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To cope with suffering is part of what it means to be human.   At some point in our life,  we all face suffering or hardship; whether this be the death or serious illness of aloved one, or personal suffering due to physical, emotional or mental pain.  The question to answer is; what do we do with this suffering?  Can we offer it up to God?  What does this even mean?  Choosing how we approach our suffering is important.  How can our suffering help someone else?  How can we learn how to transform our suffering into holiness?

 

In the Gospels, Jesus goes into the desert for forty days and nights.  He goes to clear his head of noise and distractions, so he can hear His Father’s voice and seek His will. We all need this kind of quiet time to get away from the noise of the world to grow closer to God. This is what we as Christians call Desert Spirituality, a way of practicing prayer and meditation away from the distractions of our everyday lives.

 

Sometimes it seems that our society is only obsessed with looks, shapes, diets and exercise but when it comes to our faith…there doesn’t seem to be any urgency to exercise it or keep it in shape.  But our body and soul are connected in a very real and special way…and both need attention and effort to keep them fit.  Most of us do know how to keep our bodies fit…..but what about our soul?  What can we do to maintain our spiritual fitness?

 

When we read Psalm 139 we are reminded that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Each one of us is unique and possesses something that is wonderful and admirable. But, unfortunately, high school can really challenge that idea. Peer pressure and popularity make it seem as though being a “certain way” is the only way to be. Our true self — with our unique personalities, likes and dislikes, quirks and talents — is a wonderful thing that shouldn’t be changed to fit someone else’s idea of being a teenager. How does your faith help you to stay true to who God wants you to be?

 

According to a national survey of teenagers conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 55% of all American youths ages 12-17 use the Internet and online social networking sites like Facebook and Friendster. Also another national survey from CTIA and Harris Interactive states that 57% of teens view their cell phone as the key to their social life while 52% agree that the cell phone has become a new form of entertainment. With all of this communicating….what are we accomplishing? Are we having meaningful uplifting conversations? Would we say these things out loud, or in front of our parents? How difficult is it for us to imitate Christ and mind our manners and our morals while being a part of this virtual world of social networking.

 

Serving others in our community and our world and recognizing the face of Christ in each person we serve is answering Jesus’ call to serve “the least of our brothers”. Serving others can bring us great joy…but sometimes when we feel helpless, like we can’t do enough to help, or when we try to make time for it in our already overstressed and busy life it can be seen as a burden.  So how can sharing in another’s suffering bring us to a deeper and more profound sense of joy?

 

You know that God has a plan for your life and you pray for guidance to discover “your” plan.  So what happens when you’re still not sure what the plan is?  What do we do next?  It isn’t always easy to realize what God wants us to do.  Sometimes we reach a little bump on our spiritual road.  But God never abandons us, He gives us signs.  What are some of these signs and how can we learn to recognize these signs along our spiritual journey so we know what God wants us to do now?

 

Our Catholic identity goes beyond just attending Mass every Sunday, acknowledging that we are Catholic or wearing a crucifix or religious jewelry or clothing.  Our Catholic identity is wrapped up in how we live out our faith.  It is putting our belief in Christ and His Church into action and incorporating our faith beliefs into our daily life. What are some ways that we show our friends and our community that we are Catholic?  Would others identify us as Catholics by our actions and behavior?  How can we better form our own sense of Catholic identity?