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When you’re ready to join the movement of remarkable young Catholics, visit: www.YoungCatholicAmerican.com


Young 8

Catholic 24

American 40

What to do now 56


Young. Catholic. American.

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You are not alone. I feel it, too. In fact, everywhere you look men and women of all ages are thinking the same thing: something is wrong. Every time you watch the news and see the day’s headlines you get that sinking feeling in your gut. “Planned Parenthood launches ‘40 Days of Prayer’ for abortion” “41 percent of NYC pregnancies end in Abortion” “Forget Church and Follow Jesus: Christianity in Crisis” “One Town’s War On Gay Teens” The feeling comes back when you log onto your Facebook account and read status update after status update about people doing what they shouldn’t be doing or forwarding ideas that they shouldn’t be forwarding. Sometimes you post your opposition. Sometimes you don’t. But every time you think to yourself, “How can they possibly believe that?” That pit in your stomach grows when you see books like “God isn’t Good” and “The God Delusion” topping sales charts on Amazon; videos like “Why I Hate Religion but Love Jesus” going viral on YouTube; and see how many people click “Like” for articles that blatantly skew and distort Catholicism, such as “The Jesus-eating cult of Rick Santorum.” You know something is wrong and you’re not alone. We all know something is wrong.

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Young. Catholic. American.

Now it is time to do something about it. This book isn’t a book. It’s a manifesto. It’s about an idea and about a movement. I’m writing to ask you to join something special. In fact, I want you to change the world. You see, books aren’t like that. They aren’t that ambitious. In fact, even though most nonfiction books are 190 pages long and a standard 5” x 8” in dimension, the ideas they contain can usually be summed up in less than 20 pages. The contents are watered down for adoption by the general public and usually aren’t bold enough to present anything dramatically different from what someone else already presented under another title. And, strikingly enough, 87% of people who buy a book won’t ever read past the first two chapters. Manifestos are different. They are written to be read. Not by everyone, of course, but by you. They are for people who are different. People who want to do something. That’s why I wrote this. I wanted to capture what everyone is feeling and no one is saying. I wrote it to bring everyone that reads it to a decision point: you either agree with it or not. You’re either going to leave and do something or not. Join the movement or not. Because there is an urgency to this present moment. Our world is in need of a new way to look at itself. A new idea. So here’s what I believe:

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You are remarkable. Now go. Make something happen. www.youngcatholicAmerican.com

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Young. Catholic. American. You have everything you need to do anything you’ve ever dreamed of doing. Don’t wait. That may not sound very profound, but we live in a culture where a majority of people settle for mediocrity. They work a 9-5 job they aren’t passionate about and save up for a future that may never come. They envision retierment as an “I never have to work again” moment in their lives. Of course, if you’re doing something you don’t enjoy it is understandable why you would view retierment as your way out. However, the world has opened up. Your life can (and should) be an extension of your dreams. You can help people in remarkable new ways that previous generations could not. Yet most people still settle for the old way of life. I’m here to encourage you to create a remarkable life for yourself. To dream bigger and help a little bit more. To start now instead of later. To embrace those leaps of faith and the idea that in America you really can create a life based on your dreams. Because they are all linked, afterall. You are about to read three short riffs that I have written about being young, Catholic, and American. At first, they may seem separate; however, the link that ties them together is the opportunity they present to you. If you don’t embrace one it is difficult to truly embrace the others. The world has changed a lot from a generation ago. Young doesn’t mean waiting in line anymore, it means going out and changing the world. It means leveraging your passion and drive to create things that matter. To not wait until tomorrow to do what you can do today. Being Catholic isn’t a hobby. It’s a life fully alive. It’s about worshiping God as He has revealed Himself to us, not inventing a God of your own 5


Parsons to worship. It is rooted in the Truth about who you are and what you are created to do. There is a responsibility that comes with it, too. It means articulating your faith to others, to be joyful to the point where your cheeks hurt, and charitable to the point where others turn their heads and wonder about you. It means transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary. Actually, it means striving for sainthood and not settling for less. And being American doesn’t mean keeping your religion a private matter. No, the “American experiment” means you bring your Catholic faith into the national dialog. It means owning up to the demands of the American Dream — that you have the right to fail and with that the opportunity to achieve your wildest dreams. It means protecting those “Natural Rights, endowed by your Creator.” You were born into a country created for your ability to forge your own life for yourself. Don’t shrink to that opportunity, and certainly don’t take it away from others. There are millions of people around the country like you and I. Young, Catholic, Americans who know something needs to be done and have been waiting for someone to say “Go!” Well, consider this your permission to go forward, to start, to be remarkable.

www.youngcatholicAmerican.com

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Young: [yuhng](n)(a)

1. Having the appearance, freshness, vigor, or other qualities of youth. 2. Undiscovered potential, as in when young people start using their gifts things are going to get real!

“Through your joyful witness and service, help to build a civilization of love. Show, by your life, that it is worth giving your time and talents to attain high ideals.� Pope Francis at World Youth Day 2013

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The Dumbest Generation That’s you. I’m not calling you dumb. “They” are (and specifically, the author of the book The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupifies Young Americans and Jeapordizes our Future is). “They” think all you do is play video games and eat Taco Bell. “They” think you are way too into yourself, calling you part of the “Me” Generation. “They” don’t think you get it. They cite standardized test scores and job surveys and how much time you spend on things they don’t understand like Facebook and Pinterest. “They” don’t think there is any hope for your (our) generation, for the future of the country, mankind, the world, the universe… etc. But the world has changed dramatically in the past 20 years. It doesn’t look the same now. There are new opportuniteis and challenges. That’s why I don’t expect them to get it. And that is where we come in.

Right now is the best time to be alive...ever. The playing field has been leveled. Technology, specifically the Internet, has changed everything. Our relationships, the way we communicate, our ability to educate ourselves, the way we earn money, and almost every other area of life has changed. The future of business, politics and technology is being created in dorm rooms and garages and basements across the country. Young entrepreneurs aren’t waiting in line to start businesses. They are diving in now, while they are young, doing work that matters. They are failing and learning from their

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Young. Catholic. American. experiences so that next time they can do it right. They are speaking out on YouTube, starting movements on KickStarter, and organizing communities on Facebook. Actually, they are also the ones who created YouTube, KickStarter and Facebook. Google and Yahoo and Mozilla Firefox and Pinterest and Twitter and Threadless and WordPress and Digg and Reddit and Yelp and Groupon and Mashable and 99Designs and DropBox and Instagram and countless other apps, programs, softwares, and businesses millions of people around the world use every day were designed by young Americans with a dream and initiative. The opportunity is there — and for the first time in a very long history of human development you have the choice between an old way of life and a new way.

