Everybody goes through phases where they think nobody understands them, myself included. But over the last few years, and recently especially, I have begun to feel that many people just don’t seem to understand my religion.

Why? I’m not a member of some obscure cult; I’m a Catholic. Catholicism is a major world religion and definitely a good slice of the religious pie here in Canada. But somehow many people still have no idea what it’s all about. In school I often get asked why we Catholics “worship the Pope or the saints,” why we “force baptism on babies” instead of letting them choose later and why we “call that piece of bread God.”

March for Life more than a day off of school

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In May, I joined more than 20 other students from my school for the 12th annual March for Life in Ottawa. I joined expecting a nice three-day trip to Ottawa and little more. I was very mistaken.

Just after noon on May 14 the rally began on Parliament Hill, as did the rain and wind. Though somewhat unpleasant at first I took it as just a test from God and perhaps many others did as well since no one seemed to mind.

Dealing with death and loss

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On April 10 I was getting ready for another tedious day of school, looking forward to the long Easter weekend and preparing myself to speak with family members who would be particularly emotional because it was a day before the two-year anniversary of my uncle’s death. I was also feeling particularly sorry for myself, believing that I truly deserved this break because the stress of school was becoming unbearable.

Re-evaluating time travel

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Long ago, a friend asked me if I would ever want the ability to time travel. At the time, I  eagerly responded “yes.” I could only envision the many great advantages, going back to erase all those embarrassing moments, take risks I was too scared to take and refuse other actions that did nothing to benefit my life. I could remove any harmful words that escaped my lips or offer advice that I didn’t have at the time.

It wasn’t until much later that I recalled my answer and re-evaluated my hasty decision. Although the thought of erasing past mistakes seemed appealing, I began to question if this was wise. Did I truly want to alter part of my life?

WYD 2002 ripples continue

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Since I first started participating in youth-related activities within my parish and diocese, just weeks prior to World Youth Day 2002, I have noticed a couple things. One is that twice as many youth are involved at my parish than when I was first starting. Secondly, everyone seems a little more keen on helping their community or openly sharing their faith with others.

Give Mom the gift of time

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{mosimage}Soon enough every son, daughter and father will be stressing out to find that last-minute Mother’s Day gift for the special woman in their life.

Most mothers will probably be expecting the cliché of Mother’s Day gifts: the bouquet of flowers. But let me give some advice for those gift-hunters. I suggest a gift that the mother in your life will cherish forever: time.

Secure in His hands

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Faith is defined as a secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God’s will. I haven’t had to rely on pure faith very often. I have a secure and content life with very little uncertainty.

People talk about taking “leaps of faith,” but I cannot recall any instances when I’ve been required to do so. However, I will soon be entering the age where I am no longer living at home and am confronted with the adult world.

A religious sports fan’s internal conflict

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Toronto sports teams are recognized for their huge fan base. Whenever our teams are playing, we’re right there in the stands with them, supporting them through thick and thin. The people of Toronto support many teams, including the Leafs, Raptors, Blue Jays and Toronto FC.

But when does this passion for the game go too far? Is it right for someone to be more devoted to a sports team than their religion?

What a friend we have in Jesus

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It is said in a proverb: “show me your friends, and I’ll tell you who you are.” If that is the case, then I should be a music loving, fashion minded, game playing, theatre-loving person. While some of that’s true, I don’t see all of it. However, I am forgetting one important friend on that list: Jesus. It’s interesting, because I forget to include Him on my best friends’ list, but he is one of the people I speak to most in the day.

“What a friend we have in Jesus.” This famous hymn, a beautiful reminder of our friendship with Christ, was actually written as a poem in 1855 by Joseph Scriven. In 1845, he was engaged to be married, but his fiancée drowned the night before they were to be wed. He moved from Ireland to Canada to put it behind him. While in Canada, he met another woman, who he also was betrothed to, but she died of pneumonia, also before their marriage. The poem was originally titled “Pray Without Ceasing,” and was written to comfort his mother, who was still residing in Ireland. The poem was later re-titled “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and music was written by Charles Converse.

Catholic Youth events cancelled for lack of interest

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Every year, my diocese hosts a weekend youth retreat for high school students. I started participating when I was in Grade 9 and always counted the days until the next one. It has been a wonderful experience and has helped me to grow dramatically faith-wise.

However, this year’s retreat was cancelled due to lack of registration. The diocese needed at least 25 youth for the retreat to take place; only six signed up. When I heard the news, I was shocked. I couldn’t believe so few people were interested. It certainly wasn’t for lack of quality or hard work by the diocese, so how could it happen?

Finding the meaning of life

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OTTAWA - In life, there are roads that lead in every direction. Some are winding, some bumpy, some smooth and some branch off in different directions. In life, there are endless choices, but we never know where these paths will lead, so for better or for worse, we choose.

We choose for different reasons, but one contributing factor in my decision-making has always been faith. When I was  in the second grade, I remember my brother had this book, Bart Simpson’s Guide to Life, which I’d sometimes steal and flip through. There was a recurring joke that said, “Turn to page ___ to find out the meaning of life.” Every time you turned to the page it listed, it would just lead you back to a different, answer-less page. I remember finding this trivial, just because (having gone to church every Sunday my whole life) I couldn’t understand why people didn’t know the meaning to life. Apparently I was the only one who knew it, and it was simple in my mind — to spread the word of the Lord.