Moments of Love with Mary
– The Spiritual Letter Box –
The Anguish of Young People -2
A fourteen-year-old adolescent girl, X…, at grips with serious problems, had written to the Spiritual Letter Box to obtain help and comfort. The proposed solutions to the given problems appeared in the Review of June 1975.
The thoughts or reflections were compared to those of a non-believer, Marie J., of whom she spoke in her long letter and to whom she sent the Review.
After reading the Spiritual Letter Box of the Army of Mary, Marie J. presents her arguments which are incompatible with the given answers. Our young correspondent wishes to answer her with the help of this Letter Box through the intermediary of the Review.
First, here is the letter of Marie J., the non-believer. Each topic of study has been numbered in order to help the reader find the adequate answers.
* * *
“Thank you very much for sending me the Review “The Army of Mary”. I read your letter very attentively and above all, the religious Letter Box. As I read, I jotted down what I wanted to discuss with you. I see that you know many things on religion and I think that an exchange of letters on this subject would be fruitful and enriching.
“I want to tell you that you will always have my support in the difficult phase you are going through. I hope that you consider me as a friend even if we are worlds apart.
“You asked me to say a prayer for you. This may seem ridiculous and incomprehensible to you, but I had a lot of difficulty to fulfill that request. However, I prayed your God to come to your help.
“Now, I’ll tell you what I think of the Army of Mary’s Letter Box. In the first place, the young girl’s letter filled me with emotion, There, I found the problems that young people are faced with, and in addition, the question of religion vis-à-vis all these problems.
“1. I consider that there is no help therein, perhaps because I am a non-believer.
“2. All the answers invite us to renouncement, resignation, blind obedience to the established order. Marx said that ‘religion is the opium of the people.’ Opium is a substance that stupefies; if we abuse it, we become apathetic and without reactions vis-à-vis life.
“3. For me, religion, and above all, the Catholic religion is the best guardian of the established order and of the moral conceptions which are out-of-date in our changing world. I do not say that everything that is new is good, but the world and morals are evolving, and religion does not see that, or very little of it.
“4. I will take examples from the Letter Box. The young girl expresses her need to be free and independent. What is more normal than to want to assert oneself and have the attitude of an adult in the world?
However, what is the given answer: ‘this desire of independence has enslaved her all the more so’. I do not see how the desire of legitimate independence can enslave someone all the more. Of course, our independence involves awareness of our responsibilities, our role vis-à-vis the others and society. In this sense, we are slaves, but who is not?
“5. And who knows if, on the contrary, this awareness is not freedom? From the moment we obtain independence vis-à-vis our parents, for example, we obtain the freedom to judge society and the system of values that govern it, and to choose if we wish to fight or protect these values.
“6. The answer no. 5 is a call to passivity in the face of the world, and to not judge, not assert one’s rights. What do you think of this? Is this the way towards a better world?
“7. There is another sentence that appalled and offended me. It refers to the preceding question. Here it is: ‘She (her mother) would like to spare you all the disillusionment that overtakes those who want to live their life in independence according to their personal ideas.’ For me, that sentence is unacceptable. Evidently, there are deceptions in life, but that sentence seems to say that those who decide to be more assertive or adopt an adult attitude are more unhappy than the others. But, where does this come from?
“8. Our personal thinking is always more widely integrated into a group of thoughts, a certain philosophy. A man is never alone in having this or that thought.
We inevitably belong to a group of people who think the way we do. So, we are not alone, which is what the answer seems to insinuate, wrongly. If, precisely, our thoughts are in contradiction with the established order, of course life will be more difficult, but it will at least have the merit of being lived authentically.
“9. I take for example the case of hippies. Their opinions are against the society of consumerism, while our capitalistic system enhances the society of consumerism more and more. If they want to live their philosophy, their life will be more difficult than it is for the man who accepts to be integrated into the system, but at least, they will live in complete harmony with their philosophy, something which very few people have the courage to do.
