If only I knew then what I know now, and if only I had the resources for the Catholic faith then that are available now. Maybe I wouldn’t have made so many mistakes, and maybe I could have saved myself a lot of pain and frustration by staying in the Church instead of walking away and not looking back for so many years.
Many of my middle-aged friends and colleagues have shared with me similar feelings and thoughts. Those of us who were caught up in the cultural storm that started to swirl around us the years after the Second Vatican Council didn’t have what our youth have today — a long list of really good catechetical programs and tools that can help them stay on the straight and narrow and develop a solid relationship with Christ.
One of my favorite resources for young people is the new “YOUCAT” (Ignatius Press, $19.95) which was distributed at World Youth Day in Madrid. According to Ignatius, “YOUCAT” “adapts the contents of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to a format intended to engage young people and young adults.” It’s also keyed to the Catechism, so anyone of any age can go deeper to explore the teachings of the Church. I especially enjoyed reading the foreword by Pope Benedict XVI, who explains the origins of both “YOUCAT” and the Catechism of the Catholic Church and tells the young people that they need to know the faith better than previous generations.
How true. The cultural storm of our day could be categorized as major winds of change, as well as turmoil that moved through. Yes, we had some huge issues that have led to a lot of current problems, including the introduction of the birth-control pill and the legalization of abortion. Current attacks on our faith from the mass media and elsewhere have helped those winds develop into tsunamis or Category 5 hurricanes. Just about everywhere, young people are bombarded with messages that promote sexual promiscuity. Traditional marriage has been pushed to the sidelines and presented as archaic and intolerant, as certain groups with the help of a number of state governments attempt to redefine marriage right before our eyes. And now the federal government is mandating birth control and sterilization, an effort that continues to normalize sex outside of marriage.
No one is more aware of these attacks than the pontiff, who tells the youths in his foreword that without a strong faith foundation it’s not possible to survive in today’s world and come out with your soul and sanity intact.
We know that our faith is one based on salvation through Jesus Christ. We know that it is centered on love and forgiveness. God always takes us back no matter how many mistakes we make. His mercy, as Scripture tells us the in Old Testament Book of Lamentations, is new every morning. However, as the pope explains, thanks to resources like “YOUCAT,” it is possible to avoid all the pain and fallout from sin, but one has to be prepared.
“You need to know what you believe. You need to know your faith with the same precision which an IT specialist knows the inner workings of a computer. You need to understand it like a good musician knows the piece he is playing. Yes, you need to be more deeply rooted in the faith than the generation of your parents so that you can engage the challenges and temptations of this time with strength and determinations.”
So, let’s help our young people batten down the hatches and not only survive the waves and winds crashing at their door, but also be a bright light for the future Church.
Teresa Tomeo is the host of “Catholic Connection,” produced by Ave Maria Radio and heard daily on EWTN Global Catholic Radio and Sirius Channel 160.