Franciscan University of Steubenville Youth Conference- June 24-26, 2011
I apologize if this is very long. But if I will ever written anything that is important, this is it.
Text from Rich in March or April: “Steubie retreat. wanna go?”
Thank God I said yes. I didn’t think I needed this retreat. I thought it was just going to be a fun weekend with some friends where we would sing Jesus music. But God works in such mysterious ways. I needed this weekend so very badly. I didn’t know that I was still holding on to stuff that I needed to let go so that I could start a new relationship with God and a new life I think.
When we first walked into this huge field house, I was shocked at the number of people there. There had to be at least 3,000. And just hearing everyone sing about God together, there is absolutely nothing like it. But people were getting really into it. Like dancing and raising their hands. At first I thought it was really really strange. But I tried it. And if you just close your eyes and raise your hands in surrender to God and sing, God really speaks.
I can’t decide if adoration or confession was my favorite part. When they first said on Friday night that confession was going to be offered, I automatically thought no. Because I just haven’t gone in a while and I feel like I always say the same thing and I didn’t get what the big deal was. But then a girl got up and spoke about how confession changed her life. And then this one sin came to mind for me. It was something I had been sorry for, and I know Jesus had forgiven me. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it all night and all the next day. I mean it wasn’t just I disobeyed my parents; it was bad. So I decided to go to confession. I was thinking that I wouldn’t actually say my sin, I would just kind of hint at it. But then I realized how much it was weighing me down. I had to say it. I had to say the words out loud. It was the only way that I could be freed. And 15 minutes into confession (after just sitting there sobbing for 13 of those minutes), I finally said the words. That was literally the most painful thing I have ever done. I was so ashamed and disgusted with myself. And I just sat there sobbing. I had done this to myself. And the priest was quiet for a minute and said, “That took a lot of courage. But just know that Jesus is so happy right now. He is smiling and welcoming you into his arms.” And I was like, how could he be happy? I did this horrible thing, why would he be happy. And then I kneeled down and closed my eyes. And literally I felt this huge weight just lifted off of me. And I smiled. Jesus had forgiven me. Every time in church when we say that Jesus is merciful, I never realized it was true until that moment. Jesus knew I was sorry, and he forgave me. And that was the start of my new life and relationship with Him.
Right before adoration that night, Ennie told us to close our eyes and imagine being in a field with Jesus. He said to let Jesus say what He had to say to us. And I closed me eyes and had a, vision I guess? dream? of Jesus walking up to me. I was literally holding my sins and burdens, and I handed them over to Jesus, and He took them, and He smiled. And He said He was so happy. And then He held me in His arms as I cried and told me He loved me. Then He placed His hand on my heart and told me that He was always right there, within me. And then I opened my eyes and saw Him in the monstrance that was being brought down the aisles. And I just sat there and cried because Jesus, the Savior of the world, died for me and my horrible sins, so that we could live together forever. And he was right there in front of me. And we receive that, we put it into our bodies every week at Church. Jesus is in us! That little host inside that monstrance that was making people cry and faint and fall asleep, we eat it every week at church. Like come on, that’s cool.And that was the start of my new life with Him.
If I can give anyone any advice about anything in this life ever, I would say GO TO THIS CONFERENCE. Even if you don’t believe in God or you kind of believe in God or you believe in God so you think you don’t need it. Trust me, you do need it. I didn’t think I needed it at all and I did. Very badly. One of the chaperones on the trip was talking to us about the Bible and the Mass. He was sooo cool and knowledgable and He told us so much. He had a lot of non-Christian friends He would try to teach Catholicism to, but he told us you have to experience Jesus. You have to. It’s the only way you can find Him. So just pray. Just ask Him to show His presence. And I promise you He will answer. If anyone has any questions about this feel free to ask me. The link below is more professional pictures from the conference’s website. You can actually see Christen Sarah and Rich in the background of one of them. God loves you. Sorry this is so long.