In the letter to the Ephesians, which we have been reading in daily Mass, Paul has this to say:

And [Christ] gave some as Apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the Body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood to the extent of the full stature of Christ, so that we may no longer be infants, tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery, from their cunning in the interests of deceitful scheming. Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ(Eph 4:11-15)

Coming to maturity is a basic task in the Christian walk. We are expected grow and come to an adult faith. The Letter to the Hebrews has something very similar to say:

You are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!  Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Heb 5:11-14)

However, we live in times and in a culture where maturity is often significantly delayed. In fact there are many in our culture who never grow up. I have argued elsewhere that one paradigm of our culture is to that it is fixated on teenage years. Fixation is a psychological description of a person who has not successfully navigated one of the stages of infancy and youth and thus remains stuck in the thinking and patterns of that stage, to one degree or another. Out culture’s fixation on teenage issues and attitudes is manifest in some of the following:

  1. Irrational aversion to authority
  2. Refusal to use legitimately use the authority one has
  3. Titillation and irresponsibility regarding sexuality
  4. General irresponsibility and a lack of personal accountability
  5. Demanding all of one’s rights but avoiding most of one’s responsibilities
  6. Blaming others for one’s own personal failings
  7. Being dominated by one’s emotions and carried away easily by the passions
  8. Obsession with fairness evidenced by the frequent cry, “It’s not fair!”
  9. Expecting others and government agencies to do for me what I should do for myself
  10. Aversion to instruction
  11. Irrational rejection of the wisdom of elders and tradition
  12. Obsession with being and looking young, aversion to becoming or appearing old
  13. Lack of respect for elders
  14. Obsession with having thin and young looking bodies
  15. Glorification of irresponsible teenage idols
  16. Inordinate delay of marriage, widespread preference for the single life

Now it is true that some of the things above have proper adult version. For example, the “obsession with fairness” matures and becomes a commitment to work for justice. Aversion to authority can be matured to a healthy and respectful insistence that those in authority be accountable to those they serve. And so forth. You may choose to take issue with one of more of the above and you may wish to add some distinctions. It is also a fact that not every teenager has all the issues listed above. All that is fine, but the point here is that the culture in which we live seems stuck on a lot of teenage attitudes and maturity is significantly delayed on account of it.

Some may also allege a kind of arrogance in the description of our culture as teenage. I accept that it is a less than flattering portrait of our culture and welcome your discussion of it. But I ask, if you reject the image of “teenage,” how would you describe our culture? Do you think that we live in an overall healthy and mature culture?

The Call to Maturity and the role of the Church  - In the midst of all this is the expectation of the God through his Scriptures that we grow up, that we come to maturity, to the fullness of faith, to an adult faith. Further, the Church is expected, as an essential part of her ministry, to bring this about in us through God’s grace. Notice that the Ephesians text says that Christ has given Apostles, prophets,  evangelists, pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones unto this. The Church is thus expected in a certain sense to be “the adult in the room.” She is to summon us to live responsible, mature lives. She summons us to be accountable before others, to be sober, serious, and deeply respectful of God’s authority over us by living lives that are obedient to the faith. She teaches us, by God’s grace, to master our emotions and gain authority over our passions. She holds forth for us the wisdom of tradition and teachings of the Scriptures and insists on reverence for these. She insists on correct doctrine and (as the text from Ephesians says) that we no longer be infants, tossed by the waves of the latest fads and stinking thinking, and that we not be swept along by every wind of false teaching arising from human illusions. We are to be stable and mature in our faith and judge the world by it.

Yes, the Church has the rather unpleasant but necessary task of being the adult in the room when the world is mired in things teenage and will often exhibit aversion to authority, rules, and cry out that orthodox teaching is “unfair”  or “old fashioned.”

But here we encounter something of an internal problem. For the Church has faced the grave temptation to “put on jeans” and adopt the teenage fixations. Sadly, not all leaders in the Church have taken seriously their obligation to “equip the holy ones for the work of ministry….until we all attain to the unity of faith and….to mature manhood and the…..full stature of Christ.” Preferring popularity to the negative cries of how one or more Biblical teaching is “unfair!,” many teachers and pastors of the faith have succumbed to the temptation to water down the faith and to tolerate grave immaturity on the part of fellow Catholics. It would seem that things are improving but we have a long way to go in terms of vigorously reasserting the call to maturity within the Church. Corruptio optimi pessima- the corruption of the best, is the worst. Clergy and other Church leaders, catechists and teachers, must insist on their own personal maturity and hold each other accountable in attaining to it. We must fulfill our role of equipping the faithful unto mature faith by first journeying to an adult faith ourselves.

