Sunday, December 3, 2017

Christmas and Vocations

Here it is. Everyone's favorite time of year. And I don't mean Christmas (weirdly enough). I mean Advent. The anticipation of Christmas.

Because CHRISTMAS!

Advent is one of the most stressful times of the year, because of all those dang presents we have to get for everyone. Presents for you, presents for you, presents for you... etc. But it's also a time of self-reflection, right? A time to really better yourself. Like, to really REALLY better yourself. And the best way to do that is to know who you are and where you're going, right?

The two most difficult questions for a high-schooler/young adult to answer: Who are you? And where are you going?

As we get closer to Christmas this first Sunday of Advent, start to really look into yourself (you know...like I've been annoying you to do all year), and ask yourself the difficult questions. Are you being called toward something you almost don't want to be called toward? Are you listening to any kind of calling whatsoever? Are you doing the legwork? Really and truly: who are you, and where are you going?

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Mission Confirmed

Confirmation season is rolling around again - get ready to wade through that sea of red robes! Remember getting ready to give the Bishop your name and your saint's name and have him smear that funky-smelling stuff on your forehead?

Remember the promises we made to one another? To God? To ourselves?

How many of us still live by those promises? How many of those promises have we broken? Directly or indirectly?

Something I've always appreciated about Confirmation is the individuality of it. It's one of the first occasions we have in our lives of being able to name ourselves. Of being able to choose for ourselves what means the most to us - humility? Go for St. Bernadette or St. Francis of Assisi. Leadership? St. Joan of Arc. How about fun? St. John Bosco is your man.

It was always kind of fun for us to see who could get the best Saints. Who could pick the ones that most closely tied into our lives or our natures. It's an important decision - one that we probably take a little too lightly. We tend to treat it like we're picking an accessory instead of asking for eternal help from Saints and angels. But it's ours - something we pick for ourselves as individuals in the Church.

How many of us still conform to the same old ways of prayer and sacrifice without taking our very natures into account? Can you imagine if we all went into the same line of work when we grew up? Every type of prayer is sacred, but prayer can fit into every type of life. Like with picking our Confirmation Saints, we should be carefully considering how we are going to pray with our lives. Are you a people-person? Maybe teaching or service-work should be your focus. How about a super-introvert? Maybe academia or philosophy would suit you.

Have you tried everything? Have you done your research? Have you thought out how you are going to use your Confirmation to make you the best you can be?

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
on your own intelligence do not rely;
In all your ways be mindful of him,
and he will make straight your paths."
Proverbs 3:5-6

Much love, darlings!
Ceci Galvin
CYM, St. John the Evangelist

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Darkest of the Dark

This week's topic is dark and sad and tragic in just about every way. And the difficult part is that we have to be able to find the light. This is a very personal and very emotional subject, and one that unfortunately almost every one of us has, in some way, experienced.

I'm not going to tell you that it's not going to be easy, or that there are ways of finding out what to do and how to act. I'm not going to tell you exactly how to treat these conditions and disorders. The fact is, everyone is different. That includes every person who has these problems, and every person approaching them. A colleague of mine once told me that when discussing their anxiety disorder, they only responded well to "tough love" from some people, and not others. They needed wisdom and support from me. They needed a "get over it" talking-to from someone else. They needed endless cuddles from yet another. Not everyone needs the same thing, and practically no one is able to give every approach.

What I an going to tell you to do is this: don't stop caring for them. Don't write them off from your thoughts and your prayers. I've (sadly) seen too many of these cases where it would be easy for one party to cut the chord and walk away, since these disorders are inherently isolating. And while it may not be possible to constantly be by their side and hold their hand, as much as we might like to, we should never stop trying, even indirectly, to help. Even if "helping" is just changing the subject, or giving them a hug, or asking their family how they are.

Never stop caring. When these situations arise, we often find ourselves in the most difficult positions in which we've ever been; but we must always remember that these, like us, are children of God. No matter how they treat God, how they treat themselves, or how they treat us - we owe them love. And as we talked about at the meeting, that means different things to and from different people. But it's still owed. And now, more than ever, when these problems are so prevalent, and the idea of love is so warped and unrecognizable, we need pure and genuine love for one of the darkest problems we have ever faced.

Band together, and be the light in the darkness when no one else will.

"For I am the LORD, your God,
who grasp your right hand;
It is I who say to you, Do not fear,
I will help you."
Isaiah 41:13

Much love,
Ceci Galvin
CYM, St. John the Evangelist

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Day of the Dead

Ah, the day of the dead...it's is on Halloween right?

But oh how much fun it is to see the ideology of the Day of the Dead - that really almost pleasant outlook on death and life and the combination and celebration of both.

