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Day 2: I Am More

Today’s word really speaks to so many, because of the fact that so many people struggle when they fall. They will continuously linger on things that happened in the past and are scared to move on. However, Chris’s example of Jesus changing Simon’s name to Peter really shows that every time we renew our faith in confession, we truly are reborn and become a new person!

Reflection Question:
What words and feelings does the devil use to accuse you and shape your self-perception?

2019-02-20T00:18:33-04:00 By |Blogs, I am|0 Comments

Day 1: I Am New

In reflecting on my day, this topic truly fits into my life so well right now. After having a rougher evening, I went to mass and then read this chapter, which led to so many revelations.

Chris’s example of how his son was in awe on how Chris remembered so much about his childhood, yet his son forgets yesterday and moves on to a new day, shows how we need to approach life! Instead of worrying about yesterday or tomorrow, focus on the HERE and NOW!

REFLECTION QUESTIONS FROM READINGS:
What past mistakes are you holding onto and letting define your identity?

2019-02-19T00:05:13-04:00 By |Blogs, I am|0 Comments

33 Days of “I Am ____”

If you are not familiar with Chris Stefanick, you are truly missing out! Chris is a Catholic speaker and an author, while also running Real Life Catholic (realifecatholic.com)  Recently at confession, my priest told me to work on my self-confidence. As a gift, he gave me Chris’s book, “I am _____,” to aid with the strengthening. After reading the introduction, I figured that I would do a post for each of the 33 Days reflecting on these different categories (i.e. Amazing, Strong, Blessed, etc.)

If you want to join in this journey, be sure to purchase Chris’s book (linked above) through his website, or through Amazon. Either way, please read the reflections and use them to work on your own self-confidence!

2019-02-17T20:19:39-04:00 By |Blogs, I am|0 Comments

Dear Depression

Dear Depression,

There are days where you think you have won. There are days where you exhaust every last ounce of hope in someone’s life. There are days where you put people on their knees sobbing for the slightest existence of hope. There are days where you remove almost every last bit of happiness and positivity.

Guess what: you’re wrong.

You seemed to have missed several key things. You missed the single atom deep inside someone that gives them hope to go one day more. You missed the love and support we get from our families and friends. Yes, you probably made us doubt that, but it just isn’t the truth; they always care! You missed all the memories, good and bad.

Most importantly, you missed God! God won’t give up on us. God won’t let every bit of happiness, positivity, hope, or friendship disappear. Why? Because He loves us! He knows we can do this! He knows that people care!

Good luck in the future, depression. You’re not winning this time.

You’re not winning. EVER.

2018-09-15T23:10:42-04:00 By |Blogs|0 Comments

Depression

**IF THIS IS A LIFE OR DEATH SITUATION, CALL 911 OR THE NATIONAL CRISIS HOTLINE AT 1-800-273-8255**
de·pres·sion (dəˈpreSH(ə)n/)
noun
**IF THIS IS A LIFE OR DEATH SITUATION, CALL 911 OR THE NATIONAL CRISIS HOTLINE AT 1-800-273-8255**
2018-07-10T23:26:35-04:00 By |Blogs, Depression|0 Comments

Dealing With A Close Friend Struggling in Life

This is something that hits home way too often for me: a friend going through a tough time in life. They might be struggling with something small, such as a rough day at work or an argument with someone you care about, or something as large as depression, fear/anxiety, or the death of a friend/relative. Whatever this friend is going through, I try my best to reach out to them and talk to them about whatever they may be struggling with, as well as ensuring that will be with them through it all. I’ll go through a couple of the main things that I make sure to include when talking to them.

  1. Tell them that you are praying for them – This is what I constantly tell all of my friends, whether or not they are going through a rough time. Continuously praying for someone through the good and the bad helps us grow closer to God in our prayer life, as well as helping your friend out with their relationship with God.
  2. Remind them to pray about their struggle – Even if they aren’t Catholic or don’t pray very often, have them start off very simple! It’s totally fine to start out having a conversation with God. Tell Him what you’re struggling with and ask for His strength in conquering the struggle.
  3. Ask if there is anything that you can do for them – Being there for them is one of the best ways to help them! As followers and disciples of Christ, one of our main duties is to serve the Lord through helping others. Asking someone if you can help them in any way brings a sense of comfort for the person going through this. They may just need someone to listen to them vent for 5 minutes!
  4. Remind them how much they mean to God, yourself, and others in their life – Some feel like they are not significant enough or feel like they don’t have a huge group of people caring about them, whereas others may just be so depressed that they forget how many people actually love them! Reminding someone how much they mean to you can be a total game-changer. I know – as someone who has been on the receiving end of these reminders before – that just being reminded of how much they mean to others in life can totally change their mood and outlook on life. That could be what they needed to hear to bring them out of the darkness in which they are trapped.
  5. Never lose hope in them, and never let them lose hope – Hope must never be lost on either end. If there is any doubt or lack of hope on either end, it will be difficult to keep fighting. The best thing to do is keep reminding them you are in the battle with them, and encouraging them in everything they do.

I cannot guarantee that this will immediately help, but it is a great place to start. To all of my friends out there that are struggling, remember that God will never give up on you and will constantly love you through every up and down you have in life. I always am praying for you and will not lose hope in your battle to happiness.

If you ever are in need, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 to speak to someone.

Twin City Wrapup

This past week I was in Minneapolis for a conference on Catholic campus ministry. In my decision to go, I decided that it would be more cost effective to drive out than fly (I would’ve been flying on Memorial day). So, I made the 700 mile trip from Northeast Ohio to Minneapolis all by myself, and stayed in various Air Bnb rooms along the way. I called it a little pilgrimage. More to it, I love agriculture, so I enjoyed driving through the heartland and getting to observe the farmers at work. It’s a way for me to be in solidarity with those who work hard to grow our food and fiber, and who are stewards of creation. It’s amazing to me how much land a modern farmer can manage today–some of those fields go for miles!

