Tag Archive | God

SEEK2017: God at Work

In early 1999, 20 students from Benedictine College in Atchinson, Kansas, gathered to learn about scripture, God, holiness, and how to witness the Gospel to others on their campus and eventually on other campuses. The guy organizing this was named Curtis Martin. He had a vision of what Catholic campus ministry on college campuses could look like. He shared it with the 20 students on a cold weekend away from campus. His vision took hold. Those first 20 students worked on campus, and then one campus became two. Over the next few years, they would add more campuses to their network. Eventually, a conference for 200 people was organized. They called it SEEK. The fledgling organization was starting to find its footing, and it gained a huge boost when Martin received a personal word of encouragement from Pope John Paul II for his new movement to “Be Soldiers”. 

Since that time, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students has become one of the biggest Catholic organizations in the country. They now serve on over 100 college campuses including Maine, MIT, George Mason, USC, Alabama, Clemson, Wisconsin, and even two universities in Austria. They serve thousands of college students with Bible Studies, friendship, mentorship, authentic faith, and challenges to learn more about Jesus. In 2011, they came to Boston University, and in 2012, I started my collegiate career on Commonwealth Avenue. I worked with the missionaries who came to Boston, and had many adventures with them. I still room with a former missionary who’s one of my best friends, and I’m blessed to have had that experience. FOCUS is one of the biggest reasons I made it through many difficult times in college, and a part of why the BU Catholic Center was easily the best part of my BU experience. So many of my friends will sing similar songs. FOCUS helped showed us how to live honorable, Catholic lives in college and beyond through all their programming.

Among their most memorable bits of programming were newer iterations of that conference they ran. SEEK continued to expand as FOCUS expanded. The conference went from 200 to a few thousand over the following meetings. I first went to SEEK in 2013, when it was held in Orlando. Six thousand Catholic college students came from across the country. We heard talks about how to be a Catholic man, how free market economics can benefit Catholicism, how to read scripture in a prayerful way, and so many other marvelous topics. We went to Disney World to unwind, and we found ourselves praying in ways we never knew existed. Mostly, we were inspired by the faith of the thousands of college students around us. It’s hard to not be impressed when 3,000 college men are yelling their approval at a question about Disney princesses. Its even harder to not be amazed when these same people are singing their lungs out in adoration. 

SEEK2013 came at the perfect time for me. I needed a lift to get through my freshman year and I needed to learn how to honor God with my work. I got a needed boost, and I maintain fond memories toward the people I met and got close to that week. 

When I got on the flight from Orlando to Hartford on January 7th, 2013, I knew I wanted to go to another one of these major FOCUS conferences. I had an opportunity to go to SEEK2015 in Nashville, but decided not to go. I also could’ve gone to the Student Leadership Summits in 2014 or 2016, but again, decided against it. When I graduated from BU in May, I thought I wouldn’t be involved with any BUCC activities. Except I was and still am. I live in Boston and want to stay in a consistent Catholic community. I still have friends at BU, so I stayed around. I’m an active part of the Graduate and Young Professional Group at BU and I still hang out with the undergrads. When promotion started for SEEK2017, I couldn’t pass it up. I worked out the details, and made my way to San Antonio exactly four years to the day after I went to Orlando. 

When I got there, I realized I was in for a similar experience to Orlando, but SO MUCH BIGGER. This time, 13 thousand college students made their way to Texas. When I walked into the main convention hall for Mass, I saw flags for every school flying, music blasting, and a great party raging. Every large scale gathering except for the morning Masses were like that. It was a huge Catholic party that raged on for 5 days, with plenty of fun moments, like a battle of the sexes game that made a celebrity out of a Texan named Reese, break dancing priests, and nuns with the most ridiculous stories. 

The talks were also better. I heard people speak on Theology of the Body, How to save your Marriage before meeting your spouse, the main difference between Islam and Christianity, and how to respond to the 2016 election. There were so many more talks that I wanted to check out and couldn’t. There was always something to do, be it a talk, adoration, or just hanging out with people I hadn’t seen in a while. The talks were a highlight, because there are so few times when so many intelligent people are gathered to discuss the array of topics that were looked at. The ultimate highlight, however, was the encounter we all had with Jesus Himself.

