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!
Stella Maris. It is a Marian Shrine and activity center. It was consecrated to Our Lady a few years ago and every May since then, this vow has been renewed.
This Sunday’s first reading (Is 55:6-9) is on the difference between God’s plan and man’s plan. Apparently, we plan in different ways for Stella Maris. For some of us, it is a diocesan activity center; for some of us, it is a Marian sanctuary; for some of us, it is a parish. And for many other people and me, it is a spiritual home.
I took part in the vigil at Stella Maris on Saturday, on the Eve of Pentecost Sunday, and the first reading drew my attention:
It has been said that human communication is not very efficient, that listeners only get few per cent of the original message transmitted by the talker. But languages are also tools to proclaim and unite people.
On the Feast of the Good Shepherd our brother Andreas Bucksrucker received his Admission to the Holy Orders at Stella Maris. Bishop Teemu Sippo SCJ celebrated the Holy Mass and blessed him.
Last weekend it was the May Youth Weekend at Stella Maris, Andreas shared his testimony with us as the theme for the weekend was the Priesthood. What did I conclude from Andi’s story? That the Plan of God is always much better than ours.
Of course, these things go hand in hand, or they should, in order to retain balance and the harmony, happiness and wellbeing of humanity and the rest of the created world.
However, our culture and this society do seem to follow some other agenda these days. Life is 24/7, and moving about by foot or on skis, after a ball or among trees has given away to cars, shopping malls and gyms where people can watch their perfected selves in advertisements or next to them in the mirror at yoga class. We are invited to make unhappy comparisons between ourselves and the others that we might find better or worse, and so easily we are lured into feeling envy about the former and something between encouragement and pity about the latter.
Advertisements tell us to strive to be more beautiful and more successful and to keep more busy. In fact, 90% of the people I know respond to the question “How are you?” with “Busy”.
In my notes, these famous words from Saint Therese of Lisieux summarize the January One Body in Christ Youth Weekend outcome. The whole purpose of life is to find out how God can live in you and through you in the way that He planned from the beginning, from the time before you were even a twinkle in your earthy father’s eyes. God is love (1 John 4) and we all are made in the image of God. We praise God to be more like Him. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me (Gal. 2:20). This is how we are to inherit eternal life.
Each of us is an instrument and only God can play that instrument the most beautiful way, as Fr. Gianni taught us. Or with St Irenaeus we can trustfully believe that the glory of God is the human person fully alive. By all means we should fight against the modern atheist idea that God would be in competition with humanity and praising God would somehow decrease the freedom of humanity.
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.