The Church does not simply include clergy and religious. Lay people must also take up their proper role as mature, adult Christians active in renewing the temporal order. Many already have done this magnificently. More must follow and be formed in this regard. Our culture is in need of well-formed Christians to restore a greater maturity, sobriety and responsibility to our culture.

By God’s grace we are called to be the adult in the room.

I realize this post may cause controversy. But remember, this is a discussion. I am not pontificating (even though my name is Pope). I am expressing an opinion and initiating a discussion based on a text from Scripture. What do you think?

This video is a subtle description of the problem of immature faith. As the video begins, the young lady seems articulate. But as it goes along it becomes increasingly clear that life is really all about her and what she thinks. That of course is a rather teenage mindset:  rebellious with an “I know a few things”  attitude mixed in. In the end she discloses her modus vivendi. She says, “The Catholic Church can help me but in the end, I make up my own truth.”

 

51 Responses

  1. jj says:

    I had a similiar experience in my class today. Half the class was split on some moral issues and church teachings and As I listened I was sadden that many good Catholics pick and choose those tthings that they themselves like about Catholism and are reluctant to submit first to God’s will and His righteousness.

  2. Enrique says:

    “A cosmic philosophy is not constructed to fit a man; a cosmic philosophy is constructed to lit a cosmos. A man can no more possess a private religion than he can possess a private sun and moon.”

    —G.K. Chesterton – “Book of Job”

  3. Julie Williams says:

    Excellent post, and a major problem in America. Prayers offered for the young lady in the video, but she could trust God and His Church more. She states she has studied and thought about issues for “many” years, and has determined that some Church teachings (ex. birth control) don’t “fit” with what she thinks is “right” for her in her situation. Sadly, she trusts her “many years” of thought, but does not trust the “two thousand years” of thought of the Church, nor does she trust the authority of the Church, nor God’s will for all of us. “Thy will be done?” Not if it inconveniences her, or goes against HER will…

    • Yes, a pretty cogent summary of her struggle.

    • Dave the Lutheran says:

      That seems somewhat naive and simplistic. In the past two thousand years of Catholicism, social attitudes and issues have been constantly evolving and changing, within and without the church. The reality is that, yes, many policies and theologies spring from interpretations of holy scripture that were biased in a certain way. It is only in the past century that the church has begun to admit this.

      I think that this is a very positive thing. The church should prayerfully reevaluate its social theology, determining what is from God and what is from man. That cannot happen, however, if the automatic reaction to a critique of the church is “this silly person just doesn’t get it”.

      The church is of God, but it is managed by humans. Humans are inherently sinful and frequently in error. The church must not get comfortable and must not be satisfied with its own ideas. It must constantly question itself. It must constantly check to see if, indeed, it is still on the path. Part of that, I believe, is never attributing to “childishness” that which can be explained by theological inquiry.

      • Your protestant theology is showing through. Catholics consider that the Church teaches infallibly in matters of faith and morals through her ordinary magisterium. Further that Scripture is inerrant. We’re not just working this thing out constantly from scratch. Summoning the world to God’s infallible wisdom already defined is the role of the Church. Our modern world surely does show signs of grave immaturity and the Church must summon all of us to greater maturity. The Church is the Bride of Christ and a holy Mother to us.

  4. Aaron says:

    Not to be contradictory, but psychologist Lawerence Kohlberg studied moral reasoning in individuals between birth and old age. His highest level of moral reasoning indicated an adherence to universal principles because they were right, rather than because they were expedient or useful. He said that not everyone reaches this stage, no matter how old they may be.

    I wonder how much of this is the Grace of Amighty God? I mean, not everyone gets to the point where they will submit to the Will of God completely and whole-heartedly. Aren’t our knowledge of God and His Will comensurate with the graces bestowed on us by virtue of our Faith? It only follows than that as we mature in our faith, (not simply psycho-physical maturation) and the graces that are lavished onto us increase, we will increase in our willingness to submit to all the Almighty has ordained. I mean, you are what you eat, right?

  5. Vijaya says:

    I love the RCIA, because the process is long enough to have a change of heart. Because my entire family went through it together, dinnertime conversation was often around the daily Bible reading of the day. And I tell you that we are not equipped to interpret it for ourselves. We are babies. Yes, some things are obvious, but it is a rich text and it is so much better when you can listen to a priest tease out the nuances of a single sentence.

    We often said things like. I like this part that they are teaching. This makes sense. But this is stupid. Only to change our minds a couple of months later, because what the Church teaches is not stupid, but very, very true. It is we who need education.

