Youth Speak News

Self-denial may not be the most popular part of the faith for a lot of Catholics, but by offering up our sacrifices as prayers we can find new ways to carry our cross daily.

Though the topic of self-denial often escapes common dinner-table conversation, it is one of the most fundamental aspects of Catholic and Christian faith. The Ten Commandments and The Beatitudes are teachings that, in essence, simply tell us to deny ourselves. Whether it’s refraining from sin by not stealing or humbling ourselves to a meekness like Jesus, self-denial is taught throughout Catholic doctrine.

May cheaters not prosper

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While I’m no soccer fan, I paid a great deal of attention to the recent 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The most noticeable thing was the cheating and the reactions these provoked.

I’ve noticed a person’s reaction to the cheating differs depending on who cheated. In the match between Germany and England, my brother, who was cheering for Germany, got angry whenever a German player was fouled, but was silent when a German player committed a foul. And in the game between Ghana and Uruguay when Luis Suarez used his hands to stop what would have been a game-winning goal for Ghana, my brother simply said, “It’s not cheating if the referee doesn’t catch you.”

It appears that Suarez and his fans think the same way. Many Uruguayans have defended Suarez’s actions and have said they were “proud” of his behaviour.

While I hate to admit it, there are many people who view cheating in life the same way as my brother and Suarez. As long as it benefits them or the team they like, they see nothing wrong with it. However, when they see someone cheating them, they cry foul.

This attitude extends to education too. A survey by the Canadian Council on Learning seems to confirm this. According to the council, approximately 60 per cent of high school students admitted to cheating on a test or an assignment. The rate was even higher among university students, with 73 per cent admitting they committed a major “act of academic dishonesty.”

Right now, these students may find this is no big deal, but I wonder how they would react if they learned their doctor cheated on his or her medical exams or if they missed out on a scholarship because another person obtained a higher mark through cheating.

This way of thinking is not only unethical but un-Christian. The Bible says to “do unto others as you would have others do unto you” and “rejoice not in wrongdoing but rejoice in the truth.” Rejoicing when cheating benefits you but throwing a fit when cheating disadvantages you or someone you care about violates these principles.  

Furthermore, holding double standards concerning cheating in sports sends the wrong message to sports fans, particularly impressionable youngsters. I am worried those who saw the match between Uruguay and Ghana will think that cheating is okay as long as it gets results or you get lauded for it. After all, if cheating turns you into a local hero as it did with Suarez it seems wrong not to cheat. Such a message degrades professional sports, turning it from a great pastime to a free-for-all where it doesn’t matter how you behave as long as you win or bring your team good fortune.

Such an attitude also goes against Christian values. The Bible says that hypocrites “blaspheme the name of God” among unbelievers and that anyone who “thinks he is religious… but deceives his heart” has a worthless religion. In the same way that players who cheat and apply double standards degrade sports, Christians who do so represent Christianity poorly, not living up to the Christian mandate of showing love and integrity. Approving of dishonesty no matter who’s engaging in it is unethical in sports, Christianity and life.

That’s a lesson today’s Catholic youth should take to heart, whether they’re sports fans or not.

(Mair, 19, is a second-year communications student at Carleton University).

Youthful celebration of faith

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OCY rallyMIDLAND, Ont. - This year’s Office of Catholic Youth Rally introduced a variety of new features, but it retained enough of its old flavour to make the experience what it’s always been for revellers.

John Dawson, program co-ordinator and music director for the July 23-25 rally, has been involved with the Office of Catholic Youth (OCY) for more than a decade. He said the youthful spirit is alive and well.

“The rally is really about celebrating the faith, connecting with other youth and commissioning them in the Lord,” said Dawson.

SummerDaze of fun, faith

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Summer DazeTORONTO - The spirit of Don Bosco is alive at the Catholic day camp SummerDaze, where, through song and games, kids find just the right combination of faith and fun.

SummerDaze, which runs out of St. Benedict’s parish in northwest Toronto, was founded in 1989 by Salesian Brother Bernie Dube to serve youth in the summer. In its first year, it had fewer than 25 campers and five staff. It now hosts around 200 campers weekly with a staff of more than 50, most of them volunteers. It ran through the four weeks of July and was open to children aged seven-14.

