Wednesday

What change do you want to make in your life in the New Year?


As the new Year approaches, we all make resolutions. We all look to the coming new year as an opportune time to make changes in our lives, to make things better, to mend fences, to become happier.

So we ask you, what is your New Year's resolution? What is the one thing - or several things - you would like to do different to make your life better for yourselves and for those around you.

Share it with us. You can sign anonymously if you wish.

And while you're at it, we also encourage you to share a short prayer - from a few words to a couple of sentences - so we may help remind each other that God is always with us in good times and in bad. And that His abundant love will always be there just waiting for us.

God bless you all and may you have the happiest and most blessed New Year.

Thursday

This Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful to God for....


This Thanksgiving Day, we find ourselves taking stock of our lives and the past year. And we find ourselves reflecting on the many good things in our life we feel we need to be grateful for - family, good health, jobs, good grades, friends, a warm bed to sleep on, love, and more.

Our lives will never be perfect . And good things will always co-exist with the unfortunate things. That's just the way life is. But still, there are many things God has blessed us with, many things He has given us - small things and big things - that we can be truly thankful for.

So I thought I should post this blog and encourage you all to share with us and the rest of the world the things, people, and events in your life that you are most thankful for.

Let us make this blog a showcase of gratitude to our Lord. Without Him we are nothing and we have nothing. Everything is done according to His will - in His time. Let's say "Thank you" to God.

What is it that you are most thankful for? Share it with us today.

And please pass this article forward to everyone on your e-mail list so we may be able to share our individual blessings with each other.

Wednesday

... in the early evening clouds above Hollywood


I had just picked up my girlfriend to take her to a "Hollywood Holy Hour" which takes place every third Friday of the month at St. Victor's church in West Hollywood. The idea behind this is to pray for Hollywood and Catholics and non Catholic Christians who work in the entertainment industry.

As we were getting ready to get into my car I looked up at the opaque sky and what I saw made my jaw drop! My girlfriend and I stared at this amazing 'vision' for several minutes and then I asked her to take some pictures of this phenomenon.

Judge the photo for yourself but it appears to me that Jesus is letting us know He is alive, He loves us and wants all of us to share His abundant life.

-- Paul Harrigan, Catholic recording artist (www.paulharrigan.com)

(Click here to view the many wonderful articles that await you in ParishWorld, America's Catholic Lifestyle Magazine. Be informed, be inspired, be blessed. )

Monday

...in the midst of my bad day.


The past month has been a difficult one for me. Even blogging took backseat in my life as I had to deal with unexpected hardships and heartaches. I've always thought of myself as a strong person, someone who can get through anything by herself. I still believe that, but I've learned a few things along the way.

To put it simply, things just weren't going right. I changed my college major during my last year of school - I just wasn't sure what I wanted to do anymore (which was hard considering the constant nagging of certain parents). My job was getting more and more busy, leaving little time to spend with anyone. I learned that I didn't know how to manage my money very well. And then, last but not least, a relationship I was very happy in suddenly ended.

It was just not my time. In my sadness, I started to shut people out - the people who loved me enough to care to ask. I thought I could deal with it on my own. But in the end I realized that it's not that I couldn't but that I shouldn't.

My friends listened endlessly, and my family showed their support any way they could (even just by constantly calling even when I wouldn't pick up).

Their love reminded me of the love that God has for us. Even when I haven't talked to Him in forever, or when I pushed Him away - He's always there. Just waiting to listen, waiting to help, waiting to love.

Just when I thought I couldn't handle my struggles on my own, I realized that I didn't have to. Because God is always with me.

(Click here to view the many wonderful articles that await you in ParishWorld, America's Catholic Lifestyle Magazine. Be informed, be inspired, be blessed. )

Thursday

... as I gave my 13-year-old daughter a tight birthday hug


Today is my daughter's birthday. She turns 13. She's a teenager! My baby is a teenager!

She and I have a party planned for this Saturday. She has invited all her friends. And this party will be complete with a giant inflatable bouncer, all her favorite food, cakes, drinks and all the trimmings.

