Jan 18, 2020 filed under Faith, Living Virtue.

Four Teenagers looking down at camera

Last Sunday we met Joseph, the toddler whose simple faith inspires the grown-ups around him.

This week it’s teenagers—yes, teenagers, who inspired me with their faith. Our local Catholic paper quoted area high school students’ plans to deepen their faith in the new year. Take a look at three seniors’ faith-filled New Year resolutions. Fasten your seatbelt for some great reminders!

Genevieve says, “Creating a special time out of your busy life to pray is a necessity. Putting all worldly distractions aside and sitting in the serenity of God will help my relationship grow with Him.” 

Everything else starts here, in prayer. Without prayer, nothing else matters. Jesus tells us:
Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me (John 15:4).

Are we setting aside enough quality time with God to remain in his love?

Find a way of prayer that you enjoy. It could be the Rosary, reading Scripture to inspire you to pray, or sitting quietly remembering what you’re grateful for as you wait for God to speak to your heart.
2. Choose a time and place to pray every day for whatever time you can make. This may involve buy-in from family members to give you this time and space. Remind them how much they will benefit. You’re also setting a good example!
3. Keep going when you don’t feel like it. Waiting when nothing seems to be happening is a way to show God you love him for himself, not for the spiritual goodies he gives you.

Elizabeth wants to “grow in my faith by staying close to Christ in the Eucharist and in the sacrament of Confession….I’ve encountered Him, and I’ve fallen in love!”

Elizabeth realizes that falling love with Jesus means that all our other loves take second place. And that we can’t completely worship the one true God until we cleanse our soul of idols (which are loves that distance us from God).

The sacrament of Confession is the ultimate de-tox. By telling Jesus we’re sorry to have put anything above him in our thoughts and behavior and being open to a “power-wash” of our sins, all the loves that distance us from God are taken away for a fresh start. If we accept God’s forgiveness and have the will to follow him more closely, we’re as pure as a newly baptized baby. A refreshing way to fall-in-love all over again!

If it’s been a while since your last Confession, consider going this week to start the New Year clean. If it’s hard to remember what you want to tell Jesus, a notebook can help. Jot down times that you had other motives than the love of God and neighbor. Before going to sleep, reflect on your day to notice how God was working in your day and any times when you may have turned your back on him.

He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit (John 15:2).

Maggie resolves to “grow closer to Jesus Christ by…being patient and humble to those around me, to try and recognize my own shortcomings before judging anyone else’s.”

The fruit of prayer and the Sacraments is loving action toward God, ourselves, and our neighbor—because prayer and the Sacraments make us more like Jesus, who is love. Maggie understands that when we find ourselves thinking bad things about someone else, it’s time to get humble and look to our own faults, which Jesus wants so much to heal.

Maggie’s determination to break the habit of judging can inspire us to do the same.

The moment we realize we’re thinking a bad thought about someone, pray for that person to receive the same blessings we want for ourselves. Whatever we want, pray that God will shower that person abundantly with those gifts. This helps us remember that:

  1. God’s in control.
  2. God is the source of all our blessings.
  3. We can go back to living our life without trying to change other people.
  4. God loves them as much as he loves us!

By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. You are my friends if you do what I command you. This I command you: love one another (John 15:8-9; 14; 17).

These students have made the best New Year promises ever: to do things that bring them closer to God in prayer, in the Sacraments, and in each other.

Thank you students (and their parents and teachers!) for giving us in a nutshell everything we need to become what God intends us to be—fully ourselves—as we begin a brand new decade.

Love always,
P.S. Read the whole article on students’ new year resolutions: https://cathstan.org/news/faith/catholic-teens-reflect-on-drawing-closer-to-christ-in-2020

6 Responses to “3 Things Teenagers Taught Me This Year About God”

  1. Tom Roberts

    For me it’s not automatic. It’s more like jamming my car in gear without using the clutch (for those who remember such mechanisms). Tip #2 is the key. I put prayer on the calendar; a Eucharistic Adoration slot. I schedule prayer with groups doing the same. I can go to a place where it’s quiet. A quiet place is my nearby church chapel; quiet because nobody else has the same idea. Then at least weekly I practice contemplative prayer, scheduled with a group, where I bring all my worldly thoughts to a halt. That takes practice; thoughts come from all directions.

    Tip #3: Keep going when you don’t feel like it. This is where I can generate not so clever excuses to bail out. That’s the time to remember what Mother Teresa said: “Do it anyway.”

  2. Marianne Sibal

    You need not post this after you vet it, Rose, but here is a completion of a tip.

    “The moment we realize we’re thinking a bad thought about someone and pray for that person to receive the same blessings we want for ourselves”, AND thank God for that, sanctifying the realization so to speak; the little demons stop even trying to cause a lack of charity in us. They don’t Want to increase God’s blessings and despair when their prods to try to make us do evil are turned around to cause blessings.
    Our habitual blessing of God, glorifying him in All things, confounds evil. Satan couldn’t grasp Jesus’s loving embrace of the cross or Mary’s whispered “crucify Him” as she stood with the crowd before Pilate. They only wanted the Will of the Father. Embracing and blessing God in everything, they sanctified it. So do we when we embrace the repercussions of our uncharitable actions by blessing, thanking and running to Jesus to confess them, restoring us to our true selves living in Him.

    • Rose Folsom

      Thanks for expanding on the reality that if we let God turn our faults and sins into blessings, we get to do what our enemy hates — we get to laugh at him and how he’s “foiled again!”

  3. Barbara Kreutzer

    What refreshing reminders! And what a gracious blessing to see God continuing strong in the lives of those who move into the future that we will depart. Praise God for diverse communities!