This article was written by Zak Portelli.
When the Roman Empire began to accept Christianity, society began to see great changes. Slaves begun to be respected as human beings, babies could no longer be thrown out onto the street simply because their father did not want them, the rich were no longer valued more than the poor and the poor were those who needed most help. All this changed thanks to the influence of Christianity on the state, but before it influenced the state, it influenced each and every individual family, one at a time. Europe has gone through many periods of turmoil wherein the existence of Christianity was threatened, but none like the threat we see today.
Today we are seeing a return to the Roman Empire before Christianity, where human life had little value, where people could be walked over for the sake of acquisition and morals being replaced as subjective laws which are different for each and every person. If we look around us, it is clear that the Christian faith is not going to be around for much longer, it will be practiced by some who remain faithful yes, but the great churches and Cathedrals built in the golden era of Christian glory, stand empty and many a time derelict.
Why is this happening? There are many factors contributing to this decline, but we shall speak here only of one, the indifference of the youth. Always, and in all generations, the youth have been the most important group of every society; they are energetic, adventure seeking and willing to go as far as they need to in order to challenge things. The modern culture has picked up on this and has taken the youth of the western world as its adoptive children, poisoning them with its erotic music and carefree lifestyle. If the youth do not learn responsibility then they will enter the adult world already lost and confused, soon the adult life will catch up with them and they will be unable to cope with it.
It seems that life has lost a lot of its trill for many of the young today, they have all the latest phones and branded clothes, they seek more and more, soon their wardrobe is filled with clothing from Hugo Boss shirts, to Tommy Hilfiger socks to Calvin Klein underpants, and even if there is clothing of superior quality, unless its branded it has no place in their wardrobe. Sadly, the majority of today’s youth turn to their friends, however, they seldom realize that the majority of people they think of as friends are not truly their friends, many a time they learn this lesson the hard way.
“It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to put your trust in men.” (Psalm 118:8)
The time they spend with these friends can amount to several hours per week, and they find no problem in using this time well, however they are unable to differentiate between time spent with friends and time wherein they require to enter into the presence of God. If we take an average youth, and ask her/him how many hours a week they spend in prayer, the majority will answer zero. Some might answer 1 hour, mainly because they attend Holy Mass once a week. This is where the problem begins to make more sense. The youth do not seem to have an understanding of the divine, that which is mystical and metaphysical, and the sad thing about most of this is that many of them ask questions and they would like to know more, however when they usually do receive answers they prefer to return to their materialistic world of creature comforts and habits, safe in a world of social media, little do they know it’s not such a safe place after all.
Let us consider momentarily the creation of Man. The only concept people have of the creation of man is that of a watered-down version of the story of Genesis, and it’s usually one built around an obsession for talking snakes and one juicy apple! (in actual fact Genesis never even mentions an apple.) To set the record straight, God created man to be the crown of his creation, over and above all the creatures of the world.
“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Genesis 1:26-28)
It therefore stands to reason, that if God created man in his image, then man is created to be with God and unite himself with God. Have you ever known a friendship to be successful when there is little contact between the two friends? What is it then that is keeping most of the youth from praying or learning to pray? They simply do not want to pray.
There is something deeper, far more profound than just a simple misunderstanding of scripture. Some of the youth might accept God the creator as having created them, Jesus (God the son) as having redeemed them and God the Holy spirit as their guide, it stops there. At all times, the Church has taught her people that to be Catholic is to live Catholic. We come across the famous axiom “Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi.” The way we pray is the way we believe which in turn is the way we live. Thus, to be Catholic is to live Catholic.
Let us now narrow down our focus to the Maltese youth. Firstly, where were the Maltese youths when several months ago, the government was discussing the introduction of the morning after pill? Some might answer that they did nothing because the pill doesn’t do anything wrong, some would say that they believe in everyone’s freedom to choose whether to take the pill or not. Several pressure groups kept pushing for the pill to be introduced, stating that it gave people another chance after sexual relations to prevent pregnancy, hence it was dubbed “emergency contraception.” His Grace, the Archbishop of Malta Mons. Charles Scicluna clearly condemned this term and demanded that the morning after pill be seen for what it truly is, stating it was not emergency contraception but emergency abortion.