But that's two days away. Today is the day when thirteen years ago - at the hospital's delivery room - I held her for the first time in my hands and told her how much I loved her.

As soon as I woke up this morning, I crept downstairs and secretly tucked the birthday card I had so carefully chosen yesterday for her. I had also written on the card my own personal message to her. I told her in my note that Daddy will always be around to help her with any challenges she may experience in life now that she has entered her teen years. I also told her that I will always love her.

I think she saw me place the card in her backpack. And she probably pretended not to see me, so as not to spoil the fun.

Then I hugged her and greeted her a very happy birthday.

She smiled and hugged me back. A very tight hug. A very loving hug.

No words were spoken. But I could feel the love.

God was with us at that very moment.

Happy Birthday, baby. I love you.

(Click here to view the many wonderful articles that await you in ParishWorld, America's Catholic Lifestyle Magazine. Be informed, be inspired, be blessed. )

Saturday

... in the young hands working at the soup kitchen in Aberdeen, WA


Becoming the Eyes, Hands, Feet, Heart and Voice of Jesus
A Young Adolescent Adventure in Christian Service
By Jocelyn Arida

The goal of the one week retreat seemed nice - to become the eyes, hands, feet, heart and voice of Jesus. We were all up to the challenge - and it seemed fun. But we never imagined it would became a life changing experience.

The Junior High youth from the Holy Family Parish in Auburn, WA - and the parish staff and the adult volounteers who accompanied them - all felt as if they were touched by God during this one week journey to the the town of Aberdeen, WA from July 30 to August 4, 2006.

Our mission was to help the poor people of Aberdeen, WA. Our group was to run the local soup kitchen for the entire week. We were to interact closely with the poor of the city - complete strangers who lived in a city that was very foreign to us.

Our faith journey started with a send off from our parish - led by our parish priest - right after Sunday Mass. Eight additional youths from two other parishes joined us in this one-week program of the Office of Youth and Young Adults Ministry of the Archdiocese of Seattle.

As we entered the city that we were about to explore, we were greeted by a city sign that read “Welcome to Aberdeen – Come As You Are.” No pretensions and yet quite welcoming.

Aberdeen, WA is not an affluent city. Many downtown buildings housed businesses that have shut down. Most of the residential houses were run down, many needed major makeovers. There was a sprinkling of adorable homes around, but it wasn't unusual to find a house in total
disrepair next to a nice one. This was clearly a low-income community where many underprivileged people lived.

SEEING WITH GOD'S EYES

During this one-week mission program, we were challenged to look at these poor people and "see" them with God’s Eyes. We did. And everything began to appear to us in a different
light. We began to see everything with love and compassion for the poor and their plight. Slowly, we learned to look beyond the stench and their dirty appearances. These were God's people.

We sat down and shared meals with them, the very same meals we had prepared. We got to know their individual personal life stories. It started to dawn on us that our acts of kindness were restoring some of the dignity these people had lost a long time ago. All it took in most
cases was a simple hello and warm smiles on our faces.

As soon as we started working, we noticed a change in the look on the faces of the people we were helping. The more profound change, however, was happening in the hearts of our youth. They readily stepped out of their comfort zones to lend a helping hand. They made friends with total strangers, people so destitute they wouldn't otherwise even merit a glance if they ran across each other in their home town.

WALKING IN GOD'S FEET

We were told to walk in God’s Feet too. Every morning, we hiked for about 15 to 20 minutes just to get to the soup kitchen site where we were to cook and serve food. In the beginning, it seemed like a long trek. But when you do it with a desire to work for God’s people, one forgets the distance and time goes by fast while walking.

It is tiring to walk to work and stand on your feet the whole day, cooking and preparing food. After serving meals, we would socialize with people and then clean the kitchen afterwards - all on our feet. By the afternoon, our legs and feet would be so sore. And then we had to make the trek back to the church that was housing us.

Amazingly, as tired as we were, we walked back every day with smiles on our faces and a tremendous feeling of happiness in our hearts. God’s Feet definitely took us to where we were
much needed. And God's Heart was filling up with the love our young people have been giving out.

