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.
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.
All things must come to an end, and so did the World Youth Festival in Međugorje. On Friday night, there was a procession of Our Lady. Representatives from all the countries that took part in the festival walked in a procession after the statue of Our Lady. There were candles, flags and singing as she passed among us. The procession reminded us of her constant presence as a Mother to us all. After the procession, there was adoration again, followed by some musical theatre.
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.