Sunday, November 13, 2016

Nine Things That Young People Have Been Taught by the 2016 Presidential Campaign

(Thirty-third Sunday of the Year (C): This homily was given on November 13, 2016 at St. Pius X Church, Westerly, R.I., by Fr. Raymond Suriani.  Read 2 Thessalonians 3: 7-12)

[For the audio version of this homily, click here: Thirty-third Sunday 2016]

The title of my homily today is, “Nine Things That Young People Have Been Taught by the 2016 Presidential Campaign.”

What brought this topic to mind were the words of St. Paul in today’s second reading from 2 Thessalonians 3.  There Paul talks about the GOOD example that he and his companions had set for the Thessalonians when they visited Thessalonica on one of their missionary journeys.  Listen again to his words:
Brothers and sisters: You know how one must imitate us. For we did not act in a disorderly way among you, nor did we eat food received free from anyone. On the contrary, in toil and drudgery, night and day we worked, so as not to burden any of you. Not that we do not have the right. Rather, we wanted to present ourselves as a model for you, so that you might imitate us.  
Paul and his missionary companions taught the people by their words, and even more importantly by their deeds.  And so the young people of Thessalonica were truly blessed.  They had a leader—St. Paul—who was a good role model and who taught them well.  He taught them the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and he taught them to take personal responsibility for their lives.  He did the latter by working among them and earning his keep.  As he said there, “In toil and drudgery, night and day we worked, so as not to burden any of you.”

Unfortunately, the youth of the United States were not so blessed during this past presidential campaign.  Yes, they were taught lessons—many lessons—by the words and the deeds of the two major party candidates.

But most of those lessons were not good.

I’ll give you some examples—nine to be exact.  (What I’m about to share with you, by the way, is not an exhaustive list.  These are just the ones I came up with the other day—in about 5 minutes!  Sadly, there were a lot to choose from!)

Lesson number 1 that these candidates taught our young people: It’s okay to mislead others, as long as your intention is good.  Or, to put it another way, As long as your cause is noble (noble, at least, in your own mind) it’s okay to lie.

Now there’s a lesson that will take them places!

Lesson number 2 that our youth were taught this year: Don’t take responsibility for your own actions; rather, always pretend it’s someone else’s fault.  Actually, most of our young people had already been exposed to this idea—many times; this year’s campaign merely reinforced it.

Lesson number 3: If you’re rich and powerful enough, you can treat women as objects for your amusement—and get away with it.

What a great lesson for young men to learn early on in life!

Lesson number 4: If you’re rich and powerful enough, you can live by your own set of rules.  The law of the land will apply to other people but not to you.  In this regard, do you know that one of the presidential candidates actually spoke at an African American church service in Philadelphia last Sunday?  Now, can you imagine what would happen if a Catholic priest invited a politician to do that in a Catholic church at a Sunday Mass?  The ACLU would be all over that in a heartbeat!  But the ACLU was nowhere to be found last Sunday.  Neither they nor the people in the mainstream media had anything negative to say about this blatant violation of the “separation of church and state.”  That’s because they know: If you’re rich and powerful enough, you can live by your own set of rules.  The law of the land will apply to other people but not to you.   

That brings us to lesson number 5: When you can’t argue against something rationally and intelligently, just call your opponent names—and make the names as vile as possible!

That lesson was given pretty much on a daily basis during the campaign.

Lesson number 6:  What’s important is not the truth; what’s important is winning the argument.

Or the debate (call it what you will).

Lesson number 7: If someone will help you to get what you want, ignore the evil that they do—even if it happens to be selling the body parts of aborted babies for profit.

Just pretend the evil isn’t happening.

Lesson number 8: Calumny (telling slanderous lies about another person) and detraction (telling the sins of another person) are useful tools to help you get what you want.  So use them!  And if you can get your friends to join you in the calumny and detraction, all the better!

After all, what are friends for?

And, finally, there’s this one (which, in a certain sense, sums up a lot of the others): All’s fair—if YOU say it’s fair.

