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 | By Father Charles Irvin

Dear teens...

This old priest, old enough to be your grandfather, writes you this letter to tell you how much he admires and respects you. He has heard many voices decrying your “attitudes” and the way many of you behave; voices deploring your tastes in music, your sometimes seeming lack of appreciation for what your parents are doing for you, and how some of you appear to distance yourselves from God and his church. But you have other qualities, too, qualities that my heart is delighted to find in you.

It’s no secret that you are altruistic. You quest for the best; you expect your parents to be the best, your friends to be true to you, and our world to be a whole lot better than it is. God bless you! I hope you never lose your idealism. Many of us adults have abandoned our ideals and so have messed up our world – really messed it up. In adjusting to reality, please don’t lose your vision of what can be and thus merely settle for what is.

You want your parents and elder family members to trust you, to respect you, and have confidence in you. Really, those are not things that you should just want; they are things that you need. The truth is we all need those things – adults too.

Serving others, helping others, caring for others – those are the qualities that, if found in you, will bring you the admiration and respect that you want and need. Try including your parents in those “others” and see what happens! Try including your teachers among those “others” and see what happens! Serve them, help them and care for them.

The Gospels report that Jesus spoke of God’s kingdom 107 times. The kingdom isn’t some sort of institution or social structure like the United Nations or the Red Cross. The kingdom is found in our relationships with each other. Jesus is made real, He is realized, in your relationships with others. Serve others and you will be serving our blessed Lord. It is there that you will love Jesus and Jesus will love you.

Remember, too, that you need good food to be strong, loving and caring for others. More than healthy food for you body, you need the bread of life. Receive Jesus in holy Communion a lot. If you do, God himself will respect you, trust you and love you.

Your elder friend,

Father Charlie