Tuesday, November 15, 2011

WWJW: What Would Jesus Wear?

One of the many benefits of getting a brand-spanking-new translation of the Mass is that there will be an opportunity for everyone at the liturgy to gain a deeper sense of appreciation and reverence for everything that is happening around them. The Mass - being what it is - should already hold captive all of the appreciation and reverence that we can muster, but with the universal Church now saying things like "through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault," our dependence on God should hit even harder and faster. What we say, especially when new and foreign, should cause us to think, reflect, pray, and enable us to praise God more through our words.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Spirit Day: Getting to the Heart of the Matter

That's right, we did it again. This past Oct. 29th and 30th was when the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry held their 8th annual Spirit Day, a day-long event for the Gr. 7s of the archdiocese to gain a better understanding of their role in the Church - especially with their upcoming Confirmation. In recent years, the event has become so popular that it has needed to be run twice, on two separate days. What a wonderful two days those were! All in all, over 1800 Gr. 7s enjoyed the amazing music of The Jacob and Matthew Band, the juggling ministry style of Apex Ministries, and the willingness of the over 100 volunteers: the energetic games of the Spirit Team, hospitality of the Logistics Team, the skits and testimonies of the Stage Team, and the support of the lighting and sound crews. The Gr. 7s of the archdiocese learned what it meant to live out the theme of this year's Spirit Day, "Every Day." Everyone involved laughed, cheered, and sang their way to Understanding.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

All Those Catholics Who Have Walked Away

Today a friend was telling me of how she had patiently shared the faith with another, and now her friend (let's call her 'Jane') has decided to join the RCIA program! She's becoming Catholic! When my friend told me this, I just about leapt for joy, because BOTH people were living out their Call: one was evangelizing; putting her "lamp on a lampstand" (Matthew 5:15), and the other was responding to God's love for her. It made me so happy. But if I, merely human, am smiling and praising and thanking God for changing Jane's heart (and her responding to that love), think of how much the saints and angels are rejoicing!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pilgrimage 2011 Part VI: Reality and Peace

I need to start out this post with a little youtube video clip. The scene comes from the recent film, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. If you're at all familiar with the original classic movie starring Charlton Heston, then you know that in that movie, his character Taylor crash lands on a mysterious planet (spoiler: it's earth in the future) where humans are slaves to sentient, thinking, talking monkeys. The most recent film kinda/sorta/maybe explains how that all came about. Just imagine: you, a scientist, starts giving a monkey this experimental drug that's supposed to cure Alzheimer's disease. You then notice that the monkey is getting incredibly smart, incredibly fast. Then this happens:

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pilgrimage 2011 Part V: The Nature of It

Wow, it's been a while since I've posted. My bad. School and all that...it's been a month and a half since I've gotten back from pilgrimage. Hopefully, some of you are still interested in what went on over there.

The week I spent in Madrid was incredible. Because I relied on God so much and let him into my daily life in Madrid, His grace was able to transform me.

In what was probably the smartest move, the Spanish WYD planning team decided to make an English-speaking centre, titled "The Love and Life Centre." Every day, the centre would have concerts and catechesis in the morning, mass and question/discussion panels in the afternoon, and more prayer events and concerts in the evening - all for English speaking pilgrims. Sure, we english speakers had the option to traverse around Spain finding other catechesis/mass sites that were in english...but then, we wouldn't have been able to take part in the awesomeness at the Love and Life Centre, that could host 15,000 people.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pilgrimage 2011 Part IV: Pick a Side

So! Finally, after asking for the intercession of our Heavenly Mother in Medugorje, and after using those graces to push me through Days in the Diocese in Valencia, Spain, I finally arrived with my parish group in Madrid, Spain, for World Youth Day. It was, in one word: awesome. And I mean that in the true sense of the word. The whole week spent in Madrid opened my eyes and my heart to the wonder of God, and I was left in a state of awe. I fell in love with Him again.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Pilgrimage 2011 Part III: Pressing On

There is no way for me to describe my Valencia portion of the pilgrimage except in a very travel log-ish way. You'll see.

