Today’s Teens Need The Saints More Than Ever

by Family, Movie Reviews and Recommendations, Saints

A lot happens between the ages of 12 and 14. I call it the magical age, the ethereal age, the age of heroes and anything’s-possible. We’ve all passed through that moment. For some of us it was just another year, for others it was the turning point that made every subsequent moment in their lives matter, the year that made all the difference. 

I had one of those. My unforgettable year was when I turned 13, and it was such an incredible year that it affects me to this day. And to tell you the truth, inside this much older body it seems my 13 year old self is actually still alive and well. 

I grew up in Lancaster, PA and was raised a Protestant. A rather fervent conglomeration of various and sundry: Methodist, Mennonite, Lutheran, First Church of God and a short visit to Anglicans. I was very religious. But I was also an avid reader and loved play-acting the stories I read. Pretty normal so far. And if life had taken its predictably normal course, I would most likely be a good Protestant grandma somewhere in Pennsylvania right now.

But the unexpected happened. On one of my visits to the public library (where I spent most of my free time) I came across a worn paperback copy of The Song of Bernadette. Let me tell you, for all the heroines, prima ballerinas, queens, princesses and warriors that I admired and read about…this was the first time I had ever heard of the Mother of Jesus appearing to someone. No. Not just someone, but to a girl my age! Bernadette Soubirous, a poor, uneducated, French girl. Maybe this kind of thing was normal for Catholics, but it was beyond anything I could have imagined in my German-Protestant world. To say I was enchanted, enthralled, positively bowled over by this information is a real understatement. I don’t think there’s really a word to describe it. 

Getting To Know The Saints

I went back to the library looking for anything that had S.T. or Saint in the title and pretty much exhausted what they had to offer after half a dozen books. Being a typical teenager, I was depressed at thinking I had finished all the good books there were in the world! After meeting people like Bernadette, Mary (who appeared to her as a teenager!), Agnes, Maria Goretti, Joan of Arc, Clare of Assisi, there had to be others. These were the real heroes I had always been looking for!

Not one to give up easily, my friend and I tracked down a Catholic Book Store in Philly run by nuns (Daughters of St. Paul, no less), which ended up being a treasure trove of these books. I left with a stack of them, along with a catechism from the nuns, a conviction that I had to be Catholic, and the beginnings of a religious vocation.

Long story short, reading these incredible stories of Mary and the saints led me to that life-changing moment. I could be 100 years old and I would still tell you it was thanks to a saint who happened to be my age and who introduced me to the Mother of God. To this day, I’m still friends with St. Bernadette.  And I owe her a lot.

The saints do this for all of us, whatever our age. But that incredible age of 13 or 14 is where it started for me. Before reading that book, I had dreams of being a dancer, a singer, of marrying a King, of riding off into battle, of living heroically. Ah, but then I met the saints. I met the real heroes, heroes without crowns or thrones or incredible superpowers…just simple, ordinary kids like me. But kids who said “yes” to God, no matter what He asked, no matter how impossible it seemed. 

Meet St. José Sánchez del Río

I’m looking at St. José Sánchez del Río, a teen saint, while I’m writing this and thinking, this is one who would definitely understand what I’m talking about. Joselito was a Mexican Cristero and is a remarkable teen saint who sacrificed all, his whole life, during the religious persecution in Mexico in the early 1900s. His remarkable witness at such a young age shows us that it’s possible to be heroic. 

Do you know any kids at that magical age? Don’t underestimate them. Like St. José, they have a deep love for God and for what is right. They have a joyful anything-is-possible-with-God attitude, and a courage and determination that nothing can stop. They fall in love with the Mother of God. They don’t hesitate to throw their lives completely at His feet. They are passionate. They are extreme. They are heroic dreamers. And in the world we live in today, they need mentors and models like St. Jose. They need saint-friends. 

One way to become friends with this teen hero is to see a new movie about him this April 18th. Mirando al Cielo (Looking at Heaven) opens for one night only in the United States and is a Mexican love story of faith, family and heroism. It will certainly help you and your teens find one of the best possible friends in Heaven. You can also pray with us on the little way of San José. Watch my video here 

The world can flash their models and sports heroes, their movie stars and mega-millionaires. Give them the saints instead. Give them a friend, mentor, model who will make all the difference. St. Jose is ready for the job. 

Mirando Al Cielo (Looking At Heaven)

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