Dear Andrea and Bridget,
I know you already know these things. But, I thought I'd just write them down, for whatever they're worth. Please don't feel naggety-nagged. This little exercise is perhaps more for my own benefit than for yours.
You are both now college graduates, entering the world of work and the adventure known as the "rest of your life." I know it is exciting, but also scary and confusing and difficult.
You have both been provided with solid, Catholic higher educations. This is something both your father and I wanted for you, and we are so happy that you wanted them, too. You have both truly taken full advantage of the educational opportunities afforded you. You have achieved the twin goals of majoring in worthy subject areas and learning your faith at an advanced level. And your faith now permeates all you do, in both your personal and work lives. I see this every day. And I am so very happy that your faith is a consolation to you. It is not a burden. The Lord should never be a burden. Always remember that the Lord loves you and is on your side. Too many people today -- even Catholic people -- seem to view the Lord as a burden. As someone always waiting for them to trip up, so he can judge and condemn them. And that is very sad to me.
Which brings me to this. Your dad and I wanted you to be educated in your faith for your own good, but also for the good of others. Not so you can go around being preachy and pushy and judgmental. But, so that you can be a "light of love." Do you remember in "The O.C.", during the Passover episode in the 1st season, when Sandy Cohen begins the prayer at the Seder dinner? He prays that their family will be and do good for the world, for the country, for the community. That their family will care for humanity. Well, that prayer is a good summary of what your dad and I hope for you. So, take your educations and go out into the world and meet people Where They Are. Be compassionate. Listen to others' points of view, humbly recognizing the truth contained in those points of view. Don't demonize those who disagree with you. But, realize that most people are good, and that they want to do the right thing. And, realizing this, work with all people of good-will for a better world, knowing that you will not always get your way. Knowing that people need to make their own choices without being coerced or forced or guilt-tripped into things. Look for the virtue in people. Look for the fun. Look for the joy. And, finding these things, enjoy those other people, even if they are very different from you, and work together toward a more fraternal society.
Remember, also, that Jesus repeatedly says, "Do not be afraid." I think he says this so often because we all tend to become easily afraid. Many of your friends are afraid of what they see going on in our country and in our world. You have seen what happens when people give into that fear. People hide, stop speaking to anyone who disagrees with them, only befriend those who are like-minded, see the worst in the motivations of others. I admit, I have been guilty of this, too. But, this is not what we are supposed to do as Catholics. We are supposed to be "in" the world, but not "of" the world. Being "in" the world means that we are not supposed to run away. We are supposed to be part of the "grand party" of life, along with all the other people God has created. And what does it mean to not be "of" the world? It doesn't mean that we are to look down our noses at people who don't share our perspective. It does mean that we are to always have hope, no matter what goes on around us. That we are to realize that no matter what our government or our politicians do, they cannot take away that hope, for it is not grounded in them. Real faith, and a real life of faith, is not dependent on worldly "leaders." Accordingly, when you see others losing hope, being not "of" the world means that you will provide a listening ear, some empathy -- whether or not those people share your belief system.
So, beautiful daughters of mine, I love you so very much. And, again, I know you already know these things. It just feels good to write them down. And, as you find your way through the minefields of life, know that you will step on some of those mines and they will loudly detonate, but you never know what loveliness lies just beyond the smoke and debris.
All my heart,