Another Article about Millenials (But This One Also Talks About the Spiritual Life!)

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In the last few years, a preferred topic of journalistic inquiry amongst concerned Baby Boomers and Gen Xers is the unique situation caused by the invasion of the workforce by Millenials. Born from the early 80s to the early aughts, Millenials bear the positive distinction of being among the most idealistic and socially conscious generations ever. Formed in the Internet Age, Millenials have knowledge of and wish to improve things on a global stage in a way no other generation has even had an opportunity to.

This idealism is not solely limited to notions of transcontinental betterment, however. Unfortunately, many have noted that these same Millenials also bear unrealistically idealistic notions of their own capabilities leading to a sense of grandiosity and entitlement often categorized under the term of “narcissism.”

Sociologists debate how seemingly an entire generation has been captured by Narcissus’ condition, but, no matter the cause, the effects seem rather dire. Relationships between Millenials often can suffer because of this shared selfishness, but it also seems to hamper the ability of my generation to really grind out a job in the work place The latter is the most frequently discussed fruit of this excessive self-love and is the main topic to be analyzed in this article.

Having been told they are special throughout their entire developmental life, Millenials find it difficult to put their head down and crank out the work required of entry-level positions because they feel that their skill set requires more challenge and excitement. Can you really blame them? They’ve been told since kindergarten to “follow their passions” and if the situation you’re in doesn’t really resonate with your ideals and passions then something is defective. One can see the apparent difficulties for Millenials relationships (i.e. “as soon as you encounter difficulties it’s nothing you have to change about yourself it’s their problem and run”) and the same dynamic is played out at the professional level.

Wait, but people on TV never have to work.
Wait, but people on TV never have to work.

My intention with this article is not to simply ensure that an online Catholic journal has an article similar to those that have been written dozens of times already on Yahoo News! or for the Huffington Post. Neither is it my intention to join the chorus of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers who are “…just so appalled at the lack of a work ethic in this newest generation.” Rather, I would seek to call out to Catholics Millenials who have grown up in the “You Are Special” milieu to confront how the inability to find meaning in the mundane can be a profound detriment to a relationship with Jesus.

Note the tendency of the Millenial: an overexalted sense of self leads to a general discontentment with being engaged in a *gulp* NORMAL way of life. When this underlying tendency becomes “Catholicized,” this sense of grandiosity becomes applied to the spiritual life. We may even convince ourselves that such notions are really God’s voice we are hearing.

I have a theory that the vocation of Perpetual Discernment is in some sense related to this grandiosity. “Only when I find a situation that perfectly “fits” me will I choose to dive into it.”

In other cases, my fellow Millenials and I will read the Lives of the Saints and be convinced that we too MUST be called to such exalted levels of public immolation. This conviction leads to discontentment with our little sacrifices surrounding family life and 9-5 employment. If we really loved the Lord (and if He really loved us), then we would have an international speaking ministry or would already be in South Sudan serving orphans, right? I posit the question to my fellow sinners though, are these the only real paths to holiness? Does sanctity really require such public displays? Is that ALWAYS the Lord’s desire for you as a saint?

I think in part because of my own Millenialness, I’ve begun to develop a deep devotion to the saints who haven’t been canonized by the Church. There are probably some pretty powerful, heavy-hitters sitting up there right by the throne of Jesus of whom we here on Earth have never even heard. Close to the Lord’s heart. Completely anonymous.

To put a finer point on it, the real difficulty is this: if our excessive sense of self causes us to be discontent with our daily lives and unable to find the Lord’s hand working in the mundane, then we are currently, right now, missing the only opportunity for grace that is being offered to us. Holiness, sanctity, grace is a present moment kind of thing and if our present moment is pretty *gulp* NORMAL then the Lord has chosen for us a quiet and private holiness, at least for now.

Let’s be those kind of saints, guys. No one’s going to know about us, but we’re going to know the Lord’s heart pretty well.

Tim Glemkowski

Tim Glemkowski

Tim Glemkowski believes that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. He teaches high school sophomores about the Sacraments and morality. His first love, American football, has in recent years been replaced with a love for futbol, as it were, and you can find him most Saturday mornings watching the EPL matches that week. He loves to find the "seeds of the word" in our culture as a means for the re-evangelization of that culture and will often write about that very thing.

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13 thoughts on “Another Article about Millenials (But This One Also Talks About the Spiritual Life!)”

  1. Avatar

    Tim,
    Yes especially to your main point. Luke says that Christ went down to Nazareth and was obedient to Joseph and Mary. In short Christ obeyed Joseph thousands of times in the borrrrinnnggg….and millenials need to ruminate on that.
    Joseph says “Jesus, pass me that jar of nails.” But Joseph says it about 2000 times by the time Christ leaves home. Christ prior to 30 years old….thousands of times minimum, obeyed “pass me that jar of nails”; ” Jesus, get some vegetables from the market this morning”; “Jesus, clean out the outhouse”; “Jesus, pick up the lumber today with the mule from the mill near your cousins’ house”.
    Jesus obeyed the boring mundane thousands of times AFTER having made all the galaxies and dark stars and planets and tropical birds and elephants as the eternal Word. And Mary, Joseph and Jesus all knew it. There must have been jokes. Joseph says, “I know it’s not like creating the sun, Jesus, but could you please pick up a door hinge at the market today”…”And bread” chimes in Mary. Jesus suggests, ” It’s raining…how about I produce them ex nihilo just for old times sake.”
    They all laugh as He heads out into the rain to carry the cross of boring that runs through part of life thanks to the original couple.
    In short Christ’s obedience thousands of times in the boring…should be a light unto the millenials and to all of us. Luke 2:51, ” He went down with them then, and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them.”

  2. Avatar

    ” And you shall know them by their fruits.” I think there’s a pretty viable orchard
    growing out there and the vinedresser prunes whether you believe or know it.
    Nicely done.

  3. Avatar

    Spot on in so many ways! Whenever I feel that itch, I remind myself that you bloom where you’re planted. You don’t have to go around the world to be a missionary.

  4. Pingback: One Millennial’s Restlessness : IgnitumToday

  5. Avatar

    Your article resonates with me.

    I was a finance lawyer, and I quit. Several reasons there were, but one of them was the ethical issue. Do you remember 2008? Well, the crisis didn’t cause much to change among lawyers and bankers.

    I reflected a lot before quitting. I really did wonder whether I should not be with the Sudanese orphans. I also pondered whether those thoughts were more vain than noble (perhaps they were, a bit).

    Well, I realized I’m not Mother Theresa, and if sainthood is an universal vocation, then certainly ordinary people must have their own ordinary way, as a world of Theresas would be full of love but would lack food, and houses, and doctors. But still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that what I was doing wasn’t worth doing.

    So I quit, but I didn’t do it to become Mother Theresa. I’m now trying my way in another, very ordinary, occupation (it’s not going very well so I would appreciate prayer). I know I’ve made the right choice as previously I had a guilty conscience every other day, and now I only have failure to fear. Which is bad, but still better than a guilty conscience.

    I still pray for the Lord to put me where I’m needed (I don’t think it is Sudan, but who knows?).

  6. Avatar

    Probably “millennium”, at least to someone born before 1980, even if my daughter’s Scholastic Children’s Dictionary from 1996 states on its back cover that it “is an essential tool for children to carry them into the next millenium.”

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