The old way of doing things: -Graduate from high school. -Attend a four-year college. -Take out lots of student loans. -Graduate from college. -Enter work force to pay off student loans. -Get married, have kids. -Buy a house, take out a mortgage, buy a lawn mower. -Make sure your job can turn into a career because you now have student loans and a mortgage to pay off (and it’s going to take a while). -Buy things. Work hard so you can buy more things. Buy things you can’t afford to buy. Encourage others to buy things so you don’t feel so bad about the things you bought. Accumulate “stuff.” -Fifty years later retire. Receive gold watch for your efforts. Play golf in Florida. If that sounds like what you want in life, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. For many people, the security that lifestyle affords them is what makes it worthwhile. But what is remarkable about this moment in history 11


Parsons is that you now have the option to pick another way of life. For the first time in centuries your life can take a different trajectory. And, for many, that’s pretty exciting. I call it the New School way of doing things. Here’s what that can look like: -Graduate from high school. -Find out what you’re passionate about. Travel. Start a business. Work. Volunteer. -If necessary, go to college. -If necessary, take out student loans. -Enter the work force. Find a job that is meaningful. It may not make you rich, but it makes a difference in the world, and that’s what you’re looking for in a job anyway. -Live with your parents until that job pays well or they make you pay rent, whichever comes first. -Get married. Have kids. Have someone else mow your lawn. -Switch jobs as many times as necessary to ensure you are doing work that matters. -Provide for your family. Buy only what you need. -Retirement is “Plan B.” Doing what you love for the rest of your life is “Plan A.” Still golf, just not necessarily in Florida. It doesn’t have to look like this though. In fact, that’s the point of the New School way of life. Whereas the Old School way follows a set schedule and has pre-determined expectations, the New School way is up to you. It may not be safe, but it certainly can be more fulfilling. Of course, there isn’t anything necessarily wrong with the Old School way of life. It’s safe and predictable and secure. You know what to expect and strive for. But if safe and predictable and secure mean not pursuing your dreams, is it really a life worth living? And in light of the recent economic downturn, seeing the economy shift so drastically and so many become unemployed, is there really much safety or security in the Old School way of life anyway?

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Young. Catholic. American.

The shift that changed it all Twenty years ago, information was expensive. So expensive, in fact, that you needed to attend a four-year institution to access the greatest minds in the world. Today, you can log onto websites like AcademicEarth.com or Ted.com and take courses from Ivy League professors and hear keynote talks by successful innovators for free. It’s just a mouse click away. Think about that! You can receive the same education as students who are paying thousands of dollars — only you can get it for free. The only thing you don’t get is the diploma at the end. But you do get the same knowledge. And it’s what you decide to do with that knowledge that really matters anyway, right? Twenty years ago, if you wanted to start a company you needed a business plan, capital, know-how, infrastructure, distribution networks, and marketing solutions. You probably needed an MBA to get investors and experience working in a cubicle for 5-10 years to be taken seriously. Today, you can start a company from your kitchen table, for free. All you need is a laptop, Internet access and a dream. You can make money doing what you love by connecting with like-minded people through social networks. You can distribute your product or idea through Craigslist, eBay, Etsy, or Amazon. Whatever your dream is, you can pursue it. Whatever you’re passionate about, you can make a living from it. Anything you want to learn about, you can find information about it on line. So what is stopping you? The world has changed. No longer is it about waiting in lines for degrees or promotions, paying off loans, or putting dreams off until “tomorrow”. In this new world anything is possible. The only question is, what do you want to do? And that’s often the most difficult question to answer.

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Shopping for razor blades I hate shopping for razor blades. Absolutely loathe it. Every time I go to the store I end up standing in the razor blade aisle for 15 minutes comparing brands and the number of blades and whether or not I want to go cheap or if I want to pay $5 per blade and really invest in the grooming of my facial hair. Then there are pre-shave scrubs, post-shave skin moisturizers, and shaving creams. There are so many options and combinations that anyone walking by must think I’m writing a dissertation on the topic. When they walk by again 10 minutes later and I’m still there, still reading, they must just think I’m crazy. I get paralyzed by choice. If I choose one thing, I can’t have the others. If I get the gel, I miss out on the cream. If I get the pre-shave scrub for “sensitive skin” I’m missing out on the scrub that provides “the most comfortable shave of your life. Guaranteed.” (How do they even guarantee something like that?) Economists call this “opportunity cost” — the cost you forego when you make a choice. If you choose A, you can’t choose B. If you get the “whitening” toothpaste you can’t get the “fresh breath” toothpaste. If you decide on the three-meat spaghetti sauce you miss out on the garden vegetable variety. In a world of unlimited choices the hardest thing to do is pick one. Just one. There is so much opportunity out there, the world has opened up so much, that you can literally do anything you want to do. And that scares most people into doing nothing at all. But unless you pick, unless you decide to be remarkable and follow your dream, then you’ll never get to where you want to go. And if you decide to wait until tomorrow to make the choice, odds are that someone else will get there first.

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Young. Catholic. American.

“What am I supposed to do with my life?” For starters, ask a different question. You aren’t supposed to do anything. You’re supposed to give something. You’re supposed to come alive. Live adventures. Get excited. And almost always that means giving something. Time. Effort. Love. Sacrifice. During these times of giving you come alive. Right now too many people aren’t really living -- they are just going through the motions. They aren’t really giving anything, either. But here’s the good part: You have a say in your life. So instead of asking what you are supposed to do with your life, ask what you can give to others to provide them with value. What gifts do you have that can help other people? That’s your next step. That’s the business you start or the art you create -- the one that allows you to help the most people. The strange truth of the matter is this: when you give of yourself, you usually find what makes you fully alive. When you look at how to help other people you discover your deepest dreams for yourself. And that dream is what God is calling you to do with your life.