    When we made our confirmation, I said with my whole heart that I accept what the Catholic Church teaches. There will be many things that I do not understand, but I will obey them and I know eventually I will understand them. Otherwise, why be Catholic?

    • Anselm said, that theology is faith seeking understanding. Augustine, I thing, says “I beleive in order that I may understand. So I would say you are on the the right track!

      • Donna says:

        I was just wondering–in my RCIA, the profession of faith statement was interpreted to mean we profess only those things that the Church teaches which are revealed by God; in other words, the Creed and the two infallible papal doctrines about Mary. I knew this wasn’t right, so in my heart I confessed all that the Church teaches. But I was so very confused, because I know we’re not supposed to just figure everything out in our heart….isn’t that why we join the Church with its Tradition? Now I realize that this parish was a hotbed of dissent, and the Lord guided me through it like a heat-seeking missile.
        (The Profession of Faith is: I believe and profess all that the Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God.)
        The Profession as stated could be understood in two different ways; I wish it were clearer. Can you point me to a source somewhere that clears it up and confirms my understanding of it, rather than my RCIA teacher’s?

  6. Ruth Ann says:

    The “irrational aversion to authority” resonates with my experience of how the culture has changed during my lifetime.

    No, I do not consider our culture healthy or mature. I think of it as lost, floundering, perhaps even destined for collapse.

  7. David Ulmer says:

    SUBTLE?? This is a subtle description of the problem, Msgr? She says, “I make up my own truth”. How many Church teachings does she have to openly reject? How many times does the two year old have to throw his food on the floor? How many times does your son have to ignore you? How many tatoos does your teen need to get or how many boys does your daughter have to sexually pleasure before someone responds and lovingly DISCIPLINES?

    Maybe, just maybe some Bishops, Priests, and even Cardinal – Designates would begin to see the problem if she would just slap the ciborium out your hands and tell you to keep your damn wafer.

    If no one in our relativistic, unrepentant day is denied Christ in communion then no one need receive Him. We have committed the worst of all sins making irrelevant that which is infinitely relevant and blasphemed God Almighty.

    Maybe I’m being too subtle?

  8. Leo Carton Mollica says:

    St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II-II:5:3.

    • Thanks for this. I surely agree with Thomas but have found pastorally that I have to distinguish carefully between material and formal heretics. We all get some things about the faith wrong. We do not intend to do so and correction usually resolves the problem. THis is material heresy. Formal heresy on the other hand involves the willful and knowing rejection of a truth of the faith. With that distinction in mind I find Thomas’ teaching here an important call to sobriety in these matters and thank you for adding it to the discussion. FOr reference, here is the article from the Summa:

      Article 3. Whether a man who disbelieves one article of faith, can have lifeless faith in the other articles?
      Objection 1. It would seem that a heretic who disbelieves one article of faith, can have lifeless faith in the other articles. For the natural intellect of a heretic is not more able than that of a catholic. Now a catholic’s intellect needs the aid of the gift of faith in order to believe any article whatever of faith. Therefore it seems that heretics cannot believe any articles of faith without the gift of lifeless faith.

      Objection 2. Further, just as faith contains many articles, so does one science, viz. geometry, contain many conclusions. Now a man may possess the science of geometry as to some geometrical conclusions, and yet be ignorant of other conclusions. Therefore a man can believe some articles of faith without believing the others.

      Objection 3. Further, just as man obeys God in believing the articles of faith, so does he also in keeping the commandments of the Law. Now a man can obey some commandments, and disobey others. Therefore he can believe some articles, and disbelieve others.

      On the contrary, Just as mortal sin is contrary to charity, so is disbelief in one article of faith contrary to faith. Now charity does not remain in a man after one mortal sin. Therefore neither does faith, after a man disbelieves one article.

      I answer that, Neither living nor lifeless faith remains in a heretic who disbelieves one article of faith.

      The reason of this is that the species of every habit depends on the formal aspect of the object, without which the species of the habit cannot remain. Now the formal object of faith is the First Truth, as manifested in Holy Writ and the teaching of the Church, which proceeds from the First Truth. Consequently whoever does not adhere, as to an infallible and Divine rule, to the teaching of the Church, which proceeds from the First Truth manifested in Holy Writ, has not the habit of faith, but holds that which is of faith otherwise than by faith. Even so, it is evident that a man whose mind holds a conclusion without knowing how it is proved, has not scientific knowledge, but merely an opinion about it. Now it is manifest that he who adheres to the teaching of the Church, as to an infallible rule, assents to whatever the Church teaches; otherwise, if, of the things taught by the Church, he holds what he chooses to hold, and rejects what he chooses to reject, he no longer adheres to the teaching of the Church as to an infallible rule, but to his own will. Hence it is evident that a heretic who obstinately disbelieves one article of faith, is not prepared to follow the teaching of the Church in all things; but if he is not obstinate, he is no longer in heresy but only in error. Therefore it is clear that such a heretic with regard to one article has no faith in the other articles, but only a kind of opinion in accordance with his own will.