“10. Now, concerning the responsibility of an abortion and pre-marital relations, there also, I believe that we cannot agree because I consider that abortion is the last resort if we have tried everything else. It is not a solution in itself. Many of the girls I know from high school, had abortions and it does not seem to have traumatized them too much; yet, they confess that they are Catholic.
“11. I am completely in favor of pre-marital relations and free love. I consider marriage to be only an administrative formality. The love between two people does not increase because of their marriage. For me, marriage is useful only because of the children, for their situation is very difficult if their parents are not married. I find that free love is a very good prelude to marriage. As long as we don’t want any children, marriage is not necessary. True love is not logically equivalent to marriage. Besides, free love allows one to take stock of the situation.
“12. I stop; I wrote a real journal. My opinions may have jolted you, but I hope that you will relent towards them, and we will always remain friends.
“I accept your points of view; you are free to think what you want. I find it very enriching to compare my ideas with others who do not think the way I do. Goodbye.”
Marie J. who desires to help her companion X… offers a praiseworthy gesture of solidarity. Moreover, being a non-believer, she makes an effort to pray for her friend in the hope that her God will help her. And what is more, she manifests a nice sincerity and a keen interest in the problems presented. Even if she does not share the given opinions, she offers her point of view without aggressiveness, remaining receptive even though certain answers displeased her. Like many others, she is searching while having definite ideas on certain subjects.
Of course, the answers were given according to the teaching of the Catholic Church that perpetuates the teaching of the Savior, the Son of God. Whatever one’s beliefs, this teaching favors a perfect equilibrium in lasting peace and true happiness. Marie J. quickly came to the conclusion that the answers seemed empty to her, with no appreciable help, perhaps because she was a non-believer.
2. “Religion is the Opium of the People”
If “religion is the opium of the people”, and if “opium is a substance that stupefies”, how can one explain that Christ the Savior came to awaken the people of His time through the Gospel which is the basis of the Catholic religion? More than ever, one finds pleasure in saying that Christ was a revolutionary – let this be understood in the proper sense of the word – therefore, how can His religion be like opium, and how can it drug its followers to the point of stupor?
On the contrary, those who live intensely the teaching of Christ are full of vigor, strength, faith, hope and love. The proofs are there because, for thousands of years, the Church has proposed as models to imitate, those who followed the footsteps of Christ for the extension of His reign.
Only those who slip away from this teaching become apathetic, and they are even dead members of the Mystical Body. The Savior gave His life to redeem them, but to everyone, He gives full and entire freedom to profit from these immense treasures that He offers for the happiness of each one.
Today, more than ever, there is confusion in the teaching. Nevertheless, throughout the centuries, the Church has known storms of all kinds but it always had the assurance that “the gates of hell would never prevail against it”.
At present the Church is experiencing terrible assaults which come not only from the exterior, but also from the interior, from its own sons.
The world experiences epidemics at times and then they are controlled by science for the security of its inhabitants. It is the same for the Church.
Soon the Gospel will bloom again in its purity for the joy and peace of the world because it is always during the most difficult times that the richest hopes arise. How great it is to be a Christian because “the Christian is a man to whom God entrusted all other men.”
3. “Religion Does Not See That”
God who is all-good and almighty created the world: the sun, the moon, the stars, etc. What marvelous harmony in the divine architecture! The scientist, thanks to God, knows for years in advance the trajectory of a certain heavenly body according to precise data and scrupulous observations.
If, in this natural order, God has foreseen everything until the end of the world, how then could the Son of God who came on earth to make His Father known and loved, teach “moral conceptions that would become out-of-date in our changing world”?… Is it not rather the world that goes astray by withdrawing from the warmth of the teaching and the light of the divine laws, and falls into the chaos into which its fits of pride in the “non serviam” lead it?
