March 2, 2007

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

A few words for youth from Pope John Paul II

Shirley Vogler MeisterEvery morning, along with more than 240,000 other subscribers, I receive an

e-mail containing a Scripture passage and related reading provided by the U.S. Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. This e-mail arrives free from the Daily Gospel Organization, which is maintained through tax-deductible donations (

Last month, shortly after talking with a friend about the negative impact that modern culture is having on our youth, I coincidentally received related advice through the Daily Gospel Organization written by Pope John Paul II—advice he gave young people in the Netherlands 11 years ago.

Even then, our youth were bombarded by obscenity and promiscuity in all areas of contemporary culture, including books, TV and radio, films, music and the Internet.

Since then, inappropriate examples have been so rampant that conscientious parents worry about what their children are exposed to and what they experience when out and about with friends. Even when parents teach Church and biblical guidelines through their words and actions, youths often rebel. This goes with the territory.

So, I was thrilled to find that the Daily Gospel Organization included in a daily reading the following words from Pope John Paul II’s discourse to youth in the Netherlands:

“Dear Youth, you tell me that you often think the Church is an institution that does nothing but promulgate rules and laws. … You conclude that there is a deep discrepancy between the joy that issues from the word of Christ and the feeling of oppression that the Church’s rigidity gives you.

“… But the Gospel shows us a very demanding Christ who invites us to a radical conversion of the heart, to detachment from the goods of the earth, to forgiveness of offenses, to love of the enemy, to patient acceptance of persecutions and even to the sacrifice of one’s own life out of love for our neighbor.

“Where the particular area of sexuality is concerned, we know the firm position he took in defending the indissolubility of marriage and his condemnation even as regards the simple adultery committed in the heart. …”

Pope John Paul II then stressed the dignity of our being created “in the image and likeness of God” (Gn 1:27), adding that licentiousness and the consumer society do not bring happiness or joy to the heart. Yet the Gospel message is one of joy! How is this possible?

The Holy Father said: “The answer can be found in one word, one single word, one short word, but its contents are as vast as the sea. And that word is love. It is perfectly possible to reconcile the stringency of the precept and joy of the heart. The person who loves does not fear sacrifice. … He even seeks in sacrifice the most convincing proof of the authenticity of his love.”

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.) †

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