2 months ago while I was volunteering with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal I met a couple that was also volunteering. I came to learn that the woman was a teacher at a Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains, NY and I shared with her that I was a FOCUS missionary. I told her that any time she needs help with something to please ask me and I would do my best to round up some fellow missionaries. I offered this thinking how great it would be for high school boys to see young men passionately living out and continuously pursuing their Catholic faith.
About a month ago that teacher took me up on that offer and asked if I could get a few men to come and talk to the high schoolers about being a true man of faith and using the example of Blessed Aloysious Stepinac. I will give a brief history of Archbishop Stepinac, but really he is a story worth researching. Basically, Archbishop Stepinac stood strong for what he believed when many around him did not. He was Croatian and a very young Archbishop (under 40 years old). A man of great virtue who courageously stood up to the Nazis and willingly sacrificed his life for our Lord and His Church. Today, February 9th is Archbishop Stepinac's Feast Day and it was celebrated at the high school of his namesake. I was blessed to have taken a small part in it.
Today I teamed up with a Franciscan Friar, Brother Pius, and we spoke to three groups of young men and in all about 100 ranging from sophomores to seniors about living virtuously as Blessed Stepinac did. We mostly spoke on the culture today and how it lies to young men. Lies to them by saying that masculinity is defined by how much money you have, how successful you are in athletics, and how many women you can have sex with. Which is hard to deny that our culture does glorify these things. We talked about how the athletic achievements and pre-marital sexual pleasures will lose their appeal and meaning with time, but the Love of the Father is everlasting and for over 2000 years has stood the test of time. We shared with them how virtue has always outlasted promiscuity and disobedience.
I never knew the severity of the decisions I made with girls when I was growing up, I saw friends doing it and I thought those things were OK to do, no one told me it was wrong, no one told me how much this was disrespecting the Lord. I pray that the young men today took our words to heart and will strive to love the girls and women in their lives and not use them for sexual pleasure. And to do so not because Brother and I said so, but because the Will of the Lord calls them and all men to do so. Not because it is some rule that some old man told us to do, but because doing so will protect and guard the hearts of men and women and that the act of sex will be shared, given as a gift from male to female and female to male to consummate a marriage.
The celebration ended beautifully in the gym. What I believe was the entire student body was gathered there for Eucharistic Adoration. The CFR's were leading worship and set the mood to welcome Jesus. Shortly after Jesus entered and was present in the Blessed Sacrament, boys slowly exited the gym (while others remained) to go to confession. Clearly the prayers of Archbishop Stepinac and grace of our Lord were at work.
Blessed Aloysious Stepinac.............Pray for us.