‘NCYC showed me how joyful the church should be’

Maria Brown, second from right, poses for a picture with Bishop Zinkula and other members of St. Wenceslaus Parish -Iowa City at the 2019 NCYC conference.

By Maria Brown
For The Catholic Messenger

I realized that when we say God is watching us and loves us, that doesn’t mean he’s sitting in heaven loving us and that’s it! When God loves us, he steps into our lives, guides them how he knows best, and waits patiently for our love in return.

I realized that the beauty of the church is so many of us fighting toward the same goal. It’s like an army, with believers as soldiers, covering each other’s backs through prayer and sacrifice. Sometimes we think we’re all alone, and it’s so hard to fight like that. But when you take a step back, or into Lucas Oil Stadium, that is, you realize that you’re surrounded by the rest of Christ’s soldiers who are fighting with you and covering your back.

NCYC helped me grow in a relationship with Jesus by helping me be more involved at Mass. Mass, and especially in the Eucharist, is when Jesus reveals himself to us in a very powerful way. After we receive the Eucharist, we are united as a church, and individually, to Jesus, physically present inside our bodies! Jesus gives us this amazing gift, but it is so easy to forget and just move through the motions.

I had been convincing myself for a long time that I wasn’t holding anything back from Jesus. Yeah, right … At NCYC, I heard it again, the phrase, “hand it all over to Jesus.” So, I did; everything but that one part of us we all have. Finally, though, in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, Jesus broke through and showed me where I was deceiving myself and holding back from him. It was hard to see, it really was! But I am thankful that Jesus got through and showed me what I needed to change in my life.

The closing Mass in Lucas Oil Stadium was absolutely amazing. Somehow, in the midst of all those people, by the grace of God, I was focused and prayerful. I realized that the Eucharist was a special and vital gift from God and that the Catholic faith was dynamic, vibrant and joyful! You can’t understand that feeling just by reading words. NCYC made me excited about my faith and showed me how joyful the church should be.

(Maria Brown is a senior dual enrolled at City High School in Iowa City and in homeschool and is a member of the St. Wenceslaus Parish-Iowa City youth group.)


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