On December 7th, 2005 I became an altar server for my hometown parish. I remember pestering the priest about allowing me to become a server and he finally did. It was such a joyous time for me. I was so excited and filled with authentic joy that I would be able to be in the Sanctuary and serve God.  Many years later I came to realize that this moment had actually changed my life in ways that I did not recognize. I was growing up in the church with a priest and a parish that fostered my understanding of who God is and how much God loves me. I was innocent and pure of heart. However, like most of us, this sort of innocence of heart does not stay forever.

I remember my time in high school like it was yesterday. I attended a fairly small Catholic school for nearly my whole life up until I graduated high school in 2013. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at school. I had many friends, played sports that I wasn’t necessarily good at, and lived a fairly sociable life... but where was God? I was still serving at my local parish and at my high school, but in many ways, I began to live a double life. I was like most people who were content with keeping God at a distance because then I didn’t have to worry about changing my life and making good, moral choices. If I kept God at a distance, I could party all I wanted to and not have to worry about the moral outcome. To me, it seemed that high school would just be easier if I kept God at a minimal…or so I thought. Don’t we all in some way do this? We worship God on Sundays but Monday through Saturday, we forget about him. How often do we put God in a jar and only take him down from the shelf when we need him or when something in our life has gotten so out of hand that we can no longer control the outcome?

I tell you this because I allowed high school to change me. I fell into the modern trap that tells us that high school is about sports and being popular. I want you to realize that there is life after high school. I know that this may be hard to see but high school is not the end! The awards from sports will all collect dust and sit in a box somewhere long forgotten. The many parties will soon fade away and even some your friends will move on to different paths of life. My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, you cannot allow the pressures of high school to keep you from having a relationship with God. You need God! You may not know it, but you need Him! If I could go back and do it over again, I would have tried harder to ARISE from those situations where I put God at a distance.

I often think of how great it would have been if I could have just remained that 5th grader who was so excited and filled with authentic joy about serving the Lord. Wouldn’t we all like to remain our innocent selves? Wouldn’t we all like to run back to when we were young, and we did good things because God was first in everything we did? However, we all grow up. We all sin and we all lose our innocence. Does this mean that life is over? Not at all! The Lord invites us daily to return to our innocence in the Sacrament of Confession. He invites us to run back to Him and to embrace His love. Jesus Christ invites us to ARISE past our sins! What are you waiting for? Life is short, and moments are precious. ARISE!

Written by: Cade Leblanc, seminarian of the Diocese of Lafayette