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

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Day In, Day Out

We're going into a new season of Youth Ministry. Does it feel any different? Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn't. Do you ever have someone ask you on your birthday, "Do you feel any older?"

We all seem to answer the same way: "Ha...no."

Remember the things we talked about last year? Who are you? How do you pray? How do you, personally, relate to problems in the world?

Now apply the things you learned about yourself to now.

Who are you now? Do you pray the same way? Do you still relate that way to the world?

For most of us, the answer will be no. A lot can change in a year. I certainly don't consider myself exactly the same as I would have this time last year. I know more now. I've changed. I've seen more of the world, even just a little. Every little bit counts.

I once heard a young woman talk about her journey with God, and she said something amazing: "Even though I got angry at God sometimes, I never stopped talking to Him. Even if I was just yelling at Him or whining to Him. I never stopped."

Sometimes we'll get mad about things. We'll start seeing things in a different light. We discover things - happy things, sad things, things that make us seethe. We grow and we learn and we change. But one thing should stay the same. No matter what else changes - we should strive to keep one thing constant.

Talk to God.

Even if you're angry. Even if you're hurt and you don't understand. Through the happy things and the sad things and the scary things and the crazy things. Talk. Talk all the time. Talk day in and day out. About anything. Everything. Get mad. Be bored. Change. Grow. But talk. Never stop talking.

"...be gracious to me, Lord; to you I call all the day."
~Psalm 86:3

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

Sunday, August 27, 2017

God is a Fad

Once we had to wait an impossibly long time to get on the internet. Phones were attached to the wall. And DVD's had just come out - I distinctly remember asking my dad what "DVD" meant. And, of course, my dad liked to marvel at the idea of the DVD because, well, his family was the only one with a color television in the whole neighborhood.

New things happen, and old things go out of style. In fact, the idea of of the fad is a fun one because it's one of those things we're allowed to be smitten with for a short period of time. And we're totally allowed, expected even, to let go of it - to replace it with fun new things. For that matter, one of the funnest things to do with fads is look back upon them and remember how we never thought that they would be fads - thought that they would last forever. Or how we knew for sure that they were fads, but we didn't care, because they were fun.

Like silly bands. And jelly shoes. And slap bracelets.

Heh. Slap bracelets...

Here's the part where most people would say, "God is not a fad." But, let's be real: we already know that. That's something that we've been instructed in since we were children.

But think back to when you were a child: how much fun the idea of God was. Remember all that coloring you did on Bible stories? Remember all the crafts - Advent calendars and Easter eggs and All Saints' Day costumes? Maybe it was just me and the kids I grew up with, but we lost our minds for God, I mean, we could not get enough.

Here's the thing no one will tell you: God is a fad. I mean, He's not supposed to be, but we tend to treat Him that way, don't we? Think of the stereotypical kid your age, or the typical young adult. Is their faith fun for them? Do they get all giddy at the prospect of going to Mass? Of saying the Rosary or their daily prayers? I mean, how many of them do you think have touched a Bible within the past few months, let alone opened it?

It used to be fun. But now it's not exactly cool, right? That was then. New things happen and old things go out of style. Crafts are for children. We're not children anymore. If anything, maybe we look back fondly on them, the way we look back with smirking fondness on pop rocks and N'SYNC.

But why? This faith is one of the few things that has been around for centuries - the opposite of a fad. No matter how we feel about it (whether we're still totally immersed in it, are technically "church-going" but don't necessarily talk about it with others, or treat it like we treat bell-bottom jeans), this is not something that's going away. So this thing, this fad, is no fad at all. This is something that has been here for us since before we were even conscious that we needed something to be there for us. This is something that will be here for us long into our lives, and even after our lives. And even if we don't think of it this way or treat it this way, it's here for us now.

He is here for us now.

Let's not forget that, guys.

"And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
~ Matthew 28:20

Much love, and welcome to the new season of Youth Ministry at St. Johns!
Ceci Galvin
CYM, St. John the Evangelist

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Hypotheticals

It's always kind of fun to toss around some "what-ifs" isn't it? After all, we live our lives that way, don't we? Nothing is super certain. We're constantly given paths to choose, forks in the road. And, most of the time, we feel like we're all alone in choosing which path we go down.

What if we weren't? And I don't just mean the all-knowing, ever-present, all-loving presence of God. Because, I feel like we kind of get bombarded with that mentality a lot. Yes: God is here with me. I know. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

But I'm talking about the presence of God in one another. Because, and I've said this a million times before and I'll say it a billion times over, God put us here together for that purpose, didn't he? To be together? To get stuck at that crossroads together and say, "So, um...which one are you thinking about?"

