“There is no place for selfishness-and no place for fear! Do not be afraid, then, when love makes demands. Do not be afraid when love requires sacrifice.”
Pope St. John Paul II
A couple of weeks ago, Tricia and I joined our 8 year old Katie for a mini-retreat in preparation for her upcoming First Communion. Our pastor welcomed us with a challenge – “I know you. I know how much you love your children,” he said. “And I know that you would do anything to get them into the best schools, the best travel teams, the best SAT scores. How far will you go to help them get to Heaven?” As soon as the retreat was over I had to book it across town to attend a local reception for accepted students to my alma mater - the elite and intimidating Richmond Spiders. I’ve been an Alumni Recruitment volunteer since graduation. As I listened to the Admissions rep butter up the families gathered by reciting some of the impressive stats of the accepted class of 2023, it was as if I had been transported to the future. My pastor’s question from earlier that day needled in my brain as I watched parents with their kids. Despite the tuition price tag, many seemed relieved that there child had “arrived.” I imagined what I might be feeling one day.
I lose consciousness every time I try to calculate the projected cost of college for my young children, and yet the price of admission for helping my family arrive at the eternal campus seems so much more daunting. It doesn’t require second mortgages, loans, or tutor fees. In fact, it’s nothing you can pay someone else to do – and that’s what makes it so hard. It takes an authentic, consistent witness, being vulnerable, engaging in uncomfortable conversations, making the time, being in relationship. Regardless of the setting, how do I balance trying to secure the world’s happiness for those I lead and love while making the necessary investments in helping them experience eternal joy? The Good News is everyone’s accepted and the price of admission has been paid, but room and board requires our presence.