Joel Stepanek

Mayan Mayhem: Are We Gonna Die Young?

Kesha … wait, let me try that again . . . Ke$ha has a new tune out called 'Die Young,' and when I heard it my first thought was, 'Wow, what an interesting message mixed with auto-tune and heavy bass about the end of the world.' I mean, the song is about the end of the world, right?

Why else would we live like we were going to die young?

YOLO

Over the past year or so there have been tons of new songs that basically share the same theme – live your life now and have no regrets. Drake explained his YOLO philosophy, One Direction wants you to 'live while you're young,' and Ke$ha expounds on the benefits of living like you 'are gonna to die young' (a tad more depressing thought than One Direction). Well, I would say that this message on the surface isn't that bad at all, the problem is the kind of living that is implied.

When someone says 'YOLO,' it usually isn't followed with, 'so be sure you take time to volunteer at a homeless shelter,' or, 'at first I didn't want to attend daily Mass, but then I was all like, ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâèÏYOLO!' and decided to go every day.'

But we all know that isn't what YOLO means. The message is basically, 'get your sinning done now while you are young and have your whole life ahead of you. That way you can do all of the safe, grown up things later.'

That Pesky Mayan Calendar

With all of the hype surrounding the legendary Mayan Calendar and the end of the world (less than four shopping weeks until the final judgment), it stands to reason why this idea is so popular. If the world is ending, shouldn't we have a lot of 'fun' now? Shouldn't I lose my virginity now? Shouldn't I go to that party now?

Spoiler Alert: The Mayans weren't right about the end of the world, for a couple of reasons:

  1. The Mayans themselves didn't view December 21st as the end of the world. Mayan scholars agree that they simply saw this as the beginning of a new age – the same way we view the beginning of a new century.
  2. Jesus himself said that, 'No one knows the day or the hour,' (Matthew 24:36). That includes the Mayans.
  3. Every calendar has an end. After making a calendar that extended out hundreds of years, I think the Mayans felt they could relax a bit and that in 500 years someone else would make a new calendar.

But let's say for now that, despite all the evidence to the contrary, the Mayans are right and the world is going to come to an end on December 21st, 2012. As Catholics we believe that at the end of time, Jesus is going to return to earth to judge everyone … both alive and dead … and the righteous will spend eternity with Christ, and those who denied or rejected Christ in faith and action will spend eternity apart from him.

Let me ask you this … how clean would your soul be on December 21st if Christ returned? Would you be confident in heaven, or terrified that maybe 'living like you were going to die young' was a bad idea?

No One Knows the Day or Hour

Christ Himself told us that nobody knows the day or the hour that He will return to judge the living and dead on earth. Not the Mayans, not a television preacher, and certainly not Ke$ha.

This means that tomorrow Christ could show up. Would your soul be ready, or would you wish you had more time?

The truth about 'living like you are going to die young,' is that we should be living like today is our last day, but realizing that there is eternal life after death. We should be making the most of our lives today … but not through sin, but virtue. By serving others, by praying, by going to Mass, and by getting closer to Christ.

I've heard a lot of teens talk about growing in their faith 'later,' or serving others 'later,' or getting more involved with their parish 'when things get less busy.' But what if you don't get a 'later'? What if God wants you to make more of the time you have now?

Let's live like people who are striving for heaven every day. Let's live like people who have a God who is the victor of sin and death, and is returning to earth someday. And for the time being, let's not jump off any roofs for the sake of 'YOLO,' you know it's not going to end well.

Joel Stepanek

About the Author

I spent most of my 8th grade year in detention because there wasn’t a dare I wouldn’t accept. But in high school, my youth minister dared me to follow Christ and I haven’t looked back. I love all things Wisconsin, especially the Green Bay Packers. I can probably eat more cheese than you. (Please don’t dare me to prove it.)