The Church and its pastors should courageously propose the Christian ideal corresponding to Catholic moral doctrine and not water it down.
—Cdl. Robert Sarah
When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her.
—Ven. Abp. Fulton J. Sheen
The Careless Store Owner
Imagine you become the owner of a store that is full of precious items. You like owning a store, but you don’t take care of it very well. It’s so much work. Sometimes you take breaks and leave the store open while you are relaxing in the back. Sometimes you forget to lock the door at night after you’ve closed. Sometimes you don’t keep the items tidy, and when you’ve sold something, you charged less than what it was worth or give back too much change. You don’t want to take the time to keep things clean or check the prices. It’s not fair that you have to spend so much time on that stuff.
Eventually, you begin to realize that you are attracting customers who will take advantage of your poor management. People come in and steal from you because the word has gotten out that you leave the store unattended. People come in at night when you leave the door unlocked and take items. Some people even begin to challenge your prices, knowing that you really aren’t all that careful about your goods and what you charge. Eventually, you see that your store isn’t doing so well.
But, in your mind, it’s not your fault. People should not have come in and stolen from you. People should not have entered your store at night when it was closed. People shouldn’t expect you to charge them less just because you may have careless before. Those people don’t have integrity, and you are suffering for it.
Other People’s Fault?
All of those statements may be true, but what did you expect? What if you had never left your store unattended? What if you had carefully locked your store at night, and even had security cameras set up? What if you had carefully taken care of all of your items and kept close count of the charges and amounts in the money drawer? What kind of customers do you think would have attracted now?
Society today tells us that it is other people’s fault if they are not treated the way we feel we deserve to be treated. If other people want to place limits upon our desires, behaviors, or identities—our “truths”—then they are being repressive through means of racism, classism, sexism, homophobism, transgenderism, etc. It’s our right to be “ourselves.”
Meanwhile, suicide rates for young people between the ages of 15 to 24 have tripled since the 1950’s. Anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts have risen among children as young as 6, with 1 in 20 children suffering chronically today. Yet, ironically, poverty has decreased dramatically over the past 50 years, and America teens and young adults have better opportunities for education, technology, and more disposable income than ever before. Nevertheless, the kids are miserable.
Kids Want the Truth
So what do kids really want? The opposite of what this world is giving them. They want the truth. Not “my truth” or “your truth,” but the eternal truth of God. They want to know that they were purposefully and uniquely created by God to share in His joy, but that they can only do that through hard work, self-control, high expectations, all grounded in the unrelenting belief and trust in God’s plan for them. They want to know that the world does not owe them anything, but everything we are and have is owed to God and our neighbor. We are His children whom He loves more than any love this world can offer.
They want to know that, to paraphrase Saint Pope John Paul II, humans were created to be loved and not used, and that the only love worth having is the self-giving love as defined and exemplified by Jesus. They want to know that God created us, His children, as male and female, for the purpose of reproduction and creation of the family, and that trying to identify as anything else is disordered, dishonest, and ultimately leads to despair. They want to know that the only way to cope with this chaotic, narcissistic, profane world is by leading a virtuous life that seeks order, selflessness, and sanctity.
“Freedom,” stated St. Pope John Paul II, “does not consist in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.” We are not doing our kids any favors by encouraging them to give in to their basest desires. In fact, we do not truly love them unless we give them the truth. As St. Teresa Benedicta stated so well, “Do not accept anything as truth if it lacks love, and do not accept anything as love if it lacks truth.”
It is only through the embodiment of God’s eternal truths that we find the joy that we were created to have. And contrary to the world’s opinion, the way of Jesus is not repressive or stifling. As Abp. Charles Chaput wrote in his recent book, “The point of this work and the Christian life as a whole is not burden and drudgery, but joy.”
Let us help our kids to find the joy they are seeking and so richly deserve.
Like the rich young man who walked away from Jesus, it’s often much easier to continue to follow the ways of the world. But in the end, we know the truth. And indeed His truth will set us, and our kids, free.