THIS is the prayer for reflection that I sent to my niece, who will be undergoing her batch retreat, along with her classmates at her Catholic high school in the United States. Although written with the U.S. in mind, the points here are also relevant for our young readers in the Philippines, as they grapple with contemporary issues and face the common challenges of our time.
I thank you for this wonderful opportunity to be with my friends, as we look back on the lessons of our past, and reflect on our hopes for the future.
I know that I have received so many graces from your boundless bounty, that I sometimes take for granted their absence in the many people around me.
Thank you for the gift of family, for my generous parents and loving sister. But also grant me the empathy to never forget that not all children are as fortunate as I am, and the kindness to reach out to those who may be suffering from domestic abuse, economic poverty and a loveless family life.
Thank you for the gift of technology, for allowing me to grow up in a time when everything I want to know is at my disposal. But please help me to always realize that there are countless others unlike me, whose access to the truth is systematically denied and even mercilessly persecuted, in an age when the right to free and fair information is almost taken for granted.
Thank you for bringing my family to this country, that so many call the land of the free, and the home of the brave, and where I can live to dream the American dream. But please constantly remind me that in this great country of mine, not everyone lives their dreams — denied their hopes and aspirations either because of their ethnic origins, their religious beliefs, their gender or sexual orientation, or the color of their skin.
Thank you for the many freedoms I enjoy, for the right to speak my mind freely, and to exercise my rights without fear of persecution. But never allow me to forget that even in my own country, there is now a disturbing trend to suppress the free exchange of ideas, to cancel opposing views and opinions, and to promote “alternative facts” to deny objective reality.
Thank you for the world I live in, for the air that I breathe, for the light that gives color to my life, and for the land that provides for my food and nourishment. But never let me lose sight of the reality that although my part of the world is blessed with abundance, so much of it dwells in war, poverty, disease and ignorance. And always remind me that unless we do something about the abuse with which we treat the planet we live on, it may not continue to provide us with our needs and sustenance before long.
And thank you for the freedom to worship you, and to give you thanks and praise without consequences. But open my eyes always to the reality of religious persecution, of wars waged in the name of religion, of the injustice done to others, and the usurpation of your words and teachings by those who are using them to advance their own political and economic agenda and interests.
And finally, please grant that my gratitude for all your blessings, may be the inspiration that drives me to do something about their absence in others. Let me speak in behalf of the oppressed and the disenfranchised. Let me be generous to the poor and the needy. Let me bring joy to the distressed and the miserable. Let me always show love to those denied human attention and affection. And let me speak truth to power, so that all who live in the land of the free, may at last finally be free.
Please bless our retreat, protect my friends and my family, save my country, have mercy on your people, and heal the planet on which we live.