As you know, the theme of this retreat is “Beautiful Tragedy.” Have you ever thought of the full meaning of our Lord’s passion and death? Why would he go through all of that for us? Man was not made for this earth but for heaven. But there is only joy, peace, goodness and everything good in heaven. There is no sin or death in heaven. Here is a quote from Isaiah:So the ransomed of the LORD will return And come with joyful shouting to Zion, And everlasting joy will be on their heads. They will obtain gladness and joy, And sorrow and sighing will flee away.Isaiah 51:11 As we see, we have all been ransomed by our Lord. Without Him, it is not possible for us to enter into Heaven, because none of us are perfect. We have all made mistakes. But he has made the ultimate sacrifice for us by dying, and he has destroyed death by his rising. Jesus loves each and every one of us, no matter what we have done in the past. I will share a bit about how I found my faith. When I was younger, I really didn’t care about my faith. Our family just went to Church on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, and did what the Church generally ‘required.’ I felt like giving God one hour of my Sunday a week was enough. And when I was at Church, I didn’t pay attention. The truth was, just going to Church one hour a week is really not enough. We owe everything to God, because he made us, and everything we own, use, and enjoy! Around the time I was in 3rd or 4th grade, I became engrossed in bad habits. I watched hours of YouTube and football every day, didn’t exercise, and ate tons of junk food. My behavior was poor, I didn’t do my schoolwork well, and of course, I hardly gave God a thought. As you may guess, my lifestyle was not a recipe for success, neither physically or spiritually. Entering 6th grade, I received an invitation to attend Youth Group. I admit that I used to come only for the snacks. I found that I enjoyed coming to Youth Group. God is merciful, and I am grateful for those who invited me to Youth Group. Seeing the flyers for Mountain Madness, I decided to go to my first retreat. I’m glad I did because it would be the beginning of a change in my life. When I decided to go, I wasn’t expecting to get much from it. However, the keynote speaker was upbeat and full of energy, and I could feel Christ working in me. In the time of adoration, I felt Jesus in a way that I had never before. I began to start wanting to sing with the music and to open my heart to Jesus. I felt Jesus calling out to me to improve my life. After that retreat, I was determined to get more out of Youth Group, more out of Mass, and more out of what people taught me. As I entered 8th grade, I began to think of what to do for High School. I took better care of my spiritual life, and I started to pray more. Youth Group had become a fixture in my life. I became happier, and my behavior gradually improved. I helped at service projects and found that helping others made me happy. I started to live my life with purpose. Midway through the year, I began to mentor at Bible & Beyond. That year, I was excited to go Mountain Madness. On that retreat, I found I could help my friend in his faith, and answered his questions. As I helped my friend go to confession for the first time in years, I realized how lucky we are to have a God that will forgive us, no matter what we have done. After that retreat, I felt that God was calling me to be a mentor. This is my first year in mentoring, and it has been awesome. It brings me great joy to be the same mentor to you as my mentors were to me. I would like to know that all of us mentors are here for you and that if you have any questions about your faith, feel free to pull one of us aside. No matter where you are in your faith, believe in the mercy of God. If you pray to him, he will help you. I would like to teach you all a prayer called the Divine Mercy chaplet. This prayer was given to St. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun. Jesus told her of our need to ask for His mercy. Jesus said to St. Faustina:”‘I am love and Mercy Itself. There is no misery that could be a match for My mercy, neither will misery exhaust it, because as it is being granted – it increases. The soul that trusts in My mercy is most fortunate because I Myself take care of it.'” (1273, page 459) Indeed, God loves us and is merciful to us. All we have to do is to accept his love and forgiveness and do the same for others. Jesus says in the Our Father: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” That means that we should be forgiving to others, just as God forgives much more of us than we ever will for another person. By forgiving others who have hurt us, we open the door to God’s mercy. I mean, how could I hold a grudge against somebody when I have not been offended nearly like God has been offended — so highly that he has to pay the life of his Son in order for me to be forgiven? We must not be like the unforgiving servant in the parable in Matthew 18 where the servant owes the king a huge amount and he gets forgiven freely, but then he goes out and he strangles his fellow servant for a small sum, just pennies compared to what he has been forgiven. Holding grudges is like constantly carrying rocks. You become burdened. So be forgiving! You will fill free, and God will give you his grace in return.Now, we will pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.DIVINE MERCY CHAPLETGive out pamphlets and rosaries.Sunday, April 8th is Divine Mercy Sunday. I invite you to join us for the Celebration of Divine Mercy at TBA. I will conclude with a passage from Pope Francis’ Homily from Divine Mercy Sunday: Truly, God’s mercy is forever; it never ends, it never runs out, it never gives up when faced with closed doors, and it never tires. In this forever we find strength in moments of trial and weakness because we are sure that God does not abandon us. He remains with us forever. Let us give thanks for so great a love, which we find impossible to grasp. Let us ask for the grace to never grow tired of drawing from the well of the Father’s mercy and bringing it to the world: let us ask that we too may be merciful, to spread the power of the Gospel everywhere.End with Amazing Grace by John Newton.