Ordinariate appeal for young people

There are some Sundays at Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Ottawa, where I have noticed about a third of our communicants are young men in their 30s and 20s and most are eligible bachelors.  It’s the young men who often bring their friends, male and female, to our services.

Thus, I think there is a lot that’s attractive to young people about our liturgy, our preaching and our excellent breakfasts after Mass where the conversation is invariably interesting .

So, I read this report  by Thomas R. Ascik entitled The 2018 Synod and the “new approach to youth in the Church over at Catholic World Report with interest.

The preparatory document announces at the start “a new approach” for the Church concerning youth. That new approach is the approach of Pope Francis: “the Church, beginning with her Pastors, is called to make a self-examination and to re-discover her vocation of caring for others in the manner recommended by Pope Francis at the beginning of his pontificate.”  It is said that “[o]lder approaches no long work and the experience passed on by previous generations quickly becomes obsolete.” What is deficient is “a complacent pastoral attitude” that says “we have always done it this way.”

I haven’t read the 25-page working document for this synod.  I still haven’t recovered from the last two synods on the family and the ensuing debate over the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

Do “older approaches” really no longer work?  Or have they not even been tried?

I attended a lecture last night on euthanasia and the debate going on now on whether physicians and other health professionals should be forced by their professional governing bodies to provide effective referrals or even perform procedures that are against their consciences.  Dr. Farr Curlin showed how the quick shifts in society are due to the fact that the whole structure upon which Western civilization is based had been hollowed out for so long that all that’s left are individuals trying to create meaning with their own beliefs and doctors insisting on their conscience rights are looking like service providers who are imposing their beliefs on others.  Gone is the notion of medicine having an end, which is health, Dr. Carlin said. And gone is the idea that a physician can determine in any objective sense what health is, or good is, only the patient can do that.  Any notion of natural law, or of there being a human nature, and purpose to existence—that there are ends or purposes for everything in existence—is gone.

But when young people are patiently taught these things—especially in an environment of faith—they get it.  And they become inoculated against the postmodernism of academia and the media.  And young people who “get it” are drawn to mystery, seriousness in theology, sound Scriptural foundations, and proper authority in Christ.

Dr. Carlin,  a palliative care physician and medical ethicist who is now at Duke University, came to Ottawa through Augustine College‘s annual Westen lecture.   Our priest Fr. Doug Hayman is chaplain of Augustine College and teaches Scripture there.  It’s an amazing one-year program that teaches those old things that don’t get taught, but those old things, that its philosophy professor Ed Tingley says do what a true education is meant to do: “cut the bonds of sin and death.”

We haven’t passed on the experience of older generations for, well, generations.  It seems my baby boomer generation is to blame, but alas, our society was going through the motions of western civilization for generations before that.  I say it’s time to recover the old things, to dust them off, pick among the ruins and in the Anglosphere, we will find our shared treasures of Anglican patrimony have much to offer to renew and revive parched, ill-nourished souls and spirits and from there renew society.

Interestingly, I came across this video by a University of Toronto professor who has been launched into more than 15 minutes of fame for his staunch opposition to using the new transgender pronouns that human rights legislation in Canada might compel people to use or face complaints of unlawful discrimination.  Professor Jordan Peterson is an expert in the  psychology of totalitarianism.  He is someone who is so close to being Christian he sounds prophetic to this age of “new things” where the old things no longer seem to have any currency.  In this video he tears apart postmodernism and appeals to people to rediscover the foundations of western civilization.  Give it a listen and pray that among us more will rise up with this kind of insight and courage.

2 thoughts on “Ordinariate appeal for young people

  1. The fact that many young adults are flocking to a community obviously is wonderful news for the future of that community! In the instance of an ordinariate community, however, my concern would be whether they are eligible to join the ordinariate, and thus its parochial community, as formal members thereof. Those who are not eligible for membership, unfortunately, do not contribute to official growth in numbers, even though they may contribute generously of their time and treasure to the work of the community. Of course, if those who completed the sacraments of initiation in a diocesan parish bring in, and subsequently marry, others who come into the church, or at least who complete the sacraments of initiation, within the ordinariate community, the problem would be solved.

    That said, this post asks a very good question: Do “older approaches” really no longer work?  Or have they not even been tried?

    The answer is a combination of both.

    >> The “cultural Catholicism” that existed in many places brought outward conformity through familial and social pressure, and it persisted where large numbers of immigrants banded together in urban ghetto communities, but it broke down very quickly when successive generations started moving out of environments in which that familial and social pressure existed, with the consequence that successive generations fell progressively further from the external practice of the faith. But in reality, real faith never existed because there was no emphasis on interior conversion and submission to the lordship of Jesus — rather, just a bland presumption that everybody had done so. And recent scandals give clear evidence that such internal commitment was lacking even among the clergy in many such places! So the bottom line is that such an approach not only does not work today, but really never did work!

    >> But what existed before that? When one studies the history of the church, one discovers a long heritage of failed reforms instituted with the hope of bringing people to true faith. When Constantine “embraced Christianity” in 325 AD, he actually was enrolled in the catechumenate — and he remained a catechumen for nearly all of the rest of his life, eventually being baptized when he was on his death bed, and many others did likewise. Pastors responded to this situation by emphasizing the dogma of original sin, which caused many to seek baptism without first coming to real faith, coupled with a rush to baptize children as soon as possible after birth. In France, this actually evolved to the point that, at the time of the Second Vatican Council, most children were baptized by the nurses who assisted in the delivery immediately after birth, lest they might die before they could be brought to church for a proper baptism! But in the meantime, with so many baptized unbelievers and virtually no catechumenate, the season of Lent shifted from its original emphasis on the final preparation of “the Elect” for baptism to that of conversion of the baptized unbelievers — a reality seriously reflected in St. Benedict’s Rule for Monasteries, written at the end of the fifth century. So, no, that approach did not work, either.

    >> And what preceded Constantine was the Roman persecution. That worked — but do we really want to go back to it?

    But, surprisingly, the methods developed by evangelical Protestants — which stress and discern the conversion of each individual — actually work very well. My evangelical friends taught me to ask two questions to discern where a person stands, the second being used only if the answer to the first seems unclear or confused.

    >> 1. “So, was there ever a time when you surrendered your life completely to the lordship of Jesus Christ, and embraced Jesus as your sovereign Lord and your Savior?”

    >> 2. “If you were to die right now, are you sure that you would be with God in heaven?”

    Yes, we hearken back to St. Benedict’s advice: “Keep death always before you!” This is really the commitment of Christian baptism, which those baptized as infants should be making their own at confirmation.



    • Although not all attendees at Ordinariate Masses are eligible to be Ordinariate members, the Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter does make a special provision for such persons regularly active in an Ordinariate parish to become associate members of the Ordinariate, and they are included in the official statistics. In his recent “Witness” interview on Salt and Light TV, Bishop Lopes said:
      “The number of persons we would call canonically members of the Ordinariate are about 8,000 in the Unitd States, members and close affiliates”.


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