Sure, we may still technically be stuck. But wouldn't you rather be stuck with someone who's just as stuck as you are? All those ideas you haven't thought to try, all those thought processes you've glanced over - they may be able to see them much more clearly. And, let's face it: you're more likely to make a decision with someone else there telling you it will either work or not work. The last thing you want to be is stalled.

So ask the "what-if" questions. But don't just ask them of yourself. Ask them to those around you. Not only might we have the same questions, we might actually have some answers that you haven't thought of yet. And you might have some answers that we haven't thought of yet.

It's honestly the Big Man's amazing way of reminding us that we're not alone. That He's with us, and that He's given us friends along the way. Reach out. Ask the questions. Give the answers you have.

You are not alone.

"And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
~ Matthew 28:20

Much love!
Ceci

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Gal Pals

It goes without saying that women are important. I think we all came into group last night with that in mind - easy enough to comprehend, right?

But everyone has those preconceptions, right? Everyone is going to come across those people who like to say stuff like, "The Church is so inherently anti-woman."

And what do we say to that? I know whenever I've been asked this, I kind of stop in my tracks. Because...you know...I'm a woman. And you know...I love the Church. I'm kind of all about it.

I mentioned at the meeting that I don't know I've ever met a Catholic woman who was involved in the church that I didn't see as being insanely busy. Whether she was a mom, a single woman, or a religious sister, they always seem to be running about doing an insane amount of things. And I have yet to meet one who has told me it's made her unhappy. They're running the joint.

And it's one of those things that you wouldn't know unless you've gotten to know a Catholic woman. And I know a lot of the people who say that The Church is anti-woman don't know a lot of Catholic women.

Catholic women are the best. The. Best. They are so important and loved and busy and hard-working and fantastic. Plus...the Virgin Mary.

I mean...it's a bit hard to argue with that. Honestly the most revered person in the system, really, aside from the Almighty himself (whole Trinity included). And for good reason. How could anyone who really knows the Church - the family - think women are unimportant?

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold your son."
Then he said to the disciple, "Behold your mother."
~John 19:26-27

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Happy Easter

The Galvin household always had this tradition of hiding the Easter baskets from the other family members the night before Easter. And, of course, we'd leave behind clues leading to different places around the house or yard. 

But, you see, my mother is a genius, and would tailor the clues to our age. When we were young, we'd get difficult clues, and as we got older, the clues got harder. Sounds normal, right? Wrong. Not only was this move a brilliant strategic masterpiece by getting the older siblings to help the younger ones, but also in getting the younger ones so hyped upon finding their baskets that they would insist upon "helping" the older ones to find their baskets. This move effectively got us all working together to find the darn things, sometimes for hours on end, but also masterfully kept us from pestering our parents to help us "look for" them. 

Genius.

Of course, I wouldn't find that out until much later... but the facts remain. 

I think we get caught up in the easy stuff that we've all heard a million times that we forget a few things. 1.) We forget that we need to turn around and help others who haven't heard it a million times, and 2.) We forget that there is so much more to learn. It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we have nothing more to learn. So...so easy... and it's important to remind ourselves every once in a while that we don't know everything. And I don't mean just to say that we know we don't know everything. Because it's easy to say, but incredibly difficult to actually acknowledge. Because, you see, once we acknowledge it, we can start searching for more. We can start diving deeper. There's always more to learn. No really - there is. Really.

So, this Easter, don't get caught up in the cycle of thinking that we've already heard all this. Try to challenge yourself: is there anything about this that you haven't heard before? (Spoilers: there will be) What are the differences? Why is that one new thing standing out more than it normally does? What about me has changed that would inspire me to notice it? 

Find one thing - just one thing - that you think is from God this Easter. Something new. Something that will make you look harder for that clue. And hey, maybe you'll even get some younger or less experienced Catholics or Christians to "help" you look for it. It keeps them in the game longer, let me tell you.

"Rejoice and be glad, yours is the kingdom!
Shine for all to see!"
Blest Are They - Davis Haas

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

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Holy Thursday Nostalgia

So here we are. The ceremonial washing of the feet. It's funny, when I was a kid, I saw my dad get his feet washed and thought that that made him one of the 12 Apostles, and kept wondering to myself (and by "to myself" I mean "aloud to my mom for several hours") which one he was. John? Peter? ...Some other one who must've been less important since I couldn't at the time remember all their names...?