The spiritual idea that Halloween is a sort of "thinning of the veil" between earth and the spiritual realms we know, is not a new one. Which is probably why the idea of death haunts us so much: the idea of  the dead coming back is obviously not one that sits well with a lot of people. That's why we have so many zombie movies and shows. I'm looking at you, Walking Dead.

I once went to a funeral where a mother had died, and his son had told us specifically that he didn't want her funeral reception to be mournful. He wasn't canonizing her, but he was very clear that he wanted her life celebrated. And it was a party - because he loved her, and we loved him.

It was a really cool experience that I think everyone should have: the ability to celebrate someone because they were. Yes, we were sad that she was gone, but we were happy that she was here. In the same way, I love the idea of the Day of the Dead - not even so much a celebration of death, but a celebration of having lived. The ability to keep one's memory alive even after they are gone - to keep them close to us, almost to the point that we are still keeping them alive.





Much love, and have a happy Halloween!
Ceci Galvin
CYM, St. John the Evangelist

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Rally!!

Many thanks to the helpers and teens who are currently attending Rally 2017! Many prayers for a safe and timely journey to and from Bishop O'Connell High School!

I think the term "Rally" is so apt. Honestly, what better way to show what we do the start of this new season than to rally together as a team - as a community - and celebrate the things that bring us together? To celebrate life, love, God, and one another through such a beautiful day!

There seems to be a hard line that we draw between the sackcloth and ashes type of faith, and the celebratory type. It's easy to fall into too much of one or the other, but days like today give us a little of everything. Fun and games, sure. But also sacrifice and learning. We heard wonderful talks by wonderful people who want nothing more than for us to better ourselves. We had volunteers driving us to and fro. We had a long car drive and we had a Mass with the Bishop (which, depending on just how much you're crazy about the Mass, can be a blessing or a curse...though...come on, guys...it's a massive blessing). There was a lot going on for everyone!

But what do we remember? That we rallied. That we had an awesome time. That we heard a wonderful message and that performers got up and gave their all for us. And while it's important for us to remember our prayerful and sacrificial lives of servant-hood and servitude, don't forget to rejoice as well. Don't forget to rally.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

It Can't Happen to Us

One of my students calls this week "Pimp Week" thanks to the video we get to watch around this time every year. Every time she says it, we laugh. It's funny sounding. I always try to smile despite the fact that this kind of thing is an unbelievably travesty that occurs all the time. Because, if I don't smile, I'll cry.

I think we tend to forget that this is something that goes on. You know how it's become a sort of cop-out line to hear in movies when people say, "This kind of thing happens to other people"? I think it's become a sort of cliche because, on some level, we all know it's true. I'm sure we've said it to ourselves. Or, when we hear it, we relate. We relate enough times that it becomes mundane to relate.

But, on another level, it is the kind of thing that most of us would never think would happen to us. And we joke, and we make funny names for it because it feels awkward and unnecessary. But maybe even if it doesn't happen to us...it happens.

It's tragic and senseless and awful. And maybe it doesn't happen to us. But it happens.

Don't let it happen to us. And don't let it happen to one another.

"The path of the upright leads away from misfortune;
those who attend to their way guard their lives."
~ Proverbs 16:17

Much love!
Ceci Galvin
CYM, St. John the Evangelist

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Connectivity

Ah, the 90's. It's a time I think most people of my generation look back upon with fondness because we didn't have the same things that we have today. Life was simpler. But it was on the verge of exploding, and, somewhere in the back of our minds, we knew it.

If you had told us we'd have mini-computers that we could carry with us in our pockets and reference at random to show videos (VIDEOS! Psh! Yeah right! Get the VHS tape out, guys) to our friends, or to check our email. I would have laughed.

For those of us who look with anxiety to our future in this techno-world of cyber-space, just remember all the good that can come out of it. Think of all the people we can reach now! Think of the knowledge we have at our fingertips! And look at the good that technology has done for us! Seriously - just look at the new drone ambulances they're developing! It's so darn cool!

The sad part is, I really don't have to go on and on about the downsides to this brave new world. Everyone seems to be stunningly familiar with those.

My question concerning these things is this: how do we take this endless sea of knowledge and connectivity and use it for good? How do we become the people to develop the next drone ambulance? And, moreover, how to we get ourselves to want that? How do we look inside ourselves (not our phones), to see the possibilities for good with this newness we have? And how do we make them into desires to see that goodness realized?

It's easy to demonize these marvels when they can so easily be used for evil. And it's startlingly easy to overlook any potential harm. The difficulty is in finding the middle ground that will allow us to do the most good - to become the best people we can be. But once we find ourselves there, that is when we can really improve the world.


As always, much love!
Ceci Galvin
CYM, St. John the Evangelist