When I went to Orlando, I was doing some soul searching. I had a rough year and I found solace in my God and friends who were with me there. But I was still unsettled. I wasn’t sure where I was going or what to expect from school or life in general when I got home. This time, I wasn’t in college. I didn’t have the same concerns, fears, or doubts. I was, in many ways, a completely different man. I was more relaxed, more willing to talk about my concerns and doubts, and more open in prayer. I walked with thousands of my brothers and sisters in Christ to confession, and had the most complete confession I’ve ever had. I walked out of the confessional wing of the hall and felt the grace poured out on both me and everyone else receiving the sacrament of Confession. I went to kneel in adoration as a Eucharistic procession began. I prayed my penance and smiled wide. I’ve never felt as clean or as free as I did at that moment. I got up and walked in the procession, singing, and  praising God with all I had. We all were. 

When you are surrounded by grace, there’s nothing you can do but praise God with those feeling the same grace you are. When there’s 13K people surrounded by and filled with the greatest of God’s graces, love and praise of Jesus in the Eucharist, there’s no words to describe the elation. Nothing I write would do it justice. You have to experience it for yourself to understand what’s going on there. 

It didn’t last, but it was never supposed to. When SEEK came to a close, I hopped on a plane back to the northeast, exactly four years to the day after Orlando. I found myself thankful, at peace, and excited for the future. I have a network of friends that I can see and call on when I need to. I had similar feelings after Orlando, but lacked the certainty and confidence in myself, my talents, and my connection to God that I have now. I rested easily, knowing that God is working through FOCUS and is reaching thousands of college students. I reflected on my time at BU, and smiled about all the people I met and got close with in my first SEEK. The smile got bigger when I thought of all the stories that helped lead to. I was happy that I could provide a little veteran presence to the BU delegation that I benefited from in 2013. I was even happier to walk into an uncertain situation called my life with peace of mind. 

I’m finishing up school and looking for more permenant work soon. I don’t have a set schedule or clear direction for what exactly I’m doing. I merely trust that God will guide me to where I am to go. After my week in San Antonio of praying with thousands of brave young men and women, learning about the practicals of living the faith, and being reconciled with the mistakes of my youth, how could I be anything but excited for what’s next?

So thank you to those 20 students from Atchison, Kansas, for saying yes to Curtis Martin’s idea all those years ago. It has made a massive difference for this proud son of New England and thousands of college students from all over this country. I pray we carry the lessons forward, and that those who come after us see the life in Jesus and all it’s graces. If that happens, then SEEK2019 will approach 20K attendees. The Kingdom of Heaven is growing here on earth. I’m happy to have seen it in action in San Antonio this past week. 

2017’s BUCC crowd with Curtis Martin

The new generation

Me with Matt Fradd

Scott Hahn

Good Friday: My Least Favorite Christian Day

I don’t like Good Friday. I don’t like what happened on this day almost 2,000 years ago. I’m reminded of why I don’t like it watching the movie: The Passion. It hilights the worst of humanity. 

If you’re not a Christian, or if you don’t know the story, Jesus Christ preached a radical message of Love, Compassion, and following God above all else. This message was threatening to many political and religious powers of the day, so many looked for a way to remove Him from power. Judas, one of his closest friends betrayed Him to the Sanhedrien, and they staged a sham of a trial to condemn Him. They found Him guilty of blasphemy and took him to Pontius Pilate, the Roman Govenor of the region of Judea. Only the Romans could execute the Jewish laws in the way they wanted: to execute Jesus. They got what they wanted. Jesus endured unbelievable pain, humiliation, and abandonment. The Romans beat him with whips and chains, ripped him to a bloody mess of a human being. The Jewish authorities denied who He was and what His message was in order to hold on to what earthly power they had. And ultimately, all of Jesus’ closest friends, his apostles, all abandoned him except John, and he was flat out betrayed by Judas and denied by Peter, the closest of the Apostles to Jesus. 

We see many of the worst sins all in this story. Betrayal of friends and loved ones, denial of God’s true power, the love of earthly things over Godly things, and the flat out abandonment of that which we should hold most dear. The worst sins that humanity can reach are on full display on Good Friday. The worst sins that I can reach and I have done at different points in my life, are on full display. 

I guess that’s why I don’t like Good Friday. It is a direct condemnation of the worst of my sins. I have to own up to all of them in a very intense way on this day. Watching The Passion reminds me of the worst things that I’ve done. It reminds me that it is all of my sins, all the ways that I’ve hurt myself and others, that called for Jesus coming down to Earth to die for me. And I am honestly ashamed that I needed it, and that humanity needed it, and continues to need it. We hung God out to dry on a giant hunk of wood, betrayed Him in doing so, and made Him suffer a fate that no man, regardless of how evil he is, deserves. 