In any case, the protest took place. A couple of youths who were part of the Y4J group attended, together with some girls from a convent school, but that was it, not more than 30 of Malta’s youths attended. We know where most of them were, at home indulging in the cyber world of social media, and whilst history was being made and Malta passed its laws permitting the morning after pill to be introduced, most of the youngsters were posting funny faces on snapchat. If the youth won’t attend a rally and protest the introduction of a pill which many a time is abortive, then when will they attend large gatherings and show their strength in numbers? Of course, we have the answer, look no further than the general elections. Several months after this protest took place, Malta headed into its election campaign 2017. There were youths numbering in the thousands, jumping to the blast of music and clapping to the words of political leaders, and not just one meeting but several. The sad thing about most of this is that most of them were too young to even vote, yet they attended, however they were not too young to show their numbers against the massacre of children in the womb at the protest in Valletta, but they still did not attend. Should we need to mention the Isle of MTV concert which attracted thousands of youths who did not only attend a concert where it was well known to have had provocatively dressed females dancing on a stage in front of St. Publius, but it was co-organised by MTV, a company well known for its support to abortion, same sex marriage and many other immoral things. As if that is not enough, we know have the “Tomorrow Land” being broadcast here live. And we thought things couldn’t get worse. Each stage set up for this event of “Tomorrow Land” has at the top two symbols which many seldom stop and look at. One finds the “all seeing eye” which is a well-known symbol used by the freemasonry and the Illuminati, and the Monarch Skipper butter fly a symbol used by Satanic cults. Look at any photo organised by “Tomorrow Land” and a trained Catholic will immediately notice a huge similarity to the setting of the Christian church. You have the laity beneath the stage which could be likened to the altar, and the artist replaces the priest in offering worship, from there the DJ controls the whole crowd, he sets the mood of the people. The setting on the sides of the stage many a time resemble the gothic architecture of many European churches, well, we do not need to go on discussing the issue, for a Catholic it is already clear what the contemporary culture is presenting, to the blind people and those who flirt with the vanities of this world, it is just simple “fun” and the Christians need to just “chill.”
Clearly, most of today’s youth do not want to get involved with Godly matters. It is clear where their priorities lie, it is not in protecting the unborn, it is not in protecting the family, it is not in loving Christ and of course, it is not in promoting the kingdom of God on earth. The words of Christ reach their ears but they are deaf to his words.
“For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.” (Acts 28:27)
It might be easy for us to point our fingers at people and say that they are not truly Catholic, hence, firstly we must observe our very own lives, and find a standard by which we can measure loyalty to Christ and the hold up this standard to see those who are true and living examples of youths who truly do follow Christ. The standard we use are the very words of Christ himself.
“If you are truly my disciples you will abide in my word, obey my commands and then you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31)
It is impossible for the youth to go about their daily lives, maybe attend mass a couple of Sundays, skip when they feel like, live according to the fashion of the world and then state, “I am Catholic.” For people might believe them, and though they might deceive people, they cannot deceive God. For centuries, during mass in the Traditional Roman rite, a sequence was read, it is known by its first two words “Dies Irae” (Day of wrath), wherein the sequence speaks of God judging the living and the dead:
“Death is struck, and nature quaking,
All creation is awaking,
To its Judge an answer making.
Behold, the book, exactly worded,
Wherein all hath been recorded,
Thence shall judgement be awarded.”
In order to end this article, I think it’s fitting that we look to the future, trying to answer the question, “do the youth want Christ to be present tomorrow, in the years to come?” The answer is either yes or no. If the answer is no then they must decide and live according to the whims of the passing world, which indoctrinates people according to fashions and whims, then spits them out when it has nothing more repulsive to teach them. However, if the answer is yes, then a decision must be made on the part of each individual youth, to take their baptismal promises seriously, and these are the following suggestions:
-To keep the obligation of hearing Mass on Sundays always and without exception unless one is too ill, for the Holy Mass is the public prayer of the Church.
– To receive absolution in the sacrament of confession as often as possible in order to be able to receive Christ in the blessed sacrament.
– To maintain a prayer life and live life as a Catholic fully, in all things and at all times.
– Looking at the needs of others before our very own needs.
These 3 points are BASIC points, and a devout Catholic knows that there is so much more to be done and still even then one feels the need to do more, but these 3 points are basic. If one is unable to keep these 3 points then they need to analyse their lives and as to whether or not they have understood the Catholic faith, however one cannot remain indifferent to Christ. The angel Lucifer refused to serve God, “I will not serve” is what lead to his downfall, at least we can say he was honest enough to admit it. If one refuses to serve then one must at least be honest enough to admit it.
The greatest pain in the heart of Christ is nothing more than indifference, for indifference towards Christ is as painful to him as bearing Calvary all over again, we end with the poem of G.S. Kennedy.
“When Jesus came to Golgotha, they hanged Him on a tree,
They drove great nails through hands and feet, and made a Calvary;
They crowned Him with a crown of thorns, red were His wounds and deep,
For those were crude and cruel days, and human flesh was cheap.
When Jesus came to Birmingham, they simply passed Him by.
They would not hurt a hair of Him, they only let Him die;
For men had grown more tender, and they would not give Him pain,
They only just passed down the street, and left Him in the rain.
Still Jesus cried, ‘Forgive them, for they know not what they do,’
And still it rained the winter rain that drenched Him through and through;
The crowds went home and left the streets without a soul to see,
And Jesus crouched against a wall, and cried for Calvary.”