After Medugorje, I went to Valencia, Spain for my Days in the Diocese (Aug. 11th to 14th), which is the celebratory days leading up to WYD organized in neighbouring dioceses. 
Everyone say "Hello Valencia!"
By this point, I had split from the group that went to Medugorje, Holy Trinity Parish (they went to Peralta for their DID), and had joined up with my own parish, Christ the Redeemer. Valencia was difficult. It was difficult not because there was a lot of overt spiritual formation happening or being given to us, but because there was a distinct lack of overt spirituality, further made apparent by poor organization by the diocese and a lack of a sense of welcome.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Pilgrimage 2011 Part II: The Breaking Point

Where was I? Ah yes: 2 rosaries back-to-back can be uncomfortable, if you aren't used to it. But after my spasm upon realization that we WERE saying a second rosary before mass, I squeezed out a "Thank you God, for this second rosary. I want this." And I prayed the Sorrowful mysteries, albeit a bit distracted, along with the 60,000 other faithful in Medugorje.

Makani had told us that the first week or so would be particularly tricky. He warned us that our words of "I want this, God" would not be matching what our hearts really felt. But he told us to persevere. And I didn't always have a rebellion towards my circumstances...it was a bit of a rollercoaster.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Pilgrimage 2011 Part I: The Beginning of the End

Before I left for Europe, I wrote a blog entitled "Whatever Happens, Happens", concerning a hermit named Makani Marquis, and his talk to Vancouver pilgrims about the omnipotence and omniscience of God. If God is God, then He is the most powerful being in the universe, and anything that happens to us happens because He either directly or permissively wills it. And if we truly get into a state of accepting what God places before us and want it, then we will find an immense sense of peace. I wanted to take all of that to heart on my pilgrimage this summer. I wanted this to be a true pilgrimage; an offering of myself to God, and in that way, constantly praying to Him.

Makani also said that we need to make ourselves open to that peaceful acceptance. And so I listened to him wholeheartedly! I brought a camera to take some pictures, but I left my cellphone, my iPod, and my laptop at home. I didn't even bring a watch. And so there I was, getting on the plane, with no creature comforts. It felt very weird for the first few days. I kept freaking out because I would feel my pocket expecting a Nokia, but it would be empty. I would want to listen to music on my iPod, but instead had to talk constantly to people, really take in the surroundings, or - God forbid - pray.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pilgrimage 2011: A Mini-series (Introduction)

I landed in Vancouver just 3 days ago, after having spent 4 weeks in Europe on pilgrimage. I went to Vienna to catch up with old friends. I travelled by bus (13 hours) to Medugorje, Bosnia, for the yearly youth festival. And as the climax of the pilgrimage, I travelled to Valencia, Spain for Days in the Diocese, and then to Madrid, Spain for World youth Day 2011.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Whatever Happens, Happens (World Youth Day 2011)

Yesterday, I went to an event called Camino, a day-long send-off event for all of the Vancouver World Youth Day pilgrims. The day was filled with good company, beautiful weather, pilgrimage, talks, mass (duh), and even an evening concert. It was a great way for a lot of the pilgrims to come together, celebrate faith, and even in the smallest way, prepare ourselves for our pilgrimage to Madrid.

However, what really set the mood for not only the day's activities, but for World Youth Day as a whole, were the talks given by keynote speaker Makani Marquis. Now this guy leads an interesting life. Back when World Youth Day was in Denver in 1993, he walked there. When WYD was in Toronto in 2002, he biked there - in 3 and a half weeks. Nowadays, for 6 months of the year, he works for the archdiocese of Vancouver as their webmaster. The other 6 months? He lives as a hermit, seeking solitude in the middle of nowhere, in order to become more in tune with God. He brings some spiritual reading with him, and makes it back into civilization proper every week for mass. Other than that, he doesn't speak to anyone, read any newspapers, listen to music, or watch tv. He doesn't even speak to himself. As you might expect, he had some very insightful and challenging things to say to all of the pilgrims.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Protecting the Sacred (A tribute to Chris and Nat)

