An Open Letter To College Student Ann


James Likoudis writes an open letter to college student "Ann" concerning the dangers of the morally corrosive college life and the risk of drifting away from her Catholic upbringing. The following letter appeared in the August 4, 2011 issue of the National Catholic newspaper, "The Wanderer" published in St. Paul, MN (subscription $65 per year; $ 35 six months).

Dear Ann,

I am writing you because of the concern of a relative who loves you and is saddened by your apparent drifting away from the Catholic Faith, and in danger of losing the Faith as has happened to so many other college/university students. I know from personal experience the suffering of parents and grandparents who in tears have seen their young people no longer practicing the Catholic Faith "which comes to us from the Apostles" and indeed from Christ Himself.

What you learned from your parochial schools seems to have been negligible but surely you recall some basic words of Jesus Christ. He whom we Catholics worship at Mass declared Himself to be the "Light of the World", "the Way, the Truth, and the Life", and God Himself. No merely human teacher ever dared to teach as He did. It was divine authority He claimed. It is Jesus, Risen from the dead, Who is the Lord, Redeemer, Savior, and future Judge of the living and the dead at His Second Coming. It is Jesus Christ Who is adored and worshiped in the great Family of the Catholic Church throughout the world.

Ann, you cannot be unaware that many University/College students today live in an educational environment that is frankly neo-pagan and that openly contradicts the truths and values of historic Christianity. "Historic Christianity", of course, can only refer to the Catholic Church which alone has existed in its institutional identity from the days of the Apostles and the first bishops they ordained. It is this Church that is attacked today from without and within for standing against the moral collapse afflicting our society where wrong has become right and right has become wrong. Ann, I must ask, where do you stand in the spiritual and Cultural War of our time?

The evidence on every side is that millions of our youth on college campuses have fallen victim to false ideologies directly opposed to that historic Christianity embodied in the Catholic Church. Liberalism, Modernism, Relativism, Marxist Socialism, and Nihilism are the dominant currents of what passes for "thought" on our University campuses and furthered by professors and academics who play the role of the "false teachers" and "false prophets" denounced in the word of God.

It is they who promote the educational ethos in which millions of students live: Liberalism which reduces all truth to personal opinion; Modernism which declares the Revelation of Christ to be anti-scientific mythology'; Relativism which declares all morals relative (and rejoices in the Sexual Revolution of the Sixties "where anything goes"; Marxist Socialism which is totally materialistic and engages in social-economic class warfare; and Nihilism which preaches that life is meaningless and not worth living. It is in this context of conflicting or overlapping ideologies that the alcohol-drug-sex-violence culture in our nation has flourished and led to so many broken lives of bewildered young students who had once sought career enlightenment and successful vocations.

Ann, your years preceding college happily did not follow the same course as other Catholics who have clearly apostasized from the Faith. In a Catholic grade school, you even wanted to be a saint, and frequented the Adoration chapel. When you became 18, your mother said you could decide for yourself what religion you wanted, if any. That was not much encouragement to continue to be a Catholic, to be devout, or to ground yourself in the Faith.

Your mother, a single parent, clearly spoiled you, Ann, and upon reaching 18 years of age thought her intelligent daughter needed no spiritual advice. Her first concern should have been your faith, for that is the prime duty of a parent. Unfortunately, her interests were to assure that you had the "in" clothes, fancy hairdos, and even facials (at 18!). Your mother was like so many other mothers these days, living in an "Oprah" world and reading faithfully "People" magazine. Why not read the Saints? Answer from mother: That would be "boring".

Despite all this, Ann, you are regarded as a good girl, a very caring young adult. It's just that your faith and spiritual life are farthest from your thoughts, and not surprisingly, since you go to a non-Catholic college exposed to ideas contrary to the Faith and sure to influence your behavior along secular lines. Your situation is similar to that happening to so many Catholic families where there result religious conflicts as parents and grandparents remain steadfast in the Faith and will not abandon Christ, the Word and Wisdom of God. Such parents and grandparents or other good Catholic relatives seek the Anns of this world to have a deeper love of Christ and to become strong Catholics, for they know that your generation will be our future Church.

You have been offered a summer job by an employer impressed with your intelligence, air of confidence, and abilities. Your future will doubtless see your putting much effort into work and studies. May I add my own plea to those who love you that you will put an equal amount of work and effort into the study of that Catholic Faith in which you were baptized and confirmed.

When I was at University and beset by the conflicting murderous ideologies giving rise to World War II, I was graced to sense the vanity of this world characterized by false values and contempt for the true goods proclaimed in the Gospel of the only Man who came into this world proclaiming and proving that His teaching was from on High. Declaring Himself the Savior of the human race, and God Himself, He promised to give the happiness and holiness longed for by every human heart.

True happiness could be found in this world by serving Him who asked for the love of sinners. The perfection and everlastingness of this happiness would, moreover, be finalized in a heavenly Kingdom where the faithful will enjoy the company of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saints, and Angels reigning in glory. That Kingdom of God was also present on earth in the form of the Church whose Keys of supreme authority were given to Peter, leader of the Twelve Apostles. All men and women are called to be disciples and to love Jesus Christ in word and deed, and to be with Him in heaven. That is what the Catholic Church is all about; the salvation of souls.

The words of Blessed Cardinal Newman have left an indelible impression. I offer them for your serious consideration, and more, for your meditation:

"If we were created, it was that we might serve God; if we have his gifts, it is that we may glorify Him; if we have a conscience, it is that we may keep it before us; if we have grace, that we may save ourselves by means of it. Alas, Alas, for those who die without fulfilling their mission! Who were called to worship Christ, and who plunged into this giddy and unbelieving world; who were called to fight, and who remained idle; who were called to be Catholics, and who did but remain in the religion of their birth."
(Sermon "God's Will the End of Life.")

It was such stirring words which led me, a young Greek Orthodox student and many other converts to study the Catholic Faith in which the true meaning of life is to be found. The witness of history and the monuments of Western civilization testify to the truth that the Catholic Church is indeed the Church Christ built on the Rock of Peter and against which the Gates of Hell (heresies and schisms) had never prevailed. One cannot describe the happiness of Catholics made secure in the Bark of Peter. Recently, Pope Benedict who knows so well the aspirations and longings in the hearts of young people invited young people to:

"study the Catechism of the Catholic Church with passion and perseverance. This book is fascinating because it speaks to us of our very destiny and that is why it concerns each one of us very closely. It calls for a new life on your part. You must know what you believe; you must know your faith with the same precision with which a specialist in information technology knows the working system of a computer. Yes, you must be much more profoundly rooted in the faith than the generation of your parents. You have need of divine help, if you do not want your faith to dry up as a dewdrop in the sun."

Ann, with respect to your academic work, you are seen to study, study, study. You regularly receive "A's" in your work, including one for your required paper on "Witchcraft". It is my prayer for you that you will study further, and heed the words of Our Lord who calls you to follow Him and thus to holiness:

"Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God; believe also in Me (Jn. 14: 1)...For what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his soul? Or what shall a man give as a price for his soul? (Matt. 16: 26-27)"... Everyone who acknowledges Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father in heaven. But whoever disowns Me before men, I in turn will disown him before My Father (Matt. 10: 32-33)".

Ann, may you stand strong in the Catholic Faith, and be an example of faith and love to all your family and to your fellow students. You are in my prayers.

Sincerely yours,
— James Likoudis,
P.O. Box 852,
Montour Falls, NY 14865

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