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Off the Mountain Top

December 6, AD 2011 3 Comments

Guest post by Amanda Castro

After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone. As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, “Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

Matthew 17: 1 – 9

Often times in the busyness of everyday life there are times when we are called to separate ourselves from those that surround us and experience God like we have never before. From November 17 – 20, 2011 I had the great honor and privilege of taking 28 people from my parish to the National Catholic Youth Conference held in Indianapolis. Our parish in turn was part of a group of 700 + people on 15 buses from our diocese, 23,000 people from across the nation, and the 92 countries around the world watching over the Internet. What a beautiful mountain top to be standing on top of.

Over those four days (the conference was three but the stand alone travel day is something in and of itself) we experienced the Catholic Church of America. Some experiences were earth shaking, others were ho hum, but so too is the journey of our faith. I had students excited to be sharing their faith with those they will never meet again, and witnessed the faith of the larger Catholic Church.

Surprisingly, I heard no complaining from any in my group, except for the lack of sleep that we were getting. Then came the kicker, “Amanda, do we have to go home?” My students saw the beauty and joy of being Catholic. They held something new and wonderful, and they did not want to let it go. Peter, James and John had a moment like that too. They did not want to leave the presence of Moses, Elijah and Jesus. They even offered to erect tents of them so that they could stay. As any good youth minister, Jesus reminded them that they too had to leave this spot.

The apostles had learned, they had received a message, and now they had to go and share. In the same way, I needed to bring my students and chaperons home so they too could share their memories and experiences.

Coming off the mountain top is hard. We had to return home to a place where something as large as NCYC could never happen. There will be disappointments and struggles when their experiences and feelings do not match what happened at NCYC. That’s why when coming off the mountain top, I explain to parents to help their students see what smaller similarities occur at home. Although we are not capable of making moving sand art or have a rousing version of “Let it Be” during our youth group Lectio Divinia, we can make our worship our own. There are gifts that your parish does possess and by using those gifts and talents, your worship can be more complete.


[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Amanda is a Youth Minister and Director of Religious Education at a small rural Iowa parish. Some of her students have begun a crusade to try and stump their youth minister, even so far as asking the local Bishop for help. If they could have remembered the Latin they would have succeeded too! Aside from being happily newly married to her best friend, her passions include (but are not limited too) her 9 nieces and nephews, the Mass, Adoration, and photography. You can find her new blog at Defined by Faith.[/author_info] [/author]

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  • Titus

    we can make our worship our own.

    But thinking that we did so would first require that we delude ourselves into believing that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass—the only act of true worship—is our possession. Apart from being wholly false and entirely antithetical to everything that Catholics have ever believed about God, man, and the relationship between God and man, that kind of attitude apparently leads one to think that the vacuous mutterings of a drug-addled pagan are appropriate musical accompaniment for a gathering of children. Who needs enemies when one has friends like this?

  • Titus, please allow me to explain. When I said “we can make our worship our own” what I mean is we can take possession and accountability of our actions. I ask, what power is there in prayer, devotion, and worship if we do not then hold our self accountable for what we do? Several examinations of conscious ask, “Do I give time to God every day in prayer?” With out holding ourselves accountable and responsible for our prayer lives, how do we personally grow closer to God.

    There are many “styles” of prayers that are different, Lectio Divina, the Rosary, Meditations, or whether you ascribe to Augustinian, Franciscan, Thomistic, Ignatian types of prayer. The mass is the highest form of prayer which we are blessed to experience in community. That is something I will never doubt.

    With that being said, youth of today, or at the very least the youth I serve, are being called and distracted by many things. Most of those things they find more alluring and desirable than time spent at mass and youth group. The use of a song that probably 23,000 people all knew in a secular nature and using it to echo the need to ask the intercession of Mary the Mother of Jesus. My students have begun to ask me more questions about Mary and wanting to know more of why we ask for her help and intercession.