As I was recently preparing a talk for 7-12 grade students on the topic of holiness and how each of us is called and made
to be saints, a rage began to swell in my heart as I thought of how readily we accept what the world tells us about holiness or even moral living for that matter: it’s a futile and impossible pursuit, it’s boring, it’s lonely, very unattractive, leads to disappointment…blah, blah, blah.
A fiery passion arose within me to want to put my boxing gloves on and duke it out. I am sick and tired of the pop culture thinking they can tell us whether or not living according to the Church’s teachings is fulfilling. They have absolutely no credibility here!
When I was a missionary with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) serving at a campus in South Dakota, one of the first events the college freshmen were enthusiastically encouraged
to go to—really, it was a requirement, otherwise there would be negative repercussions in their dorms—was on date rape. Now, I know that sounds like a good thing, but let me continue. They had the men and women go to separate talks. The women were advised to lie
their way out of situations while the men were told that being they were college age men, they should face the fact that they’re going to have sex (outside of marriage) so they should at least get consent from the women they were sleeping with.
This degrading mentality that spreads the message of “Oh, the poor babies! There’s no way they can be expected be pure and treat others with dignity and respect. The only
solution is to give them more condoms and birth control.” I was enraged! How can society expect so little from adults?! Why is the culture silent when it comes to encouraging the pursuit of virtue and self-control?
Contemporary society has no moral authority when speaking about these things for it knows nothing of the practicality, joy and freedom that come from living a moral life and following the Church’s teachings. The Church speaks with Christ’s voice in an effort to spare humanity from getting bruised, cut, broken bones or even limbs amputated; she lovingly tries to protect us as a parent guards his or her child. G.K. Chesterton compared the Church’s teachings to walls around a playground. All the fun is to be had inside; the walls protect us from the cliff outside of the playground or the kidnapper that lurks in the shadows.
Who can speak into what the Church’s teachings have to offer? The saints. They are real people who had real struggles, temptations, and trials like you and me, but they surrendered these things to Christ and were united with Him till the end. I think they have a thing or two to teach us. Stop turning toward pop media in your pursuit of happiness, and read about the lives of the saints and make some new friends. They’d love to help you get to paradise! Ask them for their prayers. Why not start with the two newest saints: Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II?
• Duppong, a native of Haymarsh, N.D., has served as director of faith formation for the Bismarck Diocese since July 2012.
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