Last weekend I was blessed to be able to drive 5 awesome guys (2 sons, 2 nephews and a third "son") to a teen conference at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio and stay as a chaperone.
While the conference was specifically for the teens, the other chaperones and I likely came away with as much as the kids.
The point of the conference was to grow in our relationship with Christ. There were three Masses, times for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and many priests available for several hours over the course of the weekend to hear confessions. All this, in an effort to help us put aside the world for a while and focus on getting to know the Lord a little better.
The teens rocked to great music, heard awesome speakers and got to know some new friends.
One of the ways to kids "communicated" with each other was with clothespins. (The kind that pinch.) The would sneakily attach a clothespin to a shirt tail or backpack to let the recipient know that someone was thinking of them.
The messages on the clips varied; some gave youth group names, some said a kind word, bolder kids left their phone numbers.
The highlight of the weekend was Adoration on Saturday night. The monstrance was carried through the field house so the kids could have a close encounter with Christ.
The chaperones were alerted ahead of time to expect varied reactions from the teens and to be watchful in case someone needed extra prayers, a tissue, or just watching over as they encountered Christ on a very personal level. I didn't expect an overwhelming reaction for myself; no crying, no laughing, no physical feeling of anything different.
And yet, I was touched. And my moment came before Adoration began. I felt a slight brush on my arm, and for a second I did not turn around. Knowing that I had been clothes pinned, I knew the person pinning me wanted to remain anonymous, and so I waited to take the pin off.
When I did, my moment came. The clothespin had written on it, "I LOVE YOU" on one side and "pass it on" on the other. To me, it was a message from Christ. And try as I might, I could not re-pin it. I could have reached out to several people over the last hours of the conference, but each time I was "told" to hang on to my message.
So, on the drive home, I pinned it in a prominent location:
on my picture of the Divine Mercy in the dashboard of my van. Every time I read it, my heart thrills a little because it feels like Jesus is speaking right to me. After I read it, I say it back to Jesus. As for passing it on? I'm doing that right now:
Jesus loves YOU!!
The weekend was wonderful. I came home healed of a weakness of mine, and the Eucharist has become so much more intimate. God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.