Every song you love, every memory you cherish,
every moment that has moved you to holy tears
has been given to you from the One
who has been pursuing you from your first breath
in order to win your heart.
When a teenager attends a religious retreat, a moment arrives when he or she is handed a folder stuffed with letters. These letters of support, written by parents, teachers, coaches and friends, express the love and admiration we often fail to articulate in day-to-day life.
Most of the time, these letters arrive without prior expectation and the result is overwhelming. Upon reading them, many of the youth are reduced to tears of gratitude and, sometimes, disbelief. They find it hard to grasp the depth at which they are loved by those with whom they share house and home, locker room, classroom, church pew and dugout bench.
What a difference a letter makes.
Do you ever wonder what makes a priest tear up?
A couple of weeks ago, I was handed a stack of letters written by teenage parishioners preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation. The topic was, “Why they wanted to be confirmed in the Catholic faith. The letters were addressed to me, but the person they were really addressing was God.
One of the candidates wrote, “I want to fully become a son of God and to worship him the best way I can.” Another stated, “I want to be a leader in God’s army, defeat evil and be a vessel of strength for others.”
A young girl, who wants to be a veterinarian, wrote of her admiration of St. Francis of Assisi. Another expressed her appreciation for the example of faith within her family: “I want others to know that God is real and how much He loves them.”
Yet another wrote: “I pray every night thanking God for my life and another day of living. And I pray that others will pray to God for the same things.”
I fought to block the tears. But, by the time I finished, I was sobbing, sobbing like a teenager on retreat.