Thy Kingdom Come!
I pray that this letter finds you well and that this retreat will be a turning point in your life.
I hope that you do not find it too presumptuous of me to write you this letter ...
You are truly blessed to have such faith-filled and loving parents. As teenagers we probably do not appreciate our parents as we should. I know I am guilty of that personally. I regret any number of things I said and did with my parents. Thanks be to God they are virtuous, faith-filled people as well ... and they have forgiven me (smile).
I'd like to share a story with you that truly helped shape my life.
When I was 10 years old my best friend was Jimmy Roma. He lived about 2 miles away from my house but we would always ride our bikes to and from each other's houses. His parents were very kind, always welcoming and I really enjoyed being around them. Jimmy was the 9th of 10 children. He had 1 younger sister.
From my 10 year old point of view - they were just like my parents: pretty good people, nice to everybody and cool to be around. They were not alike in one aspect I came to appreciate so much more later.
One day, I have completely forgotten the particulars, Jimmy, his younger sister and their parents drove over to the elest son's house to celebrate his birthday. The Roma's has one of those ancient station wagon's - with the "back-back" as we called it- where you could lay down and go to sleep. We had one growing up, too.
On the ride home from the birthday party, Jimmy and his sister were fast asleep in the "back-back". When Jimmy woke up his life would never be the same.
About half-way home a drunk driver hit them. His parents and sister were instantly killed. The only reason Jimmy survived was that he was thrown out the back window on the initial impact while the car was crushed into a tree.
Jimmy woke up in the hospital quite a few hours later. He had a broken arm, a broken leg, internal bleeding and who knows what else. Scrapes, bruises, stitches ... the works. He was also the only one left alive.
I immediately wanted to go see Jimmy in the hospital. So my Mom took me, all the while warning me that he was going to look a lot different due to all of the scars and such.
When we got to the hospital, Jimmy was alone in his room. His brothers and sisters had all left to have lunch. I had a good while to sit there and talk with Jimmy. He was so torn up both physically and spiritually.
After a while I tried consoling him the best I could. We began to talk about heaven, eternal life, the love of God ... Jimmy kept asking me lots of questions ... he knew that I always went to Church with my folks - this was the one difference I mentioned earlier - his parents really did not have that gift of faith and subsequently never went ...
As we were talking about God his brothers and sisters returned. They were furious with me. In their moment of despair and sadness they hated God ... They physically picked me up, through me out of the hospital room and told me never to come back as they slammed the door on me.
My Mom was just coming back from grabbing a bite to eat herself so she was spared the abuse ...
E, I will never forget that day because it was then that I truly began to value what the gift of faith was. The elder Roma's were lashing out at me because they had no hope, no vision of eternity - it was all sadness. Death of loved ones will do that to you without faith, without God.
I realized how blessed I was to have parents who taught me about the love of God.
E, you have been blessed in the same manner. DO NOT take it for granted. That is a gift many young men do not have and will not receive.
As you grow closer to the days when you will go off to college or whatever path you choose to take you will have a lot more independence. I would like to encourage you to NEVER be independent of God - our Lord and His Blessed Mother.
That is an independence I pray that you will never have.
May our Lord be your best friend. May you talk with Him like you would any of your normal buddies. May your love for Him be real, passionate, serious. Not just motions.
As you take these next steps into manhood, you need to have the personal conviction- that you NEED God in your life. Not because others say so, not because your Mom wants you to ... none of that!
It must be YOU who wants HIM in your life. Believe me, you will not regret it.
Im proud of you, E. I'm proud of the man your are becoming. A man of virtue.
If I can ever be of help, please never hesitate to ask.
God bless you, E, and thank you for all you do.
Your friend, Lou