Here’s a reflection from a graduate student about life, the future, and what God’s asking of us as young Catholics in today’s society. They wished only to be recognized as “P”:
All my life has been preparation. I look back on the years of schooling and turn again and strain my eyes to see past the horizon, to when this “preparation” shall end and I will begin the battle that is My Life. The same dilemma is not unrecognized by the world, with its constant reminder to live life to the fullest, a fullness that requires you to stuff your life with the things of this world, its experiences, its pleasures and its riches. Yet, gazing at the future, we often fail to see where it truly lies.
We are at a remarkable age in our lives. There comes a realization that we are no longer young, but that we still have our youth. “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things,” St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:11. We are no longer children. Many of us have started our transition into society and in turn, society now recognizes us as men, as women, and as adults.
Yet I find myself still gazing into the horizon, with a hope that when I complete that transition into society, it will somehow be better. That somebody (i.e. the Catholics of today) will make a difference, that God will once again be present in society and in place of the riches and pleasures of this world there will be purity, chastity . . . beauty. And as I picture this somebody, it is always a generation removed: those before me or those after me.
I recently had a teacher make a comment that applies to many graduate level students. Graduate students and teachers tend to talk about the future in terms of what “they” will do. “They” will build this, “they” will discover this, “they” will cure this disease, but what this teacher so rightfully pointed out is that this “they” is us. We are the future.
What is the point I’m trying to make? As the Gospels so aptly put it, “The hour has come.” That is not to say that the time of preparation is over – as Catholics we will always be preparing for the challenges of tomorrow; we must never stop preparing for the challenges of tomorrow, but that preparation must be put into use today. As Blessed JP2 said to the youth of the Church in Denver many years ago: “You are the future of the world, you are the hope of the Church, you are my hope.”
We must take a stand. It is up to us to hold our generation to a higher standard than our parents have held us. We must expect more from each other and more from ourselves. Society believes that chastity and purity are impossible, so much so that drunkenness and debauchery are expected among our youth. Not only must we show them otherwise in our own actions, but we must hold them to demand more from the rest of our generation.
Come to this realization: to the world, you are a fanatic. You dedicate your life to Someone, Something, that you cannot see. You spend precious hours of your weekend with the same old ritual that was used in medieval days, a bygone era. Where others live through the happiness of pleasure, you live without, devoid of its bittersweetness. In the eyes of society, we will always be fanatics. “To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.’ (Matthew 11:16-17).” Therefore, we must be fanatics. The Holy Spirit is a fire that must burn within us. We must be in the world, but not of the world. Our greatest fear should be to become lukewarm, to lose that fire that should consume us. For as it is often said: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
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