      Reply to Objection 1. A heretic does not hold the other articles of faith, about which he does not err, in the same way as one of the faithful does, namely by adhering simply to the Divine Truth, because in order to do so, a man needs the help of the habit of faith; but he holds the things that are of faith, by his own will and judgment.

      Reply to Objection 2. The various conclusions of a science have their respective means of demonstration, one of which may be known without another, so that we may know some conclusions of a science without knowing the others. On the other hand faith adheres to all the articles of faith by reason of one mean, viz. on account of the First Truth proposed to us in Scriptures, according to the teaching of the Church who has the right understanding of them. Hence whoever abandons this mean is altogether lacking in faith.

      Reply to Objection 3. The various precepts of the Law may be referred either to their respective proximate motives, and thus one can be kept without another; or to their primary motive, which is perfect obedience to God, in which a man fails whenever he breaks one commandment, according to James 2:10: “Whosoever shall . . . offend in one point is become guilty of all.”

  9. Dexter says:

    Im 26 and just speaking from experience here.

    As a teenager and young adult the immaturity that showed was that i charged Christians of being hypocrites. It wasn’t so much an excuse to leave but a more melancholic/perfectionist attitude of feeling letdown by bad apples and not just realizing that the church is in fact a hospital for sinners, not a museum of saints. I for one left the “visible” Catholic Church for a number of years without even realizing that what i left to pursue was not only encouraged by the church but beautifully expressed by Catholic teaching. Of course i’m speaking of the vocation of marriage, a stable career (Nursing), and take part in some volunteer experiences, my discernment of a simple life. In short it put into words what I’ve always known in my heart.

    I had begin to notice the culture Monsignor Pope describes in his list and began thinking what the hell is going on these days? I even began to notice it taking effect on me, and also consume a few good friends that I had embarked on my noble journey long ago. I became the “adult in the room” and that’s not saying much of our group. Frankly it was tiring and lonely thinking I was the only one that still wanted those noble righteuos things. It was heartbreaking.

    The point I’m trying to make is that I think the ability to mature in the faith really is dependent on the way it is taught through those turbulent formative years. Im not speaking in general, but actually tailored to each “spiritual infant” according to personality and temperament. Everyone does not understand or learn a certain subject the same way, nor do they express or ask questions the same because the question will be related to the context of their own lives. What does this mean? It stresses the importance of the parents and their role and responsiblity in their child’s spiritual lives, cuz they should know them best. And for us adults who are spiritual infants, the responsibility is our own to SEEK the tailoring. The priest won’t come to you.

    My parents aren’t intellectuals (which today’s culture seem to exalt blindly at times). i can recall demanding reasons why i should believe in “God”, my mother would be speechless and i could sense her heartbreak each time. But she prays unceasingly. Without her giving me a reason, I’ve come to believe. The answer to her prayers came in the form of Peter Kreeft and blogs such as this one! What’s ironic is the more i read, the more i think im realizing i’m not much of an intellectual either.

    Please pray for my friends and I. The desire was always there written in our hearts. May God cleanse and restore our minds. God bless!!

  10. Ella says:

    How, then, must the Church parent her rebellious teenagers? Agreed, she must resist the urge to play the “cool” parent, and should focus on being a wise, patient, loving & prayerful parent.

    But is waiting all we can do? I ask because (like many people), there is a member of my family who rebelled in her teenage years, and is now stuck in all the mentalities listed in the post. If waiting for her & praying for her is all we can do, then so be it. But in a culture (unlike that of the Prodigal Son) where people are often shielded from the consequences of their actions, is there nothing else that a parent may do?

    Of your charity, would you please pray a Hail Mary for Nicolle?

    Thank you.

    • Surely persistent and consistent teaching is essential. One matter of a prudential nature also involves the use of punishment. The Church has largely abandoned any notion of reprecussions for aberant behavior though Jesus and Paul both direct it should be given. Excommunication is one form but there are lesser forms. For example, a cohabiting couple might be afforded only a chapel wedding as opposed to a main church wedding etc. These are matters that require a prudential judgment but it would be helpful if we as a Church would gather to carefully consider when, if ever to use punitive measures and what they should be.

