This last Sunday was the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. This Corpus Christi especially captured my attention, and the attentions of Catholics worldwide, as for the first time ever, all Catholics were invited to join in in a truly catholic (small “c” for universal) gathering. Pope Francis called for a worldwide holy hour of Eucharistic adoration in celebration of Corpus Christi.
For me, this call to prayer was especially poignant for two reasons. Firstly, I love adoration. It’s my favorite place to pray because it’s pretty much the closest to heaven you can get on earth. My best prayer times have always happened before this glorious sacrament of the altar.
Secondly, it really highlighted to me the two bodies of Christ. Firstly, of course, His body that is given to us freely as atonement for our sins, as our sustenance, the pinnacle of our faith, the Eucharist. But also, as Pope Francis so subtly highlights through this universal hour of adoration, there is the body of Christ that we comprise. As all Catholics throughout the world were invited to this holy hour, we were called together as a community of faith. But, true to the beauty of our Catholic faith, we weren’t called together just as a community, we were called together as the Body of Christ by uniting our prayers together. How powerful is that? We are all in this faith journey together.
The reason this stood out to me this Sunday is that I have been reflecting on the huge blessing that the SPO community in Columbus has been to me and my life.
If you didn’t make it to the Universal Holy Hour this past Sunday, I really encourage you to try to make it sometime, even for just 15 minutes, this coming week in the spirit of Corpus Christi. Christ is always present in His Eucharistic body on the altar, and, no matter what, we are always a part of the Body of Christ and someone, somewhere is praying with us.
-submitted by SPO Household member and Student Missionary, Sara Huggett
Kara Shockey is an SPO Student Missionary, Household member and recent Missionary of the Year winner.
I came into this year at SPO a little nervous. A lot of my life was going to be different. I was going to live with six other women – more people than I have ever lived with! I was going to be serving as a Student Missionary. I was going to have to step up.
God made it clear from the start that choosing Him wasn’t always going to be easy or fun, but it was going to be worth it 100%. He didn’t let me down. Yes, of course there were days that I didn’t want to wake up for morning prayer or when I was losing patience with my housemates, but those were the days that I knew I had to lift it up. I knew that if I prayed, if I had patience, God would work.
I look back at the last year knowing that I have grown and how I have been blessed to see others grow in leaps and bounds! One of the biggest blessings bestowed upon me this year was being able to emcee our Fan Into Flame retreat. I had an amazing vantage point to see a hundred students dive into their faith. I have never been more convicted that God works, even in the coldest heart.
This year has made me a more patient, humble woman. A woman that depends completely on God. A woman that is not afraid to chase after God. All of this because He simply asked me to live one year for Him. He simply asked me to take a chance. I am ready to do it again!
Though its popularity is dying out, I still roll my eyes every time I see “YOLO” plastered on a t-shirt or hear it shouted out in a song. The acronym for “You Only Live Once” has become a sort of teen anthem for doing whatever feels good because, hey, you only live once! Although the phrase drives me crazy for its secular context, YOLOers do have a point – we do only live once. Our lives are a gift from God. We have this one lifetime to get and give as much love as we can, so that one day we can sit at our God’s feet and say “I did my best. I loved.”
The even better news is that, though we have one life, we have infinite chances to make it good. We may regret things we didn’t try or missed opportunities to love, but our God is loving and forgiving, and gives us second, third, fourth, and seventy-fifth chances. But, we need to keep our eyes open for these chances. They can be big, in your face opportunities like helping someone repair a flat tire on the side of the road, or they can be small, almost miss-able opportunities like taking out the trash without your parents having to ask.
And God provides these opportunities for love and service for our benefit. We hear it over and over in the Gospel stories: love one another as I have loved you. God gives us these chances so that we can get a small taste of life with God. What a gift! God is asking us to be a part of heaven on earth.
THAT’S what the real YOLO is – to not miss out on the chance to spread God’s kingdom of love here on earth. So maybe we should change up the mantra a bit. How about YALA – You Always Love All? Well, even if the acronym doesn’t catch on, the sentiment still can. And this is one trend that will never die out.
