A few hours ago, America began it’s final farewell to the Reverend Billy Graham. I’ll confess, before learning of his passing last week, I’d never really given him much thought. Mostly I saw him as the archetype of the Protestant revival preacher. Over the last week, though, I began tuning into the tribute channel on satellite radio while driving, and I’ve been absolutely inspired by America’s Pastor.
Of course, I believe that had Rev. Graham embraced the fullness of Truth found in the Catholic Church, he would have been even more effective, but I think it would take a fool to refuse to acknowledge the unique charism he had for calling souls to Christ.
Last night, I was listening to his “crusade” to young people. It was preached over fifty years ago, but he could be talking to Millenials today.
The position of the world today is nothing new. While I was pregnant with my first son, I was reading a biography of Cicero, and much of that book was centered around the ideas that ultimately led to the fall of Rome. The current state of America mirrors that almost to a tee. We’ve dealt with rampant immorality (and major sexual perversion) before. We’ve dealt with socialism, tyranny, with groupthink, with war, with illness… it’s nothing new. Christ Himself even directly addressed the intellectuals who placed science as their God.
He also said to the multitudes, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, “A shower is coming”; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, “There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky; but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? (Luke 12:54-56)
So fellow Millenials, as America says goodbye to the Reverend Graham today, I want to share his message with you: That Christ is the fulfillment of all your desires. He began by reminding us that Jesus Christ was once also a teen, a young man, and a young worker. There is no way that we are tempted or struggling that He cannot understand.
Desire for Stimulation
We have an overabundance of leisure time in today’s society. I just installed an activity tracker on my phone this week, and it turns out I spend over two hours a day on Facebook. gulp. Not that I don’t have things to do, I just find them boring, and would rather see what’s going on elsewhere.
Rev. Graham says that since he came to Christ, he hasn’t had a single moment of boredom. All his time is spent winning souls (including his own) for Christ. And I can agree with that! If we’re serious about our salvation, then we have no excuse for boredom. Talk to God, say a rosary, go to adoration, volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center! There are always ways to work for God.
Desire for Direction
There was a hilarious bit in the Office where Ryan was trying to explain his expectations to a new boss. “I got away with everything under the last boss, and it wasn’t good for me at all. So I want guidance. I want leadership. But don’t just, like, boss me around, you know? Like, lead me. Lead me… when I’m in the mood to be led.”
Just like with boredom, life in Christ gives us direction. Want to know what to do? Crack open a Bible and a Catechism. I can guarantee you’ll find direction there.
Desire for a Cause
Every other week, there’s a new trendy cause. Gun control is the big one now. But before that, it was Black Lives Matter, before that it was the Women’s March, before that it was Occupy Wall Street, before that it was Peace, before that it was Free Love… Young people are desperate to have some cause to live for.
The cause of Liberation from Sin sounds like a pretty good one to march behind to me!
Desire for an Integrated Sexuality
I was actually pretty surprised to hear an Evangelical in the 60s talking with such accuracy about sexuality. He reaffirmed the goodness of this gift but acknowledged the temptations to misuse it. He encouraged young people to keep themselves pure and to give the power of their sexuality over to Christ, and let Him transform that power into energy for doing His work.
I’d never thought of sexuality as a “power” before, and I’m still chewing on the idea a bit, but I like it. Gives me some thoughts about those pesky times of abstinence in Phase 2….
Desire for Adventure
In the 40s, skydiving is something people did when fighting in battle. Now it’s what we do for fun. Camping is what people without houses did. Now it’s recreation. My tiny little almost-three-year-old has started playing pretend. This week, he was on a Platypus finding expedition. We all crave adventure beyond the drudgery of our everyday.
Christ offers us that. The Book of Acts reads better than anything by Robert Louis Stevenson, or even Tom Clancy. Shipwreck, beheadings, imprisonment, travel, danger, supernatural intervention…! The lives of the saints read similarly. A life devoted to following Christ is a life of adventure.
Desire to Impact Real Change
Similarly to needing a crusade, as young men and women, we have a desire (and the energy) to change the world. We could try to do that by enacting policy and regulations, or we could do it by working to change the hearts of men. It’ll be much more effective if we take that route.
A Final Warning
Finally, the Rev. Graham left with a warning. A life of habitual sin hardens the heart to God’s call. We think we have time. We can do what we want now, and turn to God tomorrow, next year, or when we’re old. Even if we are given the gift of old age, we might not have a receptive heart.
We have everything to lose by waiting to turn to God, so don’t put it off!
I don’t know how many were “saved” at that crusade over fifty years ago in the South. And honestly, I don’t really think it matters. Because the message of Reverend Billy Graham is still being proclaimed, and it is still just as relevant as it was back then. I thank God for the good that the Reverend was able to accomplish in his 99 years here on earth, and even beyond.
Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace. Amen