Whether you are a parent, teacher, homeschooling family, or student, the school year is about to begin. For some it has already begun. It is a time that can be filled with frenzied back to school shopping, excitement, stress, anxiety and uncertainty.
At this time of the year, it is wise and prudent to consider the realities that face our young people, our sons and daughters, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and our godchildren.
While it's never easy to be a tween, teen or young adult, today it is even more difficult. The temptations and struggles to be faced and conquered are unprecedented, and encountered by no former generation. Various polls tell us that our young people list among their main struggles the following:
- Drugs and alcohol
- Sex and sexual pressure (think "sexting", pornography, and gender confusion)
- Media influences
- The need to be popular
- Violence and fear of their peers including bullying
- Personal image worries, poor self-concept, lack of confidence
For many, these pressures converge upon them like a tsunami and they often succumb to temptations simply to "fit in" or to be liked, to be popular and invited to parties, or to hold on to a boyfriend or girl friend. The on-going interior battle combined with the cultural and environmental pull can lead to a variety of coping mechanisms, none of which are healthy.
In fact, in extreme cases, young people inflict physical injury upon themselves like cutting and self-mutilation, or other forms of bodily harm, in a misguided and macabre effort to "eliminate" the interior pressure and emotion.
Perhaps you know a young person who has struggled with these issues and sought to resolve them in unhealthy ways. I pray not, but it wouldn't be surprising.
Now here's the good news. There is hope! Our children need not be victims of the peer pressures and moral problems imposed by our culture today. Our children need not lose their sense of well-being, resolve, and faith. They need not be swallowed up in the quagmire of unhealthy social and cultural influences.
What is required? Here are the top five:
- Your good example
- Spending time with them one-on-one
- Being aware of their friends and social activities
- Watching out for any changes (gradual or radical) in their behavior, language, attitude
- AND PRAYER
We can't help you with the first four requirements in this list, but we can certainly help you with the last.
And, we want to.
t the beginning of this school season,
Fr. Ayella Alfred Kizito, a priest of the Archdiocese of Gulu
, Uganda, is going to offer a Novena of Masses for your young people.
Father Alfred was ordained a priest on August 23, 2014. Since his priestly ordination, Father Alfred is associate pastor at Kitgum Mission in Kitgum Vicariates. He is in charge of all the catholic schools under Kitgum mission and works with young Catholic students.
We are going to include you, too, that God would give you the wisdom you need to guide your son or daughter, grandson or granddaughter, niece or nephew, godson or goddaughter - and the actual grace necessary to meet the challenges and struggles this school year may present.
If you are a teacher, catechist, or school administrator, know that we will be praying for you as well. We will be asking Our Lord to give you a supernatural vision and fortitude to bring the presence of Christ to your classroom in every way you can.
It is fitting that this special
Novena of Masses will begin on August 27th
, the Feast of St. Monica, who interceded for many years for her son, St. Augustine, to come into the fullness of who God created him to be.
To make your special intention for this Novena of Masses and to enroll your children, just
. We invite you to join us in prayer as we lift up your children to the Heavenly Throne.
Let's give our children the start they really need at the beginning of this school year - the spiritual protection and graces that come through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In this way, we can do much to safeguard them, encourage them, lead them, and guide them.
These are unprecedented times and unprecedented times require unprecedented grace. Let's see what we can do together!
May God bless you and may the abundant life of Jesus Christ be yours.
In His Service and with gratitude,
Johnnette S. Benkovic