For two thousand years, the Gospel has remained the pivot, the basis of Catholic teaching. It has never been out-of-date. It is astonishing how the teaching of the Gospel, traversing the centuries, is always actual, and the Church, as a good Mother, incessantly reminds its children of this for their good and their happiness. The more we stray from this teaching, the more we are compelled to return to it because of the pain caused by a harmful “change”.
The Lord is always the same. Let us remember the importance of His teaching in these simple words: “Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away.” This sentence becomes a subject of profound meditation.
If we consider that the Lord invites us “to become like little children”, and still allows us our freedom, it is really wonderful and great. What a wise lesson we discover in this program of life.
The Lord who is so good, so powerful, the Master of all things, invites us to ascend in true love towards Him by showing us the way, but He respects our freedom. In return for all that we have received, we who are so small and so selfish, apply the law of independence to His call and we refuse the “exceptional” joy He grants to those who hear His voice, a happiness that nothing on earth can equal.
To live according to God’s laws in all freedom, is to consent to withdraw from the slavery of one’s passions, etc. It is to build one’s life on the solid rock of true freedom which brings fulfillment.
As one must follow the highway signs to arrive at a certain planned destination, so too it is necessary for the one who wants to conquer and taste the joy of equilibrium, to follow the laws dictated by God. In either case, freedom remains, but if, through independence, one ignores or sets aside a law, he is drawn into a course that leads to the harshest and most bitter slavery.
Those who follow God’s laws do not, for all that, see their quest for independence being infringed upon. On the contrary, by following God’s law, they are more free because they free themselves of self, and become more aware of their responsibilities towards others, and hence, towards society.
“The young girl who wants to assert herself or have the attitude of an adult in our world” will do so with even more strength if her formation gives her equilibrium and true love. But the persons who really radiate for the good of society and the Church do not even realize it because they are so taken up by the call of supernatural beauty; this makes them forget completely the desire of “asserting oneself or having the attitude of an adult”. These persons are free and independent, but in the good freedom and the sound independence which produce savory and salutary fruit for the world.
5. “Judge Society, Parents”
To have an awareness of reality is not necessarily asserting one’s freedom. And it is not necessary, either, to be independent to finally be free to judge society, parents, etc.
To be aware of realities is, in the first place, to try and assume their exigencies in what concerns us. When we have really assumed a responsibility and know all its facets and implications, we realize that everything is so complex that we no longer dare, if we are sincere with ourselves, to judge anything and everything. Judging brings nothing concrete; but, applying the beneficial remedy is salutary.
6. “Not to Judge”
The answer no. 5 in the Review of June 1975, concerned the spiritual and social repercussions of our actions. Example: “Without judging anyone, let us look at the actions of a person who is drawn into alcoholism, etc…”
This reply is not conducive to passivity in the face of the world, as Marie J. claims, but rather urges us to be charitable to the one who goes astray. That is already leading “the way towards a better world”, because the love, the understanding and the help surrounding those who are chained to their passions are worth more than all the cold judgments that can be made.
“Do not judge,” said the Savior. “Love your neighbour…” What equilibrium in the Gospel! “Man’s life is nothing but a path toward God.”
7. Live in Independence
“To live in independence” according to one’s own thoughts, without any reference to the order established by God is to be heading toward deceptions and innumerable disillusions. The parents who have experienced life would like to spare their children the rough difficulties that an independence that is not properly understood and acquired too quickly could bring them. The young people thirst for independence and that is easy to understand. However, independence without social responsibility poses less problems. But, when they prematurely feel the weight of the sought-after responsibilities on their shoulders, it does not take long for the confidences to prove that the burden risks causing them to deviate. On the contrary, if responsibilities are well understood in a spirit “of dependence”. they give an incomparable maturity and become more beneficent. No one can really be independent. We are all submitted to laws.
8. “A More Difficult Life, but Lived Authentically”
The established order in this world, of course, is not always in conformity with authenticity. It can be contested ever so much, but nothing proves that contestation is the best form of making demands.