  11. Patricia Cornell says:

    Roma locuta est. Causa finita est! Roma has spoken, case closed!

    This phrase has been my watchword phrase since I joined the Church 26 years ago!
    Patricia, St. Louis, MO

  12. Karin says:

    First of all- prayers for this young woman. It would also seem that she is still in much need of healing in dealing with her bipolar and alcoholism. She may have gone through the programs and steps, but I am not sure she is actually working the program and steps. She speaks about conscience, but her conscience is not well formed. I agree, this is all about her and not about God. I pray that she allows God into her heart so as to see that His will for her is far better than her own.
    Much of our society thinks and acts as she does- stuck in those teen years no matter what our age. We may not all arrive at the point of surrendering ourselves completely over to God, but if the desire for that is sincerely there- God will do the rest with our cooperation.
    Thank you for this thought provoking and insightful post, Monsignor.
    God bless!

  13. Beth says:

    Dear Msgr,

    I loved the part of your article where you say, “Clergy and other Church leaders, catechists and teachers, must insist on their own personal maturity and hold each other accountable in attaining to it. We must fulfill our role of equipping the faithful unto mature faith by first journeying to an adult faith ourselves.”

    I have to admit that while I am still praying about many church teachings that I do not fully understand or agree with, I think your article points to a good way that we can begin to have adult conversations. For instance, as in the story yesterday we should not be the Pharisee who proclaims, “Oh thank goodness that I am not a cafeteria Catholic…” Rather, as one probably should say (and I myself have been known to say), “Ok God, I am not perfect by any means… And I don’t understand your teachings on this issue, or that issue… but please help me to have the grace to understand and in time accept.”

    We are all human, and we all mature at different speeds. Just as you wouldn’t chastize a five year old for not understanding the concept of algebra, I think we too need to have patience with people who do not agree with all church teachings in much the same way. Lovingly showing them the teachings, explaining it to them on their level, and (this is the tough part) recognizing that they may not get it on the first try.

    I was saddened when I saw an article on MSNBC that stated “Catholic bloggers aim to purge dissenters:” http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39821248/ns/us_news-life/. Not that as Catholics we shouldn’t point out inconsistencies in people’s faiths… but much as the news and political media have us assuming the worst about one another, that attitude has seeped into our faith discussions as well. I very much commend Msgr. Pope for not attacking individuals, but always praying for folks who may not see the light. I am sad at some of the comments where folks put blame on individuals, or groups of individuals. We are all Children of God, and most of us are trying to do the best we can to honor our God, our faith, and our Church.

    I think whenever dealing with persons in our lives, we would do well to remember the Ignatian presupposition, “let it be presupposed that every good Christian is to be more ready to save his neighbor’s proposition than to condemn it. If he cannot save it, let him inquire how he means it; and if he means it badly, let him correct him with charity. If that is not enough, let him seek all the suitable means to bring him to mean it well, and save himself.”

  14. Tim H says:

    Parents bear the repsonsibility and therefor the blame.

    99% of children’s questions should be immediately answered with the word “No.”

    No, you can’t spend one thousand dollars on wheels for a car which isn’t even worth six hundred bucks and if you do, I will cancel the insurance and have it towed out of my driveway faster than your friends Mustang goes from zero to sixty.

    No, you cannot listen to pornographic rap music on your ipod and if I find you listening to it, I will take the ipod away from you forever and use it for myself. I’ll fill that thing full of MP3′s from Catholic Answers so fast it will make your head spin. You think I’m kidding and want to try me?

    Etc.

    -Tim-

    • Agreed. However, in a teenage culture, many parents ahve not made it out of teenage thinking either. I agree however, we must summon parents to accept their responsibility!

      • jpelham says:

        In a culture seething with ambiguity, hedges, and compromise, your rules are as categorical and clear as a bell, Tim, and their subjects startlingly close to home. Delivered with congeniality and your good humor, they could not help but foster a teen’s sense of security, even if it were enjoyed unconsciously for a time. Thank you.

        And thank you Msgr. Pope for a(nother) marvelously clarifying post.

  15. Sarah says:

    I feel very sorry for the girl in the video. It sounds like she’s been through a lot and has many crosses to bear. But as a convert who grew up in a borderline cult, I’m amazed that anyone would say the Catholic Church encourages black and white thinking. Isn’t it black and white thinking to believe that we can either hold to absolute truths or punt them entirely? Isn’t there a middle ground where we hold to absolute truths and also have compassion on people who violate them, excusing them as much as possible?

    And yes, it’s immature to think that we can make our own truth by looking within ourselves. And yes, until you can see the nuance in the Church’s teaching and represent it accurately, you need to refrain from presenting yourself to the public as an expert on the subject.