One time we went to a ceremonial Seder Meal (which I always read as "satyr"...like the little goat men from Greek mythology), and I got to drink grape juice instead of wine like all the "big kids." But instead of drinking all my grape juice in one go every time they told us to drink it, I sipped. Which, of course, led to having a full cup of grape juice by the end of the meal, and to my subsequent chugging of said grape juice. Ordinarily, I doubt this would have been that big of a deal, except that I'm pretty sure there were a few parishioners that didn't realize it was grape juice I was chugging, and thought I had just nabbed my parents' wine and went to town.

I remember getting to see two of my friends go up and have their feet washed when I was a teenager, and being thoroughly intrigued at the prospect of having young men - high schoolers! - get their feet washed, instead of the dads I had always seen have it done in years passed. It dawned on me that there was a distinct possibility that we had the ability to be holy even at this young age. And I know this seems like a silly thought - of course we have that ability. We've been drilled since early CCD (back when it was even called "CCD") to understand that we have that ability. But there really is something about seeing your buddies up there, dressed to the nines in their spiffy suits, with their shoes off, wearing a reverent expression and allowing a priest to wash their feet. It does something to you. It makes you proud. It makes you want to emulate that. And really - isn't that how we all should view holiness?

Last Holy Thursday, I got to do a fun thing: I managed to go to every Triduum service. Holy Thursday Mass - Check. Good Friday Service - Check. Easter Vigil - Check. But I got to go all by myself.

I wasn't dragged by my family. I hadn't coordinated with them on what time to get there and where we were going to sit and when to leave, etc, etc. I just went.

And here's the fun part: I got to sit with a gaggle of my friends who were doing the same thing. Just us. And I'll tell you, it's a pretty weird sensation when you realize that you're still going to church when you don't have to. It's even weirder when you notice your friends are doing it too. And it's weirdest when you're looking forward to it because you realize that you're not going alone - that your friends are going to be there and that they're excited about it too.

Because everything in us is saying that we aren't supposed to be that way. And sometimes we're not. Sometimes it's boring and we feel like we have to do it because we owe it to someone: parents maybe. Or God, or your spazzy youth ministry leader...

But every once in a while you get a little glimpse of "hey, this is cool! Look who else is here!" And even if it's really faint and short-lived, recognize it for what it is. That's just The Big Man telling you that you're not alone. That it's ok to be excited. And it's ok to be excited even if it's just because there's someone here you can sit with. That's fine. In fact, that's good. Hold onto that.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Blind Sides

We get caught up, right? It's easy to do. I do it - everyone does it. We get caught up in putting ourselves on a pedestal and putting on our blinders to all other "sides" or points of view. I read somewhere that people these days don't listen to understand, they listen to respond, and I feel that this can ring so incredibly true to anyone who's ever had a debate that they attempted to make friendly, only to have it turn into a shouting match where neither side will budge.

To be fair, we're not here to budge. That's not really what we're going for here. But we are here to try to understand. And sometimes, we get so caught up in listening just so we can respond that we forget to ask the question: why? Why does this person believe what they believe?

For that matter, why do we believe what we believe?

For those of you who haven't been told that "you've been brainwashed by 'the establishment, and that we Catholics only believe the things we believe because we've been told to believe it": I envy you. I don't know how many times this has come up in my life, but I assure you, the number of times I've had to argue against this point is not in the single digits. It may even be in the triple digits.

When I was first given this argument, I was taken aback. I didn't know how to respond. I actually had to go home feeling like I'd "lost the argument," because I wasn't sure what to say at the time. And, of course, by the time I had done my research and given it some thought and come up with a good answer, that friend of mine didn't want to talk about it anymore. But I still had my answers, and I was still able to give those answers to the next person who posed that argument.

And even though some people will refuse to accept this answer, the best response I was able to give was actually one I had stolen from a Protestant friend of mine who was getting ready to take the plunge at Easter time and join the Catholic Church. Because, you see, I had asked her why she wanted to convert to Catholicism one day, and she looked at me and shrugged as though it were the easiest answer in the world and said, "Because it's the truth,"

Not everyone will want this answer, and most people will want it explained further. But the answer remains the same. Be ready to give it, and be ready to have it challenged.

"And if wicked tongues insult and hate you
All because of me,
Blessed, blessed are you."
~'Be Not Afraid,' by Bob Dufford

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

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Challenge of Lent

It's a long-established understanding for us Catholics that Lent is hard. Really hard. Like..."giving-up-your-daily-coffee" hard.

