One thing I’ve come to realize is that we live in a real and broken world. It did not take an illness for me to understand this but it sure made it much clearer. I used to teach Christian Formation classes and sometimes the topics were a bit difficult but as my oldest son prepares to leave the house for college I’ve been thinking of the topics I would like to talk with him about before he leaves. One of them has to do with his faith and how it will get him through many struggles he will face. So whereas this topic and discussion will take part with him I thought I might share bits and pieces with all of you. “Preparing to live out your faith in a real and broken world” is a topic that probably is not covered as much as it should be as we send our youth out into the real world. I feel this is important because they do not know what a fallen world will throw at them as they grow up! Most kids have not gone through any life crunching struggles. Although faith has been a part of his world and our family, it will now be up to him to decide how much it will be a part of his world on his own. One thing I’m certain of is that the world is broken because of sin. One of the skills we have to learn as we grow up is to be able to live with ambiguity and with tension. I remember when I went off to college it was the most exciting time of my life. In retrospect, it was because of the freedom I was now enjoying. Little did I realize what that freedom encompassed? I was now making my own choices good or bad and one of the choices was whether or not I was going to attend mass. As you might guess, attending mass, prayer, and my faith was not in the forefront of my life as I began college in Madison. I was having a whole lot of fun and early on my grades showed that. The next thing I know, I found myself at the top of Bascom Hill at the feet of Abraham Lincoln in tears and praying for help. The sad thing is I later realized it was probably the first time I prayed since I left home. I realized, among all the fun I was having there was something missing, and soon I found a church on campus and went one Sunday morning. I soon realized that my faith and attending mass was the emptiness that I had felt. I credit my parents for this as they instilled my faith in me as a young child but it took a while on my own to realize how important this was in my life. I don’t want my kids to make that same mistake. I always say” do as I say not as I did.” My parents also taught me how important prayer was in life. I pray a lot more than I did as a naïve 18 year old on my own. Prayer is important in my life and I hope it is important to you also. At the same time we cannot be disillusioned if our prayers don’t get answered in the way we wanted or in our preferred time frame. God will do what is best whether we recognize that best or not. There were many times in my life when I was totally perplexed by something that God did or didn’t do. One day those answers will become clear but for now I just have to trust him and his methods. In closing, there are two things I want my kids to do when they leave the home to fortify their faith for whatever lay ahead in their lives. One is that they have to encounter their faith on a regular basis through prayer, Mass, or reading the Word. And second, they must have a few close spiritual friends to walk with. The most successful leaders surround themselves with the best talent possible. Why not use this same principle to lead our life and our faith. If we all can do this we will be prepared to live out our faith in a real and broken world. If we can have these two things in place, we will encounter god in our brokenness, and in encountering god we will find healing, and meaning and the equipping we will need to help others.