  16. Daniel says:

    After yesterday’s Gospel you’ve really set us up with this one. Of course the caricature is “Thank you Lord for making me certain of my own salvation with a mature faith which never questions the hierarchical magisterium, unlike this wretched woman with her immature struggle to internalize her faith in the face of mental illness and alcoholism…”
    Seriously though, this posting seems more likely to result in division rather than the unity which Paul preached. How can we help ourselves and others to live truth in love rather than pointing out THEIR immaturity?

    • You apparently misunderstand that this post is an exhortation to maturity not a declaration of the same. We are CALLED to a maturity of faith (not just “them”) that will permit us to be of real help to a culture that is obvious in some very serious trouble. Further, the assesment of a teenage fixation is on the culture not necessary on the guy in the pew next to me. I think that to a large extent we have all been negatively impacted by the immature qualities of our culture and hence need to look to our own maturity (as I point out in the article). Hence my exhortation that we should work on our own maturity and be sober about the immaturity that permeates our culture. Thus, your link to yesterday’s gospel does not seem a fair assessment since the exhortation is meant for all of us, not just the proverbial “them.” Sorry if you take the cultural assessment personally, it is not meant so.

      As for division. Some of it cannot be avoided. Jesus, for example says he came to divide (Luke 12:51) in the sense that he will establish a truth that cannot be compromised and must either be accepted or rejected, hence the division. It’s funny that you invoke Paul for your unity theme when he was quite able to mix it up with his interlocutors and opponents. He was certainly not dainty when it came to conflict. It is also significant that you of all people Daniel should express concerns about unity since you are quite willing debate vigorously with others here and disagree with about 80% of what I say and are willing to state so. And I think that’s fine and the purpose of a blog like this. Hence I would avoid casting the discussions we all have here as some how offensive to unity. I would rather see the whole thing more as a discussion which I have initiated based on the scriptures we are reading in daily mass.

      • Daniel says:

        Msgr.,
        As I have said in previous postings, I disagree with your basic premise that somehow this generation is more flawed than others have been. Since the beginning humankind has struggled with the onus of Original Sin which often shows itself through the qualities you listed above and attributed to “teenage issues”. In fact, we have recently and unfortunately seen many items from this list demonstrated by some members of the hierarchy during the sex scandal. Older generations have always insisted that in their day things were better, whereas these kids today just don’t want to obey authority…yet society has progressed and new insights have appeared–God is good and can work through the signs of the times. Jesus criticized those who were dismissive of the youth and those who were convinced they had it figured out.
        I didn’t invoke the unity theme or Paul by the way–I was commenting on the reading you cited above. I enjoy vigorous dialogue and hope we can keep working towards unity (even if not uniformity).

  17. A says:

    Mark 9:23-24
    And Jesus said to him, “If you can! All things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

    I would like to address the woman in the clip. First of all we should praise God for the woman in the video clip, because she at least BELIEVES in God. That is a beginning, better then most who don’t believe at all.

    Really do you hear her? She has a disorder, she is bipolar; she is a recovering alcoholic, she lives in a world that tells her who she should be. Her “Foundation” where was it. Remember that foundation became distorted from the 60’s and only now is it starting to recover. I am not giving her excuses. But at least she is drinking spiritual milk. That is a start.

    Who taught her that she is the Temple of the Holy Spirit? It does not sound like any one told her that. Her dignity has been eroded away. In a world that tells her what she is suppose to be women “eve” and not telling her she is suppose to be women “Mary”. Did the world ever tell her she is a BEAUTIFUL person, an image of God and she is worth MUCH more then what she is willing to settle for…She is not immature her UNBELIEF needs to be nurtured.

    She is trying. That is far better then most. Pray for her unbelief! Nurture her! Praise her for believing; guide her to where she is supposed to be.

    Jesus did not stone the women in adultery. He acknowledges her DIGNITY. Jesus also tells her sin no more, but remember the whole town knew who she was, an adulteress. The story in the bible does not tell of her continued journey with the town talking about her, judging her and her personally trying to keep her sanity. This woman talks about keeping her sanity. It may not be right but it is where she has right now! Time, give her time.

    Life is like a game of Chutes and Ladders, sometimes our spiritual life brings us straight up on a ladder but if we hit the wrong square we can slide straight down the chute. The point is getting back up rolling the dice and moving along.

    Remember, who are we? The righteous Pharisee or the tax collector!

