Young Catholics and Moral Relativism
Overcoming the allure of relativism with a message of truth has been a consistent project of Pope Benedict.
On Palm Sunday, the Pope also reiterated "to all the young men and women [ ] that being Christian is a journey, or better: It is a pilgrimage, it is a going with Jesus Christ, a going in that direction that he has pointed out to us and is pointing out to us."
When confronted with a series of moral issues, those same Catholic young people who saw themselves as relativistic chose overwhelmingly to categorize issues such as abortion or euthanasia as "morally wrong" -- despite being given the option of classifying each as "not a moral issue" -- which one would assume would be the logical choice of a true relativist. Inconsistencies Relativism, unlike truth, leads to exactly such inconsistent thinking, and so ultimately is not a fulfilling philosophy of life. Overcoming the allure of relativism with a message of truth has been a consistent project of Pope Benedict. Again this weekend, on the 25th celebration of World Youth Day, the Pope took the opportunity to address the young people in St. Peter's Square for his Palm Sunday Mass on the subject of leading a life based on truth. At the Angelus following the Mass, he appealed "to the new generations to bear witness, with the mild but luminous power of truth, that the men and women of the third millennium may not lack their most authentic model: Jesus Christ." Truth -- in the person of Jesus Christ -- must be the basis for witness to the faith. Itīs a simple, yet profound statement. But to witness to the truth that is Christ requires a relationship with him. As then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger pointed out ten years ago in an address to catechists and teachers that the art of living "can only be communicated by [one] who has life -- he who is the Gospel personified." We cannot expect to change culture or influence people if we ourselves do not present an authentic witness to Christ, whom we know personally. And we cannot expect young people to witness effectively to their peers unless they have first developed a relationship with Christ that they are able to present in a very real way. On Palm Sunday, the Pope also reiterated "to all the young men and women [ ] that being Christian is a journey, or better: It is a pilgrimage, it is a going with Jesus Christ, a going in that direction that he has pointed out to us and is pointing out to us." This is not to say that being a faithful young Christian in the face of peer pressure is easy. Be not afraid The Pope recognized this in his remarks when he said: "Do not be afraid when following Christ leads to misunderstandings and affronts. Serve him in the weakest and most disadvantaged people, especially your own peers in difficulties." There are many reasons such a message can resonate with young people. Who -- even among relativists -- could oppose or not be moved by the witness of one of their peers helping those in need? It is the preaching by deed more than by word that can often have the greatest effect. In contrast, the Christian message of love of God and neighbor is both consistent and fulfilling. What it requires to be accepted by those searching for answers in their lives is the effective witness of their peers and of the previous generations. Only in light of the truth does the passion of Christ, which we celebrate this week, make any sense. Under a relativistic interpretation, Christīs death for others is senseless -- unless he died only for himself -- since the rest of humanity would have no need of him, or of salvation. Our job is to bring the truth to those young Catholics searching it, to the two in three in the recent Knights of Columbus/Marist poll who expressed openness to learning more about their faith. In witnessing to the passion, death and resurrection of Christ, let us bring into our hearts that love of God and neighbor so that we can effectively share it with our peers, and with future generations. Let us take as our own the words of St. Francis: "Preach -- and if necessary, use words."
Carl Anderson is the supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus and a New York Times bestselling author.
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Lent / Easter News
- Missing The Point of Easter
- The Power of the Resurrection in our Lives: Christ Is Risen; Indeed, He Is Risen!
- Easter: Through the Octave and Beyond!
- The Happy Priest on Easter: He Has Truly Risen, We Are Free From Fear
- Holy Saturday: 'Make Sure He's Dead'
- HOLY SATURDAY: The Whole Earth Keeps Silence
- Good Friday Reflection on the Logic of the Cross
- Good Friday: The Church Born From the Wounded Side of Christ Pauses at the Cross
- Reflection on the Nature of Sin for Good Friday
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?
More Easter / Lent
'So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead' - Luke 24:46
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption. continue reading
Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four canonical Gospels. (Mark 11:1.11, Matthew 21:1.11, Luke 19:28.44, and John 12:12.19) ... continue reading
On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the first joy of the season, as we celebrate Our Lord's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem where he was welcomed by crowds worshiping him and laying down palm leaves before him. It also marks the beginning of Holy Week... continue reading
HOLY THURSDAY is the most complex and profound of all religious observances. It celebrates his last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover ... continue reading
On Good Friday, each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremonies of Holy Week we unite ourselves to our Savior, and we contemplate our own death to sin in the Death of our Lord ... continue reading
Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I (Sermo xlvii in Exodum) calls it the greatest feast (festum festorum), and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter. It is the centre of the greater part of the ecclesiastical year ... continue reading
For most people the easiest practice to consistently fulfill will be the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory in the United States as elsewhere. Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed (Lk. 5:35). continue reading
Everything answered from when does lent end, ashes, giving something up, stations of the cross and blessed palms. The key to understanding the meaning of Lent is simple: Baptism... continue reading
Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion. First Station: Jesus is condemned to death... pray the stations now
What did you give up for Lent?
From the humorous to the bizarre, people have had interesting Lenten experiences. Tell us about what you are going to give up for this Lenten Year.
What others gave up »
Alex Basile - Catholic Online, 4/10/2015
Author Alex Basile reflects of the true meaning of the Resurrection of Christ and how many Christians overlook the real joy of Easter. In the haziness of the first Easter morning, Mary Magdalene made ...Continue Reading
Fr. James Farfaglia - Catholic Online, 4/6/2015
With the resurrection of Jesus, the physical is exalted. When we truly believe in Jesus, we are resurrected in this life because we are freed from the fear and worry that are characteristic of ...Continue Reading
Randy Sly - Catholic Online, 4/6/2015
While Easter is a Solemnity and an Octave Feast, it is also a 50-day journey until Pentecost. We continue to remember his resurrection with special devotion. Saint Augustine shares this ...Continue Reading
F. K. Bartels - Catholic Online, 4/6/2015
There is great cause for belief in the Resurrection. One of the most wonderful tenets of Catholicism and the true Christian religion the Church transmits, is that the Resurrection is a historical ...Continue Reading
On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption.
In the symbol of the Cross we can see the magnitude of the human tragedy, the ravages of original sin, and the infinite love of God. Learn More
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.
The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. Learn More
Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion.
ACT OF CONTRITION. O my God, my Redeemer, behold me here at Thy feet. From the bottom of my heart... Pray the Stations
'Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed' Lk. 5:35
Abstinence. The law of abstinence requires a Catholic 14 years of age until death to abstain from eating meat on Fridays in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted.
Fasting. The law of fasting requires a Catholic from the 18th Birthday (Canon 97) to the 59th Birthday (i.e. the beginning of the 60th year, a year which will be completed on the 60th birthday) to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal.
Learn More »