It seems to be quite a fashionable past time to grumble about our youth and their behaviors. The grumbling is really nothing new...my parents grumbled about me, I'm sure their parents grumbled about them and on and on. Teenagers do seem to give us quite a bit to grumble about. My favorite pet peeves to nag my own teenagers about include pants worn down to their knees, rap music and lack of outdoor activities-too much sedentary time behind computer and television screens. If you were to ask my husband, his number one complaint would be the revolving door that we've recently had to install on our refrigerator! (kidding) But their constant eating does get on his nerves.
What's less fashionable is praising our youth for all of the wonderful things they do. I am very fortunate to have three fantastic sons who are all teenagers. Aside from the normal laziness, I have very little to complain about, and really that goes for their friends as well. But the person I just have to praise today is not related to me in any way, in fact, I don't even know his last name...
My son John sings with the Music Ministry at his high school. Today I took a vacation day from work so that I could hear him sing a solo during the closing song. (He was fabulous by the way!) But the boy who really shone so brightly was a young man in his junior year.
This particular Mass was celebrating the students in their junior year. The youth minister had asked M. to give a little talk after communion. Here is a brief summary of what he said..."I went to a public high school for my freshman year. One of my teachers was suspended for three weeks because he talked about God in class. I used to have a lot of anger at God while I was at that school. I thought, why would a God who loves me allow someone who wants to be a priest attend a school like this? I was fortunate to obtain some great scholarships which allowed me to come here to this Catholic High School for my sophomore year. I have been so happy here! I am so glad that at this school, I am free to express my faith in God and be the person that God intended me to be."
WOW! When he finished speaking, I wanted to stand up and cheer! This young man stood up in front of his entire school and told them that he wanted to be a priest! That took a lot of courage! He may be free to express his faith, but that doesn't mean that all of the other students share that faith. Sometimes those teen years can be pretty tough for faith-filled children. I don't know whether or not M. is going to take any ribbing for his public profession of his faith and call to priesthood, but I will be praying that he only receives support. And I pray for all youth who have the courage to stand up for what they believe in, especially when what they believe in is God.