The answer given to X… dealt with a particular case, although, the subject treated can reach a throng of young people who have the same problems.
One thing is certain: regardless of the established order and the current of thought that submerges the young and the older people alike, the fact remains that the merit of a life authentically lived opens onto true spiritual values which, alone, abide for the good of a changing society. To refuse them is to postpone the return of harmony, comprehension, peace and true happiness.
9. The Case of Hippies
According to Marie J.’s viewpoint, the case of the hippies is valid in the described context.
The world of consumerism is directly attributable to profit and interest and, evidently, seeks only to serve. But we remain free to accept or refuse, without restraint, the services offered.
That is why many persons can live in a society of consumerism without being integrated into the established system, and this is done without turning away from society. Their action is perhaps less manifest than that of the hippies, but it is not less valid; besides, these persons have the joy of also living in complete harmony with their philosophy. This is why one cannot say that “very few people have the courage to follow their philosophy”.
Here, Marie J. declares her opinion which is based on the apparent reflections of the young Catholic and non-Catholic girls who have had an abortion.
There is a very important distinction to be made between the slight remarks on abortion made by a young lady and her profound reactions revealed at a time of intimate confidence. Then, one will hear poignant words filled with an overwhelming sense of regret, which life renders even more painful, not only because of the moral effects but also because of the psychological effects that follow. If all those who submitted to this treatment could be heard, they would soon impress their companions in order to spare them the cruel nightmare that they now experience. How many of them never recover from it and head for the psychiatrist in the search of equilibrium, wholesome joy and true love.
11. Free Love
There has never been so little respect for the marriage-sacrament, and never has adolescence been spared so little! Licentiousness can be found at all levels of society, and we assist at a disintegration of the family, the mother-cell of society. That is family anarchy. Why?
Let us listen to what those who, in their thirst for independence and self-satisfaction, and without any respect for the established laws, found pleasure in this permissiveness, wallowing in all the possible licenses that one calls pre-marital relations…, free love…, trial marriages…, etc. have to say.
Well, those who satisfied all their cravings in the hope of obtaining the happiness that they were searching for, do not hesitate to cry out in warning about the deadly pitfalls, to those who are setting out along the same path. It is not those who enter into the realm of all kinds of passions that can draw a conclusion on the benefits or damages that they beget. As the years go by, the burden of the deceptions, ravages, and all kinds of anguish becomes heavier. The confidences of those who lived this way are eloquent and their sorrowful counsels make one think.
It is true “that the love between two people does not increase because of their marriage,” especially if the future spouses live in free love. But, to reduce marriage to the sole necessity of giving security to the children, this is minimizing the importance of the marriage-sacrament.
The sacrament of Matrimony bears graces and blessings. Rich in possibilities, it facilitates the surpassing of self in times of trial and produces genuine joy in the giving of self, thus permitting true love.
Free love does not allow one to properly take stock of the situation, because it brings about other changes as soon as even the slightest difficulties arise, and it is a perpetual starting anew in a heap of complications.
God established laws and His laws are always actual. The Church recalls them gently and tenderly even if its impetuous children who consider themselves “adults”, refuse to hear them.
As our commitment comes to an end and whatever the route we followed, how comforting can be these eloquent and meaningful words: “It is the love of Christ that brought us together.”
This love of Christ presides over all our actions, enriches them, and accustoms us to understand the true meaning of things and to surpass ourselves through the trials we have to face at one point or another.
This love of Christ, growing more deeply in us, develops and magnifies another love which is closely bound to it: the love of the Church. The Church does not ask us to destroy or annihilate our human affections. It encourages us to direct them toward spiritual perspectives because love comes from God and brings us closer to God. When the love of God is in us, the others can love God through us. If the love of God is found in both spouses, there is an interior Presence that unites them which enables them to have a more profound understanding, thus solidifying the fragility of human love in a reciprocal confidence, giving it the resonance of truth.
(Review, “L’Armée de Marie”, volume. V, no. 4)