Let me close my homily now with two requests.  First of all, a message for parents: Talk to your children about this!  Have a conversation with your children about what’s gone on in our country—politically—in the last several months.  That’s so important!  The lessons I just shared with you are some of the underlying messages that the events of this presidential campaign have given to all of us.  And young people (and even not-so-young people) are negatively influenced by these messages—even if they’re not conscious of it.  These messages are part of the cultural atmosphere that young men and women are breathing in every day.

And it’s toxic!

They need you to help them get a healthy perspective on it all.  They need you to help them understand that sometimes adults don’t act like adults, and that there’s a better way—a more virtuous way—to deal with conflict and disagreements in this life.

And secondly, remember to pray for our President-elect.  Pray that he will be a good leader, a moral leader, a unifying leader.  Pray that he will work to enact laws that respect the dignity of every human person from natural conception to natural death.  In other words, pray that he will be a much better president than he was a presidential candidate.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Preparing to Vote in the 2016 Election

(Thirty-second Sunday of the Year (C): This homily was given on November 6, 2016 at St. Pius X Church, Westerly, R.I., by Fr. Raymond Suriani.  Read 2 Maccabees 7: 1-2, 9-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:6-3:5; Luke 20: 27-38.)

[For the audio version of this homily, click here: Thirty-second Sunday 2016]

Some people believe that God is like a clockmaker.  That is to say, he’s distant from his creation.  A clockmaker builds the clock and winds it up (nowadays he puts a battery in it).  But then he goes on his merry way, allowing it to run on its own. 

As Catholic Christians, we don’t believe in that kind of God.  As Catholics we believe—as did our Jewish spiritual ancestors—in a God who is very close to us, a God who is intimately involved in human history (as well as in our individual lives).

Therefore it should not surprise us in the least that our three Scripture readings today were what they were!  There’s an election coming up in two days here in the United States of America (just in case you weren’t aware of that), and these readings are perfect to prepare us for that very important event in our nation’s history.

But that’s exactly what we should expect from a God who’s deeply involved in our lives, and who consequently knows exactly what we need to hear!

Take this first reading from the second book of Maccabees.  It’s about what eventually happens when a civil government does not believe in religious freedom—which is why freedom of religion needs to be a major issue for Catholics (and for Protestants, Jews, Muslims and all other believers) in this election.

Here we have seven sons and their mother brutally murdered by Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Greek king who was ruling over Israel at the time. 

A little historical background is needed in this regard:

Alexander the Great, you will recall, had conquered much of the known world in the 4th century before Christ.  After his death, his generals divided up his empire.  One of those generals was named Seleucus.  He began what historians refer to as the Seleucid Empire, which eventually included Israel.  Antiochus IV Epiphanes was a descendant of Seleucus, who became king in 175 B.C.  Seven years later, in 168 B.C., Antiochus invaded Jerusalem, desecrated the Temple, and instituted laws that prevented the Jews from practicing their religion freely.

Those who violated those laws and who tried to remain faithful to their Judaism were immediately put to death—like those 7 brothers we heard about in today’s first reading.  And, by the way, what you heard this morning was the “PG, Readers’ Digest version” of the story.  If you want the full version with all the blood and gore read all of 2 Maccabees 7 sometime.  Just don’t do it after a meal.

Our situation in the United States right now is not as bad as the situation was in Israel at the time of the Maccabees—at least not yet. 

But it’s definitely moving in that direction—and faster than you might realize!  I’ll give you one example of what I mean.  In September of this year, the chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (appointed by President Obama in 2011) wrote in a government report that religious liberty is a “code word” for discrimination and a host of other evils.  Here’s the exact quote: “The phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance.”

Translated that means: If you believe in the Gospel message of Jesus Christ, you’re a bigot who must be silenced!

I hope you realize, my brothers and sisters, that it’s a very short step from an attitude like that to the kind of open persecution that King Antiochus engaged in.

Obviously, then, we need to know where our candidates stand on this very important issue.  And do not be fooled by those who say that they support freedom of worship.  That’s not enough!  Freedom of religion is what our Constitution guarantees; consequently, THAT’S what we need to demand from our civil government.  Freedom of religion, you see, is much more than freedom of worship.  Freedom of religion means that you can live your private life—and your public life— according to the dictates of your faith.  Freedom of worship means, “You Christians can pray however you like within the four walls of your church building, but outside in the real world you had better think and act and live like the rest of us—or else!”

