Dominican’s – Prov. St. Joseph | Source
Young Catholics are embracing the faith, not of their parents or their grandparents, but that of their forefathers. This might be a little bit more of an illustrative point, than one of technical accuracy, but I think many can understand what I am getting at before I even begin to explain. There is a resurgence of tradition, and dare I say orthodoxy, amongst younger Catholics. And it isn’t just me that is saying this, in fact this message is being proclaimed not by the older generation of Catholics in hopes of maintaining a legacy, but instead it is being shouted by the youth themselves. Sometimes, they are even shouting it in defiance of what their parents and grandparents are trying to leave behind as their legacy.
Youth aren’t just rejecting the relativism of their parents to be different, they are actually trying to conform to something that transcends the ideals of rampant individualism. Take for example Anna Williams, an intern for USA Today, who wrote a piece piece today about how young Catholics (18-29yr olds) are rejecting that relativism of their parents and grandparents and embracing a more traditional and orthodox faith instead. She writes:
Sometime in the past century, a new creed emerged, saying everyone should make his own creed. This tolerant, open-minded ethos seemed to promise freedom: safe sex with many partners, drugs and alcohol galore and quick, no-fault divorce. So our Baby Boomer parents partied hard, yet in so many cases left us only the hangover: heartbreak, addiction and broken homes, plus rising rates of teenage depression and suicide.
The anything-goes religion of the late 20th century cannot prevent nor even explain these consequences. (After all, if I’m OK, you’re OK, and we can do whatever we want, why are so many people unhappy?) When every member of a society does whatever makes him feel good, the inevitable results are not personal fulfillment and communal harmony but selfishness and social breakdown.
With these realizations in mind, many millennials reject the assumptions of 1960s liberationists in favor of something more substantial: the creeds, practices and moral codes that defined religious life for centuries. Unlike reductionistic scientism or vague romanticism, traditional religions propose specific, compelling explanations for the world in front of us — broken, fraught with suffering, enslaved to sin, but nonetheless revealing glimpses of beauty and greatness.
More intellectually coherent than relativism, orthodoxy is also more demanding. It makes us place others above ourselves, the truth above what we’d like to be true, the fight for virtue above the pursuit of pleasure. In a word, it preaches sacrifice.
If this is the future of the Catholic faith, we are all in very good hands. This isn’t some isolated strain of thought either, in fact it is actually backed by research and studies (which are very close to the heart of boomers – what the masses think). It seems that the young aren’t just practicing their faith in a more orthodox fashion, but also choosing to live it in a more orthodox one as well. Where did I find the report on this research? Not some bastion of Catholic thought, but the New York Times; “New Nuns and Priests Opting for Tradition“:
Sisters of Life | Source
“We’ve heard anecdotally that the youngest people coming to religious life are distinctive, and they really are,” said Sister Mary Bendyna, executive director of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. “They’re more attracted to a traditional style of religious life, where there is community living, common prayer, having Mass together, praying the Liturgy of the Hours together. They are much more likely to say fidelity to the church is important to them. And they really are looking for communities where members wear habits.” [emphasis mine]
The problem then isn’t our future. The problem is who is currently trying to lead us, and trying to preserve a legacy in order to validate their efforts. Now I am not talking about the Pope or the Bishops who attempt to lead in a manner which sees the faith as timeless. Instead I am speaking of those that seek to make a statement about the changes they made and the turn towards modernity that happened a few decades ago; those that are clinging to that which the youth are rejecting.
This split isn’t just in some theoretical and amorphous cloud either. It is playing out in very tangible and stark ways. We in the pews see it, the blogs are writing about it, and the orders, themselves, are feeling the effects. The Son Rise Morning Show recently blogged about the contrast between those orders that cling to their own ideals and those that are seeking something beyond themselves.:
The CMSWR web site, for instance, is full of news about World Youth Day and pictures of smiling young women in habits. LCWR’s web site is all about legislation, social justice, and photos of smiling older women in street clothes. The young women have voted with their feet and their lives; it’s obvious where they want to be. Yes, LCWR represents 90 percent of sisters and nuns, but size isn’t everything. Ten years from now, which organization will still be going strong? And what is the LCWR going to do?
With some estimates putting the median age of LCWR’s sisters at 75, this situation might be figuring itself out. But what about our parishes where those people with this same mentality are currently Religious Ed coordinators, instructors, and where the pastors and parish administrators share the mentality that the youth are explicitly rejecting? Should they get to rule through a theory of “might makes right?” Should their values, which are seemingly a flash in the pan, get to endure beyond their tenure simply because they ascended into power? I argue that we should not let these ideals, which have no buy in from our younger generation, have any ascendency into “power” or let them carve out any longevity.
Cruise the blogs, Twitter, and Facebook and see what the kids are saying. These are the new editorial pages, these are the new parish bulletins, the new Catholic papers, and what you will find there is an allegiance to the Pope, a fidelity to the Church, and a harkening back to the virtues and practices rooted in organic tradition. Traditional Liturgy, Chant, Polyphony, habits, sacrifice, the Catechism, and a dying of self for the faith. Of course the boomers who currently control the AmChurch wont be found reading things like Facebook, Twitter, and the blogs, not just because most of them don’t know how to use them but because they don’t like what is found there.
This isn’t just about making sure certain orders have a lasting existence, but it is instead ultimately about the glorifying of God and the proclamation of His Kingdom. If we really care about our youth, we will listen to them. If we really care about our Church, we will listen to the youth. If we really care about God, we will let the little children come to him, and not stand in their way. Let the dead bury their dead, and let the youth go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.
AP Photo: WYD | Source