I guess it's just a summer for weddings. Just a month ago, I had the honour of being one of the groomsmen at the wedding of my friends Chris and Meghan. About 2 weeks ago, I again had the honour of being a groomsman at the wedding of my friends Chris (don't worry, different one) and Natalie. It was such a blessing to be a part their special day, especially since Natalie has been one of my closest friends for the last few years. If there is one word to describe everything that happened yesterday, "beautiful" would be it. The ceremony itself was beautiful. The place that the reception dinner was held - beautiful. The speeches given, with sincere thanks given and tears shed, were beautiful. And of course, dear Natalie, dressed in white, radiating happiness, was beautiful.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Summer Slump

It's summer time! That beautiful time of the year when the sun stays out until 9pm, and we don't have to spend days stuck in a classroom. That time of year when we reconnect with friends who study abroad, have BBQs late into the night, and have drinks for "only a dollar, all summer." That time of year when we perhaps sleep in, laze around, go out at night, come home really late, fall into bed, fall asleep, and not pray.

Hold on a second, that didn't sound right.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Life of the Church

Here's a link to the latest column that I wrote for The Catholic Register. Do you want to get to know your faith? Then get to know the liturgical calendar of the Church!

The Church One Day at a Time

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Inadequacy of Love Songs (And how newlyweds Chris and Meghan Chapman are awesome)

Here's a truth that people who really like listening to today's radio-friendly pop music will probably find offensive: Most of today's love songs suck. Most love songs aren't actually love songs, but some deformed, wart-ridden offshoot of love. I was at my friend's house a few weeks ago having a bollywood-themed party (yes, you read that correctly. We're THAT cool), and a song popped into my head: Accidentally in Love by Counting Crows. Naturally, I started singing it:

C'mon, c'mon, move a little faster
C'mon, c'mon, the world will follow after
C'mon, c'mon, everybody's after love
Accidentally in love

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Brothers in Battle

My parish, Christ the Redeemer, has a young men's group called MEAT: Men Eating And Talking. The group meets once a month at the parish rectory, and we share our faith with each other over beers and great food. This past Thursday, Matt Fradd was the guest speaker. He runs a website called The Porn Effect, and is dedicated to exposing Pornography for what it is - a sick, disgusting way to objectify women, emasculate men, and damage marriages. It is a method to twist our sexual desire. Sexual desire, a gift from God that should impel us to love, twisted to impel us to lust.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Our Hope

Yesterday evening, I was helping lead a Life Teen social event at my parish, celebrating the beatification of (now) Blessed Pope John Paul II. At one point during the night, a youth received a text. And then another youth received a text. And the exclamation from both was the same: "Hey guys! Osama Bin Laden is dead!" Immediately there was an eruption of discussion: Did he get shot? Who shot him? Did they simply find his body? Was the US involved? The announcement of the death of a guy who many presume to be behind so much of the pain and heartache in recent history was jarring. I for one, was shocked that people were already sending texts about it. But one of the youth cut to the heart of the matter. When someone again declared, "It's true! He's dead!" this youth meekly asked,

"...Should we...be happy about this?"

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Happy Easter everyone! For 40 days we have tried dying to self, identifying ourselves with the suffering servant of God, ridding ourselves of sin and darkness. We watched him die on Good Friday, and we waited anxiously, nervously, on Holy Saturday. Today, we celebrate His glorious Resurrection, which broke the bonds of sin and death and opened the gates of heaven. Jesus Christ called all of us to crucify ourselves with Him, letting all of our sins be nailed to the Cross. We were called to die with Him. Now, on this Easter Sunday, we are called to rise with Him. And as we approached the tomb and realized that it was empty, one of the greatest truths was revealed to us: death can't hold Him.

Friday, April 22, 2011

You Call This Good?

I was planning on writing something about The Easter Triduum, and in particular something about Good Friday. But Catholic songwriter Matt Maher was one step ahead of the game, and has made a Holy Week video series, posting one video a day, from Passion Sunday to Easter Sunday. I really encourage you to watch the series, especially today's video about the Lord's Passion:

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Are You Dying Yet?

