Growing up is hard. You graduate college and the map with detailed step by step instructions all of the sudden comes to a screeching halt. Its like building a table from Ikea, you open the box to find the most complicated collection of metal parts and diagrams that can only be described as witchcraft. If you’ve ever built one of these contraptions, it feels like the tools given to you is a bag filled with chess pieces, one screw, some rubber bands, and a skittle. Often I feel like entering my adulthood is eerily similar to trying to build a table from Ikea. I feel ill-equipped and under-qualified.
There are all these seemingly random pieces of information that i’ve learned in my youth and now they are supposed to fit together to fulfill some kind of perfect plan. Problem is now that I am in the world I am realizing that there is no “perfect plan” after college. Although I have learned a lot, there is no Holy Spirit auto pilot I can just coast through life with. There is a big problem with this assumption because even though I was taught not to look at pornography because its a bad sin, CCE never told me how to stop looking at it. Even though I’ve come to discern marriage as my vocation, youth group never taught me how or when to fight for a relationship. Even though I know divorce is wrong, it seems difficult to find what a good example of marriage is supposed to look like anymore.
I used to imagine walking straight out of college into my perfect Catholic future dreams- get married in a few months, have kids in a few years, and save the world before I retire. I thought I could just unpause the perfect life I had in High School and continue where I left off but now with a big boy job. As difficult as it is to admit, however, that world is over. Indefinitely. It must. I can no longer be my father’s son, or my mother’s child. The only person responsible for my decisions now is Me.
If your like me you may be going through a young adult crisis where your realizing your High School dreams aren't completely impossible but they are less realistic than expected. Your realizing that prayers can’t solely pay a mortgage, and that the girl you thought you were going to heroically convert and marry in High School Youth Group is now living with wild apes in the Amazon rainforest to get in touch with her “inner primate”. Ok, maybe that last one is unique to me…Nonetheless, we are dumbfounded trying to build a life that both the older version of ourselves and the young dreamer within us can look on and be proud of.
This often requires sacrifice, and it is a costly sacrifice. I recognize that if I am to be a mature man of faith I must undoubtedly leave behind my adolescence. I don’t live in my parent’s basement, but they still pay my cell phone payments. I am dependent and yet refuse to be totally independent. And what the hell is my 41K? I want to say its a double marathon, but I know it has something to do with money, somewhere.
Life has changed, indefinitely. I can either accept my fate and face it, or evade reality and never experience fear, grace, and mercy—everything that makes one truly human. Faith as well takes up its fateful question, “will you leave me too?”. For all that we have experienced in life up to this point, the only things that will remain are those which remain practical and relevant. If Chastity is not made practical and relevant it will be brushed under the rug until the ease of pre-marital sex loses its vigor. The 25 and over business men won't stop getting hammered at the bars on business trips until Jesus’ Sacrifice for them becomes relevant and practical.
What this entails for us young Catholics is that we return to the person of Christ when it comes down to everything we say that we believe. We must search the roots of our belief and if the person of Christ is not at the heart of our beliefs then we are living an empty Gospel. We are living a stolen Gospel. Don’t stop drinking in excess because it hurts your Mom’s feelings, do it because the Person of Christ has revealed to you your dignity in his Incarnation. Don’t stop looking at pornography simply because your ashamed, but do it because it perverts your savior’s greatest sign of love he left for you, marital sex, the intimate giving of spouses to each other.
The Catechism has reawakened my faith because every paragraph strives to proclaim that everything we believe is indivisibly united to Christ and his Cross. All I believe is no longer just because of my mom’s guilt trip or because some hip speaker told me to, it is because I have encountered Christ himself. It is my passage into adulthood, my surety out of adolescence. I may not know what is next in life, but I do know that I must leave one life behind in order to survive the one I am being given now. God has shown me his Cross so that I may now take up mine. I can no longer sufficiently learn from watching others taking up their crosses, have it be my parents, my youth minister, or even the Pope. Now, I must take up my cross and experience the Person of Christ for myself, I must hope in him myself. I must love him, myself. “Because we believe, we dare to hope. Because we believe and hope, we dare to love.”- Cardinal Ratzinger