Camp is almost here. As we start heading towards Shrine Mont, if just in our minds for now, enjoy this reflection on the Shouting Prayer from the Rev. Daniel "Padre" Robayo, long-time chaplain at Shrine Mont Camps and chaplain to the Shout It from the Mountain Campaign.
It is easy to love Shrine Mont because of its beauty. This stunning treasure tucked below the mountain makes the heart glad just by being there. From the Cathedral Shrine of the Transfiguration to the Virginia Hotel, from St. George's to the Happy Pullman Pavilion, from the trail to the Cross, to its luminous lawns and green porches, to everything in-between, Shrine Mont is beautiful beyond belief. But that is not why I love Shrine Mont.
It is easy to love Shrine Mont because of its programs. Our amazing summer camps teeming with children and youth having a fabulous time are reason enough to prize this place. Parish retreats, the bishop's conferences, concerts, picnics and reunions - so many cherished memories are lived and created here! But that is not why I love Shrine Mont.
It is easy to love Shrine Mont because of its people. The year-around folks, from Kevin and Mary to the newest member of the staff, make Shrine Mont so warm and welcoming that you do not want ever to leave. The joy and enthusiasm of Paris Ball and the fabulous young adults who come (many of them year after year) to spend time with the children and youth are so contagious that you wish you could be a child again just to be in their company in summer camp. But that is not why I love Shrine Mont.
From "God loves to the world" to "I love me" and its resounding "Thanks be to God," the Shouting Prayer tells us what we need to know to love Shrine Mont. You should see the children, teenagers and young adults of Shrine Mont, eyes shining brightly as with every ounce of strength and with profound joy they deeply breathe in and out the words:
Consider for a moment the paltry perspective of the so-called Real World: Our worth depends on our successes and relationships are utilitarian to the core; what have you done for me lately? Love, if it comes at all, has strings attached, conditions that must be met. Whether we want to or not, this is how right many of us live, and it is this nefarious narrative that children quickly grasp and internalize as defining their reality.
Church, I am sorry to say, all too often is part of the problem instead of the solution. "God loves you!" we proclaim. BUT YOU BETTER LOVE GOD BACK - or else! Scaring the hell out of people has become big business. The loving God we proclaim is morphed into a narcissistic, vindictive God who only loves those who love God back. A counterfeit gospel of conditional love has replaced the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Scratch the surface of many a faith community that claims the word Christian for its name (could it be true in some ways in our own churches?), and you will find the false yet fierce gospel of conditional love.
At Shrine Mont our children and we become free to trust a God who unconditionally loves each and every one whom God has made. No exceptions. No conditions.
This is why I love Shrine Mont. This place set apart is so infinitely invaluable to us because it teaches us all, from the youngest camper at St. Sebastian's Sports Camp to the oldest pensioner rocking on the porch of the Virginia Hotel, that God does indeed love us. Unconditionally. Full Stop. God doesn't love us if; God loves us. Period. Our children learn this because they are shown God's love every day. The joy of the Lord is their strength. Their radiant faces look to the four directions while reciting the Shouting Prayer because love has been poured in their hearts, because they have been fed with the riches of Christ's grace, and because this exuberant grace and love cannot possibly be confined inside them. It has to come out in thanksgiving, praise, and worship. With a loud shout.
By the Rev. Daniel Robayo, Chaplain to the Shout It from the Mountain Campaign
Sooner than you think.
The Jubilee is more fun with more friends. Calling all former camp staff, camper alumni, parents and the tangentially related to Shrine Mont. Come one. Come all. Come get awesome.
Reserve your spot for the Bishop's Jubilee, July 4-6 at Shrine Mont! Spend time with friends and hear from bands Many Nights Ahead and Bourbon Barrel Congress.
Make your reservations today by contacting Shrine Mont: 540-856-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more at ShrineMont.com.
Spreading the good news of Shrine Mont Camps into the Valley of the World.
The View from the Mountain is written by a rotating cast of staff writers and contributors.