For those reasons, I do not enjoy Good Friday. But I recognize how necessary it all is. Because after all we’ve done to God, ourselves, and other people, we cannot be saved any other way than by God’s love. I cannot be saved any other way than through God. I don’t like admitting that, but in this respect, I don’t really have a choice. 

The Passion does show some real redeeming pieces of humanity that show potential good. Jesus’ humanity is the biggest sign of that. The other two are Mary and Simon the Cyrenian. Mary cleans up the blood of her son after the scourging. She gives true motherly love in the worst of the situation, seeing him when he falls and helping pick Him up, and doing the hardest thing for a parent, bury her son. The other example of true humanity, though after some convincing, is the guy I see myself as: Simon the Cyrenian. He’s an ordinary guy who was pressed into service to help carry Jesus’ cross to Calvary when He couldn’t do it anymore. Even Jesus needed help. He still does, and that’s our mission today. At one point, Jesus falls, and can’t continue. The guards and people alike rush to hit the lowly Jesus, and Simon refuses to carry the cross any further if they continue to hurt the innocent Jesus. He refused to comply with sin. That’s the sort of approach I want to have in my life. 

I don’t like Good Friday because I see all my sin holding Jesus on the cross. But it is still crucially important, because without it, I can’t be saved. No one could truly be saved. Thank you God for loving us so, and I’m sorry for all we did to You. 

Lenten Hiatus

Hey folks. So if you haven’t noticed, I’ve not been posting on here for a while. Why? Well there’s a lot of chaos in my head. It’s hard for me to sort out my head in many ways. Also, I feel very dry. Sorta separate from God, the sorta spiritual dryness that Mother Theresa spoke of experiencing. My posts always revolve around some cool sports thing, or some person I get to meet, or something of that sort, but I don’t feel like I’m making a huge stride forward. I’m just sorta stuck. And I don’t feel as though I can provide good content on this blog now. Well I’ve got a very good opportunity to clear up and get going in the right path soon: Lent. It’s the time of year where we take a chance to pray, reflect, make sacrifices, and offer ourselves up for God’s work. The season ends on Easter, the day of Jesus’ resurrection. I have a weird feeling about this Lent. As if something is gonna click for me that I’ve been waiting and looking for that will free me up and get me moving in the right direction again.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of really good things in my life now. I’ve got good friends, a chance to learn at a good school, opportunities for fun jobs, and many other good things. And the basics, like a roof over my head and food. The problem is my mindset over the last few weeks. In large part, I’ve not gotten to see or talk to some of my best friends recently. One’s headed out to boot camp soon, one’s life is getting busy and I don’t get to see her as much, and one has a story way too complicated to tell here. I’m adjusting to not seeing or hearing from these people, and I miss them. I’ve been stuck in neutral for the last few weeks, and I’m looking for a good trigger to get me going. I think Lent might be the best thing for me. I’ve found it rejuvenating in the past. The Lents I’ve spent here at BU have done wonders for me, with last year being probably the best one for me. I got more involved in the Catholic community on my campus, learned more about being a good friend than I had most other places, and got closer to God than I have ever been. It didn’t hurt that I did a good job in my classes and had a clear definition of my goals in the classroom, which I admit I’ve gotten away from and need to get back to.

So I’m gonna use the Lenten season to get on track. This means I won’t be writing on here for a while, probably not until at least Easter. Hopefully I’ll be back in good form and in the right direction after the season. Lent begins this coming Wednesday. I know what I’m doing for my Lenten observances this year.

A. A dating fast. I’m still not over my recent breakup and I still have things to sort out there. I’m looking forward to the chance to lighten my head after a tough time that has damaged one of the best friendships I’ve had really at any point in my memory.

B. No drinks but water. Part of my mental state might me that I’ve not done the best job of treating myself well physically. I have been working out, which is good. But I’ve not been eating or drinking that well recently. Lots of soda, sugary stuff, and unhealthy food and drinks. Maybe a physical reset would be good for me.

C. Daily Scripture Readings. This seems to be a sort of obvious one. If I want to be working towards holiness, it seems appropriate to read the tales of holy men and women myself, and where would I find the best cases of holy men and women? The Bible of course. I don’t have an exact plan of how I’ll do that but I’ve got a few possibilities.

