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Ordained in 2011, Father Friel served for five years as Parochial Vicar at St. Anselm Parish in Northeast Philly. He is currently studying toward an STL in sacred liturgy at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
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When Christ gave the bread, he did not say, "This is the symbol of my body," but, "This is my body." In the same way, when he gave the cup of his blood he did not say, "This is the symbol of my blood," but, "This is my blood."
— Theodore, Bishop of Mopsuestia, writing in the 5th Century

High School Students
published 21 July 2013 by Fr. David Friel

IGH SCHOOL KIDS are busy. If you have a high schooler in your family or extended family, you know that’s true. They’re into a lot of things, and they try to balance their responsibilities to their family with the desire to spend time with their friends. During the school year, they have projects and homework and reading and tests to do. Some of them get heavily involved in sports. Others get into the band. Some of them have jobs. They devote a lot of time and energy to friends and relationships. And I can only imagine how much time they devote to building their digital profile through Vine and Instagram and whatever. With all that they do, high school kids can be a lot like Martha—Martha, who was “anxious and worried about many things.”

But Jesus insists: “there is need of only one thing.” What is that one, necessary thing? Spending time with Him. Of course, that is what Mary, Martha’s sister, does. She sits “at the feet” of Jesus, “listening to Him speak.” This time last week, I was on retreat with almost 25 high school students from my parish. It was an awesome experience—a very enthusiastic, energetic, energizing experience. You might not think of that as a great environment for listening to the Lord, but it was. They chose to put aside the tendency to be like Martha for a whole weekend so that they could practice being like Mary. Instead of rushing around, being busy about many things, they went on retreat. Unlike so many of their peers, these young men & women spent last Friday and Saturday night . . . in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

Of course, things are different back home. Peter, James, & John could not stay atop Mount Tabor, and neither can we. Nevertheless, even though things are different, there is nothing to stop us from having a powerful experience of God at home, wherever we are. Since God can be found in all things, one need not be in a specific place to experience Him.

Many of the young people in our group mentioned to me how deeply moved they were during the time they spent in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The good news is that the Eucharist we worshipped last week on retreat is the very same Eucharist present in the tabernacle of our church here in Philadelphia. Think about it: in the story of Martha & Mary, where was Mary when she had her encounter with Jesus? Where was she as she sat at His feet? She was in her own home.

Lots of times it is easier to experience God when we are on retreat or on a pilgrimage. There is nothing wrong with that, but the challenge is to keep searching for Him when we return home. Home, in fact, is where we should be most comfortable sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to Him. I pray that all who search for God will do so with energy and enthusiasm. No matter how intensely we search for God, He will always be searching a thousand times more intensely for us!