Holy Week: The most earth-shattering, patience-testing, mind-straining week in the entire liturgical year. For the past thirty-three days or so, we, as the Body of Christ, have given up chocolate, Facebook, and video games. We’ve given more time to prayer, given more alms, and have given more time to God.

But as we lay down our palm branches and watch our Lord enter Jerusalem on this Passion Sunday, this question needs to be asked of us as Catholics: Are you dying yet?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Walking the Road

When I first came up with the name of this blog, “The Road to Emmaus,” for the most part I just wanted something that sounded cool. Sure, I knew the story of the two disciples who were despairing because Christ had been crucified. I knew that they did not recognize him until he went all Last Supper on them at dinner, and then vanished in front of their eyes. I simply thought to myself, “I’m a disciple of Christ. I’m not in heaven yet, so I still have work to do. I need to keep walking, and hopefully I will notice Jesus, just like those disciples did.” The title sounded catchy, and it was slightly ambiguous unless you knew your scripture. And that was the extent of why I chose it.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Empty Space

Now, I'm a mess. Let's be honest, everyone is a mess. No one is perfect, and try as we might, we have all failed at something. In my school work, in my job as a youth ministry coordinator, as a friend, as a brother, and as a son, there are times when I just mess things up. Going a bit more general: people expect certain things of us, and we expect certain things of others. And every once in a while, people disappoint us. For the last little while, I've been thinking about all of this, and God has been calling me to really understand and come to terms with it. It is too fitting for Lent for it to be coincidence (if there even is such a thing) that I have this truth mulling about inside:

Everyone you ever love will hurt you.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tantum Ergo Sacramentum

For those of you who don't know, I'm a writer for a Catholic newspaper, The Catholic Register, as part of their youth writing team this year. During Lent especially, we need to readjust, refocus, and improve our prayer lives. Click the link below to read my latest column for the paper, and see my thoughts on how we can truly spend some time dwelling with Christ:


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Spiritual Makeover

Today is Ash Wednesday, which means that the 40 days of Lent have begun. A time to rethink our ways, a time to rid ourselves of all of the excess, a time to truly repent, and a time to reflect on what it means to be saved through Christ, as day after day, we get closer to the focal point of our faith - the Resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Like When We Were a Lot Younger

Yesterday's Gospel reading came from Mark 10:13-16. While only three verses, the reading says a huge amount about how we should view and live our Catholic faith. In the reading, Christ tells his disciples, "whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it." And as I sat there in mass listening to the reading, and even throughout the rest of the mass, I kept thinking, "what exactly does this mean?"

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pointing Us in the Right Direction

If you know me, you'll notice that I can get pretty excited about certain things. Spider-man, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Lost, and Matt Maher's music are a few of the things that, although the years may pass, if you mention them, I'll start to go crazy. I'll analyze bass lines, re-enact scenes ("The Hobbits are going to Isengard!"), and pretend that I have a lightsaber. But another thing that I get all gung-ho for is my faith. Over the years, I have grown to become more emmersed in the beauty of the Catholic Church, and I try to bombard myself with this beauty as often I can.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Settling For Less

Jesus said many things about Himself while He dwelt among us as a human being. One statement in particular stands out to me: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). It's such a powerful statement. Christ is telling us that we will find eternal life through His way, which is truth. And He set up His one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church on earth to show us the truth, guided by the Holy Spirit.

But the fact of the matter is...as Catholic Christians, while the Truth leads us home, it also sets us apart from the world.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Rise Up: It's Kinda Rhetorical

I just had the best New Years ever by attending CCO's Rise Up Conference, this year held in Montreal. The days from Tuesday Dec. 28th to Saturday Jan. 1st proved to be such a beautiful example of how we, the young people in the Church, are challenging ourselves. Through talks, prayer, mass, praise and worship, workshops, exploring Montreal and ushering in the new year with a banquet and dance, the 600+ young adults, CCO staff, nuns, priests and bishops in attendance came to better understand how they are meant to more fully live and spread the Catholic faith. It was such a humbling, exciting and hopeful experience.