WORKING WITH GOD'S HANDS

At the soup kitchen, God’s Hands were at work. He was working through these young people, many of who had never even prepared a single meal in their own homes. These are young
people who rarely washed dishes, nor mopped floors. But they ran that soup kitchen effectively for one week. They kept their young hands busy doing all the chores needed to accomplish our task.

We were told that our group was the first youth volunteers that had come over to run this soup kitchen. And our youth ran it well. Through our young people, Christ’s Hands happily prepared the food for the hungry and lovingly served it to them. We saw His hands through a handshake stretched out to a man who was a throat cancer survivor. We felt His Hands through a warm pat on someone’s back.

SPEAKING WITH GOD'S VOICE

These less fortunate people we met are all special in the eyes of God. And they need love and caring from all of us.

As were about to leave, we were all reminded that we could be Christ’s Voice that spreads the word to the world about the great work that needs to be done to help the poor. We were to be a voice for the voiceless. We were to be a voice of hope and encouragement - even to those people who are drastically different from us.

God’s Heart is big enough for all of us to share to share with everyone - specially the needy.

It was truly wonderful to see how one week can make a difference in our lives. Our parish youth were fortunate to be a part of this wonderful experience. And it is the change we all felt stirring in our own hearts that is the best reward. God's Heart was more full when we left the soup kitchen for the last time.

Lord, send me out today to leave heartprints. And if someone should say "I felt your touch and care," May that person sense Your gracious love touching them through Me.
~ Author Unknown

(Jocelyn Arida works at the Youth Office of the Holy Family Catholic Church in Auburn, WA.)


(Click here to view the many wonderful articles that await you in Parishworld.net, America's Catholic Lifestyle Magazine. Be informed, be inspired, be blessed. )

... in the fullness of the moon last night


We were just sitting out last night with my girlf friends on one of the nicest Southern California summer nights ever. And the moon was high in the evening sky, round and full and bright. Only God can make such a wonderful sight. Thank you, Lord for everything you have made that we take for granted.
-- Anna from Indio, CA


(Click here to view the many wonderful articles that await you in ParishWorld.net, America's Catholic Lifestyle Magazine. Be informed, be inspired, be blessed. )

... when my parent talked about reconciling


My parents who have been talking divorce told us this morning they are going to try to make things work for them and for me and my younger brother. I am so happy I cried tears of joy when I heard this. I pray that God will keep them together forever. God's hand surely had something to do with this because I know they've been reading this book by Bo Sanchez that was lent to them by one of their friends.
-- a 15 year old in Glendale, CA

(Click here to view the many wonderful articles that await you in ParishWorld, America's Catholic Lifestyle Magazine. Be informed, be inspired, be blessed. )

Sunday

... when my son and I bonded

God was with me today. My 18-year-old son spent the whole day with me. We haven't been really close and our moments together have been far and in between and always awkward. But today, he and I had a great time together. We connected. What a wonderful feeling for a father to finally feel that the wide gap with his teen son was finally getting bridged. Thank you God for making the connection I have so longed for happen today.
-- Ben from Boulder, CO

Wednesday

.. in the eyes of homeless person


I watched as a homeless old man was rummaging for food through the trash can. I was so moved I decided to give him the breakfast I was holding in my hand. He looked at me with teary eyes, eyes filled with gratitude, but mixed shame and pain, and said thanks. As he sulked to the pavement, he hungrily devoured my gift as if he hadn't eaten in days. He was crying as he ate. I turned around and started to walk away but I couldn't hold my tears as I sobbed on my feet. It was at this moment that I felt God's presence. I wish we could do more for these helpless people.
-- Jerome in Santa Monica, CA


(Click here to view the many wonderful articles that await you in www.ParishWorld.net, America's Catholic Lifestyle Magazine. Be informed, be inspired, be blessed. )

Sunday

... in the warmth of true friendship


I was among long time friends last night, college buddies from 30 years ago. We were a tight group back then. When we were not asleep in our own beds, you can bet we would be running around somewhere - together.

