Living in Gratitude to the Mighty One (A National Youth Day 2017 Reflection)

Karen Penetrante in the National Youth Day 2017

By Karen Penetrante
CFC YFL Full-time Worker

The Mighty One has done great things for me and holy is His name!”, is a verse taken from Luke 1:49. It was the theme for the National Youth Day 2017 held last November 6 to 10 in Zamboanga City.

The National Youth Day 2017 was a timely reminder and affirmation for me from the Lord. I arrived in Zamboanga with a lot of expectations in mind because I have attended the preceding National Youth Day in Tuguegarao. But the things I had in mind were blown off by the things that the Lord has in store for me. My five-day stay in Zamboanga filled me with a lot of blessings. It allowed me to see the Catholic Church, myself and the Heavenly Father’s love for me in a different light.

The Church is our Home

On the first night, I was glad to see some youth minister friends that I have met before in NYD 2015. Another pleasant surprise was when I saw some participants from the Diocese of Tuguegarao whom I have met during one of my mission trips. It dawned on me that the Church where I belong is a place filled with so many reunions-reunions because I am constantly reconnected and reunited with my brothers and sisters in the Catholic Church regardless of where I am, where I will go and where I am coming from.

Throughout the NYD, my co-pilgrims and I had to dance several times a day. To be honest I am not comfortable with dancing. However, through those animation moments, my eyes were opened to the different charisms of the various organizations in our Church. We may be comfortable with just singing or meditative type of prayer while others like dancing, but it does not mean that we are less as worshippers of God. Our differences complement with each other and our various focuses in the ministry make our Church even more rich and diverse. We may feel different but we can always find a place in the Catholic Church. I thank the Lord for the gift of the Church.

Owning our Brokenness

I have always been attracted to perfection. I believe many of us are. But during the recent National Youth Day, I was able to see the beauty that lies in a person’s flaws and imperfections.

When I was listening to the stories of my NYD kalakbay ( NYD groupmates) and my foster family, I felt that the Lord was trying to tell me that the struggles that each person has, make them even more beautiful. The past that they were able to overcome makes their personality a treasure to behold.

Through the NYD, I have begun to understand and embrace the truth that God’s grace is also alive in my weaknesses, faults and imperfection, if only I learn to surrender them all. I realized that it is essential for all of us to acknowledge our flaws and our ugly past so God can be glorified by how we rise above from all those.

Acknowledging our goodness and giftedness

God’s revelation did not only stop in His greatness that can be manifested in my weakness. He also affirmed me through the Second Session: I am Good and Gifted of the innate goodness that I have. Together with our goodness are the different gifts that God has given us.

When I was younger, I used to think that I am incapable of contributing beauty and goodness to the world. I cannot sing well. I cannot dance gracefully. I stutter at times when I speak. I can keep on with the list of the things that I cannot do. However, because of the NYD, I was reaffirmed of the gift of my personhood. I may not be able to do many things but God has surely gifted me in another way. God in his generosity has blessed us with the gift of goodness, gift of creativity and even the gift of memory! We, young people just need to discover it for ourselves.

And once we discover the gift that we have, we must hone it, embrace it and inspire others with it because sharing our talents is an expression of gratitude to God.

We are Called to Make a Difference

One of the most remarkable things that I have learned in the NYD is that we are called to be a light to the world. We are called by God to be an agent of change in our world filled with relativism.  During the homily of the Commissioning Mass, Cardinal Orlando Quevedo from the Archdiocese of Cotabato told the pilgrims that the grace to make a difference only comes from God.

It is humbling to know that indeed everything only comes from God. Apart from our True Source, we will not be able to make a difference in our families (even our NYD foster family!), friends, relationships and even how we take care of the environment and proclaim the Gospel!

The National Youth Day 2017 made me remember the great things that the Mighty One has done for me. When I think about it even more, the great things not only refer to the promises that He has allowed to come true in my personal life. Great things can also mean the great conversion that God has done in my life. My heart is brimming with the spirit of thankfulness for all these things. May the praises of Mary’s gratitude to the Lord continue to resound in my life. Thank You Jesus, St.Joseph and Mother Mary!