Social media’s grasp on reality constantly inundates our youth with images and material that create confusion. This concerted effort breaks down and destroys their innocence, corrupts their minds, and hardens their hearts. These events also discourage parents and families. However, in these moments, the grace of God becomes more abundant.
Recently, our daughter mentioned that she often lies in bed at night staring up at the ceiling, wondering where God is calling her. She explained, “Sometimes I feel like I’m being called to be a mom. Other times, I feel like I’m being called to be a religious sister. I like the idea of being a mom, but I wish God would just come down here and tell me what He wants me to do.” I respond with, “Join the club.”
When our daughter was younger, she was very fond of wearing a particular white dress no matter the occasion. One day while wearing this dress, she said to me, “Daddy, this is the dress I’m going to wear at my wedding.” I asked her who she was planning to marry and she quickly responded, “Jesus!” Our children often amaze us with their innocence.
Our secular society deceives and disrupts the innocence of our youth and fills their heads and hearts with doubt, uncertainty and insecurity. These experiences kill their spirit and cause major issues. They mislead youth into believing they must think, speak, and act within the ‘ways of the world’. The truth is our youth can attain a true sense of reality. But they need their parent’s guidance and support to do so.
Have you ever looked into the eyes of a newborn? They are filled with Wonder and Awe (a gift of the Holy Spirit). In them lies the promise of a brighter future with better things to come. As a new life enters the world, their eyes are captivated by the newness they experience. However, they are also vulnerable. They find peace when they are finally resting in their mother’s arms. Our youth are just as vulnerable today and they are in need of an ongoing sense of peace.
Just as there is a special bond between a mother and a child, there is also a strong one with the father. Each must complement the other for the betterment of the family, and the world. As Pope Saint John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio (FC) tells us:
In revealing and in reliving on earth the very fatherhood of God, a man is called upon to ensure the harmonious and united development of all the members of the family: he will perform this task by exercising generous responsibility for the life conceived under the heart of the mother, by a more solicitous commitment to education, a task he shares with his wife, by work which is never a cause of division in the family but promotes its unity and stability, and by means of the witness he gives of an adult Christian life which effectively introduces the children into the living experience of Christ and the Church (FC 25).
God’s Standards vs. Society’s
Parents are the first teachers. They have an obligation to raise their children and contribute to building up our society. We must instill within our children an innocence and openness to God’s will. One is never meant to live strictly on the standards of popular culture but on His and His alone. The need for worldly affirmation is inane. The qualities bestowed upon us from Our Lord are enough to inspire and lift our spirits.
Original Sin wounded us with an inclination to commit sin (concupiscence), but it did not destroy the Spirit and the will. We must cultivate the voice of God within ourselves and our children, beginning in the early stages of life, and continuing throughout.
The Devil’s ‘Cyber’ Playground
The world of electronics can be a dangerous place, offering a grim reality entwined with addiction, separation, and depression. Most material seems innocent at first but quickly turns questionable and deadly. The old ‘bait and switch’ tactic is alive and well and Satan’s ammunition supply expands daily with computers, cell phones, iPads, and other devices at his disposal.
Sadly, we have allowed this arsenal to grow through our own complacency and unwillingness to detach ourselves. There must be a concerted effort to regulate their usage and create a more balanced approach, lest we give in to the strategies of the evil one. Our spirit must be more powerful. Our children learn from watching us.
A Different Side of Reality
We know the facts concerning family dinners and their success rates at keeping kids out of trouble and leading healthier lives. But it goes beyond that when we realize God expects more of us. As Luke’s Gospel shows “… Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still, more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” (Luke 12:48). Children demand much from us and we cannot neglect our responsibilities. They need us now more than ever to enable them to stand firm against a world filled with evil and deceit.
We must show a different side than what they witness when we are not around. A side that provides truth, goodness, beauty, and hope. Our Catholic faith embodies this version of reality, which transcends all others. Our goal as parents is to ensure that our children will one-day experience reality’s highest form; the Beatific Vision.
In 2005, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (then, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) warned, “We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.” The future of our faith and our Church rests in the hands, heads, and hearts of our children. Let us continue to educate, motivate, and inspire them, through the wisdom of Christ and His Church, to promote the highest form of reality.