It's supposed to be a challenge for us. And I could go on and on about how it's nothing compared to what Christ went through for us, etc. etc. But every Catholic has heard it all before, let's be real. It's kind of the point: to have it as such common knowledge that we barely even have to think about it. And even though our sacrifices are small in comparison, they are meant to be that reminder to us.

Here's what's roughest about Lent - we get to that age when we start to go: "Yeah, I know, but yeah, ok, I get it. I know. Yeah, mhmm..." And even when we've heard that speech about sacrifice like a kajillion times, we tend to mentally roll our eyes at it when we hear it.

Why?

We can work out to death. We can try all these fad diets. We can read self-help books and take personality tests all over the place just to find out what makes us happy, find out who we should date, find out what situations are good for us and bad for us. And we react accordingly. We can work to change our bodies, we can all but change our personalities for something we view as our betterment!

But giving up coffee for Lent is this big thing that we can't get beyond?

Maybe it's time we rethought this whole Lent thing. To remember those old talks we've been told since childhood, and update them a little to include who we've become. To embrace the new challenges of Lent.

Much love, everyone. Keep working out those spiritual selves!
Ceci Galvin
CYM

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Party Time

I has a Protestant friend of mind once tell me, "Catholics have the best parties." It was in reference to this All Saints Day shindig we had all been looking forward to for quite some time, and we had planned our costumes out to the letter, because the fact of the matter was we were all competing with one another to see who could look the awesomest when the day finally rolled around.

We've all had our fair share of parties. Birthday parties, Christmas parties, "Haven't Seen This Person In a Long Time" parties, and the ever-notorious College Party. But it wasn't until another Protestant buddy told me roughly the same thing that I started taking notice of why that might be.

"You Catholics know how to party."

You see, this time, it was after this big Catholic college retreat that we had both attended, and we were all sitting around the biggest campfire in the universe with our guitars, singing 90's songs and running around in the dark like a bunch of dorks. Until this point, I had never really thought about the way we partied or how often we partied or even what we were partying for. But it dawned on me as I sat there with him screaming "Living on a Prayer," that this was not a normal party. For that matter, none of the Catholic-Parties that I had ever been to would have been considered "normal" compared to the usual party I had been to growing up.

I think a lot of us get into this mentality that a "party" is either a thing for a little kid at Chuck E.Cheese's, or as your stereotypical frat house fiasco in which windows get smashed and the cops get called and people end up passed out on the neighbor's lawn smelling like a brewery. But when it comes down to it: what is the Oktoberfest that St. John's holds every year? What is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe? What is Christmas? Are these not causes for celebration?

There's something to be said for the somber times. And believe you me: Catholics do that outrageously well. But I think my Protestant friends always only ever viewed this as the "default" Catholic mode. When, in reality, we have so many different reasons to be in a near-constant state of celebration. Pray in earnest, and then celebrate. Even in times like these, we have reasons to be thankful - to party.



~ 2 Samuel 6:14-15

Much love!
Ceci Galvin
CYM

Sunday, January 8, 2017

New Year, New You! #basic

So we're here now. What were your resolutions?

Have you ever asked that? I mean, I ask that all the time. It's fun to figure see what exactly people want to change about themselves over the year. What they want to improve or tweak or pull a straight-up 180 on. I think we all, in some way or other, like to find out what people view as weaknesses, even if they're minor. It gives us a tiny window into their psyche, in a way. We get to see what they think about themselves.

Did any of us make any resolutions for 2017? What do they say about us? What are other people picking up about our psyches?

I read a quote one time, forget from whom it came, that goes, "He who doesn't make a resolution is a weak man, and he who makes one is a fool."

I've heard lots of resolutions made and I've seen a lot broken, many of those broken by myself. It's always one of those funny little jokes that everyone makes - "Oh hey, broke my resolution. That didn't take long, haha." And we laugh and share that we're not perfect either.

We all like to see people's resolutions go to waste because we can relate to that a little more. But I have yet to keep from rolling my eyes when someone tells me that they've made a resolution, and I know I'm not the only one. Maybe because the Devil doesn't like for us to improve ourselves, and he wants us to enjoy seeing people fall, even if it's just to show that there's someone else out there who falls.

But hey, that is so 2016.

This is a new year. Let's not be that group of humans anymore. Let's be impressed with one another when we make resolutions from now on. For that matter, let's help each other out! Let's make resolutions of our own, whether or not we break them. Don't be afraid to be try to improve yourself.

 Don't be the weak man. Be the fool. Because wouldn't you rather make someone laugh and enable them to relate to you (to possibly even want to improve themselves along the way)?

Make your resolutions. There's nothing wrong with trying to be better.

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