Youth find a message of love at the beach

PAWLEYS ISLAND—Sophia Murphy is only going into sixth grade, but she already has some good ideas about her future thanks to words of wisdom from St. John Paul II.

“He talks about the relationship of marriage being like Christ’s relationship with the Church,” she said on a recent Saturday. “That’s taught me that when I get older and start dating, I need to set my expectations high and I deserve to be respected.”

That was just one of the important life lessons youth from Precious Blood of Christ Church took away from “Theology of the Body at the Beach,” a retreat held Aug. 9 at the Litchfield Inn. Against a backdrop of wind and waves, young people learned about love, respect, and relationships.

Talks by Father Richard O’Donnell of Vermont and Colin MacIver of Louisiana encouraged the students to use God’s special gifts of love and grace to overcome bullying, stress and temptation.

In small groups, they offered each other ideas on how to handle anger and frustration — “Walk away and don’t lash out,” one girl suggested.

How do you keep a close relationship with God during the busy school year? One boy said he always makes sure to have a quiet moment of prayer before going to sleep. Others described keeping prayer journals, reading a verse from the Bible just before bed, and repeating Hail Mary’s over and over again for comfort on sleepless nights.

The group attended Mass together, shared silent prayer time on the beach and ended the day with adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

Blake Joseph, 11, was struck by discussions of God’s abundant love.

“A lot of kids have a hard time being loved and showing love to others,” he said. “I’ve learned that God would want me to show love to them like He shares His love with us.”

Ella Grace Bodie, 14, learned how prayer can keep her from getting sidetracked from her responsibilities.

“I also think I need to show my faith more, show who I am as a Catholic Christian,” she said. “I really need to be a leader toward my siblings and other students.”

A couple who had just been married on the beach walked by during a workshop held outdoors. Father O’Donnell told the group they were a perfect symbol of the day’s message.

“Right now those two people think the best days of their lives are ahead of them, and I want you to know the best days of your life are ahead of you,” he said. “You could succumb to peer pressure or other’s thoughts of what your life should be, but my hope is you truly believe that God wants something more for you.”

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