When we hear of the “most dangerous age”, we often picture teenagers addicted to drugs or entangled in unhealthy relationships with the opposite sex. So much is said today about incalcucating the good old qualities such as self-control, modesty, equanimity etc. I agree that the teenage period is quite a dangerous one, but I don’t agree that it is the most dangerous age in Man’s life. There is no age more dangerous than the period at which a man becomes inaccessible to fresh ideas and impervious to enthusiasm. He puts up his intellectual shutters and makes a truce with the world. When things go wrong around him, you find him too weak to act.
At this age, according to Rev. Charles Plater, you hear him say: “Ah, my dear boy, I thought the same when I was young. I had ambitions and a crusading spirit. But it was no use. Crime injustice and class hatred and destitution and degrading poverty and commercial dishonesty – they are all rampant and can’t be slain. I’m twice your age; now, which of us ought to know better.” Evil easily overcome good in the society when highly respected citizens bear such frame of mind and the same also happens in the Church when the Shepherds adopt this attitude. In our time, we see this dangerous age sets in about 40 or 45, and often lasts till 60. At this age, he accepts things as incurable, and just settles down in his groove trying to save his own soul or pick up a few pieces out of the social wreckage.
The young man who crusades for a better life treads on the right path. For when we look at young men like Giorgio Frassati, we will understand that life, to the Catholic young man of strong faith and generous sympathies, is not a weary battle of insuperable foes, but a stirring crusade against evils which can be conquered. He is strong because he borrows strength from God. Therefore, the dangerous age is not a mere matter of years, but a frame of mind. It is not inevitable. We’ve also had men like St. Bernard who most vigorously fought against the injustices of his time at the said most dangerous age ( 40 – 60 years ). That men of our time usually become pessimistic within the said is not because of the number but that of will. The indifference or infidelity to the Catholic religion of young men between 22 – 35 years, brings upon them at 40 years , a certain inertia, an inability to fight against a supposed insuperable foes. In a society where there is indifference to religion, the men often crumble under this frame of mind – then evil triumphs. This becomes a most dangerous age, because his mental disposition does not only affect him, but also young minds who look up to him. Thereby affecting the society at large.
Just as a man may be a cynic and pessimistic at 21, so a man may be a youth and an optimist at 50. It is not a matter of number, but largely a matter of will. The Catholic faith is a gift to all who, like the saints, stand and fight against an immoral and indifferent world.
Be Virtuous … Be Catholic.