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Kelsey Burgans |Youth Minister
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Christ is alive and he wants you to be alive! He is in you, he is with you, and he never abandons you. However far you may wander, he is always there, the Risen One. Taken from Christus Vivit, pope francis's apostolic exhortation to young people
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We Still Run to the Cross
Grief is hard to talk about; however, it is much more difficult to experience it. We know that everyone grieves differently, but we have great hope because of what Jesus accomplished through his death and Resurrection. As our parish family mourns the loss of Juan Perez, may we be reminded that God is with us in our sadness. The Gospel of Matthew tells us “blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” We are a community in the middle of anguish. It can be hard to understand why something like this has happened, but, ultimately, we know that God is with us, even if we cannot feel His presence. Jesus, Himself, knows what it means to be sad, even crying at the loss of his dear friend, Lazarus. He knew that Lazarus was dead and that He would raise Him again, yet Jesus still chose to enter into grieving. God knows your heart and your hurt, and He wants you to know His, so that you may find rest in it.
Just as we know that God is with us in our grief, we know that our loved ones can be a source of comfort for us. Something I’ve always appreciated about Juan is how he cared for others. Now is the time for us to be there for Juan’s loved ones. May we also continue to be with them, especially around holidays, and may they know how much we loved and appreciated Juan for his ability to put a smile on your face (even when he was being serious) or to crack a joke to lighten the mood. He loved being around his family and his friends. We can learn from his example to spend time with the ones we love. When a chaperone was needed for a trip to Catholic Heart Work Camp, Juan jumped at the chance, excited to spend time with his sisters who were also going on the trip. He knew that his days would be spent doing manual labor, but he wanted that time for the Lord, his family, and his friends.
Something tragic has happened, and we know that it is hard to know what to do next. We mourn the loss of Juan, but we are moved by his example of courage and his life of saying yes to God’s will. If we want to honor Juan’s memory, we can also be brave during this time (and in the future). We can follow God’s holy will without us know too much of what is going on. We can trust that God, who had an amazing plan for Juan, has an awesome plan for our lives. That’s something I always appreciated about Juan- he was always up for an adventure. Pope St. John Paul II said that “Life with Christ is a wonderful adventure.” Juan clearly lived his life for adventure. There are several pictures of Juan from years ago on our Facebook page having the time of his life, whether he was at camp, volunteering on a mission trip, or just sitting around eating pizza. He was always up for anything; may we also say yes to living our lives full of action!
Here’s the thing about suffering- good can come from it. Just as a piece of fruit may fall to the ground, it can still create fertile soil for other plants to grow. It can also provide nourishment for those who find it and eat it. Think of what the Lord accomplished by dying on the Cross for each of us- we were able to spend eternal life with Him. If He had not done what He did, our lives would be awful. While we deal with the loss of Juan, we can pray for the repose of his soul. We can pray a spiritual bouquet for his family as they continue their lives. We can provide food for them. We can also support them financially through this campaign. For those of you who have already been doing this, know that you have done the work of God. We can honor Juan’s legacy of being an active participant in life and go out and say yes to the Lord.
We may be sad right now, but we also rejoice, because we know how much Juan loved the Lord! Death does not have the final say, and we pray for the repose of Juan’s soul into his Father’s loving arms. Let us pray that Juan will also be welcoming us into Heaven. We wouldn’t be very good Christians if we wanted Juan to stay with us here on earth; we want Him to be with the Lord! While we may have wanted more time with him, we give thanks to God for Juan and the memories we were able to have with him. Grief is very holy; it has a purpose, but it also has limits. Our grief can turn into hope, know that Christ is strong enough to bear the cross. Scripture tells us that “at night weeping enters in, but with the dawn comes rejoicing.” We run to the Cross because we know that is where we will find mercy. God’s mercies are new every morning, may we turn to Him now for comfort.
GREAT APPS FOR THE YOUNG CATHOLIC (AND THE NOT-SO-YOUNG CATHOLIC)
St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church abides by the Diocese of Birmingham in Alabama Youth Protection Program. Through annual training, our students are reminded that they are made in God's image and carry dignity. To review the materials associated with our Safe Envioronment/Sexual Abuse Prevention, please click here. For more information about becoming a chaperone and earning Youth Protection certification, click here.