Catholic Gators Blog

Inquietum Est Cor Nostrum


January 2017

How to Make a Difference in 2017

It’s plain to see that 2016 was not the greatest year to go down in the history books.  Let’s face it: the world right now is more violent, divisive, and selfish than ever.  It seems like every week brings a new controversy or disaster.  With widespread conflicts threatening the sanctity of our world, it is hard not to feel helpless.  This year, simply watching the news has brought disheartened tears to my eyes.  I have prayed consistently for peace and justice in this world, yet I oftentimes continue to feel hopeless.  How can I, a single person in this world, make a difference?  Of course, prayer is a strong force for the wellbeing of this world; however, I have found that there is something you can do, besides prayer, to promote change.  So, can society’s downward spiral be reversed in 2017?  I think it can and it all starts with me and you.

Believe it or not, the way that we can make 2017 a better year for the world is simply by being good Christians.  You are probably thinking, well I’m already a pretty good Christian I can mark ‘changing the world’ off of my to-do list.  Ok, maybe you aren’t thinking exactly that; but, even if you think you are a “good Christian,” you may be blind to your faults.  What I am saying is that with the start of this new year, it would be beneficial to re-examine your actions.  I am not assuming that we are all “bad Christians.”  I’m merely suggesting that we all are definitely not perfect Christians.  When re-examining my actions, I realized how little I actively strive to make the world a better place.  It’s ok to be imperfect—I certainly am—but God does call us to strive for perfection.

As Christians, our journey to perfection includes seeking out justice and promoting peace, earth-1580260_1280two vital things which our society is lacking.  From what I have seen in the past year, a lot of people (including myself) are not actively fighting for peace or justice in this world.  I am not suggesting that “actively fighting for peace or justice” means that you must do something radical, such as selling all your belongings and moving to another country or something.  Although, it would be pretty cool if you felt called to do that, don’t worry.

The most important and easy way to do promote peace is through the little things.  Smile at the person sitting next to you in class.  Hold the door open for others.  Ask the bus driver how their day is going.  Tell your friends you love them.  I know these seem like no-brainers, but on a bad day doing these things might be difficult.  At times, we become so focused on what is going on immediately in our lives that we forget to show kindness to others.  Actively spread joy, for joy leads to peace.

So, what about the whole justice part of this equation?  Aren’t I already proving what I believe to be just through my Facebook posts and conversations with my peers?  Not exactly.  Of course, I promote freedom of speech.  It is freedom of speech that even allows me to write this blog post; however, speech can be harmful even if your intentions are good.  I have come to realize that justice is not about being right or proving a point.  In fact, peace and justice are achieved commonly through compromise and, at times, concession.  Although I oftentimes feel that my opinion is right, proving my rightness is not always what is best for promoting peace and justice.  It is important to realize that our beliefs are not necessarily facts and that treating them as such can lead to a prideful attitude.  As we know, pride is one of the seven deadly sins.  Pride will not only injure ourselves, but can injure others as well.  The key is to be aware of our actions and its implications on others.

In 2017 there will still be people who disagree with your ideologies or who choose to scowl angrily at you rather than smile, but as Christians we must take this all with a grain of salt.  I know it can be difficult, but the world needs peace and justice right now more than anything else.  Our focus should be on the greater good of society than of ourselves.  Rather than hating our brothers and sisters, let us strive for Jesus’ perfection and show unconditional love.

It does not have to be difficult to make a difference in the worldthe-rosary-1757427_1920.  Think before you speak or act.  Your actions do matter.  In everything you do, you have a choice: you can make a positive or negative effect on the world.  Remember that we, as Christians, are privileged to know and understand God’s love and compassion.  Let us not allow this year to be one infamously embedded in our history.  Let us strive to make 2017 a year of peace and justice towards our friends, family, and everyone we meet.  Let us renew society’s faith in the goodness of Christians and mankind as  a whole.  It is not hard.  I know we can do it.  I will seek peace and justice this year, will you?


Written by: Kayla Thurber, Restless Heart Communications

Featured Image by: Mary Meyer

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What I Found SEEKing

I had no idea what I was getting myself into, the second day of the new year, when I set off from Gainesville in a car full of crazy people. As soon as we began our journey to San Antonio, they deliberated, then informed me that I had four hours (from the sixteen-hour trip) to “break out of my cocoon.” Imagine yourself surrounded by strangers, completely new among a group of friends, and confused at 5:30 in the morning. I was a little uncomfortable, but to where could I run? I was effectively trapped in that packed minivan flying down I-10. Disorientation and unfamiliarity nonetheless, I was laughing along and enjoying myself with these perfectly sane, awesome people in what I like to think was less than four hours.

I was headed towards SEEK, a major conference hosted by the Fellowship of Catholic 15895700_10209484366359013_6375117607003313175_oUniversity Students. What did SEEK mean to me? As a cradle Catholic, uninvolved with the Catholic Gators, and whose faith was lukewarm and cooling, SEEK 2017 was a barrage of learning, of emotion, and of faith. SEEK was the spark that I needed to make faith a major part of my life as a college student, a life which before was glaringly missing something. When I’ve spoken to others about my experience at SEEK, I’ve found myself ill-equipped to properly capture the child-like wonder and awe-inspiring beauty of my experience, and have each time found myself praying that I could better portray how inspiring and moving the conference was. How could one distill into a few words the uplifting and amazing feeling of drawing closer to the Lord, through the gorgeous celebration of daily Mass, the glorious gift of reconciliation, and unfettered adoration of the Blessed Sacrament? I am inexpressibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to witness thirteen thousand Catholic youths worship under one roof, and to have had offered to me, as well as beauty and inspiration, learning—I’d be sincerely sorry to have missed the lessons that I’ve taken from my week in San Antonio.

15994506_10209484345678496_1995814652861607763_oMy position as a relatively uninvolved Catholic was far from unique among thirteen thousand but, just as there were numerous SEEKers in my position, there were far more at entirely different levels of faith. SEEKers ranged from ‘atheists,’ turning for the first time towards God, all the way to FOCUS missionaries and seminarians—and just as there was an enormous variation in the disposition of the SEEKers, it seemed to me that there was as great a variation in personal experiences and revelations. It was encouraging to hear from Catholic Gators far senior to me that, for all their experience, they had taken so much from SEEK 2017—that their passion for Christ was renewed, or that they felt that they grew this week just as they had during their first SEEK.

While I am embarrassed to admit that tagging along, without expectation or thought to15995138_10207646362537856_8366069202770654117_o SEEK, was my first real experience with Catholic Gators, I would never trade it. I was so entirely moved, by the lessons I learned, the friends I made, and the love that I felt, and can see myself living and thinking differently thus. I could never have imagined myself changing in this way, but am so thankful that the Lord has led me on this path. I put forth so little effort, yet I was found; imagine what might happen when one truly does seek.


Written by: Alex Esperanza

Photos by: David Barreto and Elena Castello, Restless Heart Communications

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