Over the final weekend of August, from the 23rd through the 25th, around 35 young Catholics gathered for a camp on the theme of Christus Vivit in Nummela. Fr. Eze Charles and a group of youth from Turku and Helsinki organized the event. This was the second diocesan-level youth event this year. The first one was World Youth Day in Finland last January, when we gathered in Helsinki. This time, we got together in a rented cottage near Nummela.
Does God manage my life? I stop to think about the English word “manage”. I quite like it. A manager sounds like someone in charge, management can be the board, the people in power in a company. But “to manage” also has a more everyday connotation to it. You can manage to walk from Hanko to Utsjoki, which means that you made it even if there was plenty of hardships.
How is that supposed to work? Well, it’s easy when we want the same things: our joint project is flourishing to the full! Easy in theory, that is, but in practice it’s another thing.
Learning to co-operate is not easy. We have different opinions and I have been using my veto too many times in important decisions. Getting back to clear waters after that always takes time and corrections, which in turn means that I procrastinate and hesitate to put things into practice. Unfortunately (yes, I know that freedom is the basis of love and God knows that we need it, and therefore saying “unfortunately” is just my fallen human opinion) it is I who have the right of veto – but fortunately He is the better politician.
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.
A desert? Not the first association that comes to mind when you hear the word Finland? However, for me my recent return to my home country felt like a move into one - the Biblical desert; a place where we are alone, stripped of the comforts and tempted by evils. Bit no need to get anxious, a happy ending follows! as always with the God of Israel who is love through and through and eagerly waits to give us that glass of life giving dehydration!
My stay was a wonderful, life-changing experience. Worship of the living God naturally wells from the daily routine of prayer, work, leisure and shared meals lived out in obedience, poverty and chastity. Well, that is a whole another story. Now I concentrate on the shock that return to “the world” brought about in my life.
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.