When I created this blog back in March of last year, the idea was to track my growth in happiness over 100 days. I did so successfully. I decided to revisit the challenge again in November, and I’m happy that I made that choice. But now I need to get out of neutral. Maybe Lent can help me get there and I can have a lent that produces the way last one did, hopefully better though. Last Easter was a beautiful time for me. And I need to rediscover that unbridled joy and bliss that I’ve been missing. Until Easter, I hope you all find goodness and joy in your lives and may God bless all of you!

What a Great Crowd

Since being in college, the absolute best part of being here is the friendships, dealings, and fun that I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying. Today, I got to lector at Mass at the BU Catholic Center, something I enjoy tremendously. After Mass, and a little adoration, members of the BUCC gathered and, as is tradition for us, we went to lunch. It took a while for us to get there, but we did eventually get to our intended destination. We set up a table, I mean took over a table, and enjoyed a nice lunch in some fun company. Stories, puns, jokes, lessons, laughter, and anything else in between flowed like a massive river. It’s exactly what I’ve come to expect from my cohort of friends. While I expect it, I shouldn’t count on it, or else I’m quite sure I will lose them eventually. Well I won’t worry about that quite yet.
Also, later in the day, I got to be a part of a Bible study. It’s led by an awesome dude who the fellas at BU love, and it’s a study where I’ve learned a lot and grown in my faith. I’m happy to have this, and the friendships that go along with it. I’ll be sure to enjoy my friendships now. And I’ll be thankful for every chance I get to enjoy this great community dynamic in the BU Catholic Center.

Advent: It’s Cold, but still Warm!

Sunday was the second Sunday of the Advent Season. It is a touch contradictory of a season. Its a prayerful season filled with warm and uplifting stories of God’s love, mercy, and compassion in the form of Mary serving God humbly, to God sending His Angels to proclaim the coming of the Lord and calm Joseph’s nerves, to Jesus being born. These are some of the most beautiful and heartwarming stories in the entire Bible.

Only thing that is not warming about Advent is the wind, cold, and snow outside. If it were a touch warmer, it’d be perfect! But oh well. At least we get the hot chocolate, warm fires, heart warming tales, stories, and Christian love that only seems to appear at this time of the year. Plus some beautiful Christmas Carols.

Sing ye men of BU; raise your voices to our God and King!

I’ll do a second post, as the first one for today doesn’t really count. It counts for setting up the challenge again and for something good yesterday. This is still day 1.

I sing. I was in choir for middle and high school, and for the first two years of college. I was active in the choirs we organized for Mass here at BU. Unfortunately my schedule for this semester has prevented me from getting to sing this semester.

I did so tonight! The Boston University Catholic Center(BUCC) has a men’s choir once a month that sings for a night Mass at Marsh Chapel. We sing an assortment of traditional Catholic songs in both english and latin. While there aren’t as many guys who sing as there are girls, there is still some considerable talent, which makes it fun to sing with them!

It was a nice way to end a good day. Music serves as a good grounding mechanism for me, and I feel like I’ve been drifting a little from the BUCC. I’m glad I went and sang at Mass tonight. Now back to the busyness of regular class life!

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Lessons learned from this challenge

This challenge has been very fruitful and successful for me! It’s been a blast sharing my thoughts and experiences that make me happy and make me smile on a daily basis. I have a few wrap up lessons and important developments from these 100 days. In no particular order, here are the 3 things I will most happily take away from this.

1. A new relationship.
I’ve started a more serious dating relationship with a friend from BU who did this challenge with me. She’s been a friend for a while before this challenge and the most recent school year. But we started talking about this during this challenge, and we became much closer friends over the year. Now we’re together! I’d ask for your prayers and your support here, for both of us.

2. Life is a beautiful ride.
I have a fantastic life. And I have come to realize how amazing it is after I put some real effort in to looking at it. Now that I see all the little things that make my life great, I have such a great appreciation for how beautiful a journey life is, even when it’s difficult. I’ll move forward much more optimistic and positive.

3. God is truly great.
I had a pretty good sense of faith in my life at the start of the challenge, and since then I have only gotten stronger there. I have seen the might and power that God has, and the way He can change your life if you let Him in.

I hope that the people reading this post will look back over my other posts and will see something beautiful here. Hopefully this will help you grow happier, more faithful, and more honest in your own lives!

To take a line from a good broadcaster I sometimes watch, I’ve done all the damage I can do here. Good night, and God bless!

Chris Lynch

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