I was glad to have the chance, while on Easter break, to head to Catholic Underground with a good-sized group from my parish. With a caravan of three vehicles in tow, we headed out. One of my passengers was an eleven years old young girl fairly new to the youth group. During the drive, I heard her whisper to another young girl “pay attention to that side of the street; I’ll show you something.” And just as we passed a Sex shop, she pointed and said “you know, we have to pray that place closes.”
I was shocked: firstly that she recognized the place existed: obscure and hidden–as it was– under a bridge overpass. But I was also surprised at the conviction in her voice. In her voice I heard the angst of a daughter who sees her father leering at women, the uneasiness of a fiancee whose future spouse kept a collection of dirty videos, the sadness of a mother who finds her son’s stash. In the moment that this young girl spoke, the fervor on her lips could have just as well uttered: “My Dad doesn’t really love Mom,” “my guy doesn’t really love me,” or “my son is not going to be prepared to love his wife.” I heard pain.
Snapping me out of my reverie, the young girl said “I think the people who go in there have no life.” Then, hesitating a bit to correct herself, she added “…no real Life.”
And that’s just it. A life which uses and exploits, a life separated from true, self-sacrificing love is no real life at all. And that’s when I identified the young girl’s real pain: she saw souls separated from Christ who loved chastely and entirely, devoting Himself to the Father and to the service of mankind. At her tender young age she probably knows little of what really goes on behind those closed doors.
Whatever it is, she’s determined, it is not Christ and without Christ we are nothing. Doesn’t our Lord tell us clearly “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me” (John 6:56-57)?
It was great for me to see our Lord alive and enlivening this young girl to seek Him, to feed on Him and to mourn those who starve without Him. Her pain is really a fuel, converted in the fire of love, into the driving force of evangelization. May He inspire many women and men to the religious life and men to the priesthood who burn with the pain of knowing Jesus and knowing so many who do not know Him.