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Fr. Glenn: Finding Strength Within

on October 22, 2017 - 5:56am
By Rev. Glenn Jones
Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church
Los Alamos

A belated (and certainly inadequate) nod of thanks and admiration goes to our first responders. Friday the 13th was truly a hard and trying day for them as they responded to the death of an infant in that early morning. Thank you, brave lads and lasses, for your service to that family, and daily to our community.  Only Heaven can count the sorrows that each of you have alleviated or prevented over the years of your service.

Such careers as first responder (police, firefighter, EMT, etc.) … military, nurse, doctor, medical tech, etc., take a lot of inner strength—not only in achieving to such careers, but in facing the stresses inherent within them. People’s lives are in their hands, after all, and each action (or inaction) may have far-reaching consequences.

Considering this, we often witness the habits of high schoolers on a daily basis as they traverse our grounds here at IHM. This year has been significantly different. Cigarette smoking by students has come back with a vengeance—something we rarely saw in the past … so much so that we’ve even had to put up “No Smoking” signs. Sheesh! If they had to watch their dad die of lung cancer metastasized to the brain like I did, making him babble like an infant, they’d toss the cigarettes and never touch them again. But youth tend to have that delusion of indestructibility.

More troublesome is the pot smoking … and who knows what else. There have always been a few kids clambering down Acid Canyon which borders our parking lots during the school year, but there has recently been a significant increase in numbers and frequency—before, during and after school. Last Thursday when about 20 hurried over the canyon edge by the picnic area in our east parking lot during lunch (about 11:30 a.m., by the way), I went over and saw a number of them smoking … and I doubt it was loose tobacco in those plastic baggies!

A warning scattered them, but likely they simply went farther down. Sigh. Let’s hope the name “Acid” Canyon doesn’t take on the drug-related connotation of the term (Is LSD still a thing? ... or does meth remain the drug of choice, glamorized all the more by “Breaking Bad”). The police have gone down the canyon periodically in the past, I think, but it’s too easy for the young and nimble to slip away among the trees and rocks. The police have been informed about last week’s activity; we can only hope their attention can help stem the habit (no pun intended) before it goes into something worse.

Even at that age I never understood the drug culture/mentality—perpetually skulking, ever concerned with not being caught, always under the danger of BEING caught and thus never at peace, obsessing for your next “hit” and stealing from loved ones to acquire it. The “druggies” I knew in high school never had much success … and now they’re dying in their mid-50s. Even dealers, though they may live more luxuriously, are always under the threats of going to jail/prison, betrayal, etc. Look at the kingpin El Chapo, after all. No thanks! 

And thus the necessity of inner strength for a good life—self-control, self-command, self-discipline … whatever term one might use. With increasing hormonal maturity, teenagers naturally desire to exert their independence, but hopefully they’ll make good, intelligent decisions. How ironic that many persons—even the young—can’t, or won’t, reason to logical end the fact that self-destructive behavior damages, and perhaps even destroys, themselves and others. I’ve long lost count of the number of persons I’ve buried who died directly or indirectly due to drugs or alcohol abuse—OD’s, cirrhosis, DWIs (both users AND bystanders), broken drug deals, etc., not even to mention the carnage to families, prison time, etc., to the agony of their family and friends.

All of us were teens and experienced those impulses to rebel, to exert independence, the lure of the forbidden, the adrenal shot of “daring”. But there are better ways than surrendering to peer pressure—especially with drugs. After all, who is stronger—the one who buckles to peer pressure, or the one who has his own mind ... and uses it!  The old adage is borne out with life’s experience: “Cream rises to the top.” And don’t forget that with each “fix” further finances slavery, prostitution, rape, kidnaping, murder, and much human misery.

So, kids … be smart. Find within yourselves strength to be truly independent and of strong self-determination, resisting that which is bad and harmful and seeking the wise and the good. That strength is within you, but it takes determination to both exercise and remain in it. As St. Paul says so notably: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) Good luck … and fight the good fight!