A Novena of Masses for You and
Your Youth as They Go
Back to School
"Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands."
- Psalm 119:66
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.
At the beginning of this school season, Reverend Father John Felix Opio, a priest of the Archdiocese of Gulu, Uganda, is going to offer a Novena of Masses for your young people and your special intentions beginning on August 27, the Feast of St. Monica.