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There is a boardroom down the street from you Like every other boardroom in the world, it’s filled with MBAs and CEOs and CPAs and college graduates. They are all sitting around a table listening to the person at the front talk from a powerpoint presentation on how to make their product (that no one really needs) affordable to everyone. No one is really listening, though. The woman on the far side is daydreaming about skiing in Colorado this winter. The man nursing his coffee is thinking about the plot line for that book he has been planning to write since college (now he’s waiting until he retires in 20 years). The intern in the corner is wondering how long it will be until she can afford to take that trip around the world she has always wanted to take. And the gentlemen across the room is doodling his thoughts for an invention he brainstormed moments ago. Each one of them has a dream in their heart. Even the guy giving the presentation. But I wonder how long (if ever) it will be before they pursue it? How long will it be before they decide to live the life they have always imagined, start the company they know will add value to people’s lives, and make the decision to not settle for less than remarkable in their life? Any one of those people could up and leave that meeting at any moment to pursue their dream. The issue isn’t whether they can. The issue is whether they believe in themselves and their idea and their dream enough to embrace a new way of living -- one focused on being remarkable rather than blending in. What do you daydream about and when are you going to start?

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Young. Catholic. American.

Stop being good Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Even though you may play the piano well doesn’t mean you should become a professional musician. There has to be something else besides talent that drives you. In a world with so much information you could become good at anything. If you wanted to learn how to throw a football, you could do it. But if football doesn’t light a fire in your soul then why would you try out for a shot in the NFL? Sure, you could become quite good at accounting or business or sales, but if accounting and business and sales don’t get you excited to head into the office each day, then why move your life in that direction? Being good has become easier than ever. There are several good restaurants in your neighborhood. YouTube is full of good musicians waiting to be picked up by a record lable. Every year colleges around the country graduate good students. Being good isn’t good enough anymore. What do you want to be remarkable at? What do you want to be known for? That’s the person you need to start getting serious about becoming. And if you don’t want to strive to be the best in the world at it, then maybe you should rethink what it is you want to do with your life.

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The big lie. The big lie is that you can wait. Start tomorrow, they say. Tomorrow when you have better equipment. Tomorrow when you have more time. Tomorrow when you have more money. Tomorrow when you retire. Tomorrow... Too many people are betting on tomorrow. They are trading the best years of their life for a lie that someday in the future will be a better time for them to start. Work hard now so that when you’re 50 years old you can afford to chase your dreams. Work a 9-5 job that doesn’t matter now so when you’re older you can do something that matters with your life. What’s wrong with that is if you really want to start something that matters now, you can. You don’t have to wait. You’re young. You have energy. You have a fresh view of the world. You understand technology because you use it every day. You have all the resources now, why not start when you have the most energy you’ll ever have in your life? If you’re planning on investing time and energy and sweat and blood into a remarkable idea later, why not start it now and turn it into a life’s work? Why not make a living (now) doing what you’ve always wanted to do (but relegated to the future)? Why not start on your life’s work now?

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Young. Catholic. American.

What we don’t need. A generation of workers who hate their jobs. A group of dispassionate workers who show up, grind out eight hours, collect a pay check, and don’t believe in what they do 40 hours each week.

What we do need. A generation of workers who work their butts off to create products and services that make a difference in the world. We need people who see money in terms of value added to people’s lives instead of how much “stuff” they can buy with it. We need a generation of passionate workers who show up because they love what they do and would do it for half the money. Their work is an extension of who they are outside of work.

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We need this generation to be great. Let’s set a new trajectory of remarkability for the world. I think of Mark Zuckerberg. He doesn’t show up at Facebook every day because he wants to earn more money. He’s made his billions of dollars. He could easily buy an island in the Caribbean, build a mansion, and sip Mai-Tais as he watches the sun rise and fall over the horizon for the rest of his life. But he doesn’t. He shows up at Facebook because he believes in what he does. He wants to connect people. He thinks it’s cool to share and connect and create community. The same goes for Bill Gates. He doesn’t show up to work because he needs the money. He shows up because he wants to change the way the world uses technology. He wants to make life easier for people. And so he shows up, day after day. Success isn’t an accident. Whether you’re Steve Jobs or Michael Jordan, you are going to be successful if you believe in yourself and your dreams. The most successful people don’t care about money. They care about adding value to people’s lives.

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Young. Catholic. American.

The next step: Quit. Quit everything that is keeping you from doing what you want to do. Quit school if it is teaching you how to be closed-minded instead of thinking creatively. Quit Facebook if you’re using it to avoid working on what you should be working on. Quit your cell phone if it keeps interrupting you when you’re trying to focus. Quit friendships that aren’t leading you towards holiness. Quit hanging around nay-sayers who bring you down and dream small dreams. Don’t quit just for the sake of quitting. Quit because if you don’t quit, you’ll end up going where you don’t want to go -- you’ll end up being who you don’t want to be. And you’ll end up wasting your youth on things you don’t want to look back and say that you wasted your youth on. Thrash and quit and reduce and streamline everything in your life until you can focus on your dream. Once you’ve quit what needs quitting, then, before wasting anymore time...

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Start. You don’t need a large bank account to get started. You don’t need to be 50 years old or have a degree from Harvard to start a business or non-profit or write a book or sell your art. You can do it all right now. But you have to choose to start that business or that non-profit or write that book or sell that art. Don’t pick them all at once and certainly don’t wait. Focus on what really matters and start. Start surrounding yourself with people who share your dream. Start moving forward instead of waiting. Start living the life you’ve imagined for yourself instead of the life others are telling you to settle for. You only get to be young once. Don’t look back and say the most remarkable thing you did in your youth was party and make bad choices. What do you want to do with your life? It’s time to start. While you’re young.

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Catholic: [kath-lik](n)(a) 1. Including or concerning all humankind. Universal. 2. The fullness of Jesus Christ’s revelation to mankind. Truth. “I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic church...” Nicean Creed, 325AD

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Young. Catholic. American.

In 1893 the world changed. That year, Chicago hosted a party to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus landing on the American continent. The party was called the World’s Fair, the Colombian Exposition. For 150 years prior to the fair, the world had undergone the Industrial Revolution, creating technologies such as the steam engine, the cotton gin, interchangeable parts, and locomotives. Now it was time to show the world these inventions. Over 26 million entrepreneurs, scientists, inventors, chefs, adventurers, botanists, artists, academics, government leaders, and spectators came to see the newest gadgets and foods and inventions and tools, and to meet the diversity of people and cultures gathered from all across the globe. They strolled up and down the midway, looking at exhibits and demonstrations on things like the newly invented zipper; tasting the new confection of popcorn, peanuts and molasses called “Cracker Jacks”; testing out the first fully automatic dishwasher; and riding on the fair’s largest attraction: the Chicago Ferris Wheel (built to upstage the previous fair’s largest attraction: the Eiffel Tower). People walked up and down the streets listening to energetic proclamations of the amazing things these inventions could do, how exciting their gadget would make life, and how delicious these new foods tasted. People would crowd around excitedly asking, “What is it?” and “What does it do?” and “Can I see?” and “Show me more!” Today, I think the world is asking the same questions. Most people I know, most people you know, have heard of Jesus Christ and they have heard of the Catholic Church. They know “What it is.” Now they are standing around wondering, “What does it do?” and “Can I see it?” and “Show me!”

