Teens hear 7 tips to deepen their relationship with Jesus
Photo Caption: Keynote speaker Chris Stefanick addresses the 2014 Diocesan Youth Rally at the Spalding Pastoral Center in Peoria.
By: By Tom Dermody
Because “any relationship dies if you don’t put work into it,” Chris Stefanick gave the teens attending the Diocese of Peoria Youth Rally seven simple tips to deepen their relationship with Jesus, “the No. 1 love in your life.”
STEP ONE: ENJOY LIFE
“Stop and smell the roses” is good advice, said Stefanick. So is pausing to notice and appreciate a sunset, or savoring each bite of a good meal instead of wolfing it down. God constantly gives us gifts “and the greatest gift you can give to someone who is loving you is to receive it.”
STEP TWO: UNPLUG
Connecting with people through technology is cool, but “it disconnects us from real life if we go overboard,” said Stefanick.
“We don’t notice each other anymore,” he said. “You’re connected with the world but you’re not connected to the person right in front of your face.”
He challenged the teens to unplug from online and social media life one day a week, preferably Sunday, because silence is required for prayer.
STEP THREE: PRAY
Stefanick defined prayer as both listening and talking to God, and offered the acronym ACTS to guide the way we should pray:
A — Adoration, calling to mind who, and how incredible, God is.
C — Contrition, realizing we often fail, and telling God “I’m sorry.”
T — Thanksgiving, counting the blessings in our lives.
S — Stuff, asking God for what we need or desire
Because God speaks through the Bible, Stefanick also suggested the teens awaken 10 minutes earlier and begin their day reading the church’s Gospel of the day before they check their social media. He said there are apps to deliver it to them electronically.
STEP FOUR: COMMUNITY
It’s important to meet regularly with other believers who know us on a deeper level, pray for us, and hold us accountable to our spiritual goals. “Before you leave here find a couple of people to do that with,” he urged.
STEP FIVE: MISSION
“Two-thirds of God’s name is ‘Go,'” said Stefanick. While everyone seems to live for themselves, the world doesn’t need “the next Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber” but is in desperate need of saints. He gave practical examples of living for others, from volunteering to do the dishes at home to finding someone lonely at school and sitting beside them in the cafeteria.
Ask, “God, who do you want me to bless today?” said Stefanick, noting the truth that when we lay down our lives for Jesus, he “brings it up” and we become happier. “Jesus was pretty smart,” he said.
STEP SIX: MASS
“Going to Mass every Sunday is not a suggestion, it’s a command,” reminded Stefanick. If we choose volleyball or playing video games over Mass, “what are we saying about where God falls in our priorities?”
“A miracle happens at every Mass,” he said, as we are placed with Jesus at Calvary and become part of his body as we receive him in Communion.
STEP SEVEN: DEAL WITH YESTERDAY
If something happened to you in the past, talk to someone such as a priest or counselor. But if you did something wrong, go to the sacrament of reconciliation.
“You have a right to forget yesterday,” said Stefanick, sharing the stories of St. Paul’s past persecution of Christians and the father’s forgiveness of the Prodigal Son. “If you overlook that fact, you’ve just missed the whole point of your faith.”
Jesus is the only one who can change us from the inside out. “Do not let your past mistakes determine your future direction,” urged Stefanick.