Hello friends! My spiritual life heightened the day after I came home from a Prayer and Action retreat, by asking myself, “Okay, so I got my serving of God, I’m good, I’m basically a saint, now what?” I felt like my heart was yearning and thirsting for more and more. So I told my youth minister, Stacey, this, she immediately jumps up and down screaming, “VANESSA OH MY GOODNESS PLEASE GO ON STEUBENVILLE”. And I’m standing there, “you crazy woman, what is stupidville, I swear I’m not stupid”. Little did I know that the Steubenville experience was going to lead me to the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Before the actual Steuby conference, my parish went to a canoe trip to get our hearts and souls prepared for God’s mercy. The first day we spent at the cabins was a 2 mile trip to get a little experience of what the river was going to be like before going on an all-day float trip the next day.

The 2 mile trip was very relaxing and very peaceful. However, the all-day trip was hectic. If you don’t know me, I should explain that I am very competitive and I very much like winning. So when one of the chaperones says that from now to the end of the trip is a competition and whoever wins gets a prize, YOU BOLT, YOU PADDLE FOR YOUR LIFE, YOU ARE IN IT TO WIN IT. My first instinct was to throw out any unnecessary objects that we weren’t going to need like extra water bottles, oars, and of course a chaperone. That was a great idea, because my boat got ahead of the boat behind us by a good 100 meters and foreshadowing future work, I decided for my boat that we should get ahead to the point that we can’t see a second boat behind us. So we did exactly that and we kept paddling on, no worries.

At this point, we didn’t see any other boat for a good two hours. For two hours, four teenagers were stranded all alone with no chaperone, no water, and no idea where we were. I started to get scared because the first thing our youth minister told us was to never go out alone without a chaperone, otherwise we’d get sent home. After stopping at camps to wait for other boats, my stress shared with Madi Russell. After half an hour of anxiety, Madi suggested to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet so that the chaperones would be merciful on us. We all eventually agreed to pray because we’re on a retreat, why not be holy? We prayed the whole Chaplet in less than ten minutes and Madi looks up to me after the last “have mercy on us and on the whole world” saying, GUMP!

Me: “GUMP? GUMP??  Did Satan come to you through Divine Mercy or what just happened?” And she says, “No, we should name our boat GUMP; Grant, Us, Mercy, Please.” Grant us mercy, please. Amazing. It’s a prayer within itself. It’s four words. Four simple words that we can say in .73 seconds (I’m not lying, I timed myself.) Whenever we’re having a bad day, whenever we hear or say anything bad, whenever we hurt someone physically, emotionally, or spiritually, whenever we sin, whenever we are so stressed because of the work load we have to endure, whenever we need Him, we can say four simple words and God will come in clutch for you. This little prayer is .73 seconds long and if it takes twenty seconds for your blood to circulate throughout your entire vascular system, you have plenty of time.

At the end of the float trip, the chaperones didn’t even notice that we were gone. THREE hours, without guidance, dehydrated, and full of anxiety…they didn’t even notice that four teenagers and a boat were gone. Now I don’t know if it’s just because I’m the middle child or something, but I’m just saying. If God notices four scared teenagers, God will notice you. Grant Us Mercy, Please. I challenge you to say these four words everyday, who knows, you might become a saint. 

With the joy of love,

Vanessa Joy

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