Letter to a young man on combating six lies

Larry Smith

As a young man, you are embarking on a great adventure, to find your place in the world. Unfortunately, the world will tell you many things along the way, so that it’s difficult to separate the truth from the lies.

Lie #1: Look out for Number One. In pursuing your own needs, you always find yourself longing for more. But when you stop and help someone else — be it a family member or a complete stranger — you will feel true accomplishment because you are fulfilling the design that God placed on your heart. To help people in need — that is the mark of a true man.

Lie #2: Your worth is based on money. Money can be a great blessing or a great burden. Scripture is replete with warnings. “For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains” (1 Timothy 6:10). Notice the warning is specific to the “love of money.” Money without a foundation of faith and family — and loving God first — is shallow and unfulfilling. Money can’t buy you happiness. The greedy pursuit of it can completely ruin your life.

Lie #3: Whoever dies with the most toys, wins. Use the toys you have to experience the joy of life that God intended you to experience. But if you focus on the toys, and not the people that you’re experiencing it with, you’ll lose sight of your purpose in life. What should be a gift from God can become a set of chains. Because when it comes to toys, you can never have new enough, shiny enough or fast enough. Materialism is a construct of the devil, tempting us to always seek more, more, more of meaningless things. Ask yourself: Do you want to have it all? Or do you want to give it all?

Lie #4: Sow your wild oats. Society says it’s OK to be promiscuous. That’s the legacy of the Sexual Revolution, which has been a wrecking ball through generations, causing much misery, fear, doubt and even death in the form of abortion. You were made for more. When you have sex outside of marriage, you’re committing a mortal sin. Instead, be a virtuous warrior. Listen to the words of St. Dominic: “A man who governs his passions is master of the world.”

Lie #5: Delay marriage as long as possible. Our culture tells us that independence, and the ability to do what you want, is the most important thing. Don’t believe it. When a man says, “I do” to his bride, he takes responsibility for his wife and for the creation of a family. Or, you may be called to be a priest or religious. How will you discern God’s plan for your life?

Lie #6: Prayer is boring because nothing happens. The world throws every conceivable kind of noise at you to prevent you from getting closer to God, from taking time to be with Jesus Christ in prayer and to sit quietly alone in His presence — in adoration. It’s when you finally do that that you begin to truly understand the meaning of life and your purpose in it.

P.S. To women: are you helping men to be men? Husbands, sons, brothers, fathers, uncles and male co-workers all need your prayers and intentions to live out their God-given missions.

Larry Smith is the president and CEO of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Denver. Visit online
at ccdenver.org or call 303-742-0828 to learn more, volunteer or make a donation.

COMING UP: Past 25 years remembered, next 25 anticipated at More Than You Realize conference

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“Be not afraid!”

This was the rallying cry at the Aug. 11 More Than You Realize conference, echoing the very same call St. John Paul II gave exactly 25 years ago when he visited Denver for World Youth Day in 1993.

Over 5,000 faithful from across the Archdiocese of Denver filled the seats of the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland at what was the largest Catholic gathering in Colorado since WYD ’93. The all-day conference was presented in both English and Spanish tracks, featured a dynamic lineup of renowned Catholic speakers, and culminated in a powerful commissioning Mass.

The name More Than You Realize and consequently, the logo resembling an eyechart, stems from the idea that almost everything may appear a certain way at surface level, but upon closer inspection, it can be more than one realizes and seen in a different light. This is especially true when it comes to the Catholic Church.

Over 5,000 gathered at the Budweiser Events Center Aug. 11 for the More Than You Realize conference, which celebrated the last 25 years since World Youth Day in Denver and looked to the next 25. (Photo by Jason Weinrich)

In planning for nearly two years, pastors from each parish of the archdiocese hand-picked those parishioners and members of their community who they wished to attend the conference, which revolved around the idea of discipleship. Through engaging videos and talks given by speakers such as Chris Stefanick, Luis Soto and Dr. Edward Sri, attendees were invited to join a new movement of discipleship within the archdiocese, echoing the one sparked 25 years ago at World Youth Day.

“[I] had a great rejuvenating time at the More Than You Realize Conference,” said Alex Martinez, a parishioner at St. Pius X Parish. “I am excited to see the MTYR movement take shape.”

Brenda Garrett, a parishioner of the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception said, “It was an amazing event, so blessed my pastor Father Ron from the Cathedral Basilica sent me. I am so proud to be part of this movement.”

The key to evangelization

Cardinal J. Francis Stafford spoke before Mass began about the impact of World Youth Day 1993 and the challenges the Church faces today.

“What does the summer of ’93 teach us about our present circumstances in 2018?” the cardinal asked. “The Holy Spirit was sent out in a special mission to our Church in 1993. The power of that sending was unexpected and disorienting to me as archbishop and to most others.”

Cardinal J. Francis Stafford speaks during the More Than You Realize conference. (Photo by Jason Weinrich)

But despite urban violence, threats of boycotts, organized protests and other issues prior to World Youth Day 1993, “a fundamental change took place in the Church of Denver,” said Cardinal Stafford, “but not only here — among the young people who came throughout the world, [and] even the Holy Father.

“Above all, our Church was transformed,” he said.

Cardinal Stafford said that to evangelize those who don’t know the Gospel, we first need “…a deep awareness of the delight of the Father taking in each of us as baptized men and women,” he said.

“I would urge you to think deeply and to pray deeply about realizing how delighted God is in you — each of you — because you are received by the Father as being [part of] the body of his Son, who is beloved.”

‘Jesus is much more than you realize’

In his homily given in both English and Spanish, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila also touched on what World Youth Day 1993 means for us today.

“The world likes to tell us many things about ourselves,” he said, “and not many of them today are good or uplifting. Just look at the distorted image of beauty that is prevalent today, let alone the distortions of what it means to be a human person…

“The devil is certainly having a field day in a world that has abandoned God, and even in some members of the Church who have a weak faith in Jesus,” he said.

But despite similar issues taking place in 1993, the pope brought to Denver a message of hope.

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila celebrates the commissioning Mass that closed out the conference. (photo by Andrew Wright)

“When St. John Paul II spoke to the youth gathered for the prayer vigil on Saturday night at Cherry Creek State Park, he reminded them that God and a much bigger role for them to play in history,” said Archbishop Aquila.

That message is just as important today, within an archdiocese and Church that stand at a crossroads, the archbishop said.

“We have an opportunity to make a major impact for Jesus Christ, even as the surrounding culture is becoming less Christian.”

The pope opened the doors for those who attended to become greater disciples of Christ — not just directly after World Youth Day, but forever.

“St. John Paul II believed in retrospect that a revolution had taken place in Denver,” said the archbishop. “We, today, are the inheritors of this spiritual revolution, and we must not be afraid to put out into the deep to let our nets down for a catch.

“Jesus is much more than you realize. The Church is more than you realize. And your role in the plan of God is much more than you realize or [can] even imagine,” he said.

“And so, I beg you as your shepherd today to open your hearts to Jesus and speak heart-to-heart with him who loves you most.”

Aaron Lambert, Moira Cullings and Vladimir Mauricio-Perez contributed to this report.