Palanca in Spanish means “lever." A palanca letter gives support and guidance in the form of a prayer, sacrifice and honest communication. In the Catholic faith, palanca letters are written by family members or friends of a person who is retreating, or withdrawing, from ordinary activities for a period of time, such as a weekend to spend time in reflection and prayer to God. A spiritual leader usually directs a retreat, which can be open to multiple individuals. Many individuals go on a retreat to make a serious spiritual decision to commit to God and to strive for purification and spiritual growth.
Write the name and address of the person who will receive the palanca letter at the top of page.
Include a salutation to the person, writing “Dear Christian Brother” or “Dear Child of God.”
Write the introduction of your letter, explaining why this person is valuable to you. Emphasize something about him that demonstrates his goodness and how he has brought love and joy to his family or others.
Explain that you are happy the letter’s recipient is moving closer to God and is seeking God's love at a retreat. Acknowledge what she has gone through to prepare for this event, including her voiced concerns, prayers and the care she has shown. Reassure her that God will meet her right where she is.
Add an encouraging scripture from the Bible that reminds the letter’s recipient of God’s faithfulness in keeping his promises. Use the theme scripture of the weekend if you wish.
Let your letter’s recipient know you are praying for her. Tell her you will make a sacrifice to honor her personal success and support the success of her retreat. For example, explain that you will read a particular book in the Bible and dedicate it to her or that you will say a rosary for her. Also, consider telling her you will give up your favorite sweets for her during the retreat weekend or will dedicate your attendance to next Sunday’s Mass to her.
Sign the letter only with your first name to keep it personable. Do not include your last name or address.
Read over the letter, and edit it for errors in spelling or grammar.
You also can write a general palanca letter targeted at not just one but all weekend retreat candidates.
Make sure the letter is short, a maximum of one typewritten page.