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Parsons It is time to show them. I mean really get serious about living out in our daily life everything this “Catholic Thing” has to offer.

I’m not trying to convert you to Catholicism. I’m not going to explain Catholic theology or argue with you about whether or not the Pope is infallible. I don’t want to talk to you about birth control or abortion or the ethics behind human cloning. Let’s not talk about homosexual marriage or immigration policy or worker’s rights or health care mandates. Not here. If that’s what you want to talk about, then I’m not talking to you right now. But if you are looking at Catholicism and asking yourself, “What is it for?” or “What does this Catholic thing do?” then let’s talk about what to do next...

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Young. Catholic. American.

Live it. (seriously)

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Parsons I know, that’s cliché and is really not good enough for most people. “Live it” really doesn’t tell us what to “live” if we have no concept of what “it” is. So read the Bible. Absolutely. Go to Mass. Yes. Avoid falling into sin. Of course. But when you’re ready, I mean when you really are serious about what this Catholic Thing is and does, then decide to live it out. Simply reading the Bible, going to Mass and not falling into “big” sins is not the end-all-be-all of a heart burning with love for Jesus Christ. Sure, these are foundational to our salvation. But you were created to go beyond these. They are a springboard into a dynamic life of faith and love and joy -- not merely an end point. In other words, it gets better.

“What do we do now?” There is a passage in the Bible that has always struck a chord with me. In Acts 2, the Holy Spirit has just descended upon the crowd gathered at Pentecost, and after Peter stands up and testifies to the Truth about Jesus Christ being the Messiah, everyone sits around looking at each other in awe and amazement. “[T]hey were cut to the heart, and they asked Peter and the other apostles, ‘What are we to do, my brothers?’” Aren’t most Catholics wondering the same thing? Baptized, confirmed, maybe even married, and the Holy Spirit is stirring inside them; but they sit looking at each other wondering “What are we to do now? What do we do with it today and tomorrow and for the rest of our lives?”

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Young. Catholic. American.

Then we hear what those first Christians did. In Acts 2:42, it says, “They devoted themselves to the teachings of the apostles and to communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.” The teachings of the apostles and the communal life, submitting themselves to and participating in the life of the Church. To the breaking of the bread and to prayer, embracing the Mass and the sacraments. If you’re reading this, that is probably where you’re at. You’re looking for something more to do with it. You’re Catholic. You go to Mass, maybe even daily. Maybe you go to Confession regularly. You pray. You avoid “big” sins. If you’re reading this, you’re probably asking yourself, “Ryan, you’re preaching to the choir. I mean, come on, I’m a good Catholic.” And I’m sure you are. And yet you are the one I want to talk to. You are the one who cares and wants to take it a step further. You are the one who recognizes something is missing and cares enough to start trying to find it.

Because Acts 2 is just the beginning. The rest of Acts tells of the actions of the Apostles and faithful who had their hearts set on fire with the Holy Spirit. After devoting themselves to the foundations of their faith, they went out and changed the world with the love in their hearts. They couldn’t sit still! They couldn’t not go! Spiritually, you may be at Acts 2. But is that going to be the end of your spiritual journey or the beginning? You’ve got a decision to make. 29


Parsons You’re young. You’re Catholic. And now what? In the United States, the average person lives to be 74 years old. That means you have, God willing, the better part of your life ahead of you. And you’re here, Catholic, now. You’ve found it! Now what? What are you going to do for the rest of your life with this “Catholic thing”? Think about that for a moment. In 20 years, are you still just going to be going through the weekly routine of going to Mass on Sundays, grabbing a dounut afterwards, and then returning to the workweek Monday morning? Is your involvement in your parish going to look the way it does today in 20 years? Now that you’re Catholic, are you just going to ride it out until you die? Merely showing up for Mass for the rest of your life, meeting your Sunday obligation and throwing a few bucks in the collection plate isn’t the end of a heart on fire for Jesus Christ and His Church. Actually, if your faith looks the same in 20 years as it does today, I’d question if you actually have a relationship with Christ at all. You see, the history of Western Civilization is the story of what men and women have done with the joy, truth, love and peace they have found in the Love of Jesus Christ fully realized: Catholicism. You can’t contain that Love. You have to do something about it. See, historians place the apostles in their late teens when they walked with Jesus. They were in their early and mid 20s when they founded churches, when they walked around the known world preaching, teaching, curing, healing, baptizing and dying martyr deaths. They were young and bold in their faith. They had to do something with what they had experienced. If you want to know what to do with your faith, look at what others have

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Young. Catholic. American. done with their faith. Use them as inspiration. Faith in Jesus Christ moved Saint Paul to walk around the Roman Empire preaching the Good News that he knew was so dangerous it would certainly bring about his death. He couldn’t contain it. He had to do something with it. It moved Saint Anthony to sell his possessions and move out to the desert for six years to pray and fast, study and learn. It moved Saint Patrick to walk around the pagan island of Ireland, making converts of those he came across and building churches as he went. It moved Saint Francis to embrace “Lady Poverty” and spend his life preaching and helping the poor. It moved Saint Ignatius to teach and Saint Thomas to write and Saint Dominic to preach. And at age 16, it moved Saint Joan of Arc, a poor, illiterate peasant girl, to lead the whole army of France onto the field of battle against the army of England at the Battle of Orleans. And she won (Makes you think about what you did today!). That’s the power of Catholicism. That’s the role of grace. That’s the power of fully realizing and embracing God’s Love. Go to Mass. Absolutely. Avoid sin. Absolutely. Read the Bible and pray. Absolutely. But remember that the Spirit is moving you to do great things, things to glorify God. You weren’t made to be good. You were made to be remarkable. Whether you do little things with great love, like Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, or lead armies onto battlefields like Saint Joan of Arc, remember that your faith is not simply for holding the door open for people or smiling at strangers or helping old women cross the street. It’s for healing the sick 31


Parsons and bringing comfort to the dying and converting nations and moving mountains. If you’re settling for a faith you’re comfortable with, maybe it’s time to rethink your view of God’s Love for you. Because He will never be outdone in generosity. He will give you what you require to do what He wills. Are you okay with that? Or are you okay with merely going through the motions?

