November 8, 2018
The following is my weekly letter to the Bishop Chatard parent community:
I’ve had the privilege of being a part of a Christian Awakening Retreat for some of our senior students this week. I led an evening meditation on Tuesday, reflected on the beauty of the Mass prior to celebrating Mass, will give a talk on Sacramental Moments this afternoon, and will preach at tomorrow’s closing Mass. Throughout the course of the week, I offered a consistent message:
*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, and 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 opened 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.
Spending three and a half days with 40+ teenagers is not easy…but to see in their eyes on Friday afternoon that they feel loved and are capable of loving makes it all worthwhile.