There’s no denying that we Catholics, and especially young Catholics, are online. We’re tweeting, posting and instagraming all over the place, sharing everything from what we ate for lunch to the latest from Bad Catholic; it’s clear Catholics are not left out of this digital age. However, how do we live in this online world but at the same time be engaged in say, the Eucharist? How can the saving message of the Gospel be translated into 140 characters or less?
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI recently had something to say on this topic in his message on World Communications Day on Jan. 24th. He spoke of the need to share more than funny memes and life hacks on social media, but to also use it as an important tool for evangelization.
But, Benedict cautioned the faithful about the many pitfalls evangelization through social media can bring. For one, as we have all experienced, even the most seemingly harmless online post can be attacked with negative and combative comments. This may make us wary of sharing our faith, but the Pope encourages us not to shrink back due to potential backlash. Just think: the apostles had some pretty serious backlash and it didn’t stop them, right?
Another potential problem that comes from online evangelization is our own egos. Due to our own pride and desire for self-promotion, we may find ourselves as the combative commenter responding to a post directly opposing our beliefs as Catholics. This is something we must guard against as this knee jerk reaction has become so commonplace, and can very easily do the opposite of evangelization: turn someone away.
And, Benedict reminds us, it is ultimately God who converts hearts. No matter how many times you debate and throw zingers back and forth with that kid you went to high school with, you’re not going to change his mind. God will.
A few rules of thumb can help us to effectively use online tools to spread the Good News.
1) Social networks are not a place to complain, but a place to proclaim! Stay positive in your comments
2) Do not be ashamed! Stay what you know is true and good, and don’t be afraid to share it
3) Keep the goal is mind: God. Post only things that will remind people of God and inspire them to love God
4) And above all, Love. Speak with Love and towards Love!
Taking all of this in to consideration, know that though social media is a great way to spread the Gospel, it is far from the only way. The best and most effective way to spread God’s love is to be there in person, representing our Living God! So, log out of Facebook and get out there, proclaiming God’s saving love with your life!
Each year, SPO proudly honors two outstanding Student Missionaries for their dedication to spreading the Gospel message and living out the SPO values of community and servant leadership. This year was no exception as two outstanding students were awarded the honor of Missionary of the Year!
Kara became involved with Saint Paul’s Outreach her sophomore year through attending events and growing in relationship with some of the SPO women. Ever since, Kara has been giving of her time and talent to help this ministry she loves grow. This school year, Kara moved in to one of the two SPO Women’s Households, fully embracing a life of service to her Household members and peers. Mission Leader Terry Cahalan shared about Kara’s conviction when presenting her with this award:
“Kara serves generously. She’s always stepping in to fill in where help is needed…(and) Kara has a heart for relationships. She loves others so well and uses her relationships as a vessel to share the Lord with others. Kara is always spending time with people, getting to know them, having coffee with them. I have seen her relationships impact others and draw them nearer to Christ, and now many of them are out impacting the lives of others and drawing them nearer to Christ.”
David was all-in for SPO since his first encounter his sophomore year of college. Despite not officially being a Household member, David was a permanent fixture at the Men’s Household and was fully participating in community life. So great was his devotion to the SPO community and its mission, that David moved in to Household mid-year his junior year, even if that did mean sleeping on the floor for a semester. David’s energy and love for his fellow men is contagious. And his will to serve is undeniable.
Mission Leader Brent Diller had this is share about David:
“(After attending SNE)… David knew he had to respond to what God had been doing in his life and the next step was to move into Household to be supported and make a larger investment in the mission at Ohio State. We didn’t have any open beds for the rest of the quarter but David was willing to bunk in a room with three other guys and sleep on the floor until a bed opened up the next quarter. His willingness to make sacrifices to carry out what God is calling him to do is really what allows him to be so effective as a student missionary.
SPO wished many blessings upon Kara and David, and we are so thankful to have them as part of the SPO community!