Archbishop Cupich

Kids’ cards

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Children in our Catholic schools and religious education programs have deluged me with a tsunami of cards and letters welcoming me to Chicago. I am reading each one of them and I have sent responses. It is true they are all very entertaining, but they also have great pearls of wisdom.

Take for instance the sixth-grader who counselled me: “Don’t believe what everybody says about you.” That good advice cuts both ways, reminding me not to get puffed up when I am complimented, but also not to be discouraged when I am criticized. Of course, like all of us, I have my family to keep me humble. One relative, after seeing all the news coverage about me, observed: “I don’t get it; you’re just not that interesting!” At this point, I think I will take that sixth-grader’s advice.

Then, I read a note from a girl in third grade: “I know you have a lot of things to do that are new, but I hope you have fun once in a while.” That is a message I want to put on my refrigerator to remind me each day that the tasks facing me cannot become a drudgery. They have to be, even with the stress they bring, occasions of joy, the kind of joy that comes in experiencing the support and partnership of others serving with me a common purpose. I hope if I meet up with her, she will ask me if I am having fun yet.

An eighth-grade boy told me that when he has problems, he says the prayer of St. Ignatius, and it helps him. Aside from the fact that this is fairly profound advice from a 13-year-old, I have to admit I have benefitted for many years from saying this same prayer known as the Suscipe:

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my entire will. All I have and call my own you have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace, that is enough for me.

The most common promise made to me in all of these cards is that they are praying for me. A lot of people are telling me they are praying for me, but I have to admit there is something special about hearing that promise from a child. There is just something so genuine about it.

For many years now I have become increasingly convinced that adults too often overlook the spiritual life of children. We grown-ups seem to give little attention to how God is deeply active in and present to children. Yet, in my experience children have a perception and sensitivity to the spiritual life that is quite profound.

We give a lot of attention to the physical, intellectual and emotional health of children, which we well should in these formative years. But, we should not overlook that there is an awareness in each of them of the things of God, spiritual acuity of God’s presence in the world and in their lives. So when they tell me that they are praying for me, I am greatly encouraged. They have, I believe, a front row seat in the audience with God, which prayer gives each of us.

Let me make one small suggestion by way of being encouraged and encouraging children in this season of the child. Ask a child, a son or daughter, a niece or nephew, a grandchild or student to pray for you. Let him or her know you depend on them and their prayers.

I do and I am refreshed by the deluge of prayers they are sending my way.


  • cardinal blase j. cupich