Which brings us to the Gospel reading, where the Sadducees express their confusion to Jesus concerning matters related to marriage.

Apparently ours is not the only age in which people have been confused about this issue!

Well, as Catholics, we should not be confused.  We should be crystal clear about the fact that a true marriage can only take place between two people who have the natural potential to procreate (i.e. a man and a woman)—because children are one of the intrinsic “goods” of marriage.

I don’t think it’s asking too much to expect our civil leaders to be clear on this issue as well.  Satan is working very hard to destroy the traditional nuclear family, and we need people governing us who will resist those destructive trends—because as the family goes, so too a society goes.  Most of our social problems begin as family problems.

Do you know where the people for whom you intend to vote stand on the marriage issue?

You should.

You should also know where they stand on the other issues that the people at Catholic Answers have described as “non-negotiable” for good Catholics, namely abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research and human cloning.  Those issues are referred to as “non-negotiable” because they’re intrinsically evil and involve direct attacks on innocent human life.

This means, for example, that any candidate who supports Planned Parenthood—an organization that has sold the body parts of babies for profit—does not deserve a Catholic’s vote (or anyone else’s vote for that matter!).

The words of St. Paul in our second reading today are important in this regard.  I’m talking about the line where he prays (and here I quote) “that we may be delivered from perverse and wicked people.”

I told you God gave us perfect readings this weekend!

That’s a great prayer to say OFTEN during the next few days: “O Lord, deliver us from perverse and wicked people!”

Now you might say, “But Fr. Ray, what about other issues like the economy and immigration?”

Here I think it would be good for me to quote from Catholic Answers’ Voter’s Guide for Serious Catholics.  There it says this: “Some issues allow for a diversity of opinion, and Catholics are permitted leeway in endorsing or opposing particular policies.  This is the case with the questions of when to go to war and when to apply the death penalty.  Though the Church urges caution regarding both of these issues, it acknowledges that the state has the right to employ them in some circumstances (Cf. CCC 2309, 2267). . . .  [As Pope Emeritus Benedict said, back in the days when he was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger:] ‘There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.’”

The guide goes on to say, “The same is true of many other issues that are the subject of political debate: the best way to help the poor, to manage the economy, to protect the environment, to handle immigration, and to provide education, health care, and retirement security.  While the underlying principles (such as solidarity with the poor) are non-negotiable, the specific applications being debated politically admit of many options, and so are not ‘non-negotiable’ in the sense that this guide uses the term.”

Practically speaking, this means there is no official Catholic Church teaching on how to deal with our economic and immigration problems, or on how to reduce our dependency on foreign oil, or on how to get rid of poverty in our country.  In good conscience, Catholics can hold very different views on policies involving these and similar subjects.

But the non-negotiables are always non-negotiable.  Always!

At least they are for all good, serious Catholics.

For those who may still have some difficulty understanding and accepting all this, let me leave you with this question:

If an elected official cannot be counted on to show respect for the most innocent and vulnerable among us (the unborn, the sick, the elderly), how can we trust that person to do the right thing in other situations?  How can we trust that person to do what’s best for us and for our country?

Think about that.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Zacchaeus and His ‘Holy Curiosity’

(Thirty-first Sunday of the Year (C): This homily was given on October 30, 2016 at St. Pius X Church, Westerly, R.I., by Fr. Raymond Suriani.  Read Luke 19: 1-10.)

[For the audio version of this homily, click here: Thirty-first Sunday 2016]

They say that “curiosity” killed the cat.  Well, that may be true, but the fact is it saved Zacchaeus!

That’s clear from this gospel story we just heard from Luke 19.  The text indicates that, on the day Jesus came to Jericho, a lot of people—including Zacchaeus—were there to welcome him.  (Jesus’ reputation as a teacher, healer and exorcist obviously preceded him.)