“There’s always a spiritual lesson to be learned within the fun,” said Foster Kwon, camp director.

Three generations of faith in the media

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In the early 1950s, Stephen Dunn spent his senior year of high school contemplating whether to become a priest or go into broadcasting.

Sixty years after deciding his vocation was to the media, his legacy spans three generations of Catholic television broadcasting in the Dunn family of Ancaster, Ont., near Hamilton.

Guarding lives, working with humility, like Jesus did

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This summer I have my first-ever paid job, where my boss hands me a rewarding paycheque after every two weeks of work. I am employed as a lifeguard at a summer camp. Each day I wake up for my morning routine and bike down to the pool in time to open it up for eager swimmers.

Lifeguarding is definitely one of the most physically demanding responsibilities I have had. In addition to guarding in the sweltering heat — always careful to keep my eye on the pool and its patrons — there is always work to be done after public swimming hours. My co-workers and I have to maintain a clean and healthy pool. This involves vacuuming, brushing, clearing deck garbage, testing chemical levels and ensuring the pumps are working smoothly.

Finding piety among the mosquitoes

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The other day my mom asked me to mow the lawn. Ordinarily, that wouldn’t seem like such a bad job. But when you consider the size of our lawn (it’s a half acre), and the fact that we only have a push lawn- mower, that perspective changes a little.

Also, you have to understand something. Over the past four weeks, Winnipeg has had torrential rains at least once a week, and those rains have produced mosquitoes. Tons of mosquitoes. In fact, radio announcers jovially announced a few days ago that we’re going to have the worst bout of mosquitoes we’ve had in 40 years. When you mix mosquitoes with heat, and those with a lawn mower and a big lawn, the effect can be horrible. I’m pretty sure that if Nero had been alive in the 21st century instead of the first, his favourite means of execution would have been death by lawn care!

Understanding benefits of a Catholic education

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As I look back over my high school career, which just ended, I realize that my fondest memories of the past four years are directly or indirectly connected to the Catholic faith.

Though not one to readily admit that I enjoy school, attending Toronto’s Brebeuf College has given me a handful of experiences that I won’t soon forget.

Scriptural reasoning movement engages students in multi-faith dialogue

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religious symbolsLONDON, Ont. - A movement dedicated to studying sacred texts to promote friendship between people of different faiths hosted its first Canadian conference at Huron University College in London June 27-30.

Scriptural reasoning is a practice where Christians, Jews and Muslims study each other’s sacred texts. The goal is to give people of different faiths a way to transcend their religious differences and foster trust and understanding. This is the third scriptural reasoning conference to be hosted in North America.  

OCY welcomes young adults with open arms to annual youth rally

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Union Station GroupTORONTO - The archdiocese of Toronto’s Office of Catholic Youth is offering to fully subsidize the cost of attending its annual youth rally July 23-25 in Midland, Ont., for up to five youth from every parish in the archdiocese.

“If you have sent groups in the past we hope you will see this as a way of saying ‘thank you’ for your support.

“If you have never sent young people we hope you will take advantage of this promotion and give us the opportunity to connect with youth or young adults from your community,” the OCY said on its web site.

The archdiocesan weekend provides catechesis, prayer, Mass, live music, a movie and more, usually for teens and older youth ages 19-25. But for the first time, the OCY has also built in a special component for young adults ages 25-35.

A special priest's impact

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Leading up to the close of the Year for Priests, the Vatican faced intense criticism regarding the allegations of abuse within the Church. At the closing ceremonies on June 11, Pope Benedict XVI apologized for the abuse on behalf of the Church. He asserted that the Church would do everything possible to prevent such crimes from happening again.

There are still many people, including many young people, who are weary of the Church, due to the past offences of some priests. What many people don’t realize, however, is that the number of abusive priests is miniscule compared to the number of priests and clergy who serve the community.

While it has been hard for me to stay committed to the Church in such a tragic time, I continue to remind myself of all the men and women in the Church who have positively impacted my life.