    So instead of saying where your not, maybe we should praise God for where we are and begin praying for the unbelief of all persons. And maybe we who believe should start teaching with LOVE and DIGNITY the right teaching. We have to begin somewhere…

    • Craig says:

      You have appeared to forget the history of the Church-sacred scripture, sacred tradition, and the Magisterium-and that She has taught love for all and the dignity given to all women as seen through our Lady. While I sympathize with this woman (I am a health care professional and see acute mental illness daily) she herself states she knows the Church’s teachings and still refuses them secondary to her conditions (bipolar disorder and apparent alcohol abuse). MANY of us have done this!-even without a mental issue or substance abuse, eg, chooses to go against Mother Church because we disagree due to influences. BUT, even someone with such problems eventually has to take responsibility for her actions; medication, behavioral change, and changing one’s environment can only due so much and we are left we our decisions. Only God can judge us, but God help those who disobey His teachings and even more those who lead ones from the Church. Good current piece: http://wdtprs.com/blog/2010/10/quaeritur-can-non-catholics-be-saved/

  18. Grandpa Tom says:

    Teenagers are experiencing a difficult time in their lives which we sometimes overlook. In this age of Face-Book, and Grand Theft Auto type games, teenagers are trying to fit in somewhere. They too have fears of rejection, not being accepted, ect.. However, they are not incorrigible, and not usually rotten to the core. Teenagers respond well to genuine love, and concern for their welfare, help with homework, and just being there for them when everyone else is against them. Basically, they have good hearts, and do need a figure of stability in their lives. No one makes it alone. the teenagers need a mature person to trust in, just as us adults need God, and the Church, we “Trust in Jesus.” I have five adult grand children who just recently all passed through the teenage years. One has married, and has two children of his own, making me a Great-Grandpa.

    My duty is to teach my children the Catholic faith. St. Clement, Pope, wrote a letter to the Corinthians (Cap. 21,1-22, 5; 23, 1-2: Funk 1, 89-93/ Liturgy of Hours; Vol IV – p. 443), here are some excerpts from that letter: “The Spirit of the lord is a lantern, searching the hidden places of our intermost being….Let us reverence the Lord Jesus, whose blood was shed for us. Let us respect authority, let us honor the presbyters. Let us train the young in the fear of God….Your children must share in the way of discipleship in Christ. They must learn how effective humility is before God, how good and noble is the fear of God, for it brings salvation to all who posses it…. Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Is there a man who wants life, desiring to see good days? Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking what is false. Turn away from evil and do good….The Father is merciful in all he does, and full of generosity; he is loving to those who fear him”

    Bishop Sheen addresses Ages of man in a presentation and reflects: Shakespear in his play; “As you like it;” said: The whole world is a stage, men are the actors, one man plays many parts. Then he goes on to identify the 7 stages a man progresses through. 1) Infant; 2) School Boy; 3) Lover, breathing like a furnace; 4) Soldier, full of oaths; 5) Justice, round belly, and wise; 6) Lean, with spectacles, a once manly voice returns to that of a child; 7) 2nd childhhood. Confucius, the wise man of China said there are 3 stages of man, stages of impluses and compulsions which are; 1) flesh, urges, lust ect; 2) power; 3) greed. King David also exhibited the three ages Confucius identifed, he wrote Song of Songs while in the “flesh,” proverbs when being older, wiser, and more experienced, and he wrote Ecclesiastes when in his older age, “vanity of vanity, all is vanity.”

    “Put of the Jeans” churches do offer the feel good watered down version of what people feel is acceptable. I know several former Catholics, one who attended a Catholic high school, who are now involved in a local chruch called “CLUBB JESUS.” CLUBB being a clever acronym for Christ Loves U (with) Body and Blood. They use Rap music to be contempory. Thank you, Msgr. Pope, for making the Catholic Church a viable institution, without men like you, we too might stray. But thanks to your voice, we, the flock of the true Church, will continue to hear the voice of the Master, we hear His voice, and we know Him, and He hears ours!

  19. Mitis Vis says:

    Daniel, your point is well taken. However, we should consider looking at Msgr. Pope’s concerns a little deeper.
    Recognizing the problem is never “pointing out THEIR immaturity” but rather a sobering and honest call to all of us to impartially step back even further. Our protestant brethren in many cases speak openly and honestly about such matters (alas, sometimes to a fault) while as Catholics we are just beginning to react. And with the fullness of faith as well as scripture and 2000 years of tradition we not only posses Truth, but also the answers.
    I am referring to everyday, nitty gritty, heart to heart answers. This is not just about Faith or belief, but about Real everyday Life. Trust me, I know. With God’s graceI have 2 back “from the dead” and 3 more to go.