We remained solid friends through the years as we all got married, had children of our own, established succesful careers and built independent lives. But with our busy schedules and the relatively far distances between our homes, we really don't get to hang out anymore as much as we'd like to. We'd be lucky to get everyone in one place once a year, maybe twice a year.

And last night was one of those rare moments. It was the birthday party for Ina, Ray F's wife of 23 years. Ray D and Mari (we've known each other since 5th grade!) were also there with their individual spouses - both of whom we've known since were all in college. And I came with the love of my life.

Something magical always happens when we get together. The same stories from 32 years ago get thrown back and forth and we all laugh at them as hard as we did the first time we shared them many years ago. Everyone gets into it. All the years spent away from each other seem to disappear. It's as if 32 years ago was just last week.

I know these guys better than I know my own brothers. I am so blessed to have them as my true friends. For 32 years, these guys have been like family and they will always remain to be so.

As we were saying our goodbyes, wishing each other well and wondering when we would get together again as one group, that's when I felt His presence. I felt God as we warmly hugged and patted each other in the back. I felt God in the tightness of the lingering handshakes. I felt God in the neverending farewells that started inside the house and was still going as we stood curbside.

God was there last night. As we turned our backs to walk to my car, I just knew that God was there, making everything whole once more. Friends for life - blessed by God.

-- Wally Arida


(Click here to view the many wonderful articles that await you in www.ParishWorld.net, America's Catholic Lifestyle Magazine. Be informed, be inspired, be blessed. )

Tuesday

... in the midst of all the craziness that is work



I work a lot (as I'm sure many of you do), and it would be safe to say that most of my time is spent at my job. My life here in San Francisco tends to run at 100 mph, and I've become accustomed to always being on the go, go, go. During the school year, if I'm not at work I'm at school - so I don't have a lot of free time. I rarely call my family, let alone go home to visit!

So today at work (I work at the bank) it was super hectic, the line of customers practically going out the door. When it gets like this, I tend to rush through my work. My breaking point finally came an hour after the rush, when I accidentally shorted one customer. Luckily I caught it before she left.

The lady was very understanding and before she left, she patted my hand and said, "Just take a deep breath and slow down, honey."

That stopped me for a moment when I realized she was right. Not just with my job, but with life in general. There have been so many times where I've constantly been busy busy busy..that I don't take the time to enjoy LIFE.

I think this is true for the majority of us - caught up with things we feel we need to DO rather than take our time to reflect on the things God has graciously blessed us with.

When was the last time I spent an hour (even on my lunch break) to sit outside and enjoy nature? When was the last time I took a few minutes before work to say a little prayer? How about the last time I said "thank you" to God for another day I can live?

It's not that hard, but it's something I don't do.

Today I saw God through a woman who meant to tell me to slow down while processing her transaction, but I saw it as God telling me to slow down and remember why I was here - why I breathe.

"Just take a deep breath and slow down, honey."


(Click here to view the many wonderful articles that await you in www.ParishWorld.net, America's Catholic Lifestyle Magazine. Be informed, be inspired, be blessed. )

Wednesday

... in a conversation about this blog, of all things!

Since this is my first post, I guess I should give some background info! Wally Arida, the Publisher of ParishWorld has been trying to get me to write a youth blog for the magazine for quite some time now. I admit I had been a little hesitant because although I was very intrigued by the idea - I wasn't exactly sure what to write about. But this morning, he came up with this idea - "today I saw God...."

So I admit that I'd been procrastinating with this blog, using work and school to find reasons not to have time for it. But due to Wally's persistance, I finally did it. It's only now that I realize that it was GOD pushing me the whole time. He was chasing my time, my mind and, most of all, my heart -- which is all He really wanted from me in the first place.

This blog made me realize that seeing God doesn't have to be a big miracle that is obvious. It's really just the simple ways God is shown to me each day. It made me see that God is in EVERYTHING, in EVERYONE, in every conversation we have.

We just have to look for it.



(Click here to view the many wonderful articles that await you in www.ParishWorld.net, America's Catholic Lifestyle Magazine. Be informed, be inspired, be blessed. )