Dear Young Men,
This a follow-up to my letter two weeks ago titled Letter to Alison which was basically for all young women concerning their objectives and duties in the earthly life. Today I would like to share a similar letter, written to no special person in particular, but to every young man, every young Catholic man. I entreat you to emulate the chaste Saint Joseph in protecting your virginity so that you might present yourself as the purest of vessels before God, and - if it be His holy will in God's time - to be properly prepared for the one true woman He has chosen for you to be your life-long soul mate, the person who will join with you in striving for salvation and produce children for the honor and glory of God.
The world has been particularly corrupted during the last generation or so. We have glorified the ugly, having trampled on the glorious. The chief objective of this discourse is to assist in hastening the change that must come in the collective consciousness when there is the return to God, the mysterious transformation of our minds and hearts to the true devotion, which we yearn for, and yet cannot fully comprehend at present. The time is now to bring our concerns away from simply social work and the ilk, which is a product of secular thought, and back to the salvation of souls, which is a product of God's mercy. It is to young men that want to be real men, men of God, heroic, as these times require, and those that support us, that I write to.
We should first mention the consecrated life, as the first and greatest Commandment reminds us: "Love the Lord your God with all of your mind and soul and heart." There is no greater and more worthy a work than this. Some of us might think we have a religious vocation but we might need a little push to pursue it. We might think that if someone thought we could make a good priest or religious brother, they would tell us and so it would reinforce what we have in our minds to do. Well then, let me do that. I think, young friend, that you might have a religious vocation. If you've plodded along this far in my little letter and haven't turned away yet, patience is surely one of your virtues, which is very helpful in leading a consecrated life. God comes to us and rewards us sometimes very slowly, and any cleric should know that he may not even live to see much in the way of good fruit coming from his hard labor, but in the next life we will know fully.
Now some young men know from the time of reason that they wish to be a priest or brother; Padre Pio is one example. Some come to the conclusion much later in life. But whenever the time, it is always best to turn to the Most Holy Virgin and bring these good thoughts to Her attention. She knows how best to guide us in the difficult road of discerning a religious vocation and she will provide the human vehicles for us to do so. I would think, that if our thoughts keep returning to the idea of being a priest or brother, that it may be more than just a passing whim. The next step is to see if we are cut out of the mold that might be able to live the consecrated life worthily. If we spend much of our time in fervent prayer, hard penances, and working for the good of others, along with the idea of living the consecrated life, these too might be a sign that we are leaning in the right direction. Then I think it might be time to consult those that have authority in these matters. Yet even with these right-minded intentions, even though there is a great need for more clergy, there will be a struggle. The evil one will not be satisfied until there are zero priests, or at least zero holy priests, and we will have much opposition from him and his minions. So then, prayer and sacrifice is essential.
Now with regard to those of us who are thinking about taking a wife - don't worry about it! Pondering these things too much is for wimpy-men, which is not us. Our lowest priority should be wife-taking. Such things come about by themselves if they are meant to be, gloriously, when we put our minds to God 's business. The longer we work in the fields for God, the more mature we become, the more we have it all together through the graces God provides for us, and the more we can expect to bring up a family successfully, that is, in a manner that pleases God. We must look to the opinions of the Blessed Mother, who tradition tells us chose a man much older than herself, St. Joseph, as her husband. If then, the Holy Family should be a model for us all, and no one can argue successfully that it shouldn't be, then the man should be prepared and mature before he even considers taking a wife.
Now then, when a wife-candidate appears, here are some things to look for. There is only one basic quality to seek, in fact. The young woman should emulate Mary. Is she a virgin? We should hope so, and desire it. If the young women thought that unmarried men wished them to be virgins, they would remain virgins. They only don't remain virgins because there are few real men who hold the virginity of the woman as a very important attribute, an attribute of Mary. Does the girl spend considerable time in prayer, and adoration of the Lord in the Tabernacle? If she does she is emulating Mary. Are her thoughts about marriage concerned solely with raising holy children (rather than what she can get out of it in the way of worldly perks)? If so, she is doing what Mary did. Is her priority for a husband centered solely on his zealousness for the Lord and his piety? It should be; that is what Mary felt. If she is not thinking of the convent, is she spending her time preparing herself for her future marriage, or gabbing with friends? If she does the former she is doing right! Does she remain, unmarried, in her father's house and under her father's (and any brother's) protection (if they are godly)? If so then she is right-thinking. But if she is concerned with a career, her social life, going away to college, and never ending amusement, then she is one to pray for, which is holy, rather than one to be attracted to, which would not be holy. If you follow these simple precepts then any marriage of yours is likely to go well and most importantly, to be pleasing before God and a good example to men.
