I am very excited to join the youth from across the Archdiocese of Toronto and surrounding dioceses at the Steubenville Toronto Conference starting Friday July 22. I am attending the conference with Vietnamese Martyrs Parish, Toronto. I thank the Parish and Youth and Young Adults Ministries for sponsoring this event for the youth at the Parish. During the days leading to the conference, I take some time to think about the spiritual fruits I hope to receive from this conference.
Sometimes, taking time off from school, work, technology and life’s busy schedules is important in a Catholic’s life. One needs to take time to enrich their spiritual life, especially through the celebration of the Holy Mass and the reading of the Word of God and other spiritual texts as, “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Mt 4:4). Sitting down reading the bible,Church texts such as the Catechism, or books written by the Saints such as The Confessions of St. Augustine may be boring after a while. Attending a retreat or Catholic Conference will make the texts more alive. This will be my first three day Catholic conference. I have attended a one day conference, “When Faith Meets Pedagogy” back in October 2015. I loved that conference and I hope Steubenville will give me more of that. I have made a list of 5 things I hope to encounter along my spiritual journey at Steubenville.
- A lot of Catholics – I go to the Church every week at from 1 to 3 times per week not only for Mass but for other Parish activities. However, most of the time, I meet the same people. At Steubenville, I will for sure see a lot of Catholics and is a chance for me to meet the wider Church, my brothers and sisters in Christ who profess the same faith as me. This will be the chance for me to see that the Church is not isolated within the walls of a 100 year old consecrated building but a universal Church.
- A Youth Mass – The Liturgy of the Catholic Church is something I really love and a very interesting part of the faith. The Liturgy changes at every Mass and that is something that makes it so interesting. There are rites embedded into specific days of the Liturgical Year such as on Palm Sunday and the Easter Vigil. Many of the Liturgical texts, rites and gestures were handed down from generation to generation. When assisting at the Altar, I often prefer to “go by the books”. However, after a talk with a priest one day, I have come to realized that the Liturgy should be made accustomed to the congregation. For example, songs of Latin lyrics (like Gregorian Chant) would not be suitable for a youth mass as many of them will not understand. However, Latin hymns would be perfect for Masses where there are adults and especially for the pre-Vatican II. But, care must be taken that Mass must not become a show as Msgr. Guido Marini, the Papal Master of Ceremonies says. I am use to attending Sunday Masses but I hope the Steubenville Masses will be a different spiritual experience in the Liturgy.
- Time to be with the youth in my Parish– Sometimes, I see these people so often but I do not take the time to talk with them and ask them questions. Steubenville will be chance for me to interact with other within the Parish too. It is a chance for me to get to know the parishioners a little better.
- Big chunk of time with Our Lord – Many people complain that “I have no time to pray!” Well, this is a chance to spend time in prayer with Jesus though prayers, song and inspiration talks in which God calls us to listen to Him through our brothers and sisters. The Holy Eucharist and Eucharistic Adoration will be celebrated at the conference too. These are great times to express our thoughts and feelings with Our Lord.
- Some time to relax the mind and let God speak to me – Busy schedules in Parish, school and family… stressing! The Steubenville Conference will be a time for me to listen to God’s voice and spend some time in discernment and find a spiritual path for myself. I think it is through times of relaxation and looking at nature, religious art or reading the Catholic news is where I find God in everyday life. The conference will be a chance for youth to answer the question, “How do you find God in everyday life?”
I think the Steubenville Conference is like a mini World Youth Day (WYD) but at a local/national level. The conference falls just right before the actual WYDin Krakow, Poland which starts July 36-31, 2016. Even though I will not be at the WYD in Krakow, I am certainly happy to be at the Steubenville Conference this year.
See you all at Steubenville Toronto this Friday!!!