that what she mainly wants to share is the experience of “the life that we live.” Namely, “we want to find happiness, like everyone in the world, we want to live in unity, we want to feel at home in all parts of the world. We want to really find a path together...in this synod, I really want this.”

Nishimwe was one of four panelists at a Feb. 16 news conference on the upcoming pre-synod meeting, which will be held March 19-24 in Rome with some 300 youth from various backgrounds and countries throughout the world.

The event is a precursor to the October Synod of Bishops on “Faith, Young People and the Discernment of Vocation,” and will include youth in different states of life and from different vocations. Priests, seminarians and consecrated persons will also participate, as well as non-Catholics.

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He Meets us in our Mess

Y’all, I am going to be honest here. I am mess. Like seriously. Just this week I’ve slept through my alarm and missed two of my classes because of it. I’ve fallen behind on just about everything and bombed an exam. I’ve been swimming in anxiety and grief, and feel like my life is one big crazy checklist. So, believe me when I say, I know how you feel. I am right in the thick of it too. I am no stranger to feeling like everything is out of my control, like I am knee deep in all the things, like everything’s a mess… like I am a mess.

Looking Past the Messiness
Sometimes it is extremely hard to look past all of the drama, the breakups, the heartaches, the natural disasters, the tragedies, the loss, the confusion, the stress… the absolute messiness. In those messy moments when we are our messiest, when the hurt feels like it is too much to bear, we may think it will be easier if we just push God away.

But it’s not, which is why it’s a good time to remember that God asks us to cast aside our anxiety and keep our eyes fixed on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious…” (Philippians 4:6-9). He asks us to fix our eyes on Him and draw closer to Him. When we do this, we can see the ways He wants to speak to us through the messiness of our lives more clearly.

I’m not gonna lie, letting Jesus into our messiness is really hard. We’re afraid of being vulnerable with Him, we’re afraid that if we open our hands He’ll take from us what we’re not ready to give, or we’re afraid He’ll fix things we don’t want to be fixed. But, He desires this union with us more than anything else. He longs to console us and desires our trust. Full story...

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Into the Desert: How to Live Your Lent with Purpose


“What are you giving up for Lent?”

For years, this question defined what Lent was all about for me. Sure, at an intellectual level, I could have told you that Lent existed to spiritually prepare us for Easter. But at a real, day-to-day level, Lent was just about giving something up for forty days.

That something was usually chocolate. Every year, without fail, Lent would catch me unprepared, and I would make the same half-hearted commitment to give up chocolate (which definitely didn’t extend to the completely different food groups of chocolate ice-cream and/or chocolate-chip cookies).

Then when Easter Sunday came around I would mentally congratulate myself and celebrate by devouring a chocolate egg twice the size of my head. Another Lent successfully completed (as far as I was concerned)

It wasn’t until my final year of High School that my perspective on Lent changed dramatically. I was attending mass on Ash Wednesday, lined up behind my classmates to receive the ashes on our foreheads. As I reached the front of the line, the priest made the sign of the cross on my forehead in ashes and said ten words I’ve never forgotten:

“Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel.”

I was brought up Catholic, so I been hearing these words every Ash Wednesday since before I could even remember. But for some reason, at that Mass, it was like I was hearing them for the first time:

“Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel.”

Not only do these words mark the beginning of Lent, they also reveal its purpose. Lent isn’t about giving up chocolate, or ice-cream, or social media. At its heart, Lent is about turning away from sin, and being faithful to the gospel. 
Full story...

Cinta Costera will host the main events during the week of World Youth Day: the Opening Ceremonies, the Papal Welcome Ceremony, and the Stations of the Cross. This tropical, waterfront “coastal beltway” is made up of 64 acres of park land that stretch approximately 3km along the Panama Bay. The site for the World Youth Day Papal Vigil and Closing Mass has not yet been announced.



Casco Viejo
This historic district and cultural gem of Panama City was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997. Casco Viejo was established around 1673 by the Spanish colonialists, the Catholic Church, and other settlers. Historically one of the richest and most densely populated neighborhoods in the Americas, Casco Viejo went on to experience decades of neglect around the 1950s. The streets are filled with buildings that served as homes, cathedrals and churches and government buildings over centuries and many architectural phases. Some of these structures have been painstakingly restored and now house museums, gourmet restaurants, quaint shops, and upscale residences. Other buildings stand in disrepair or complete ruin. The juxtaposition of homes of poor families with expensively remodeled properties offers an excellent peek into the varied history that the district has experienced. (For more on this unique neighborhood, visit CascoViejo.com.)

While in Casco Viejo, make a pilgrimage to the seven historic churches located in that district: La Catedral Metropolitana, La Merced, San Francisco de Asís, San José, San Felipe de Neri, Santo Domingo, and Santa Ana. You can also visit the ruins of the Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús (Church of the Society of Jesus / Jesuits). Read more...

These questions come from LifeTeen, and were included in the blog: "Answers to Every Question You’ve Ever Wanted to Ask a Religious Sister" by Sr. Amy

Question: What advice do you have for young women that think they might be called to religious life? 

Answer: “Let it be done to me according to your word.” – Luke 1:38. These are Mary’s words. Her response to God’s invitation to be the Mother of Jesus. It’s a beautiful prayer for us today and words we can say to the Lord now. Let it be done to me according to how you desire my life to be, Lord. Let it be done to me according to the plan and story you’ve written for my life, Jesus. Let it be how you would like it to be, God. It’s a prayer of abandonment to the Father’s will and it’s so sweet and precious to Him. Be patient with God’s timing. Be patient with your discernment. Be patient. Don’t be afraid to open your heart to the Lord. He is trustworthy. He is faithful. He is loving. He is unchanging. He is awesome. He is worth it. Also, you don’t have to figure it out today. Be who you are meant to be now, as a student, daughter, friend. Stay close to Him and talk to Jesus daily. Deepen your friendship with Him. He wants to be with you and loves you as you are now. God will lead you. Trust Him, for He is trustworthy. Take courage, dear heart!

Question: Have you always been attracted to the idea of religious life? Why or why not?

Answer: Sister Act and Sister Act 2 were my first encounters with sisters. So if religious life meant singing “Oh Happy Day” – I was in! But that’s not really it — although on occasion, I will sing “Oh Happy Day” just because I can. And I think Jesus probably laughs with me. As I mentioned before, I was at first very afraid to be a sister. I had a million objections.

Then I met two religious sisters on a retreat who were authentic and joyful! I remember my heart was burning as the sisters shared their stories, as if on the road to Emmaus when the two disciples said, “Were not our hearts burning within us?” (Luke 24:32) I asked God not to let me forget this moment and He hasn’t. When I doubt my calling He brings this memory back and it sets my feet on a firm foundation.

World Youth Day Panama 2019 Official Promo Video

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Pre-Synodal meeting at the Holy See Press Office on February 16, 2018. Credit: Marina Testino / CNA.