So, we all remember middle school, yes? Of course, we don’t necessarily like to remember it at all, seeing as we were all awkward, hormonal, and wearing our clothes in all the wrong ways. Becoming a teenager was all about re-establishing ourselves as the somebodies that everybody wanted to get to know, and we tried way too hard to do so. If you’re also cringing right now, I’m terribly sorry.
Photo Credit: Lora Wilkinson
In past years, I’m sure we all used to see ourselves at 22, driving cars we could afford with well-paying, satisfactory careers to help us afford them. We saw a bright light at the end of a dark, horrifying tunnel. As a 23-year-old, I can attest to the fact that that is most certainly not always the case. In a way, I feel almost as if I’m in middle school again. As someone starting their career and attempting to establish new relationships here in the area, I’ve been sort of feeling like a newborn giraffe – awkward and juvenile and not so sure how to find my footing.
Just two weeks ago, I came to my spiritual director feeling incompetent and very far from myself, yet he quieted the chaos with a phrase so simple it could have smacked me in the forehead: “You’re in transition.” It was like a spiritual V-8 commercial. And it’s true! For many of us, being in our early twenties means just recently graduating from college. It means job searching and interviewing and trying to establish a name for ourselves with what little we have in our possession. It means moving to new places and making connections. It means not being taken as seriously at first. It means not always being sure you’re on the right track. It’s a hard knock life.
Photo Credit: http://giphy.com/gifs/annie-IfYVIByR5eguY
So, where does God fit in with all of this? The answer is simple. When life seems to go awry and we lose our peace of mind and spirit, evil attempts to kick us while we’re down. The confusion and unfamiliarity associated with one’s early twenties essentially creates a spiritual battleground for that very reason. It remains imperative, as it is during any other period of one’s life, to turn to the Lord during times of struggle and uncertainty.
Photo Credit: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2608888/Pope-Francis-calls-end-war-addresses-150-000-Christians-Vatican-Easter-Sunday-mass-celebrated-millions-world.html
How can we survive (and conquer) what seems to be our second round of middle school? In which ways can we integrate the Catholic faith into our time of transition?
- The Mass
This one is pretty much a no-brainer. There is nothing in this world more apt or able to heal a troubled heart than the Word of God and the very manifestation of Heaven on earth in the Holy Eucharist. Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati once said, “I urge you with all the strength of my soul to approach the Eucharist table as often as possible, feed on this bread of the angels from which you will draw the strength to fight inner struggles.” In John 6:55-66, Christ himself declares, “My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” What better way to involve Christ and obtain healing through Him than to actually consume Him at least once a week? There isn’t a better way. Fact.
Photo Credit: http://www.civitasdei.net/Docs/TripleComparison.htm
- Prayer and Devotional Time
Finding time to pray may become a challenge as life starts to look muddy, but it’s when life looks muddy that we need some Jesus. (We need him every other time, too, but you get me.) It is extremely important to find time in your day to devote to prayer. Set a daily alarm, if it helps, and talk to God. Sing to God, even! He’s the best listener and doesn’t care if you sing out of tune. Best friend ever? I think so.
Spend time devoted to Our Blessed Mother, as well. Utilize your rosary as a weapon against sin and distress, even if that means working your way up from a decade a day. Invoke God’s saints and pray for their intercessions. You’ve got a whole slew of supporters who will pray for you! Turn to them!
- Adoration and The Blessed Sacrament
When it comes down to maintaining relationships with others, we all know how beneficial it is to interact one-on-one. We go out of our way to get in the car and travel, sometimes for several hours, to spend time with the people who are dear to us. Why should your relationship with Christ be any different? Visit Him!
From a personal standpoint, I have experienced so much grace through my visits to the Blessed Sacrament and through Eucharistic Adoration. When I revere God in this way, I’m overcome with a great sense of peace, and the physical presence of God before me makes the problems that I’ve encountered seem merely trivial. After all, “Adoration of the thrice-holy and sovereign God of love blends with humility and gives assurance to our supplications” (CCC 2628).
Photo Credit: Lora Wilkinson
- Confession and Direction
“The confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works.” – St. Augustine
Dear friends, GO TO CONFESSION. I once spent a nine-year period without partaking in this sacrament, and to say I felt empty during that time is the understatement of the century. In order for you to be completely open to receiving the Lord, you must be purged of your sins. And there is no better feeling than the lightness of a squeaky-clean, sin-free soul. Christ died for you so that your sins may be forgiven! Do your part of the deal.
Another available service that I recommend is spiritual direction. A spiritual director will converse with you in complete confidentiality about everything that goes on with you spiritually. Their role is to aid you in your faith formation and to assist where your spirituality is lacking, as it often is in your early twenties and during times of uncertainty. A little bit of clarification goes a long way.
Photo Credit: http://www.stjulianacatholicchurch.com/en/mass.html
- Your Catholic Community
After recently leaving campus life behind, I found myself feeling anxious. I wanted to become more involved in the Catholic community. I wanted to go on retreats and volunteer to work them. I wanted to be part of a faith-filled community of people with whom I could relate. I was already a part of the young adult ministry at St. Joan of Arc, where I am a parishioner, but I wanted to expand and delve into the community more, and I didn’t know how. Through some pretty wonderful friends, I was able to become a part of the young adult community at Immaculate Conception, as well. I wouldn’t be sitting here telling you all of this if not for my involvement in the community, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Don’t become a hermit (unless you’re pursuing the cloistered life, which is a beautiful and super cool vocation, so go you). As a young adult, networking should not be limited to your career. Find people who share your excitement for the Catholic faith who will serve alongside you and bring you closer to Christ. Not only will this help you spiritually, but you’ll have friends, and friends are great.
Photo Credit: Lora Wilkinson
“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” – St. Catherine of Siena
Really, this is what it all boils down to. Middle school was rotten. Young adulthood can be just as rotten. How you choose to embark on this journey will determine your success and your sense of peace as an adult. Will you crumble when facing adversity, or will you allow Christ to catch you? We His faithful, despite the awkwardness and pandemonium we may encounter, must actively pursue Christ and avoid spiritual lethargy as we establish our lives and strive for direction in the big, bad, grown-up world.