The one prayer that will change your life “Lord, make me a saint. I give You permission to remove everything in my life that is keeping me from holiness. Let me become the person You thought of when You first thought of me.” Can you pray that prayer whole-heartedly? Because God specifically thought of you, now, here, to become holy -- to become a great saint. In that singular instant when God thought of everything, he thought of creation and Adam and Eve; Noah and Abraham and Moses; David and Mary and Saints Peter and Paul; Saints Perpetua and Felicity and Gregory the Great. He thought of Saints John Vianny and Therese of Lisieux and Padre Pio and Blessed Mother Teresa and Blessed John Paul II. And then BOOM! He thought of you. Now. Right where you are at this very moment, for a purpose. God is calling you to holiness. To be a saint. He’s calling you to use the unique gifts and talents that he gave you to

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Young. Catholic. American. magnify some aspect of Himself -- of Love itself. He’s calling you to relentlessly love the people he has put in your life. He’s calling you to boldly run after the dream he has put in your heart. We don’t need another Saint Francis or Saint Ignatius. They had their time and they used their talents. We need you. Now. We need Saint “You.”

Nice guys finish last The saying “nice guys finish last” is usually true. They blend in. They settle for what everyone else is doing. They don’t cause a ruckus. Rarely (if ever) do they stand for anything except maintaining the status quo. Nice guys wait their turn and smile when they are supposed to smile. I know of no “nice” saints in the modern sense of the word. The saints were not push-overs. They did not merely tolerate the world they found themselves in. They worked to change it. Peacefully most of the time, if you consider spiritual warfare peaceful. But in every case, they stood their ground in the face of adversity. They kept their eyes on the Cross, on Christ, on their calling. They knew that charity doesn’t mean compliance. Love doesn’t endorse sin. Holiness is not merely comprised of being nice and smiling from a distance. They didn’t view the Church as just another non-profit agency serving food or distributing clothes. They knew their life meant more than all of that, and somehow they knew it was worth fighting for. 33


Parsons Afterall, being nice isn’t a virtue. Sure, there is a component of pleasantness that we recognize in saints that draws us in. Mother Teresa of Calcutta would have been fun company over a cup of tea, or St. Ignatius of Loyola might have been a good teammate in dodgeball or big base. Maybe so. But I’m sure both would insist on praying before meals, attending Mass on Sunday with their friends and family, responding to those who attack the Church when prudent, and evangelizing people in need of Christ’s unfailing Love. They wouldn’t compromise on what they knew to be true. Those things might not seem “nice” all the time. But you weren’t created to be nice. You were created to be holy. You were created to be a great saint. You might make people upset or angry. You might even offend people. To be clear, I’m not advising you go looking for a fight, but by all means, when the enemy is at the gates and your bride, the Church, is under attack, don’t settle for being a “nice guy.” “The hottest depths of hell are reserved for those who remain impartial in times of great moral struggle.” -Dante’s Inferno

The road map to sainthood There isn’t one. I can’t tell you what you need to do, but that’s the point. You have your own unique gifts, your own unique calling, your own unique love story with a God asking you to let Him into your life to do great things. I can’t tell you what to do with your life.

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Young. Catholic. American.

But I think you already know. It’s your dreams. My great fear is this: that you will go your whole life carrying around your dreams — keeping them to yourself. Your dreams for yourself, for others and for the world. When you meet God, you will ask Him, “What was it that you wanted me to do with my life? What was I supposed to do? Why didn’t you make it more clear?” He will simply look you in the eyes, sincerely pained but with sincere love, and reply, “Wasn’t it obvious? Wasn’t that desire in your heart powerful enough to direct you? I told you a million times and you daydreamed about it a million times and you almost started a million times. You knew. You just didn’t trust me enough to move.” Then you’ll look back on your life and realize that you always knew what he was calling you to do, you just never realized how much He loves you. In Love, now, move.

You’re on in 3…2…1… Life isn’t a dress rehearsal. You get one shot.

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WILL IT! Saint Thomas was asked by his sister, “What must I do to become a saint?” Saint Thomas replied, “WILL IT!” And so when you’re ready, when you’re looking for something to do with your life, when you have found Jesus Christ and can’t keep that love contained anymore, find your dream and then WILL IT!

Catholic Catholics The world is in crisis. Our culture is trying to redefine the human experience. Trying to redefine marriage. Trying to redefine families. Trying to redefine what constitutes a human life. Trying to redefine the role of religion in government. Trying to redefine where you get your rights from: God or the government. The world is in crisis. What is needed is not another reality television show or bigger television sets or another video game console or smaller smart phones. We don’t need more “nice” people or mediocre spirits. What is needed are men and women who desire sainthood. Who pray ardently. Who embrace God’s Church and who know intimately the Love of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.

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We don’t need to change anything, either. We’ve had the answer all along — the answers in the Truth of the Catholic Church. We need Catholics to be Catholics — and to fully embrace what that entails. We need Catholics to act. We need you. Now. The power of Catholicism is the power to change lives — to bring people authentic happiness, love and goodness. It’s the ability to change the world. People are watching. They are waiting to see what this “Catholic Thing” does. It is time to show them. It is time for you to show them.

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American:[ə-ˈmer-ə-kən](n) 1. of or related to the United States or its territories or possessions. 2. one who upholds and defends the intention of the Constitution of the United States. “When Americans cease to be good, America will cease to be great.” Alexis de Tocquiville, political philosopher

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Young. Catholic. American.

Being young and Catholic should flow into your civic engagement. Your youth gives you a unique stake in the direction of the nation. Your Catholic faith provides you with the moral grounds necessary to promote the common good irregardless of the rest of the nation’s religious composition. You being Catholic doesn’t mean there is not room to compromise on political agendas. America is a tapestry of religious identities and Catholicism is a tolerant religion. But to not voice what Catholicism has to offer in debates on policy issues would be to remove the voice of true morals and ethics from the framework of society altogether. It is our obligation, yours and mine, to make sure we embrace our civic duty responsibly as Catholics and as Americans. We must keep God in the conversation. If we do not, if we remove Him altogether from our debates and laws, then power and authority over what is right and wrong are allocated to government alone -- and the 20th Century has proven that absolute power in the hands of governments degenerates into tyrany, oppression, and very often a nation that cannot stand under its own weight. Our human rights are given to us by God, as our Declaration of Independence states. Let’s make sure what God has given no government is allowed to take away.

