Letter to a Young Person:

Dear Friend,
I call you friend. I hope you don’t mind. You see I’m just your grandfather’s age and I have this tender feeling for any young person trying to figure out what life is all about. So I want to tell you how wonderful this life is while at the same time warn you about some pot holes to avoid.

I guess by now in your teenage years you’ve had some experiences that send the message about how to succeed in life. Let me guess what a few of those might be.

** “Try as best you can to be cool.” Don’t let anything get under your skin. Looking like you don’t care is a hall- mark of “cool”. What the world admires about cool people is that they don’t seem to be struggling with life the way we are.

** “Pretty” and “handsome” (those are old school terms, what are yours?). These two attributes are to die for. Life is happy if you’re good looking. It stinks if you’re just plain or a little goofy like most of us.

** Find your group and learn to fit in. (This is a really hard one because we all desperately want to be accepted.) You know you’ve found it when, what everyone else is doing is what you must do.

** Don’t be too smart. If you do you’ll stand out and that’s not cool.

** Sex is a way to prove you’re all grown up. Don’t let anyone know how awkward and self conscious you feel. That’s not cool either.

** Religion is for geeks and losers. Who knows if there even IS a God? And if there is, it’s got nothing to do with me because I only deal with what I can see and touch.

** Money is very cool. Eventually you’ll find it is the biggest factor in determining what I do. “Do I have enough? How can I get more? If I’m going to live the way I want, I’ll need more money”.

** If it’s not fun, it’s not worth doing. Long days of trying hard with little success to show means I should quit and do something else. Why? Because life should be fun.

You can probably add other societal beliefs you’ve bumped into along the way. These “lessons” point to a way of living that only a few can achieve. And those who reach “success” in these ways (you’ve got to trust me here) are headed for unhappiness. Why? Because they’re not the fuel the human heart was built to run on. And what is the fuel that drives us? The truth about who we are. See what you think . . .

** You’re not the captain of your ship. You don’t even belong to yourself. You belong to God who made you out of his love. God gave you life. You didn’t order it up. He’s running this show (forget that and it all gets messed up).

** The key to being a successful human being is learning how to love. Why that? Because love is our purpose. It’s what God had in mind when he created us . . . “if I do all those things but have not love, I am nothing.” 1 Cor. 13. The eye is made to see. We are made to love.

** Your love and work will have an effect on the world beyond what you know. Acts of kindness have a ripple effect. Your work, your children, your friendship will shape the world in a way that pleases God.

** Fastest, strongest, prettiest, richest, most popular . . . are all prized in the world and there is nothing wrong with them . . . but they are not what make us “good people”. Goodness brings happiness. (That’s just the way it is!)

** As the poet says, “We pass this way but once.” This is not a dress rehearsal— this is it! No “do-overs”. Make your life say something. Make it beautiful. God will show you. I promise.

Lots more to share, but I see your eyes glazing over!

Much love,
Fr. Tim