    I believe the good Msgr. is testing the waters. From his pastoral view and his formation he is aware this is a growing and all consuming problem. It is in fact THE PROBLEM. Having said that I suggest the first step is to gather like minds aware of solutions, and to inform those concerned or in trouble of proper Christ centered resources and answers. They are out there, but scattered. I for one want to try and gather these together if at all possible, as well as provide a simple, honest explanation of what is happening and why, and what can and should be done about it.
    As far as the woman in the video, it is sad she is broadcasting her views. However, if she is serious about herself and her dedication to improve her life, she won’t feel this way much longer. I see in her a goodness that hasn’t felt comfortable exposed yet. She will gather strength in her heart and see things quite differently with God’s grace. She is in my prayers.

  20. David says:

    Right on, Msgr. Pope!! Well said!! I wholeheartedly agree with you.

    The battle cry both of adolescents and contemporary American culture: “I can do whatever I want!”

  21. jandog says:

    Consumerism drives a large part of the perpetual adolescence of America. Adolescents are the most pliable demographic. Their tastes and preferences are not well established and they are easily manipulated by marketing. Economically, it is in the interest of the titians of consumerism to conspire to prolong adolescence as long as possible. That is what gives us grand-maws with tramp-stamp tattoos.

  22. Craig says:

    Not that you do not possess invaluable words and forthright example (Monsignor Pope :) ), but…I would truly enjoy hearing a sermon given by Bishop Fulton Sheen on our culture as if he were still alive! Somehow I do not see him shying away from getting this woman-and the rest of us-into the confessional and then bringing her back to the Faith.

    I live in south Florida and am constantly bombarded with a culture of death-not of only the unborn and the elderly, but of mind, intellect, morals, and responsibility. I live in a place that cosmetic surgery is as normal as buying an ice cream cone, for the rich and my coworkers. I live in a place where wealthy divorced mothers go out with their daughters, get tattoos and abuse drugs together, and continue the cycle with the next generation. I live in a place where lunch has become a high school cafeteria and the latest gossip on who did what with whom is uttered by someone who performs surgery and cares for the sick.

    While we all make mistakes and knowingly at times, we MUST still have good, sound catechesis and speak the Truth, despite the possibility of hurting someone’s feelings. This modern world is beyond that. It, we, need more. Our Church needs to give more. Thank you, Monsignor Pope, for giving us more.

  23. mbs says:

    Wow. Quite an example of black-white thinking even as she denies it. One of the problems alcoholics struggle with is a narcissistic rationalization of their actions and she’s still doing it. And bipolar has nothing to do with this – more rationalization; she’s essentially saying, “the only way I can get better/stay well is to do what I want when I want how I want.”

  24. Dan says:

    You missed a few teenage attributes characteristic of our culture today, Monsignor:

    - Teenagers attach little importance to anything that was here before they arrived: history, parents, traditions, etc. Contrast that with our culture’s notion that no music existed before the Beatles; that freedom is free and past struggles for it stupid; that real science started with climate change.

    - To teenagers consequences are irrelevant or someone else’s problem. Contrast that with our culture’s multi-trillion dollar spending sprees, both in and out of government, and our declining population due to birth control and abortion.

    - Teenagers freuently focus passionatey on “causes” — sports teams, social issues, “acceptable behavior” — without really understanding the context. Contrast that with our culture’s fixation on celebrities, political correctness, and other puffed up “issues” which either have intrinsically low value or about which the public has high rhetoric but low knowledge.

  25. Meg says:

    I agree with your assessment of our culture. I usually describe it as an “adolescent” (vice “teenager”) culture. You have listed some of the more serious symptoms. A couple of others that I have noticed over the past few decades include television watching (especially adults watching frivolous shows), celebrity fixations, and childish eating habits. I can’t imagine my parents or grandparents watching the TV shows that many adults watch today. They also seldom patronized fast food outlets, and when they did they saw it as a treat for the kids. The didn’t overindulge on bad food and soft drinks, either, the way so many Americans do. No wonder so many adults are overweight today. They can’t say no to themselves.

  26. Reuben Scicluna says:

    I cannot understand why the young lady appears to have an issue with “black and white” thinking in relation to the Church’s teachings. I have frequently found that “grey areas” are generally obfuscated thinking generally brought about by refusal to accept what is right and what is wrong and our inability to pinpoint our position on the moral compass.
    There are mitigating circumstances, of course, but I think that we stretch these too much to suit ourselves rather than “stretch ourselves” to suit true and uncompromising Catholicism. Mind you, I’m guilty of this too, so I’m not pointing fingers.

  27. blog.adw.org says:

    On being the adult in the room.. Peachy :)

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