Pope Urges Students to Swim Against the Tide

In listening to Pope Francis' recent comments to students, I couldn't help but think of Chesterton's quote: “A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.”

Pope Francis urged students to find the courage to swim against the cultural tide and remain faithful to Christian principles such as protecting human dignity, according to Zenit.

In an address to students from several universities in Rome on the first Sunday of Advent in St. Peter’s basilica called on students to face the future with “inner strength and evangelical boldness.”

“The social-cultural context of which you are a part is at times weighed down by mediocrity and boredom,” he reportedly said. “You must not resign yourselves to the monotony of everyday life, but rather cultivate broad-ranging plans, go beyond the ordinary.”

The pope warned the young people that they should not allow themselves to be robbed of their enthusiasm or be tempted to surrender to a worldly spirit. “It would also be a mistake to allow yourselves to be imprisoned by the weak and uniform thought, that which conforms, or indeed by a globalisation understood as uniformity,” he said.

The Vatican Information Service reported further on the pope’s comments:
God's intervention in favour of our efforts “until the definitive encounter with Jesus, is an expression of his fidelity. It is like a dialogue between our weakness and his fidelity. … Therefore, he brings to completion the work that he has initiated in each one of us, by his call to us. This gives us security and great trust: a trust that is … upheld by God and which requires our active and courageous collaboration, faced with the challenges of the present moment.”

“Those who do not face these challenges, who do not rise up to them, do not live. Your will and your capacities, united with the power of the Holy Spirit which lives in each one of you from the day of your Baptism, allows you to be more than mere spectators – to be active agents in contemporary events. Please, do not look upon life from the balcony, as an observer! Get involved, where there are challenges, where your help is needed to work for life, development, the fight for the dignity of persons, the struggle against poverty, the battle for values, and the many other battles we encounter every day”.

The challenges that university students are called upon to face “with inner strength and evangelical boldness” take various forms. “The social-cultural context of which you are a part is at times weighed down by mediocrity and boredom. You must not resign yourselves to the monotony of everyday life, but rather cultivate broad-ranging plans, go beyond the ordinary; do not allow yourselves to be robbed of your youthful enthusiasm! It would also be a mistake to allow yourselves to be imprisoned by the weak and uniform thought, that which conforms, or indeed by a globalisation understood as uniformity”.
The Pope concluded his homily by encouraging the students “to walk the path of faith and to behave in a manner consistent with the Gospel” and to “live in an authentic way the commemoration of the Nativity of the Lord.

Unfortunately, the tide is strong against young faithful Catholics, even at many Catholic colleges. Pray for the young. They need it.



  1. Yes, my young friends, struggle! Struggle all by yourself, alone, for your hippie, baby boomer authority figures are busy at the peripheries! The chaos surrounds us, and you shall surely fail, and/or simply give up in disgust and go live somewhere more mundane, where there is no tide, nor any periphery, but maybe you can eke out a living growing your own food whilst a dying generation makes one great last push at selling their own greatness, albeit in our peculiar case, they brand it with Our Lord's Name.
    OK, maybe a bit over the top, but if you want strong young saplings, you feed, water and protect them. You do not put them where the tide can get to them.

  2. @August: Saplings can't swim, with or against the current. Thanks for demonstrating why they took the analogy portion off the SAT.

  3. Saplings in an orchard are cared for, while things swimming against the tide have generally been left exposed to the elements. This should be a very simple thing to understand. Another analogy I could make is that shepherds don't put their sheep where the tide can them either. You must remember that the internet does not transmit odor, so that whiff of ignorance you are experiencing must be emanating from your location.

  4. How are baby boomers responsible for this? I'm getting really tired of baby boomers being blamed for all of the ills of the culture. I stopped listening to Michael Voris when he blamed Roe v Wade on baby boomers. Norma McCorvey is/was a boomer, but the people who manipulated her to advance their agenda were of the generation prior to the boom. There were certainly no boomers sitting on the Supreme Court in 1973.

  5. @August: Strike two. Are you capable of responding to what anybody actually says, rather than the hallucination that lets you posture at them? And just an FYI, failure to grasp analogies is primarily a flaw of intelligence, not knowledge, so "ignorance" does not come into play.

    @Siobhan: Baby Boomers have a great deal to do with many problems in the Church and the rest of society, although as you say a lot of the blame does go to the previous generation. Not least because they raised the Boomers the way they did (although I do think that Boomers were less prone to utilitarian Realpolitik than their parents, albeit mostly by going in the other direction to utopian "idealism").

  6. A shepherd cares for his flock.
    An orchard owner protects his trees.
    A father watches over his children.

    These things are not like the tide at all. You seem to understand that. You don't seem to have any clue why I am bringing them up. I'll give you a clue- it is about the person shouting out to the people in the tide. What should that person be doing? And then, given that the pope is using this imagery, why should those people be in the 'tide' at all? Shouldn't they be in a safer place?

    Really, you should stop implying people are idiots. This is all in clear text. Ask a question if you don't get it.

  7. Siobhan,

    The baby boomers are near to hand, and in many cases, still in power, resolutely refusing to get out of the way and let anyone younger fix anything. They are not the only ones to blame, given the number of generations between our pathetic secular world and Christendom, but in many ways they seem quite persistent about perpetrating their mistakes.

    The Church has to be something more than just church, as we know it today. There is yet another analogy, which is supposedly part of our tradition, but that I only hear the Eastern Orthodox use anymore; The Church As Hospital.
    Now, if you can imagine the poor children in their hospital beds suffering from their post-Vatican II amnesia, struggling under the dysfunctional progressivism AND the the various missteps toward tradition. But lo, they are not in the hospital, they are on the sand, and the tide is coming in.
    I do not mean to place all the blame on the baby boomers, nor all the blame on the pope, but to show the children shouldn't be in the tide in the first place.
    The first Christians suffered a lot to live together- in no small part so that their children would be safe from this 'tide.' In addition to people being Christian, there were places, realms, jurisdictions. Our pope seems interested in yelling at drowning Christians to swim against the tide, and then go to the "peripheries"- essentially, outside the jurisdiction.


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