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I want to tell you a story Almost three centuries ago in the sweltering heat of summer, a small group of men gathered in a Philadelphia courthouse to write down an idea that changed the world and set the course of human history for the next twoand-a-half centuries. The idea said that you mattered. That you could set your own destiny. That government did not give citizens their rights, but rather that governments are instituted to protect the God-given rights of every human being. And that with enough effort and persistence anyone can achieve any dream they set out to attain. A person’s life is determined by their character, not by their color or social status or wealth. Their intrinsic natural rights are not created by governments but protected by them. That group envisioned what came to be known around the world as The American Dream, and when word got out of this new opportunity people from every corner of the world flocked to the shores of this country to participate in it. Still today, people dig tunnels, boat across oceans, fly into our airports, and risk death to have a chance at the liberty America gives its citizens. Our founding document says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,…” I believe that dream is in danger. I also believe that it is time you and I did something to make sure the

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Young. Catholic. American. generations after us are given the same liberties those founding fathers envisioned. In 100 years we should still have people climbing on boats and planes and clamoring in harbors to get into this country.

The problem with America It seems like I have this conversation every week. Sitting in a coffee shop with friends, some political news always comes up and a rant about everything that is wrong with America begins. “The problem is that everyone feels a sense of entitlement, like they deserve special services from the government.” “The problem is that people sit on unemployment for as long as they can. Instead of looking for work, they treat it like a vacation.” “The problem is that big business is too greedy.” “The problem is that all our jobs are being sent overseas.” “The problem is the Democrats.” “The problem is the Republicans.” “The problem is the uninformed voters.” “The problem is…” and on and on and on. I’ve heard all the problems with America. I’m sure you have, too. But the real problem with America is not its tax code or immigration policy or drilling for off-shore oil. The real problem with America is that Americans have forgotten their story. You and I, our families and neighbors have lost a sense of what this country is and where we fit in. 43


Parsons We have lost our vision for moving forward. In fact, we don’t even know how to move anymore.

Wandering without direction What happens to people who have no map, no leaders, no vision, or landmarks to guide them? They wander aimlessly. In fact, they wander in circles, according to Dr. Jan Souman of the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics. Dr. Souman tested the ability of individuals to navigate unfamiliar terrain (such as large forested areas and even the Sahara Desert) without direction or the ability to see the sun or moon. It turns out that regardless of how hard they tried to walk in a straight line, they ended up back where they started. It turns out that the less you and I can see, the smaller the circles we walk in. Blindfolded, participants walked in circles as small as 20 meters in diameter. It is human nature to need direction. Without it we end up back where we started. Actually, we end up lost. It feels like, as a country, we’re lost. China has a vision. They are investing in their people and building “green cities” and helping allies. India has a vision. They are industrializing and manufacturing goods and making trade deals. Brazil has a vision. They are moving away from importing oil altogether and completely relying on themselves for their energy needs. What’s America’s vision? Where do we want to be in 20, 40, or 100 years? Are we heading there?

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Young. Catholic. American. Or are we just wandering in circles?

Democrat/Republican: An American Disclosure Before I go any further I need to disclose something: I am not a Democrat. I am not a Republican, either. I think both have some good ideas and both have some bad ideas. I think both play party politics too much and make too few tough decisions. I think there is room for both (and more, hopefully) under the Constitution. I have friends on both sides of the aisle and others who don’t even know what that analogy means, but I think so much of what makes America “America” is the dialog that should occur between both (all) parties for the betterment of the entire country. However, right now the word “politician” makes me think of two 4-yearold children who have just been found out by their mother. One points to the other, and the other points right back. One cries and the other wails. One kicks and screams and the other kicks and screams even louder. There is no fessing-up, no ownership, and certainly no leadership. Nothing is resolved. No real progress is made, only political posturing, character attacks, and mud slinging. No, I’m neither of those parties. I’m an American.

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Moving forward …isn’t always as good as staying put. When I was little and went shopping with my mom, she always told me, “if you get lost, we’ll meet here.” It was her way of saying not to keep wandering around the store. Find the meeting point and stay put. In 2012, Barack Obama’s slogan for his re-election campaign was “Moving Forward.” But moving forward towards what? If we don’t know where we’re going, wouldn’t the best thing be to stay put until we do know where we are heading? Wouldn’t the best course of action be to first plot a responsible course of action? Then, with the full force of American creativity on our side, move forward? We did that with Kennedy and the space program in the 1960s. We did that with Reganomics in the 1980s. Isn’t it time to go back to that meet-up point (our Constitution) and find that uniquely American vision for ourselves? Because with the country so divided right now, moving forward feels a lot like moving backwards.

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This doesn’t feel like the America I grew up reading about in school. We have 17 trillion dollars in debt (just to put that in context, if you made one dollar every second, you would have a million dollars in 12 days. You would be a billionaire in 32 years. But it would take you more than 31,000 years to make a trillion dollars). We have a tax code that is 73,608 pages long (that’s roughly 73 Bibles stacked on top of each other). We have “the 99%” occupying Wall Street to protest “the 1%” in a country where a majority vote is all that is necessary to change policy. And we have too many people who have given up on their dreams altogether and would rather look for security in a government handout or in a weekly paycheck than risk pursuing true happiness. This doesn’t feel like America. And it’s our fault, yours and mine. Maybe those statements are hard for you to hear. Maybe in your head you’re questioning the figures or making up justifications or blaming one party or the other. Maybe you’re offended that I said it was our fault. But if the extent of our citizenship is casting a vote once every few years and then letting our representatives run free with a blank check signed by the tax payers, then it is our fault — you and I both. “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” --Thomas Jefferson

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Problems vs. Solutions It doesn’t take much to point out the problems we’re facing. You see them every time you fill up your car or buy groceries at the store. You feel them when your company starts cutting jobs or your mortgage is due and you don’t know where the money to pay it is going to come from. The problems hit you in the face when you get that student loan statement in the mail or have to make an excuse to stay in while your friends go out because you need to save some money. The problems are the obvious part. Everyone can point out the problems. But what are you doing to be part of the solution? We’re all in this together, and if the most effort we put into solving our difficulties is to complain about them, we are never going to solve anything. In talking to people, I’ve found that most people don’t really care as much as they think they do. Sure, they can identify the problems, but they don’t really care to work towards a solution. If you say you really care about the abortion issue but have never stood up to protest it, then do you really care about it? If you say you are really upset with the tax code but have never written your representative to voice your anger, are you really that upset? And if you are really concerned about this country but the most you’ve ever done to change it is chat about its failures with friends, is that really a deep concern for how the American Experiment pans out? We (you and I) can’t expect to live the American Dream if we aren’t willing to defend it. And if we aren’t willing to defend it, we need to ask ourselves if we really care about it at all?

