Finding Hope

This essay by Zachary won 3rd place + $10,000 tuition award at  The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts 
Zachary ultimately decided to attend the University of Notre Dame, Class of 2016.

Q: What does Christ offer to young people today who are looking for something greater?

A: This is an important question, for it may well dictate the future of my generation and thus that of the world, for each generation builds upon the foundation of the last. Of course, Christ can offer everything that is worth offering; it is the specific charisms that He offers to this generation for
the building up of the world in His Way and Truth which are to be addressed here. To better
understand the needs of this generation, let us first look at the events of the last few generations.

The modern American worldview has been shaped by several events of the last century.
As the only major world power whose shores were mostly untouched (Hawai'i is the exception)
by the battles of the two World Wars, America's industrial and shipping capabilities were greatly
strengthened and streamlined from the war effort, yet not ravaged by heavy bombing as Britain's
were. The era after the World Wars is often referred to as pax Americana; it resembled the paces
Romana Britannicaque in that the world's resources were largely controlled by one core nation,
while all others were either peripheral or semi-peripheral (according to World Systems Theory).
In these years, as well as during the XIX Century, the scourge of Modernism was sweeping the
Church and secular philosophy; St. Pius X asserted that Modernism “embraced every heresy.”
(Catholic Encyclopedia) As the Pope and bishops took drastic means to subdue this dangerous
errancy, the profane world accepted its philosophy wholeheartedly and moved to adopt its ideals,
often varied but always in error. While American patriotism was alive and well during the first
half of the XX Century, modernism's errors were making their own insidious journey into the
collective philosophy. The American worldview was unashamedly American and was still
invested, to a large degree, in traditional Western values—values that upheld the value of the
family and that of the Church.

In the latter half of the XX Century, the views of the population began to shift towards a
more liberal political and social viewpoint. The spirit of Modernism continued to spread,
flaunting the Church's attempts to arrest its advance. The liberal spirit of the age was further
advanced during and after the unpopular Vietnam War. The years of confusion following the
Second Vatican Council, which was called to address the changing spirit of the world in a novel
manner, only exacerbated the problem. So-called “advances” were made in “basic human rights”
(including the “rights” to contraception and abortion) during these decades; the spirit of liberal
Modernism ran roughshod over the nation even as it struggled with the Cold War and its
aftermath. Amidst the tribulations of the tumultuous XX Century, the prediction of Pope Leo
XIII, namely, that the century of Satan's greatest influence was in progress, seemed accurate.
Now, in the aftermath of the events of the past hundred years, we are faced with the
difficult task of rebuilding and reclaiming what was lost. The false ideals and misconceptions of
Modernism are still common in the Church, and the often poor catechesis of the last generation
still haunts the Church even as the younger generation is learning the ways of the Faith. It is
slow, perhaps, but the tide of chaos is receding as a growing number Catholics from all
generations seek to deepen their faith in theory and practice.

For the furtherance of the Gospel in the world, the first necessary grace is faith, as Pope
Benedict XVI elaborated on in his homily at World Youth Day. It is our duty to deepen our own
faith and to spread the Gospel through good Catholic evangelism. This evangelism is not always
overt, but always requires a steady commitment to a partaking in the life of the Church and the
expression of this partaking in everyday life. Christ offers us the Sacraments to assist in our
Christian life; of special importance to today's young people are frequent and proper Communion
and Confession and the reception of Confirmation (at an age determined by the local ordinary).
The second aspect of evangelism is the ability to defend the faith through reason and the
readiness to do so at any time. The seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, conferred through
Confirmation, assist in this matter. God turns all things to grace; the rampant agnosticism of this
age has been turned to good as more and more young people turn to “cold reason” (Chesterton)
to determine their faith. As Aquinas shows, reason points to the Truth and thus to the true faith of
Catholicism; therefore, faith follows necessarily from right reason. (Note that faith follows
necessarily only from right reason; fallacious reason often obscures the path to Truth.) Faith
requires a gift higher than human reason; Christ is only too willing to bestow this gift upon
anyone who seeks for Truth. From faith come the Virtues and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit;
through these come a deepening of reason, and the cycle from reason to faith and back again

Finally, such a dedication and love of God is attained that we may say, as St. Chi
Zhuzi did, that “every piece of my flesh, every drop of my blood will tell you that I am a
Christian.” To the modern man and especially to the youth of today, reason is key to finding
Truth and faith. Christ offers everything worth offering; we must only follow the path of faith
and reason to find Him and His inestimable gifts. With these gifts, we may recover from the
tumult of the last century and forge ahead, ever journeying forward in the life of Christ and
“looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God and our Savior Jesus
Christ.” (Titus 2:13)