The New Monicas

John Johnson's picture

All of modernity’s problems share a common symptom: a reversal of order. Wives ruling husbands, the flesh dominating the spirit, the consensus of the public overruling the truth itself, man seeking to be “as God” (Gen. 3:5). This is, of course, the problem of evil. Even from the beginning, the Devil works his way up the chain of command: fruit, tree, animal, woman, man, God. But as St. Paul reminds us, where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more (Romans 5:20) - so it is that God restores the world to himself in a reciprocally subversive manner. Going all the way to the bottom, as it were, he comes to us appearing as sin itself (2 Cor. 5:21) the new fruit, on the new tree, being born of the new woman and restoring us in the order of a new man, Who is the God-man. This is the incarnational nature of God’s salvific plan and it must be the flavor of the new evangelization if our efforts are to be fruitful. Souls are saved from the bottom up and, since His own, God will work with any crisis, in ways we wouldn't imagine, to bring us back to the Father.

Perhaps the biggest current crisis in the Church is a problem of education. Speaking on behalf of most people under 35, our parents don’t know the faith - at all. The only reason I have a job as a youth minister is because there is an entire generation of catechetical orphans left at my youth room's doorstep. They are hungry for something (besides the Doritos in the pantry) and don’t know what it is. I feel their pain; I was a catechetical orphan. My parents, like most of theirs, are divorced. That is to say, the principle mode of Catholic education intended for me by God, namely the family (CCC 1657), wasn’t there. Further, since I spent the first part of my life in a time when the Church had no official catechism, Catholic grammar school wasn’t a whole lot of help. To top it off, the secondary means God intended for me to learn about Him, namely the liturgy, wasn’t doing so hot in the 90’s either. In high school, I paraded around calling myself “a devout Catholic” because I knew the hand motions to “Awesome God.” Can’t blame a kid for trying. But thanks to John Paul II, in 1995 a Catechism was promulgated - the bleeding had stopped. I was taken in. But like those nuns of old, it was the holy surrogates who raised me in the faith. I’m grateful and try to return the favor.


This week we celebrate the feast of St. Augustine, a young man who was converted to the Catholic faith through the unceasing intercession and tears of his holy mother, St. Monica. But more and more, there is a new trend in catechesis: many of these orphans being raised by the mother wolves known as youth and young adult ministry are returning to their biological families - siblings, parents, grandparents and...evangelizing them. Kids walk in the figurative door of the Church all the time without their parents (maybe they are just going through the motions of Christian initiation, maybe they have a friend in the group, maybe they want a quinceañera, it doesn’t matter). But given some time, more and more, those kids are consistently returning home with a concern for their parents’ salvation and doing the work of St. Monica. God is using the tears, prayers and zeal of young people today to convert their parents. Not only that but these kids are getting married, making lots of kids themselves, and doing it right; meanwhile, the habitless Jacobins are dying, unreplaced.

Things are looking hopeful from my desk. Young Catholics believe in God and the impact that their faith will have on the culture has yet to be even slightly seen. This is at the heart of Pope Benedict’s exhortation to young people found on the back of every YouCat: “You need to be more deeply rooted in the faith than the generation of your parents.” We are. And through some of the rockiest soil the church has ever seen - soil which has stunted the growth of (or killed) the previous generation of souls - through this soil, it is evident that perhaps the finest vintage the Lord’s Vineyard has ever produced is about to hit the shelves. This is could be the generation that all of Christendom has been waiting for who will do even “greater works” than those of our Lord himself (Jn. 14.12). Like the greatest wine is made through the rockiest soil, this will be a generation of great saints. Though for now, what I'm tasting from the barrel is promising, the new Monicas have begun their work. Thanks be to God. 

Share this: