By the time you read this message, I should be back from my all-too-brief vacation.
Being raised in Wildwood-by-the-Sea, NJ, I grew up loving the beach and boardwalk. I still like to soak in the sun when I am able, although I get continual warnings from my skin doctor to “be sure to use your sun-block!” I spent most of this vacation time on the beach.
While sitting under my umbrella a few days ago, a group of teens camped out behind me. They were playing with their electronic devices and the “music” was blaring quite loudly. I couldn’t help but hear the lyrics (or at least some of choice the words)! Emanating from what appeared to be some type of rap “music”, I heard the notorious N-word at least 25 times or more in the various songs being shouted, as well as a few select 4-letter words interspersed continually. I would be hard pressed to call any of it music. It was a gross insult and assault to any person’s sensibilities.
As the day progressed I saw the same group drinking beer and passing around a funny looking cigarette while swimming in the water. None of them appeared to be over 18 years old. Oh, how I worry about today’s youth!
When I thought about the various matters troubling today’s young people, I also realized that my generation had its own problems. With the drinking age at 18 at the time, alcohol was easily accessible (through many of the seniors) at the high school level. The combination of drinking and teenagers was ultimately bad news. Drugs were starting to be more prevalent and accessible. Add to it all the growth of a free-love society, and the path to the future became an even more destructive one!
Today the problems seem to start to be grave at an even younger age. Blame it on the breakup of the family, the lack of parental supervision, the internet, the availability of drugs and alcohol, the decline of religious practice and morality, etc., and I wonder what the world will look like in 10 or 20 years from now. They say that the pendulum swings back and forth. I sure hope, for humanity’s sake, that it will reverse course and soon be headed in the other direction.
When St. Paul came to Corinth, it was a notorious sea port filled with vice. When he went to Rome, he had to face the immorality and corruption within the Roman Empire. All the cities he visited had their own particular problems and degrees of sinful behavior. To the people of Ephesus, he wrote the following:
So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma. Immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be mentioned among you, as is fitting among holy ones, no obscenity or silly or suggestive talk, which is out of place, but instead, thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no immoral or impure or greedy person, that is, an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Eph. 5: 1-5)
I hope and pray that we all desire to have some inheritance in the Kingdom of God. This means that we must strive continually to conform our lives to the teaching of the Sacred Scriptures. It is important that this message gets out to everyone, including (and especially) our youth.
Pray for them.
Fr. Ed Namiotka