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Young. Catholic. American.

A decision point The American Story is at a decision point. We either: 1.) Take responsibility for our own lives and use the government as a means to protect our individual freedom. 2.) Let the government take responsibility for our lives. We cannot have both. You are either responsible for your actions, failures and successes or you look to the government to provide you with employment, a wage, and a ubiquitous standard of living. Now is the time to decide. But the latter choice, to take away personal responsibility and independent liberty, is unarguably un-American.

The failed American Experiment Maybe I’m crazy, but I think the America Experiment actually has a chance to succeed. When I look at America, I feel like it ought to be a little better than it is, that it is underachieving, that it ought to be a little more like the dreams of its founders. I believe the experiment isn’t quite finished yet, and that we have work to do. And I think you’re ready to do something, too. You just don’t know what.

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What to do: two things First: When you see a problem, address it. When you see a need, fill it. If you’re upset about a policy, say something. If you think you’re a better candidate than the one running for office, then run for office yourself. Too many people would rather complain about the issue that do something to change it. Sure, changing it takes effort and sacrifice, but if you’re not willing to put forth any effort or engage in any sacrifice then I have to question if you really care about that issue at all. Second: Know the trajectory of your decisions. I know giving tax cuts sounds like a good idea. So does creating government jobs. But how can we continue to offer tax cuts (reduce the amount of money we take in) and promise to subsidize government projects (increase the amount the government spends) when we’re trillions of dollars in debt? Both sound like great campaign promises, don’t they? But the trajectory of those decisions for a country as in debt as we are is that we’re not improving our country’s fiscal circumstance but only passing our debt problem to the next generation. Know the trajectory of policy decisions. Not just for yourself but for the country as a whole. When we do those two things, address needs and know the trajectory of our decisions, we begin to move towards changing the direction of our country. Not everything will always be in our favor, but if we are intentional about moving in a direction of greater personal responsibility and charitable dispositions, then we won’t need as much oversight and intervention by government agencies. And I think we can all agree that the most moral thing we can do for ourselves and our neighbor is to allow each the freedom to control the outcome of their own life.

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Young. Catholic. American.

“You’re too idealistic.” I get that a lot. Maybe you do, too. They say, “You can’t actually change the world/country/community/ organization/etc.” Really what they are saying is that they don’t believe they can change the world/country/community/organization/etc. And they are right. They can’t. But the ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do. I believe you can change the world. I believe that what you do matters and that to work towards an ideal is the only work worth doing. “You’re too idealistic.” Good. Now let’s get to work.

What it looks like To change America we first need to own the reality that we are America. We elect our officials. We have a voice. We can protest. Or we can do nothing. We can sit and complain to ourselves, grumbling under our breath. The path of America is determined in large part by you and I. That’s the genius of America -- not the officials, but the ordinary people who decided enough is enough and are going to put their own necks on the line to change things. The Americas were colonized by ordinary farmers and entrepreneurs risking what they had for what they dreamed their life could become. 51


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Independence was won by unexperienced militia clinging to the hope that they would create a country where every person would have a say. And they stood their ground to defend that dream, even against the most advanced army in the world at that time. The frontier was settled by people seeking opportunities to build a great life for themselves and the tenacity to see it through. Often they had no idea what they would find when they arrived on the Great Plains, but they believed in themselves enough to take the risk and find out. Ordinary, average Americans like you and I built the transcontinental railroad, ended slavery, rolled out cars on assembly lines, conquered flight, defeated the Nazis, brought down the Berlin Wall, and built the Internet. America is exceptional by design because it has always drawn out the best in humanity -- leadership, creativity, perseverence, entrepreneurship. I’m not talking about governments or big businesses but the exceptionalism of the average American to conquer the odds and be remarkable. That’s how America was built and, if we want America to continue, then we have to continue in that vision. It takes faith to be an American. Faith in yourself. Faith in God, whom we Trust. It takes faith because it has always involved stepping out into the unknown and believing that we are capable of the achieving the impossible. That individually we matter and collectively we can achieve anything. When you and I regain that vision for ourselves and for our American identity then we will begin to change the country. When we change, the country will change.

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The anatomy of a movement By yourself, it’s not a movement. But with two, we have momentum. And right now, if you want to do something, we have at least two: you and I. So let’s get started. This idea, this American idea, is meant to spread. Let’s be a generation that does something to get our country back on course with the vision the Founders laid out for it. Let’s put in the work, the effort, and the sacrafices necessary so that the next generation has a better America to look forward to. Instead of talking about ideas, let’s be a generation that makes ideas happen. Together. I think that’s a vision worth pursuing.

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What to do now. “There are two mistakes one can make along the road of truth: not going all the way, and not starting.� -Siddhartha Gautama

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A step-by-step guide to changing the world #1 - Find your passion. #2 - Pursue it. #3 - Bring others with you. #4 - Don’t stop helping people.

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Step 1: Find your passion “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” - Howard Thurman A majority of people go through the first half of their life exploring what their dreams could be and then the second half of their life so distracted that they forget to act on them. In exchange for a paycheck, they settle for going out to eat once a week and taking two weeks off during the summer. Whereever you are in life at this moment, take a minute to re-examine your dreams. Here’s a little help: What’s your greatest dream for yourself? What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? When do you feel the most generous? What do you enjoy helping people with? What brings you joy? Now, go back over that list and raise the bar. Think bigger. Because whatever that dream in your heart is, God has bigger plans for you. Whatever you think is possible for you to accomplish on your own is not the exact dream God has placed in your heart. You see, He wants to go with you, to walk with you, to give you the grace to do great things. Things you never thought you would do and certainly things you cannot do without His help. Take a moment and dream big. That’s where your passion really lies. Then pray about it. I mean really pray about it. Because there is something special about quieting your soul in the presence of God that reveals who you truly are. If

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Young. Catholic. American. it’s a false dream, you’ll find out when held up to the Light of God’s Love. But if your soul stirs, if you can’t help but think, “Maybe that’s it!” then pray a little while longer. Then…

Step 2: Pursue it “Knowing what must be done does away with fear.” - Rosa Parks “It” being your greatest dream for yourself. Whatever “it” is, pursue it. Pursue “it” as if you couldn’t fail. Become that person who loses themselves in the cause, in love, in helping other people. Engage yourself in those activities where you feel the most generous and joyful. Let your soul catch fire. Exhaust yourself. It may mean quitting your job. It may mean selling your house. But it might not. However, this is for certain: if you don’t pursue it you will never achieve it. There is a quote that my high school football coach used to say that rings in my mind still today. He said, “If it was important to you, you’d do it.” If pursuing your dreams are important to you, you’d do it. If changing the world is important to you, you’d do it. If walking across the room to ask that girl or guy out is important to you, you’d do it. If getting that dream job is important to you, you’d do it. 59


Parsons If improving your relationship with your spouse is important to you, you’d do it. Whatever it is, if it is that important to you, you’ll find a way to do it. And you won’t actually quench that restlessness in your soul until you do. You can’t be as happy as you were created to be until you pursue what you were created for. Life is your only chance to pursue everything you were created for. Don’t sit it out. If it is really that important to you, you’d do it.