But because Zacchaeus was what you might call “vertically-challenged” (i.e., short), he wasn’t able to see Jesus, as our Lord was passing by.  And I’m sure he didn’t dare open his mouth and ask the people in the crowd if they would let him move to the front—because he was afraid, among other things, of being punched in the face!  You see, Zacchaeus was not only a tax collector (which was bad enough, because it means that he worked for the Roman government, and got rich by overcharging his fellow Jews); but he was also the “chief” tax collector (which means, quite frankly, that he was probably the most hated man in town!).

Climbing a sycamore tree might have been a little dangerous, that’s true; but, for Zacchaeus—the chief tax collector of Jericho—trying to get permission to move to the front of the crowd that day would have been far more dangerous.

Now the text says that he climbed the tree because he (and here I quote) “was seeking to see who Jesus was.”  In other words, Zacchaeus was CURIOUS!  He had probably heard a number of stories about our Lord’s teachings, exorcisms and miracles, and he wondered, “Who is this man?”  “What’s he like?” “Is he really from God?” “Will he do something special for me?”

Zacchaeus had what I would call a “holy curiosity”.  There is, of course, an unholy type of curiosity that leads people to do things like gossip and access pornography on the internet.  But there’s also a good, holy kind of curiosity that seeks to know the truth: the truth about God; the truth about ourselves; the truth about life; the truth about eternity.  And it’s that kind of curiosity that Zacchaeus had.

By the way, when I was preparing this homily I decided to google the expression “holy curiosity” to see if anyone else had used it before, and, amazingly, I got all these hits about Albert Einstein!  That I did not expect!  But apparently one of Einstein’s famous quotes was, “The important thing is to never stop questioning.  Never lose a holy curiosity.”

Very good advice—from one of the smartest people ever to walk on planet earth.  Because of his “holy curiosity” Zacchaeus met Jesus, spent the day with Jesus—and had his life changed by Jesus!  He received forgiveness for his many sins and the grace of salvation.

And to make clear that he was a changed man, he resolved to make amends to all the people he had ripped off by paying them back four times over—which was much more than he was obligated to do.

Holy curiosity leads to great blessings from the Lord.  Zacchaeus would attest to that, I’m sure, as would St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, who lived back in the 16th century.  Prior to his conversion and spiritual awakening, Ignatius was a soldier in the Spanish army.  He was also rather worldly.  But then he was seriously injured by a cannonball in the Battle of Pamplona in 1521 against the French, and during his long recovery he asked for some books to read on knighthood and chivalry.  He really enjoyed reading those types of books.  However the only ones available where he was convalescing were books about Jesus and the saints.  So he read them.  And as he did, something got stirred up inside of him: HOLY CURIOSITY.  He began to reflect on what it would be like to live a life totally committed to Jesus Christ—a life of radical discipleship like St. Dominic and St. Francis.  Thoughts would come to him such as, “Suppose I were to rival this saint in fasting, that one in endurance, that other in pilgrimages.”

Well, the good news is, he eventually found out!  His holy curiosity led him to renounce the world and follow Christ completely—and become a saint himself.  It also led him to start a men’s religious order that would eventually become the largest in the Church: the Jesuits (which, of course, is the order Pope Francis belongs to, as well as our parishioner Fr. Mike Rogers).

Holy curiosity is something that needs to be cultivated in each of us—not just in great religious leaders like St. Ignatius Loyola.  This came home to me a couple of weeks ago in our youth group.  Fr. Najim led the teenagers that night in a reflection on heaven (a subject that’s been on his mind a lot since his mother passed away several weeks ago).  He started off by rightly noting the fact that many Christians today have a pretty boring view of what heaven will be like—for example, some think that we’ll all be floating around on clouds for all eternity playing harps.  (Now I’m sure musicians like Margaret Day would find that exciting, but the rest of us not so much.) 

Then he asked the teens to share their ideas about heaven—some of which were very interesting.  He also, of course, talked about what the Bible says about eternal life.  We even examined the testimony of a man who had a near death experience and claims to have had a brief glimpse of the Lord’s eternal kingdom.

Now the reason I mention this youth group in today’s homily is because, as this discussion about heaven went on, I could sense a holy curiosity about God’s kingdom growing in the hearts of everyone present—including the adults who were there.  Consequently, I think everyone left that night with at least a little more enthusiasm for living the Gospel in the future, because it became clear to us that heaven is a place we really want to go to.

