Middle school is often a time of self-discovery, where the youth begin to see even more clearly that the world doesn’t revolve around them. Middle school youth often think their decisions do not effect others and they go about doing whatever is necessary to make themselves the center, disregarding parents, friends, siblings, teachers, authority, etc. This retreat will help the youth realize they must give up their “self” (selfish ways) and fill their hearts with God through virtuous acts of self-giving love (practice of Beatitudes). With prayer and the Sacraments as their strength, the youth can surrender their lives to God.
Through this retreat, the middle school youth will better understand how practicing good habits (virtue) defends us against sinfulness. Of the deadly sins, pride is the most apparent within us, while humility is its counter. Jesus gave us the beatitudes as a way to live virtuous lives, and we must look at them as tools for walking a faith that is all about God and not about us and our own selfish desires. Once we say, “So long self,” to all the things we selfishly — and often mindlessly — fill our lives with, we combat pride and sin and are able to put on our new selves. It is Jesus who told us, “I make all things new.” In other words, we have to let go and let God, speaking the words of St. Augustine: “My heart is restless until it rests in You, O Lord.” In their love for God, the middle school youth will experience true freedom and, through this love, come to a true love of self (which is secondary and results only from love of God, who desires happiness for all). As we ascend to the Mount of Beatitudes during the weekend, we hope the middle school youth walk back down the mountain changed and ready to lead lives more focused on God, who alone is Lord.