"Do Not Blame Me For This"
(CIRCA September 1999)
It is the summer of 1999, and my wife and I are then members of a Roman Catholic parish, and we have young children who are asking to be somehow involved in a youth group. So, working with two other couples, who also have young adult children, we decide to spend the summer to develop a youth group at our church. After speaking to the priest who approves our efforts, we decide to go forward. We then spend great energies obtaining rugs, couches, lamps, games, and other artifacts for the basement of the church which is transformed into an amazing youth parlor. Wishing to attract the high school crowd, we name our youth group ‘TRITON YAS,’ after our local high school, and promote it among the various churches in our area and the high school scene. Along with this my wife Suzanne organized many fundraisers to cover expenses.
One of the more interesting things accomplished is that our own daughter used spruce fencing and painted on it delightful slogans and pictures which we have retained and treasure to this day. The scenes were drawn based upon two picture visions seen by my wife and which she described to our daughter.
We then began to meet every Saturday evening during the summer for a few hours of games and times of fun-filled discussion. We attempted to keep the environment social and light, and only at the end of the evening offered some religious teaching from the Bible. Most of the young people who came were young girls (I do not remember many young men attending outside of David, our son.). Yet, we poured our hearts out trying to engage these young ladies in an attempt to build a small youth community which could become larger in the fall and winter months.
Initially, things went very well. But, as things progressed during the summer months issues began to arise as the young ladies began to express their own perspective on moral and ethical issues which were contrary to the Christian ethic.
In fact, Suzanne and I were amazed at how well formulated their opinions were regarding these issues. It seems that they had been fully indoctrinated by their schools and by culture to accept moral and ethical positions unnatural and ultimately destructive to the development of a well formed conscience.
They were actually closed to any real or insightful discussion regarding these matters, and considered our own position to be outmoded and rooted in some kind of deception. Obviously, this kind of interaction was the beginning of the end of Triton YAS, and by the end of the summer we had no option but to abandon our efforts.
To indicate that my wife Suzanne and I were disappointed and saddened by this event would be an understatement. It left our own children without a youth home in a parish that was poorly attended by young people, and in a Church where meaningful youth ministry of any kind was virtually unknown. It seems, as far as the Church was concerned, that such ministry was not necessary, and our parish, like most other Catholic parishes, continued to operate under the false assumption that Catholic children were receiving adequate teaching regarding Christian ethical and moral norms in their homes. This assumption governed everyday business in spite of the shared experience of concerned Catholic Christians (like Suzanne and myself) that the Catholic ship of state was terribly off course.
So, following all of this, one early morning in the fall of 1999, I drove from Rowley to East Cambridge, MA (where I worked) leaving at around 5:00 am (I could avoid the mad morning rush of cars this way), and parked my car on the street across from the small Catholic church where I generally attended the 7:00 am Mass before beginning my work day. As the church had not yet opened, I reclined my car seat to rest a bit while at the same time enjoying the quiet of a sunny and beautiful early fall morning.
As I settled in, I began to reflect back upon our failed efforts to initiate a youth community during the summer months despite the best efforts of the parents involved, and I could not help but be deeply grieved by this failure. I was profoundly troubled by the fact that youth in our parish came to church only to receive Confirmation as some sort of a merit badge, and then were never to be seen again. I thought that unless the system changed, such youth would never be presented the saving message of Jesus Christ in a clear, systematic and practical manner suited to their temperament and to the media age in which they were immersed. It would be an opportunity lost and 'game over' -time and time again.
It was then that there sitting in my car merely reflecting on this possibility that I audibly heard:
"Do not blame me for this!"
I could not help but sit there bewildered and stunned at the receipt of such a word of knowledge. [Was this really of the Lord?] Nor, could I then understand what it fully meant, its purpose, or its relationship to our most recent experience regarding the failure of Triton YAS.
Today, many years later, this word continues to take on deeper and deeper meaning and clarity as I witness the contraction of the Roman Catholic Church throughout much of the world, and its vast inability to impact modern culture through the evangelization of youth and other members of the church. Yet, this contraction is not limited to the Catholic Church alone, as most of the mainline denominations are suffering greatly due to open apostasy, even endorsing abominable sexual mores. [You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. Leviticus 18:22]
We are not able to blame God for the increase in earthly disasters, violence, sin and the general disorientation of societies and cultures due to the increase in chaos bred by this unleashed immorality.
The fault is entirely due to the failure of Christians individually and the Christian church corporately to oppose evil with all the means that Christ has given it (unbridled love, fasting, prayer, discernment, proclamation, miracles, healing, the gift of the Holy Spirit).
No, not only does the Christian church not oppose the evil of this age, all too often it agrees with it (by silence and inaction) refusing to cast the evil man out of its midst.
In effect, much of the Christian church has learned to partner with evil under the guise of a just tolerance.
The Scripture says that 'My people perish from a lack of knowledge.' (Hosea 4: 6 (KJV)), and Jesus indicts religious leadership of his time saying: 'For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.' (Matthew 5:20 (NIV)).
There is a distinct linkage between holiness in the pastorate and the salvation of souls!
Again Jesus says: 'Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit' (Matthew 15:14 (NIV)).
Woe and Alas! What a burden it is to be witness to such a vast disintegration, such a lurid emptiness, such an increasing and unopposed apostasy.
Yet, true Christians -though few in number, must press on, unafraid, full of faith, and be an enduring steadfast witness as to the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ -yes, even at the cost of his or her own earthly life.
Lord, give us the wisdom and strength we need, we pray.