Just not in the near future!  None of us wants to rush it!

Holy curiosity is something that needs to be cultivated—from a young age.  Before I end my homily, I want to mention the fact that it makes my Italian blood boil at First Communion time every year when I encounter parents who don’t understand this—and who don’t care to understand this.  They jump through all the hoops (so to speak) to get their children prepared for the sacrament, but then—after the First Communion liturgy—they stop bringing their children to Mass on a regular basis.  

What a major league error!

In this messed up world of ours, those children are going to need a strong, personal relationship with Jesus Christ—a relationship that’s nourished by the sacraments.  But they need to start building that relationship NOW, not in 20 or 30 years!  And the thing is, most of them are open to it!  Most 7-year-olds that I’ve dealt with over the years (and there have been a lot of them!) have had an almost innate holy curiosity!  It’s like it’s natural to them at that age.  When I go, for example, into the second grade class at St. Pius X School to teach religion, those 7-year-olds always have questions.  Always!  They want to know about everything.  They have a holy curiosity—but in all too many cases their parents are doing next to nothing to satisfy it.

That’s a tragedy—and a sin.

Dear Lord, we thank you for this gift of holy curiosity: the gift which inspired Zacchaeus to climb that sycamore tree 2,000 years ago, and led to his conversion and salvation; the gift that motivated a young soldier named Ignatius to dream about being a saint, and then become one.  Help us to cultivate this important gift within ourselves, and, to the extent we can, within the members of our families, so that we too will be saved—and become saints.  Amen.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Helping Young People Deal with ‘Mrs. Culture’

(Twenty-ninth Sunday of the Year (C): This homily was given on October 16, 2016 at St. Pius X Church, Westerly, R.I., by Fr. Raymond Suriani.  Read 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2.)

[For the audio version of this homily, click here: Twenty-ninth Sunday 2016]

Mrs. Culture is a schoolteacher.  Her classes are very popular—especially with the boys!  That’s probably because she normally wears outfits that would make Kim Kardashian blush (and that takes some doing!).

She’s also known for telling lies in her class---or at least half-truths (which pretty much amount to the same thing).

She’s also really vulgar and swears a lot (sometimes 3 or 4 times in a single sentence).

She encourages her students to break the rules—and publicly ridicules the ones who don’t.  That’s because she loves to break the rules herself—and to openly ridicule the principal.

She’s also verbally abusive to almost everyone, and physically abusive to students whenever she can get away with it.

So, parents (and future parents)—would you like this woman to be your child’s teacher?

Well, I’ve got news for you: this woman ALREADY IS your child’s teacher!!!

In some sense, she’s everyone’s teacher—or at least she tries to be.

They say, “What’s in a name?”

Well, in this case, EVERYTHING’S in the name!

You see, the woman referred to here as “Mrs. Culture” is actually a personification of the culture in which we are currently living: the culture that our young people are being forced to grow up in!

Think of all the things I told you about her.  I said first of all that she dresses provocatively.  That’s a reminder that we live in a highly sexualized society right now where pretty much anything goes when it comes to sex, and where impure images and ideas are planted into the minds of young people on a daily basis (especially via the internet).

I said that she tells lies and half-truths to her students.  It reminds me of what a Westerly High School student named Mike Najim used to say to his fellow teenagers 25 years ago: “We are the most lied to generation ever.”

He was right, of course—at the time.

But since then it’s only gotten worse!  Nowadays it goes beyond the lies that young people have heard for decades about abortion and other moral issues.  It includes those, for sure, but it goes much further.  Think, for example, of the political atmosphere in our country right now.  (You probably don’t want to, but force yourself to do that for a moment.)  One day of the week two politicians are calling each other the most vile names imaginable—each saying the other isn’t fit for office (or for life on planet earth!); the next day they’re hugging like two long-lost friends. 

Well, which is it?  Where’s the truth?

I hope you realize, my brothers and sisters, that that kind of hypocrisy sends an implicit message to young people.  Implicit, but clear.  It says to them, “If you want to be successful in America today, just lie.  Fake it!  Do what you have to do; say what you have to say.  Whether it’s true or not is irrelevant.”

