Congratulations on choosing to attend this first-rate Catholic event. Over the next few days you will be steeped in the best that Catholic culture has to offer you in Canada. There is no better organization to show you the true face of the missionary Catholic Church in Canada than Catholic Christian Outreach.
Prepare to be amazed—and prepare to be moved outside your comfort zone.
I’ve been to this event twice in the past. I have no doubt that your experience will be both memorable and moving. You’re going to have a great time.
Why are you at RISE-UP? People don’t go to conferences, religious or otherwise, to “just watch” (that’s what hockey games are for). You go to things like this because you hope it will do something for you. Are you willing to let the next few days’ experience transform you?
Well, RISE-UP will do something for you – perhaps something amazing – but only if you let it; only if you let God.
Our Lord has a favorite way of transforming us into happy, holy people: He moves us outside of our comfort zone. Your spiritual make-over this week (what you will “get” out of RISE-UP) will largely depend on whether or not you allow yourself to move beyond your fears into the places where God is leading you. Wherever that may be.
Now here are three things that may scare you at RISE-UP.
1. Ben Turland
1. Raising your hands during Praise & Worship time.
Perhaps you are at a place right now where you think this looks ridiculous. Maybe you can’t help but stare at those “radicals” around you with their arms raised and eyes closed. Maybe you didn’t know Catholics do this kind of thing.
But isn’t this an Evangelical thing? Yes! It is an evangelical Catholic thing. Indeed Catholics were the first evangelicals.
Check out what Pope Paul VI had to say about the evangelical nature of the Catholic Church:
“Evangelization is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity, She exists in order to evangelize.” (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 14)
But back to worshiping with arms raised. The point is: it’s a Christian thing, a sign of surrender. It’s a way for you to pray with your whole being; a directing of your body, soul, voice, and mind towards God in an act of adoration. Lifting or opening your arms wide to the Lord is a way to say
“Jesus, you are the Boss. Give me what I need. I trust in You. I am OPEN to you. Do for me what you will.”
Intimidating prayer, I know. But you are made to worship.
Nonetheless, not everyone chooses to pray and worship with hands or arms wide open. Some people choose to worship in more subtle ways and that’s OK! But mark my words: This “raising of the hands” business will be much cooler by the end of the week. I challenge you to be a leader. If you feel the inner impulse, don’t be afraid to raise your arms to the Lord before raising your arms to the Lord is cool. If the Holy Spirit is moving you—be not afraid.
2. Speaking to priests, religious sisters, etc.
Seeing so many Roman collars, cassocks and veils is breathtaking. Sometimes you can’t help but just stare in awe at these men and women who have given themselves so radically to Christ for the sake of His Church.
The religious life is a calling – a supernatural calling. Are you called? There are fewer questions more scary for a young Catholic.
If you are like I once was you might be afraid to speak with the seminarians, priests and sisters out of fear that it may move you to pursue that “dreaded” vocation to the religious life. But be not afraid.
First. Remember—God is the boss. He may, in fact, want you to give your entire self to Him in this unique way. God has only your joy in mind. If he wants you to enter the religious life it is because that is where you will thrive.
You will never meet more joyful people in your life than ones such as these who have given themselves so completely to Jesus. As a result of their “yes” they are blessed beyond comprehension by God. The great priest, St. John Vianney, said that if we truly knew the dignity of priests, we would die not out of fear but out of love. Ponder on that one for a while.
Second, an honest and open investigation of the religious life will only move you closer to your married vocation if that is your calling. God is moving in your life to show you where He wants you to go. He wants to lead you into a fullness of life and love that exceeds all your finest expectations. He is your loving Father. Trust Him.
(If you’re trying to make sense of celibacy, click here)
3. The Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Maybe its been years. Maybe decades. That’s okay. Let today mark your return to this powerful sacrament. YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT.
I have never met anybody who regretted their choice to go to confession. Never.
Just like a pen is an instrument through which an author writes a story, a priest is God’s instrument through which He frees us from the bondage of sin. Confession is a real encounter with Christ; and through it you become more like God. Not a bad deal!
Make a good and honest confession. Be simple but thorough. Don’t hold back. Confess all of your sins (even the worst and most embarrassing ones). Release yourself. Be unburdened. You will not tell God anything He doesn’t already know.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28)
The priest will not judge you. He will love you; for the priest is “in the presence of Christ” and it is Christ who forgives through the priest. It might be hard to believe but I bet the priest would tell you that yours sins are not that original. Even the ones you are most afraid and embarrassed to confess. We are all sinners – big time (even the priests!). But it’s the prospect of sainthood and the promise of perfection to come that propels us forward in the struggle for holiness (see 2 Pet 1:4; Heb 12:23). You are made for greatness and don’t forget it.
Most importantly, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is the portal to holy communion with Jesus Christ. It predisposes you to receive Christ ever more fully in the Eucharist. Cardinal Dolan has called confession the sacrament of the New Evangelization.
One more thing about confession. You don’t have to wait until the scheduled time. If you feel an impulse to confess your sins right now and you see a priest nearby, ask him if he would hear your confession. It’s easy to talk ourselves out of these things but remember my promise: you won’t regret it. Freedom awaits you.
Why do I need to confess my sins to a priest? Click here for an answer.
What is CCO RISE-UP? Click here to see.