“HEY, Dylan!” I called out to the student crossing from the other side of the street.
“Hi, Father!” he waved back and started coming towards me.
“Your exams have finally ended! With a long weekend ahead of you, dude, what are you planning to do?” I asked.
“Whatever, Father,” he shrugged his shoulders and rolled his eyes to show he was totally uncertain about how to spend his weekend.
“Whatever, what?” I asked even though I understood he was still quite dazed from lack of sleep preparing for his comprehensive exams.
“I really dunno, Father. Whatever, whatever…,” he gave me a zombie-like stare.
“Hey, dude! I know you’re tired, but I believe you can say something better than ‘whatever’.”
“Like what, Father?”
“What about completing the sentence by saying, Whatever God wants?”
He smirked and said, “In that case, Father, I’ll go play Frisbee with my barkada.”
* * *
AMONG the many things that intrigue me—and perhaps, continue to make me feel young—is my exposure to the idealism of the youth. As they mature out of the delicate shell of adolescence, they are motivated to improve the negative elements within the social and cultural fabric they grew from. This ideal is common among those who have been fortunate to experience virtue and good example in their family and other social engagements.
Today, however, more young people are born into families that no longer nurture the values they need in order to mature in virtues. Moreover, the world’s technical and socio-economic wave is drowning them to think within very limited and virtual confines. This is perhaps one reason that it’s hard for them to make choices even in their spiritual life and commitments. But this is not the end of their spiritual itinerary!
St. Josemaría Escrivá, who was a priest who always maintained a youthful outlook taught: “It is not true that everyone today—in general—is closed or indifferent to what our Christian faith teaches about man's being and destiny. It is not true that men in our time are turned only toward the things of this earth and have forgotten to look up to heaven.” (Christ is Passing By, 132) We, therefore, must not be discouraged when it seems that our children are lost in some whatever limbo.
The young, in their daily experience of a topsy-turvy world, are not actually looking for a perfect world with perfect people. Rather, they are searching for an encouraging support in people whose lives are truly anchored in God. If we want them to commit themselves to ‘whatever God wants,’ it will only be the consequence of their witnessing how we strive to consistently and perseveringly do what God wants in and for our lives.
Our rejuvenation is carried out through daily genuine self-sacrifice. This is the unselfish effort of not thinking about our comfort, our time, our money, and our plans. In other words: when our children gratefully experience our availability for them and our readiness to share with them what only we can give from our very hearts and sacrifices. This is not an impossible task, especially when we make the effort to think less of ourselves and more of our children. St. Escrivá says, “All the circumstances of life—those of every individual person's existence as well as, in some way, those of the great cross-roads of history—as so many calls that God makes to men, to bring them face to face with truth, and as occasions that are offered to us Christians, so that we may announce, with our deeds and with our words strengthened by grace, the Spirit to whom we belong.” (Ibid, 132)
This attitude opens our children’s minds and hearts to the grandeur of the things that the material world cannot give: the beauty and consolation of prayer and the sacraments, the strength and fruitfulness of sacrifice, and the fulfilling and lasting mission of making Christ known to many others. This is what really attracts the young to embrace a spiritual ideal: when they experience daily spiritual rejuvenation as we shed our attachment to sin in the crisp and youthfully ‘yes’ of accepting and carrying out whatever God wants.