A Message to College Students

I originally wrote this for my oldest daughter and one of my nephews a few years ago. I reprint it here as an encouragement to today’s youth as this week we mark yet another anniversary of the tragic Roe v. Wade decision.

You are survivors. Millions–and I mean millions–of your peers have been legally slaughtered, the victims of the deadly culture war in which we find ourselves.

At the time of Moses and Israel’s slavery in Egypt, and at the time of Jesus and the Holy Innocents, evil forces resorted to the killing of the young in a futile attempt to thwart God’s saving plan for all of humanity.

But that was then and this is now. This is our time. Even more, it is your time. Our God must have big plans for you. Pope John Paul II has described these plans as a “new springtime of faith,” the fruit of a massive “new evangelization” aimed at bringing all men and women to Jesus Christ.

This effort, already taking shape throughout the world, has raised Satan’s ire to such a degree that he’s resorting to the same tactics he used in Egypt and in Bethlehem, and once again, they’re not going to work. God’s saving plan will not be frustrated, though it will be opposed, and there will likely be casualties.

I wish that your generation could sit back and comfortably live the good life in Tolkein’s Shire. But I have news for you. We’re at war. Your freedom–not simply political and material but even more your spiritual freedom–is something you’re going to have to claim and fight for, or you may as well start waving your white flag. Don’t let the fact that you can’t see the Enemy fool you. Don’t let the fact that many of your friends are oblivious to this epic conflict discourage you. You have some idea as to what we’re up against. Take up the weapons of prayer, fasting, and alms-giving, and gird yourself for battle.

To my way of thinking, Satan is attacking your generation largely through his propagation of a secular worldview. What is this worldview saying to you?

Well, the world is telling you that you are disposable. Face it, you’re junk. Aside from your potential classmates and leaders who were legally killed in the womb, the rest of you are valued by what you do or contribute, and not for who you are. We want only the “perfect kids” who look like Barbie dolls or who have Arnold Schwartzenegger’s muscles or Albert Einstein’s intelligence. Further, you’re animals who can’t be expected to exercise self-control, so we give you condoms and pills rather than formation in virtue. You’re machines with interchangeable parts that you can tatoo, cut off, mutilate, adorn, or surgically alter at your whim. When you’re an old dog or your machine-like body gives out, don’t expect us to give you anything but a lethal injection.

I could go on, but the point is that our society doesn’t think much of you. Whether you know it or not, you’re under siege.

But there’s another worldview. It’s the perennial Christian worldview, but it has been articulated with particular poignancy and urgency by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI for the past quarter century.

The Church’s message is that you’re masterpieces. You have the spark of the divine in you. You have God-given dignity, which entails both rights and responsibilities. You have been entrusted with dominion over our world. You have been called to a sublime vocation in Christ as God’s own children by adoption.

Making the Lord’s words his own, Pope John Paul II called you to cast out into the deep, to step out bravely in faith, exhorting you not to be afraid. He said that giving your life to Christ is not only radical, but eminently practical if you want life in abundance.

This courageous message of hope, coming from an apostle in our midst who remarkably walked the talk himself, explains the elderly pope’s incredible appeal to your generation even into his eighties. And now with his encyclical letter Spe Salvi, Pope Benedict XVI has made this message of hope his own.

If you subscribe to the world’s view, you are headed toward ruin. But it is not too late for you. Turn back to the Lord now, with all your heart!

And if you already accept the Church’s worldview, that’s great, but not enough. Now is not the time for armchair Christians. Live your Christian convictions with integrity and zeal, knowing that the Lord calls all of us to lead lives worthy of our calling. Life is not only worth living, but it’s worth living well. May God bless you and strengthen for the great work He sets before you!

2 responses

  1. Leon:
    This message spans the spectrum of what I as a parent would hope to convey to my children as they head for college. Thank you for your words, forceful, thorough and directed to the next generation of the faith.
    I’d love to be able to use this, or parts of it, in my next FIAT, a newsletter for Catholic homeschoolers in the Kansas City area. Any chance of doing so?–Maribeth Chambers

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