For my entire life, the only Catholics I have known are my family and the members of SJCCM. I never found a Catholic friend at school to talk about the faith with. Well, I have been blessed with many Protestant friends here and there, and they are at least Christian, but something still seems different when I’m unable to talk about what I learned from Ben in CM class or what Father Paul said during last Sunday’s homily. When my attendance for the FIAT youth day became official, I was ecstatic. Finally, I would be able to meet other teenagers who are just on fire about the faith as I am.
Of course, even though I was so excited about meeting other Catholic youths, shyness and anxiety overcame me starting from the moment I stepped inside the meeting place, and there were at least a thousand times when I said to myself, “So this is what it feels like when you go to Watermark for the first time.” When I squashed my uneasiness and followed Erica around to meet people, I was struck by the realization that we were all so young (most people were underclassmen and younger)! I was in awe of how they knew so many Catholics from other parishes in northern California, because I…don’t.
Anyways, after a bus ride full of no sleep, ukulele yodeling, and lame jokes, we arrived at the most beautiful church I have ever seen! The day’s events at Crystal Cathedral were really inspiring, and although I did not get as much time as I wanted to bond with people from other communities, I learned a lot and could only imagine what it was like if the entire Watermark was sitting in the seats next to me. I praised God with the best worship team I have ever witnessed in my life (not that I’ve seen any other than our own though), and found that there are so many songs that I have yet to learn. I listened to a beatboxer’s change-in-faith story and learned how to simply open up my wings like an eagle. I lifted myself up to God and received His mercy through Reconciliation. And once the smell of incense reached me as Jesus entered into the room during Adoration, I felt the incredibly overwhelming sense of home.
During Adoration, there was a commitment prayer on the projector screen and the praise band started singing “You are my King”. I had an “epiphany” then, as Father Steve described later during his homily. I finally understood that I want to serve God my whole life. I want my life to be a proof of His love, and just the thought of that made me grin sheepishly at the Eucharist in front of me for a long while. It was a powerful Adoration that night—many of the 450 people in that room cried, and I was touched by Jesus’ true presence. But most of all, I was joyful. And that was the most inspiring segment of the youth day for me.
In the future, Watermarkers who go to any type of large Catholic youth gathering will realize that we are not alone in our faith. There are others just like us, aspiring to grow in our relationship with God as much as we can. And when you hear hundreds of voices joining you in praise for our one and only King, when you kneel before Jesus and reach out your hands with them, when you feel God’s endless love rushing over everyone’s hearts at the same time, you feel a reassuring unity…you feel infinite.