Viewing entries tagged
Helping others

Louise, 18, Grimsargh

Being a Catholic has always been part of my life, and I have been brought up in a wonderful Catholic family. Every Sunday we would go to church, and I enjoyed going to Children's Liturgy with my friends. Although a friendly parish, it was centred around the older generations, and there was nothing to encourage young people to attend Mass. Growing up, and looking around the church, there were very few families with teenage children and less and less of my friends turned up. My parents and other families with “teenagers” in the parish continued to inspire me with their vision of faith being something you can live out in your everyday life. They constantly showed me this, through working hard to get younger members of the parish involved in the church community. I got involved in the music group, and Children's Liturgy became something for the whole spectrum of youth in the church to be involved in. They made a youth group, showing me living out my faith through raising money for charities, with other young people can also be fun!! This strengthened my faith giving it relevance to my life, encouraging me to make the choice to continue going to church, even though many of my friends didn’t. Going to Castlerigg with school, gave me a different exeperience of church, where the whole of mass is a celebration, not just a routine where the meaning can be lost. Coming back from there into my own parish, I became aware that the way the service was presented meant people appeared to be going through the motions of going to church and I felt frustrated that little was done to make the Mass speak to people. Getting involved in the Youth Service helped me find something that was missing in my church. Through it I have met lots of amazing friends, and there is an amazing spirit when we’re together, due to us all having our faith in common. Summit walks, and Prayer & Praise helped me praise God in a setting that is comfortable and relaxed. Going to Lourdes last summer, was an overwhelming experience for me. Seeing the faith the sick had, as they visited the grotto and touched the walls was inspiring, and the gratitude they had towards the youth for enabling them to make the pilgrimage was enriching. Even though it was hard work and exhausting, being with the 100 strong youth helpers meant it was a week full of laughter & fun. My parish has been amazing in making it possible for me and other young people by constantly supporting the fundraisers we have with enthusiasm and generosity. Now going to church, I find a growing sense of community. Meeting in the ‘Caton Room’ after mass for a cup of tea and biscuit is a
chance to bring all memebers of the parish together, and is fantastic. I can see that as our parish develops, and the sense of community strengthens, so does my faith.

Anna, 19, Castlerigg

Sometimes, I feel a bit like Lucy Pevensie. I opened the wardrobe and stepped through a door of faith, but unlike Lucy I didn’t get to the other side and see a mythical land of snow and ice, with fauns who invite you for tea and sardines and talking animals. Instead, I found a wonderful meaning to my life and I found out who I was. It had always been a struggle, a daily one in fact, to discover who I was. I blended into the background, I was like Bilbo Baggins and never did anything unexpected. I tried lots of different characters to establish myself; scholarly, witty, rude, insulting and my personal favourite is punk. But whatever I did, I remained the quiet one who would slip by unnoticed and I felt like I had no purpose or place in the world. My faith had always
been there from when I was in my mother’s womb, but it had just been present. I’d gone to church like anyone else and I loved Jesus intently for reasons I don’t think I fully understood, but even so, it was just there, a side fact about me. Then I opened the wardrobe, and found a new world called Lourdes. In this world, I realised that the most important thing was not being noticed and not trying to stand out from the crowd, but being of service to others. I met the most inspiring people and helped the sick and the elderly who if I, and the other young people, hadn’t been there, the week would not have been possible for those we were helping. Through this week, I realised that I had never felt more alive than I had in Lourdes. I prayed that I would never lose that feeling of being alive and never lose the desire to help people.

Charlotte, 18, Preston

Being a Catholic in our society can prove to be difficult, especially in the hectic life of a teenager who doesn’t want to miss out on anything. It’s not always easy to find the time to speak to God, or to remember to say a prayer at the end of each day, but in fact what I have learned about the Catholic faith in recent years is that we can speak to God anywhere. He is always with us, and speaking to Him is something we can all do. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, ‘Actions speak louder than words’. Although it is very important to take quiet time away from our busy lives to speak to God, I have found that simply being ready to accept the challenges which He throws at us, and being ready to help other people is a great way of letting God know we’re still here. I have been to Lourdes three times now. Each time I go I find myself discovering my faith further, not only through time spent at the Grotto and in Masses, but through helping and chatting to the sick pilgrims. Hearing other people’s stories of their faith and seeing the hope they have has really encouraged me. The fact that the sick pilgrims are always smiling even though for some of them they know that this will be their last trip to Lourdes is very humbling. Suddenly, the problems of everyday life do not seem to be so large anymore: knowing that someone who is in far worse health than you can still manage to smile is something that has really inspired my faith.
Being ready to accept the challenge which God has set me and being able to help these pilgrims, not just physically but socially as well is something which has helped my faith to grow. I guess what I am trying to say is to keep smiling and be ready to accept whatever it is that God throws at you. You never know it could be your smile through a difficult time that inspires another person in their faith.