Monday, May 23, 2011

What's the John Paul II Generation?

I’ve heard a lot of talk about the “John Paul II Generation”, and I’m not sold on it. The way some people talk, my generation is going to do everything. We’re going to topple Roe vs. Wade, make peace in the Middle East, and stop R-rated comedies from making any money. That’s hyperbole, but don’t you get the idea?

For those of you are so optimistic about my generation, ask yourself some questions. Who are we, first off? What do you mean by the “John Paul II Generation”? Are you thinking of rich white Catholic college students?

I don’t know what terms you’re using, so bear with me and let me use mine. If they are wrong, I beg you to correct me. When I hear “John Paul II generation”, I think of white Catholic college students like me. It makes sense. People call college students the future leaders of America all the time. With our degrees, learning, and youthful energy, how could we fail?

One of my professors at Benedictine College voiced a worry that will haunt me for years to come. I don’t remember the precise words, but here’s the gist of it.

“There is a strong danger of graduates from such a Catholic environment to be so brittle, that on contact with opposing viewpoints they will break instead of responding.”

Do not mistake me. My fellow youth and I are doing great things at Benedictine College. But we must be cautious. In the whirlwind of Daily Mass, Adoration, FOCUS Bible Study, and pro-life activism, it is far too easy to forget the outside world. One of the reasons I write this blog is to make contact with that outside world. An anonymous commenter criticized Confirmation a couple months ago, and set off a debate that I sorely needed.

What good is a Catholic who cannot make dialogue with the rest of the world? The word “catholic” means universal, doesn’t it? If Catholic youth want to make a difference, the kind that people are talking about, they must be able to interact anywhere in society, not just in the Campus Ministry office. That’s why I want to branch out when I go back to campus, and make friends with more diverse backgrounds and interests.

This is not merely self-improvement. This is a responsibility. Have you seen Black Hawk Down? Have you read All Quiet on the Western Front? Do you keep an eye on world news? What if my generation had to fight World War III tomorrow? How are we going to interact with China?

Think about that. Then tell me what my generation can do. Here's "Ain't No Rest For The Wicked" by Cage the Elephant, to remind me and you that we're all rotten sinners.

If you want this song for yourself, by the way, here's a link...


  1. You pose an interesting question. I don't think that we are expected to solve all of the world's problems, but rather to renew the Church after previous generations have damaged her so much.

  2. I'll buy that. I'm still a little skeptical what happens when we hit the real world. I could see a lot of people getting so caught up in secular jobs, that they'll lose sight of renewing the Church.