I said earlier that Mrs. Culture is also really vulgar and swears a lot.  If you have any doubts that our culture has become more vulgar and crude in recent years, just compare the 2016 presidential debates to the Kennedy-Nixon debate of 1960—or to almost any previous presidential debate.  There’s a big difference!

Or, better yet, watch an action film on cable TV!  I started watching one the other night and I had to turn it off after ten minutes.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  There were four-letter words being used in ways that I’d never heard them used before—and I’ve been in a lot of locker rooms over the years.

Or just watch a reality show and notice how the participants interact with one another.  Vulgarities normally abound!

And then there’s the violence and rebelliousness that young people are exposed to these days: violence in movies, city riots on live TV, attacks on police officers and the like?

I need to mention those things too, because, as you will recall, the last two qualities of Mrs. Culture that I spoke of were her rebellious attitude toward authority, and her verbal and physical abuse of her students.

This, sad to say, is the cultural atmosphere that our young people are breathing in every single day.

Can we do anything about it?  Can we do anything to improve the “air quality,” at least for the young people in our care—especially our children and grandchildren (if we have them)?

The answer, happily, is yes.  It is possible to negate—at least to some extent—the negative influence of Mrs. Culture on our youth.  We can do that by having a positive influence on them, in imitation of Eunice and Lois.

And who, Fr. Ray, are Eunice and Lois?

Glad you asked!

To answer that question we need to go to today’s second reading from 2 Timothy 3.  There St. Paul says to Timothy, the young priest:
Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it, and that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
Sounds like Timothy was doing pretty well, doesn’t it?  Sounds like Timothy was successfully dealing with Mrs. Culture in his life.  Oh yes, I should mention at this point that Mrs. Culture was also around in the first century.  Lest we forget, the culture of the Roman Empire back then was not what you would call “holy” and “loving” and “virtuous”.  In many respects it was as decadent as ours is, and in certain respects it was even worse than ours is!

But Timothy was handling it well, no doubt because he was doing what Paul told him to do in that text: he was remaining faithful to the truth that he had learned from his teachers.  Now the interesting thing is, St. Paul doesn’t name those teachers explicitly in this passage, but he does allude to them.  He says, “Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it …”

To find out who Timothy’s teachers were, we need to go back to chapter 1 of the letter.  There St. Paul says, “I yearn to see you again [Timothy], recalling your tears, so that I may be filled with joy, as I recall your sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and that I am confident lives also in you.”

So there’s the answer!  It was Lois and Eunice!  They taught Timothy the truth; they taught him to love the Scriptures and to take the word of God seriously; they taught him to recognize and resist the teaching of Mrs. Culture.

We need to do the same for the “Timothys” in our lives.

Practically speaking, that means a couple of things …

First of all, it means that we need to be able to dialogue with our young people about what they’re being taught in school.  And when I say “school” I don’t just mean the brick building where they go five days a week from September to June!  I mean “the school of life”—which includes what goes on in that brick building, but also what goes on outside of it—in all those places where Mrs. Culture is doing her teaching.

In other words, we need to be able to talk intelligently with our youth about what’s going on in the world, and about what’s going on in their personal lives.  And we need to “shine the light of the Gospel” on those issues—which means that we also need to know what we believe as Catholics and why we believe what we believe.

It says in that second reading that Timothy knew the Scriptures from his infancy.  That was not a coincidence!  He understood the Scriptures because of his teachers, Lois and Eunice.  They taught him the truth of God’s word. 

We need to follow their example.

Now if you need some assistance in this regard, and your child happens to be in high school, encourage him or her to come to our Thursday night youth group.  This is one of the reasons Fr. Najim and I have that gathering every week: to help teens get solid answers to their questions and problems, and to limit the influence that Mrs. Culture has on their lives.

We don’t have pizza parties with our youth (at least not usually); rather, we help them to get a handle—and a healthy perspective—on their lives.

A perspective rooted in the truth of God’s word.

And then, of course, we need to pray (as today’s gospel reading enjoins us to do).  We need to pray for our young people every single day!  We need to pray that they will learn to do what Timothy learned to do: tune out Mrs. Culture and tune in to God and his truth, so that someday each of them will become what Timothy already is: a saint!