If you have sisters, then you have a duty to protect them. This is a Biblical duty. The father has duties of work and other duties to sustain his family that prevent him from always being on the lookout for his daughter's sake. He cannot be there 24 hours a day. But God did this to bind the family together. The brother must step in, when there is one, to keep an eye on his sister(s). And it may be a real task. If there is one brother and a lot of sisters, it might be a real task. If there are five brothers and one sister, it could still be a real chore, but you must do it. First of all you must set a good example, but that is not enough. You cannot be harsh with your sister, but you must find ways to remind her of the need for holiness and purity. If you see a problem coming along, then you must think what to do. This requires delicacy. Perhaps you can handle it yourself, but you cannot play the role of parent. If it is too much to handle, you must consult your parents, or the priest or religious. God requires this of you, because there are many low-lifes and ne'er-do-wells who want nothing but the worst for your sister. They are bent on conquest, which is in the spirit of the evil one. If you do your job to the best of your ability, God will find this holy and pleasing, and you might even succeed in your very difficult task. But this calls for grace, courage, and prayer on the part of the faithful.
We cannot waste a single moment. Every moment that we waste is a moment snatched by the devil, it is a moment that we lose some of the graces that God has so graciously prepared for us. Our adversary satan sneers with delight every time we allow our minds to be distracted from God. He wins a little battle in the war of life. Even the great saints didn't win every small battle, but we must win as many as we can, and God will give us the grace to win more, when we ask Him. It makes the Lord very happy when we are concerned with pleasing Him always and at all times, and He will listen to us and help us, and keep us. He sends His angels especially to guard us in these matters. St. Michael is ever-watchful over the earth, our guardian angel is ever-watchful over us, to protect us in the battle. We must ask them to keep us on the straight and narrow and to not get distracted by meaningless things. We must keep our minds focused not backward, but looking forward to the Eternity, to the realm of the Heavenlies, to the place where God dwells with His Holy Ones. If we keep God in our hearts, the Immaculate Heart and the Sacred Heart will meld with ours, and our thoughts will ever be focused on the Lord, our minds will be discerning of good and evil, and choose the good. And to ensure that we are listening to God's voice, we have the clergy and religious, we also have the confessional, which God provides to safeguard our good resolutions.
Are we popular with people? It is irrelevant! The only One we need to be popular with is God. We need only the saints as our friends, and the dear holy angels as our Guardians and companions, with the Blessed Mother providing for our care before God. Let Jesus be our brother and role model; there is no better. Let us take for our inspiration the lives of the saints. We must devote time to reading about their lives, to see their struggles and how they were helped by God to overcome the bad. We should join the pilgrimages and retreats that are put before us to learn to walk as they walked. This earthly life only lasts a handful of decades; its importance is to become righteous before God. At work, in our duties of state, family, and to God, there must be excellence, not for popularity among men but as a form of prayer, going hand-in-hand with humility, patience, and charity. Striving to imitate Christ will help bring this about.
Finally, do any of us have family problems at home? Who doesn't, but we must be courageous. These difficulties are put there to strengthen our character. We must unite our troubles with the Holy Cross of Jesus, so needed and yet so forgotten throughout the world! Let me tell you a little secret. The more we try to do for God, the more the devil takes notice and works to stop us. He becomes an unwanted guest in our lives, always annoying us and trying to tempt us. We should not be worried, however, when he is raging outside. Let him rage, the angels and saints will pray for and protect us. It is when we don't hear from him that we should be worried, because then he is at peace with us, and in agreement with what we are doing. Ask for the prayers of others in these matters, and I will pray for you too. Then when you have fought the good fight, struggled hard, and trembled in seeking out your salvation, you should say to God, as the Good Lord taught us: "I am an unworthy servant; I have only done my duty". And God Himself will praise us on the day of His return, He will count us among the elect, and we can take our place in the great assembly.
In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.