January 23, 2016
I had the privilege of being a part of a Christian Awakening Retreat for 43 of our senior students this past week. I led an evening meditation on Tuesday, preached at Masses on Wednesday and Friday, and gave a talk on Sacramental Moments on Thursday afternoon. Throughout the course of the week, I emphasized 3 things:
*God loves you.
This is a simple message, but an important one for teenagers. They get caught up in their lives and things get messy. They need to feel loved, because sometimes they don’t love themselves very much, and consider themselves unlovable to others.
*There is nothing you could ever do to make God love you less.
Teenagers carry around a lot of baggage. Society presents them with so much temptation, and they inevitably fall, filling the bags they drag around with shame and embarrassment. The shame causes them to avoid going to confession or seeking reconciliation with someone they have hurt…and the bags get heavier.
I assure them that God or the priest at confession has heard it all. (The students have the opportunity to go to confession during the retreat) God’s love is unconditional – there is nothing you could ever do to make Him love you less. Nothing.
*Be open to the sacramental moments in your life.
God makes Himself known to us in many ways, big and small. We need to keep our eyes and hearts open so we don’t miss out – the beauty in nature, the reassuring smile or hug from a friend, a stranger in need reaching out, in the silence; God is active and present in our lives.
I begin the retreat at the evening meditation on Tuesday by telling them that the retreat experience is about relationships and reconciliation. Our relationships with ourselves, others, and God. And reconciliation – setting these relationships back into proper balance, making things right again.
Three and a half days being with teenagers around the clock is not easy…but to see in their eyes on Friday that they feel loved and feel capable of loving make it all worthwhile.