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The Three S's

All groups that seek to build a lasting impact and to sustain itself must first have a solid foundation. The foundation of the Byzantine Young Adults is what we like to call the Three S's, and we use them as a guideline for all that we do. These Three S's are simple and easy to remember, and in turn are easy to follow. They are Service, Spirituality, and Socializing. Three key components of a young person's spiritual life, and thus three key components of our group. By using these themes as a model for our behavior, we are able to more closely follow the model of Christ and grow closer to Him as a result.

The first S, service, can be a difficult one to take on but it helps "break the ice" for the other two. By humbling ourselves and committing to serving others for even just a short amount of time, we can open up our hearts to those around us, as well as our Lord. He spent a large part of his public ministry serving His people, and if Almighty God can lower Himself to serve the poorest, sickest people on this Earth than so can we. By doing so, we begin to understand the humility and sacrifice that it takes to be a Christian although we may not enjoy it so much at first. Additionally, service projects like building those picnic tables last summer or demolishing the old shed at St Mary's in order to put up a new one can be great bonding experiences for people that may have just met and are not sure how to go about starting conversations with new people. Just as is the case with many aspects of our Byzantine Catholic faith, there is a practical and theological reason behind our actions. Service for others is just one example of this duality and is a great starting point for deepening our spiritual lives.

But it doesn't stop there! With service opening the door to humility and fraternity, our next S, socialization, becomes much more natural and easier even for those that are not so adept in conversation. Socialization is a key component in faith building in that human beings at their very core are social creatures. We are products of a loving God that created the entire universe simply because He wanted to share His love with more than just Himself. In the same way, we instinctually yearn to reach out to one another and share a piece of our lives with those we meet. By doing this, we can learn more about how others live out their faith lives and how in turn we can strengthen our own. Socializing also helps us relate fun experiences like going out to Kelley's Island for a day, playing mini golf, or just hanging out by the fire late at night and sharing stories with our friends. We realize that loving God and serving Him does not always have to have serious implications, and that being a Catholic in today's day and age can be a whole lot of fun! These experiences help us build relationships that are essential to our mental, physical, spiritual, and social wellbeing. We can also learn a whole lot about our faith by just having a conversation with someone that may have a different perspective than us, or a different understanding of the faith that we both share. By socializing with those around us we share in the unity that Jesus Christ wishes all things to live in someday.

Finally, to wrap up the trio of S's is spirituality. Perhaps the most important and serious of all three, and the one that we save for last at our retreat, for good reason. Spirituality should be central to our lives as Christians, as we are instructed to "seek first the Kingdom of God." In doing so, we keep our focus on what is important in our lives, and that is God's Will. His Will gives us purpose and direction as we seek out the answer to the question that has plagued humanity for much of its existence: "What is the point of life?" By participating in liturgical services, listening to homilies/talks from our spiritual leaders, and developing a consistent

prayer life, we are more easily able to seek out what exactly that point is. As we come to a deeper understanding of ourselves and of our faith, the answer becomes simple. Our ultimate purpose in this life is to love, and we mean the agape love, not the eros love. That means we are to give of ourselves just as God gave of Himself so that the entire universe may exist. Just as Jesus Christ gave Himself up on the cross so that the entire universe may be saved. Just as the Holy Spirit gives Himself to each and every person that we may know God in an intimate and personal way. That self giving love is defined by serving and loving others, and God. We do that by service (to others), socializing (loving others), and spirituality (serving and loving God).

The three S's serve as catalysts for a spiritual life that is not caught up in "Churchianity" as C.S. Lewis calls it. In other words, we do not become so deeply rooted in our churchiness-our ability to cross off a list of good deeds done like the Pharisee in the story of the Publican and Pharisee. Instead, we are able to humble ourselves before the Eternal, All-Powerful, and Almighty God and understand that our lives are given but one purpose: to love. Of course, in the same breath, the three S's give us a basis for a faith that is not filled with a vague moral relativism that seeks to please all no matter the cost. By maintaining this foundation of faith we as young adults can create a proper balance within our hearts that is fashioned for loving others, and loving God. By serving, socializing, and growing in our spirituality, we are able to climb the ladder of divine ascent and become closer to our final destination: complete and total Theosis.

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