Reflection on Catholicism: Cool, Like St. Francis
Whenever a man or woman emerges as an instrument of God’s truth and goodness, people will beat a path to that person’s door.
As a middle school teacher, I encountered the ‘tweens, students between the ages of twelve and fourteen. A critical age, really, in the formation of young adults. I learned a lot about what was presently cool and what students were tuning into, what connected.
It would not be earth shattering to announce that being seen wearing the right sneakers or logoed shirt or worse, price tags still hanging from the hat to suggest it was stolen, were all signs of ultimate cool.
Pants falling below the waist was worthy of emulation because so-and-so pop star does it. Being accepted by peers means everything. What these young adults-to-be tuned into were the trappings of popular culture. A kind of ever-changing behemoth that is boisterous, colourful, distracting, and often obnoxious.
Our young people need models of faith, models who regard our Lord, Jesus Christ, and his message, as relevant to their lives and whose message informs the multitudinous choices that these young people will make in the coming years. For these ‘tween and young adults look to the professional athletes, the musicians, singers, and actors because they are constantly spouting messages. Do this! Think like me! Love this! Hate that! Sadly today there are few living spiritual rock stars of the faith.
Can you imagine what it would be like if St. Francis of Assisi was alive at this time? As a young man, he enjoyed the good life his family’s position afforded him.. Son of a wealthy merchant, he was popular, charming, witty and a favourite among many. He aspired to greatness, wishing to become a knight.
During a battle St. Francis was captured and held hostage, eventually becoming very ill. Once freed, he required convalescence. It was during this time of quiet solitude that he came to hear God and to know peace, contentment and beauty.
Our ‘tweens and young adults look outward for cues on how to be in the world. Let us remind them that, most often, the answer lies within.