Step 3: Bring others with you “If you want to know who you will become look at who you surround yourself with.” - Ryan Parsons This is important. Really important. Do your friends and the people you hang out with bring you to a place you want to go? Or do they bring you to the bar or online to play video games for hours and hours on end? Do they work towards their dreams, or do they just prevent you from achieving yours? The people you surround yourself with are the most important part to achieving your dreams. Sure, you can invest time to change them, but are you spending all your time trying to change them? Or are they changing you? You need to find people to surround yourself with who keep you on track to

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Young. Catholic. American. get where you want to go and become who you want to be. Friendship is a powerful tool. But it can either be good or bad. If you want to be a surgeon, find other surgeons to study with and stay current on the latest news in the field you’re interested in. If you want to own a bookstore, get together with other business owners and share your dream with them. Help them and allow them to help you. If you want to become a teacher, surround yourself with other teachers to explore your craft and subject matter more in-depth. You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Who are you spending your time hanging around? Log on to LinkedIn or Facebook or Twitter and start finding people who share your dreams and help them get there with you. Because of the advent of social networks, this has never been easier to do. Create meaningful realationships in your life, people you can share your dreams with and who help you achieve yours. And when you meet others who are looking to pursue their dreams, bring them with you so you can each pursue your own dreams together.

Step 4: Don’t stop helping people “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person in front of you.” - Mother Teresa Why is Google such a successful company? Because it helps people. Google gives you email, lets you chat with friends via Google Chat, provides a place for you to update your status on 61


Parsons Google+, and gives you countless other apps and services to help you get through your daily life. All for free. Sure, they have advertisements here and there, but the focus of Google is on helping people. The employees at Google understand that once you provide help to people the money will follow. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, everyone wins. Your life is streamlined and they make enough money to stay in business (plus some!). Twitter did the same thing. In their early days, Twitter’s founders admitted they didn’t have a strategy for making money. But, they knew that if they created something that people could use, something that helped people and businesses connect, the money would follow. Now, Twitter is a multibillion dollar company. And all they did was focus on helping people do what they wanted to do. Why, then, is Facebook’s stock so questionable? Because people aren’t sure if they are out to help people or profit off of them. Pressured by shareholders, they turned people into dollar signs and threw up all sorts of advertisements on their site. Now, instead of an experience focused on connecting people, it has turned into a way to monetize people’s relationships and throw products in front of them. They put making a buck first, helping people second. In a world of unlimited choice, that business model doesn’t work anymore. Unless Facebook starts placing the priority on helping people again, they will phase themselves out to companies that do. And that’s the key to making a difference in the world. Helping people. Caring. At some level, you already know this. Your dream of writing a book is not for yourself, it’s for other people who will read it. Your dream of painting that picture is not for yourself, it’s for other people to experience. Your dream of writing that song, starting that business, sparking that movement, or engineering that product is not for yourself at all. It’s for

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Young. Catholic. American. others. Pursue your dream, yes, but don’t forget that your dream really isn’t about you as much as it is about helping other people. This is why changing yourself actually changes the world. Because, done right, pursuing your dreams isn’t about you, it’s about helping other people. Realize this. Then repeat. Again and again. It doesn’t get old and you’ll never regret it. Help people. Care.

Your story now Now that you know what to do, you’ve got your vision for yourself in mind, you’ve committed to pursuing it, you’re going to bring others with you, and help others along the way, it is time to start. Starting could take a million different forms or begin in a million different places. It could be a big step or a small step. All I know for certain is that if you don’t start, you’ll never finish. For me, writing this manifesto was my step. And it has changed my life. I hope it gets read and shared. I hope it moves you to act on your dreams. I hope you’ll join the movement to embrace being young, Catholic, and an American. Before I wrote this, all my dreams were written down in a journal. Years went by and my life sped up. One day I looked back in my journal and re-read some of my dreams from years past. I had wanted to write a book and run a marathon and start a business that would make a difference in the world. I hadn’t acted on any of them. I mean really with my whole heart acted upon any of them. 63


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I held those dreams to that very day. I was a writer who didn’t write, a runner who didn’t run, and a businessman who didn’t have the courage to start a business. None of that sat well with me. Do you know that feeling? You look at your life and know that it should be different? Somehow, better? And the only one you can blame is yourself for continually putting it off until tomorrow, until the tomorrows add up to years. Then one day I decided to do something about it. Not tomorrow. Not in the future. Now. I decided to write this small manifesto and share it with people close to me in hopes they would share it with people close to them. I dropped everything I had scheduled and started to write. Maybe it gets read. Maybe it doesn’t. That’s not the point. I wrote it to change the world. And it has. Maybe not your world yet, but my world. And hopefully, one day I’ll get a chance to meet you over a cup of coffee or at a conference or we’ll bump shoulders on the street. My hope is that on that day, you’ll be able to tell me that you’ve joined the movement, you’ve taken a step, you are working on your passion and pursuing your dream, and that you’ve met and helped a lot of great people along the way. It is time for you to start writing your story now. Chapter 1 is in the past. Chapter 2 is up to you. You can make it about starting something great or not starting at all. But haven’t you gone long enough putting off the things you care about the most? It’s time for you to begin.

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Chapter 2: How I (you) changed the world‌

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The End (The Beginning) I wrote this to make you uncomfortable. Hopefully, something in it was stirred up. Hopefully, you want to challenge yourself to take advantage of the remarkable opportunities your youth allows you, to see just how deep a relationship with Jesus Christ you can have, and to participate in politics instead of letting the direction of the United States be charted without your input. And, lastly, I hope you are hopeful. There are so many young people who I have met from every corner of the country who are realizing the same things you are: that something isn’t right and we need to do something about it. Just please, don’t be indifferent. There is too much at stake. This is either the end or the beginning. It is up to you.

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