“Father, I told my children that I don’t want grandchildren. This world is currently too scary to bring children into it.”
It was not the first time that I heard a comment similar to this. I actually wonder how many people may silently hold the same belief.
How do I respond to this type of thinking? After all, as a celibate, I have no children or grandchildren of my own. However, I do have ten nieces and nephews—and two great-nephews—and I worry about each and every child as if it were my own.
The above mentality borders on hopelessness and despair. It is a people without hope that no longer wants to create. Often they see no future, no opportunity, no purpose or meaning to life itself.
I recall a familiar and often repeated phrase of Saint John Paul II as he quoted words of Sacred Scripture: Be not afraid! Do not be afraid!
When he became Pope, these words inaugurated and resonated throughout his pontificate:
Brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to welcome Christ and accept his power. Help the Pope and all those who wish to serve Christ and with Christ's power to serve the human person and the whole of mankind. Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ. To his saving power open the boundaries of States, economic and political systems, the vast fields of culture, civilization and development. Do not be afraid. Christ knows "what is in man". He alone knows it.
So often today man does not know what is within him, in the depths of his mind and heart. So often he is uncertain about the meaning of his life on this earth. He is assailed by doubt, a doubt which turns into despair. We ask you therefore, we beg you with humility and trust, let Christ speak to man. He alone has words of life, yes, of eternal life. October 22, 1978, St. Peter’s Square
When a civilization moves further and further away from Jesus Christ and the message of His Gospel, hope is lost. When prayer is infrequent and the practice of the Christian faith becomes sporadic or minimal, the purpose of life can be severely distorted.
Human civilization has been through some pretty difficult times already. If the great leaders—especially the holy men and women who were the great saints of their time—threw in the towel, chances are I might not be writing this article today. It was often a strong faith, a love for Jesus Christ and a determination that comes from God’s inner strength that gave people the courage and resolve to accomplish deeds beyond what the ordinary human can do. Alone and unaided by God we are bound to fail.
While he certainly had his imperfections like the rest of humanity, Saint John Paul II was a man of great courage because he was man of deep faith. He faced an assassin’s bullet, lived through the Nazi terror and World War II and battled Communism in his native Poland, just to mention a few challenges during his lifetime. I think that he may have known what he was talking about.
Be not afraid!
St. John Paul II, please pray for us!
Fr. Ed Namiotka