Dear Friends:

Teens often have very real and tough questions about their faith. One question that often gets asked, primarily from a teen that is beginning to take ownership of his/her faith, is “why is religion important?”  Most parents misunderstand this line of questioning of their faith as a rejection of it, when in fact they are trying to understand it more deeply. Because their questions often go unanswered, young people have no other recourse except to abandon the journey or conclude that it is all just “superstition.”

“Why is religion important?” – Translated in inner spiritual terms- “How do I understand my relationship with God?” I would recommend this example as a way to understand how we are to relate to God. Say that you have a boyfriend or girlfriend that, when you are both alone in a private moment of intimacy, you both declare your love for each other and he says things like: “You know I love you, you are so beautiful, you are the best thing that has ever happened in my life, etc.”, but when you see him in public hanging out with his friends and you approach. His friends ask him if he is going out with you and his reply is “Yea, but we’re just friends.” Wouldn’t that make you furious and make you question your relationship with him?

Jesus feels when we come to church or when we are in trouble always asking for help, but when we are with our friends, and they ask: “You go to Mass?” and our response is: “Sometimes!” or “I have to because my parents make me.” Then in what way are we any different from that boy who, in private says he loves you, but publicly denies you. If we wish to know who God is and how important he is in our lives, then be real with him. The readings today tell us that God is more interested in forgiving than condemning us. As in all relationships, mistakes can happen, but God loves us so much that, given the opportunity to forgive, he will always take it. You only must ask for it.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a place where people who are sincerely looking for God can find Him. Often, perhaps because of our sinfulness or distance from God, it is difficult to approach him. But coming to Our Lady helps us get close to Jesus without fear or embarrassment since she always brings Christ to us and us to Christ-her son. In this way, we grow in confidence and love for the one who has loved us first- Jesus Christ!