Many uncivilized tribes consider the time when a male reaches adolescence as one of the most important occasions of his life. They put him through many tests and force him to endure intense pain to prove that he’s got the qualities he’ll need to be a man.
When he passes these tests, he steps into young manhood. And all other members of the tribe clearly understand that he deserves new privileges and responsibilities in keeping with his new station.
These tribes probably never heard the word “teenager.” But in some respects they’re smarter than we are. They recognize a basic point about growing up that we, with all our learning and culture, often overlook. And this point is that a boy and girl entering the teens are entering what could be the most important stage of their lifetime – a time when they’ll stride toward their complete independence as a young man and woman, mature and grown-up.
This ceremony helps the young tribesmen to understand just what’s expected of them, and what they have a right to expect, in the years of their development that lie ahead. No book is needed to guide them. Even if a book were written, most of them wouldn’t be able to read it.
Because we don’t have such elaborate rites for adolescents, and because today’s teenagers often are bewildered about what’s expected of them next, a book is highly necessary.
It is important to understand the attitudes you should have in this stage of your life – the privileges, responsibilities, opportunities and challenges, opening up to you.
As a teenager, you’ll experience vast physical, emotional and intellectual changes which will affect your relationships with all about you. These changes result from one simple fact: you’re stepping from the snug security of childhood to the freedom and independence of adulthood.
Where Are You Going?
Before you can make any real decisions about the kind of adult you want to be and the kind of life you want to lead, you obviously must understand why you were born in the first place.
If you don’t know, you’d be like a man who awoke one morning and found himself on a strange planet about which he knew nothing. He might be amused or interested by this sight or that, but he’d miss the entire meaning of what he saw and he’d be unable to find any significance in his entire journey.
Fortunately, you can know why you’re here. You are here because God put you here. As God’s handiwork you reflect Him, His planning, and His Glory. You are expected to pay homage to your heavenly Father and to use your talents well.
This is no lasting city, you know, for even the young have seen death. But if you complete your earthly mission successfully, you will be given a home with God forever.
Therefore, as you look to your future, keep this goal always before you.
What does it profit you if you attain worldly success, wealth, or pleasure, and at the end of your life find to your dismay that you have not lived as God wanted you to?
The eternal displeasure of God is a terrifying thought for anyone tempted to forget that God has definite ideas of how you shall spend your life.
Soon you’ll have to answer hundreds of other questions concerning your life – questions about your future, your vocation, the conduct of your business affairs, about marriage and parenthood.
If you’re like the rest of us, you won’t know the best answers at once. But if you make sure that your answers to all these little questions will match the right answer to the big question – if you constantly ask whether this act you’re considering, this goal you’re seeking, will help you save your soul – you’ll have a standard to guide you. No matter what’s happening around you, you’ll be secure; you’ll have something sturdy and unyielding to cling to.
You can find your security in the teaching of the Church. She has the answer to any and all specific problems regarding your relationship with Almighty God.
You needn’t – in fact, you must not – depend entirely upon yourself to make sure that you’re serving God in this world in the way He wants. By following the teaching of the Church, however, you can always know that you’re on the right path.
“Spiritual reading is to the soul what food is to the body. Be careful, therefore, to select such books as will furnish your soul with the best nourishment.”- Light and Peace, Quadrupani, 1795