I swear every summer I look forward to this one weekend. I’m one of the first to sign up, I’m totally pumped for it all year until the day of the event. I’m a pro at going, I know what to expect. Except this trip. This past weekend I got to go to my third Steubenville Atlanta Conference. A Conference where you go to Praise God, have Adoration, have Mass, have some great talks, meet amazing musicians, meet new people from different cities and states, it’s absolutely amazing!! I expected everything that happened for the past two years; talks, music, me not really paying attention to God and only the people. Don’t get me wrong, I cared about God when I needed to, like during mass, but not really any time other than that. But this time, going into the conference, I had been struggling with my faith a lot for a few months. I was doubting God big time. Wondering if He really did love me, if He was really listening to me when I prayed, if He actually cared if and when I prayed to Him. It was making me anxious and I guess scared to get hurt, so I stopped praying. It got to the point where I pushed away everyone who tried to love me.
This weekend I had a goal, my goal was not to shut down at all. I shut down when I don’t like what I’m hearing or it reminds me of a past hurt and I’ll just block everything out and put up that wall. It’s not healthy but it is a habit I’m trying to break. So that was my goal and I did pretty well on it. There was only one time I shut down and it was only for like 15 minutes and that’s because I caught myself and forced myself to open myself up again. It was during Sean Forrest’s talk about Satan on Friday night. He made us close our eyes and he was “Satan” and how Satan calls on his demons to attack us and what he usually says. He said that Satan isn’t in this deep scary voice because we would immediately be scared of him, so he has a voice that sounds a lot like our so we don’t know any difference. It actually makes perfect sense.
The next day, Saturday, we woke up bright and early at 7:00am. I literally haven’t woken up that early since school let out and it was the hardest thing I had to do this summer. The first thing we had to do when we got back to the Conference was go to Men’s and Women’s talk. Our talk (the women’s talk) was about how we can grow in our relationship with God as women. And how every time we do something that God doesn’t like we can go to Confession and we are made new again. After that talk, Molly and I, Molly is a really good friend of mine and I consider an amazing big sister, we talked for a bit. I told her about my struggles and she asked when the last time I went to Confession and she said let’s go today, right now. I wasn’t ready but the truth is I was terrified! I didn’t want the priest to judge me or anything. I ended up going and she stood by my side the whole time. I can never thank her enough!
After freeing myself by going to Confession, we went to a talk and after the talk we had a graduation senior’s talk. Basically it was saying we are going to have a hard time in college with our faith. Nothing really that I haven’t heard before. After the senior talk, we had some free time before the night session and Eucharistic Adoration. The night session was amazing but what I was kind of looking forward to yet scared to death at the same time was Eucharistic Adoration. I was determined not to shut down and just to give it all to God. Now for months I haven’t been feeling loved by God, I’ve been feeling empty.
So Eucharistic Adoration starts and all of a sudden the priest picks up the Monstrance and carries it around the room. I’m on the end of the row and I’m the second row the priest comes down with Jesus. I am literally fine and not crying, but when the priest blessed my section, he was right beside me. He left with Jesus, I repositioned myself and started sobbing. I sobbed throughout the whole adoration. I don’t even remember the songs they sang, I don’t remember the priest walking around the whole entire room. It’s like nobody and nothing else matter and wasn’t there. It was just me and Jesus. When I came back to reality and saw adoration was almost over, they started playing Good Good Father ( a song I recommend to everyone because it is literally perfect ) and I went to go stand up and as I was standing my knees wouldn’t stop shaking. I thought maybe it was because I was kneeling for over an hour and my knees were worn out. So I sat for a song or two and just rested. As they were playing I believe Christ Is Risen, I went to go stand up and this time both my legs were shaking and I couldn’t make them stop! I was scared either my legs were going to give out on me or I was going to faint. So I sat back down and didn’t stand up again until it was time to leave. When everyone was getting up to leave, I stood up and low and behold my legs were still shaking!! I had to hold on to someone for support to walk back to the cars because I couldn’t walk on my own. It was the weirdest and scariest thing I’ve ever experienced during adoration.
Today, Sunday, we woke up at the same time, 7:00am. Went to the event, had a talk, had the ending mass with Bishop Tally, who is super cute and loves the youth!! We sang a few songs at the end to end the conference and the conference was over and it was time to go home and tell my family what all I learned and did. This time when I got home I didn’t wait for my parents to ask “Did you have fun?” “What did you do?” I got home sat on the couch and just started talking.
This conference is literally the best thing that’s ever happened to me, it’s made me see things in a different perspective, made me see things I didn’t before, it’s made me more humble and selfless, and I recommend this conference to any high schooler because it is literally the best experience. If you aren’t sure about your faith, go and give it a try. What do you have to lose?
“Everyone will hear the same words when they die; “You’re mine”. It’s either God’s or Satan’s.”