By Tim Hepner
Goodbyes are never easy, but I’ll try to soften the blow real quickly: You can quit worrying about me and that beer. It’s been taken care of.
Onto the important things: your soul, my soul and real life. I want everyone to know that the articles I have been writing for the Cardinal for the past semester were borne out of a sincere love for all of you, my friends and peers at Saint Mary’s University. I’ve seen a certain struggle in myself and in others between mediocrity and depth, between our best and our worst, between a desire to secure our own identities and a desire to give of ourselves. If that’s all too high-flown for you, try this: We all have deep desires, but sometimes, in what we think and do, we end up frustrating those desires and come out either bored or depressed. We’re too scared to risk taking our desires to God and let Him fulfill them. But, if there’s anything I want you all to know, it’s this: Do not be afraid. Do not let your fear – or even your boredom – get the best of you. Give in to God, tell Him what your deepest desires are, and let Him meet you there.
None of this seems practical, I know, but if it relates to you at all, then please listen. I know that there are other concerns in our lives. I have this friend (don’t tell her I’m writing about her) who says that she wants to get her life in order before she finds out more about God. She wants to figure out what she’s majoring in, work out the kinks in her relationships, and make sure all the practical stuff is in order. What she doesn’t know is that God is already there in her life, in the practical little details, and He’s waiting to show her how it all fits together – she just needs to trust in Him.
I know, too, that we’re often frustrated by the giant gap we see between our own actions and what the Church teaches. It seems that either we’re not good enough or the Church is too strict. But I want to emphasize something very strongly: the primary message of Jesus Christ and the Church – as well as anyone who represents the Church – is mercy. Real, effective mercy that takes the real things we have done (or can’t stop doing) and washes them away. And it’s available for repeated use.
If anyone in the Church – especially any of us seminarians – has given you a different impression, then I deeply apologize and ask your forgiveness. If you have ever been offended or insulted by any of us who claim to represent Christ and have been turned off to religion, I am sorry. I sincerely believe that no one reading this is in more need of this mercy than I, and I struggle with sin alongside of you. I also hope that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, something I have written has helped you in some way. I want to continue to struggle and pray with you even after I leave Saint Mary’s, and please always know that I am. Please also pray for me – I definitely need it. Because, as a friend of mine once said, “As Power Rangers as it sounds, we’re all in this together.”