The conference was four days long, and it included a myriad of different speakers, breakout sessions, and Catholic organizations to speak with. In all, there was said to be over 300 campus ministers present. I could sense a spirit of camaraderie in the air. It’s unfortunate that we don’t share that more often. Below, I have listed a few reflection pieces that I think might be relevant for any Catholic looking to dive deeper into their faith.

1) There are a lot of pretty women who do campus ministry 🙂

2) At this conference, there was a global perspective represented, as I met people not only from all parts of the United States, but the Philippines and Kenya as well. I had a particularly good conversation with the priest from Kenya, as he was dressed in a vibrant, cultural outfit. I was curious as to why he wasn’t in the typical Roman collar and all black. He told me that he does this to combat the sin of clericalism. You go, bro!

More deeply, with all the diversity represented, inevitably, there are people that you meet that you just don’t like or agree with. One of the campus ministers from a particular university kept complaining at every little thing that was said that wasn’t culturally sensitive. And instead of correcting with a gentle touch, it was more instructive. I wasn’t annoyed so much that she was speaking up, but precisely that she couldn’t see the forest from the trees. I was like, “Give it a rest, lady!”

And yet, you can’t discard anyone–they represent some level of the body of Christ. It’s a tough lesson to swallow when we always believe that our way is the right way.

3)  One of the keynote speakers was my hero, Sherry Weddell. Sherry is famous for popularizing “intentional discipleship” with her 2012 book, “Forming Intentional Disciples” (I highly recommend you read this if you haven’t already). Key to Sherry’s talk was the idea of moving from a church of Christendom to “Missiondom.” Christendom refers to an era in which overwhelmingly, the society is marked by Christianity. This is harmful to assume today, and even more harmful to think that we can correct society and “return” to this golden age. It ain’t happening. We must move forward and accept life on life’s terms.

“Missiondom” is a loosely defined term, but it means an entrepreneurial church in a society which is largely secular, if not anti-Christian. Think of the Acts of the Apostles and the early Church. Without using the term “Missiondom,” Pope Francis speaks of the need to open up to the world around us in his encyclical, “The Joy of the Gospel”.

Sherry said that when we start making disciples, we don’t run out of work, but that the work we do changes. I think that is a great insight. Largely, I think that we are just at the beginning stages of understanding what it means to be a missional church. There is still so much creativity that is yet to be unleashed. Largely, most of the Catholic Church in the United States realizes that we have a problem, but understands very little about what to do.

4) There is a great need to be effective in the digital space. I never quite realized it, but the generation below me (Gen Z) is largely uninterested in Facebook. Not sure about websites, but their social media platforms are Instagram and Snapchat. I’ve used Snapchat, but I’m not very good at it. Never used Instagram before.

When I was in college, when I would promote my programs, I would create flyers and knock on doors to tell people about it. I think that could still be done, but if you are dealing with hundreds of kids, you are using up a lot of your time. This will be an interesting adventure for me to master.

5) I think that the Church needs to start promoting campus ministry as a vocation, or at least as a space that is necessary for the life of the Church. Now, this isn’t to say that we don’t need other people to minister during other stages of life. But, the Church is so preoccupied with the priesthood shortage that they fail to see other problems in front of our faces. We are hemorrhaging people from our parishes, and it has little to do with the lack of priests. It’s because we are ineffective at communicating and modeling the person of Jesus Christ. That’s blood is on everybody’s hands.

Anyways, here are some statistics from a study listed on the USCCB website that illuminate my point (2017 National Study on Catholic Campus Ministry). There are approximately 3,200 4-year institutions in the U.S., there is a Catholic presence on 816 of them (24%). There are 1100 community colleges, and we have a presence at 2% of those. And when we talk about presence, that’s another topic in and of itself. Largely, I think that our outreach is understaffed and ineffective in what it does in the first place. But without being too harsh, the primary criticism is that we need to get more bodies out there. How do we do that?

Drawing on the movement of FOCUS and St. Paul’s Outreach, it seems that young people are open to committing at least a portion of their life to ministry. More to it, the year of service is becoming a popular trend. Perhaps there is a space to create a year of service opportunity in campus ministry? And, I also see that other people beyond just the professional staff need to be involved in the ministry. Other people have lots to give. That’s a part of being a disciple.

Zach Laughlin

2018-06-03T19:42:36-04:00 By |Blogs|0 Comments

Emptiness and Loneliness

We all have those days: the days where we just are not ourselves, or the days where we feel empty or lonely. These feelings may seem like they are consuming us, or like we cannot see that light at the end of the tunnel.

These are things that we all go through and struggle with on a daily/weekly basis. They may seem like they will never end. Guess what? They WILL! Remember what Jesus went through, remember what all of the people in the time of Jesus went through! You are NOT alone in this battle!

Yes, that was a “corny” reference, but really: you are not alone! We all have to fight our battles. The only way we will fight these battles is through God. God is how we fight our battles. *cue another corny connection*

I could go on and on & make more connections, but I don’t want to turn this into a long article. But just remember: never be afraid to turn to God and pray more whenever you have any fears, any loneliness, any emptiness. Also, don’t be afraid to talk to someone if you need help, guidance, or just someone to talk to. We ALL care. What hurts a lot of people is seeing someone they love and care about suffering but not talking to anyone. Also, never forget to call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 if necessary.

Much love and God Bless.

2018-05-30T20:28:06-04:00 By |Blogs, Emptiness, Loneliness|0 Comments