No, no, that is not a typo in the heading. Prend means friend and is a word that we invented during World Youth Day in Poland in 2016. To put it simply, it is an invention that began with our imperfect English. I remember that at that time I could not even properly recite prayers in Finnish and hardly follow people’s conversation. However, out of love, my friends - prends - helped me understand everything. We danced together, got lost together, roamed around in beautiful Krakow together. Those are nice memories.
In today’s gospel, Jesus called me again to be his friend. This is the second time in 3 days.
I was working on a business model canvas for analyzing a company, something that is commonly used for start-up companies. (Here's a link to the one I used.) Suddenly I thought, if God was a company, what would His business model be?
And that gave me the inspiration for this blog post.
One day I was having lunch with my colleagues and we were talking about our weekend activities. The conversation went something like this:
All the churches that I have been to are spotlessly clean. I used to think that people take care of all sacred places, so they don’t litter. And I never thought about this question until a Monday afternoon in 2016. That summer, I discovered that the sisters in my parish were having community prayers with the Most Blessed Sacrament daily at 4 p.m. So, I started visiting Jesus every time that I could.
On a Monday, although I was late for adoration due to work, I still went to the church to pray. It was around 5 o’clock in the afternoon and the main door was closed. So, I asked a sister to open the door for me. We had the following conversation:
Sister: "We are cleaning, do you still want to come? It is a bit noisy, you won’t be able to pray."
After more than two months of silence we went back to the "home" of Our Mother, Stella Maris. This time, we are not part of any Youth Weekends anymore. Andi is abroad for a month of exams, Father Gianni has been here alone, with Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. That might seem sad: a place with empty rooms, cold and abandoned. The reality, however, is totally different. We had a such joyful weekend, without any arrangement and stress, young and energetic people gathered together in good will. Hey! Welcome to the New Stella Maris!
After having lunch together, we had a short sharing moment. After the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, we “chewed over” Sunday’s reading together in Lectio Divina. What a delicious spiritual food that Jesus prepared for us through St. Paul. The Body of Christ and us, all we should do is to listen our Father.
Finally, it is the time to look back upon this year. We have received uncountable favors from Our Lady, so we thank our Mom for helping us. A multitude of events happened this year and I list some of those that really helped me and my friends to grow in faith.
1. The Youth Weekends.
The One Body in Christ Youth Weekends continued with a wonderful group time at Stella Maris. We learned about vocation in the Spring and we continued about family and social challenges in the Autumn.
People from various places shared their testimonies, lots of providences were given (every weekend we received more than enough food, for free!), as well as blessings and healings from adorations, worship and prayers.
Unfortunately, it could not continue after October, since the use of the buildings was banned by the authorities. Nevertheless, we always stand united as “One Body in Christ”.
Recently we had the October Youth Weekend at Stella Maris, which was attended by around 20 people. In some ways it is "the last weekend", as the Bishop has announced that all activities should stop at Stella Maris by November. This post is a summary of my reflections at this time.
1. Love and Serve
Family means a unity of servants, and it is a place to serve. In a family, we serve each other through love and we offer ourselves to another person. Love is never temporary, contrary to what society promotes nowadays.
Jesus serves us by giving his Life. Love in His terms stands for sacrifice. If we want imitate Him, then we should learn to give and to "sacrifice" ourselves. And learn to be faithful like Him!
I do not know how many of you heard about the Nordic Youth Meeting that took place in the city of Vadstena in Sweden (the town where our dear St Bridget founded her order's first convent) in September. This meeting was related with the World Youth Day, and it aimed to gather the youth from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland.
This is a blog about being young and Catholic in Finland.
Yiran, or Maria Micaela. Born in China but baptised in Spain (2015), student in Turku. Participant of the Youth Weekends at Stella Maris. Cooking, running and photography are my hobbies.