He is Risen!
For years, I have not wanted to be anywhere else but at my home parish for Christmas and Easter since the way we observe these holy days is so wonderful.
I especially love the Easter Vigil, which we observed by candlelight from the bringing in of the Paschal fire, the blessing of the Paschal candle, the singing of the Exsultet, through the readings of the prophecies, right up to the singing of the Gloria.
So, I think of the profound meaning and beauty of the liturgy, the sacrifice of the Mass, the inspired words of Scripture, the glory of the historical fact that Jesus Christ is Risen, that He is alive, as a backdrop to some further consideration of the document produced by a pre-synodal gathering of young people in Rome.
Andrea Gagliarducci at his always interesting Monday Vatican post looks at the document and he nails what is problematic about it:
The problems lie behind these issues, though. Both the lineamenta (guidelines) and the preparation of the Synod on Youth has played out in terms of sociological surveys. These were also the premises for the pre-Synod, and for the drafting of the document.
Again, the issue is not about the youth in the Catholic Church. The problem lies in the questions posed, in the way the discussion was oriented. The approach is totally lacking in looking at the experience of God and faith, together with the notion of the reasonability of faith. It does not mean that young people in the Church do not seek these experiences and share these notions. The problem is that these issues were not among the themes presented to the youth.
These are the main themes for evangelizing by the Church, encompassing all the important subjects. But just as in communication, including Vatican communication, marketing has replaced the importance of content; in everyday life the sociological categories replaced philosophical ones. Questions about the inner sense of life are missing, while there is a drift toward a general outlook that is lacking in the profound truth.
That is the crucial point.
Go on over and read the whole thing, because by reducing everything to sociological categories and marketing, trying to be popular with trendy issues so as to engage youth, means the Gospel is not being preached and the Catholic Church is no longer holding herself out as the the Church of Christ with the answers to all the philosophical and religious questions —Who am I? Why have I come into existence? What is truth? How do I live a good life? and so on.
Every generation is hungry for answers to those questions and young people especially are seeking to understand their identity. Why can’t the Catholic Church do a better job of ensuring they come to know their identity in Christ? How can she ensure they have an encounter with Christ so that everything in the liturgy suddenly takes on deep significance rather than something followed by rote, half-consciously, while the mind is miles away chattering on about this or that.
Rod Dreher has an interesting post that takes a look at the coming collapse of Christian Colleges. He includes some long quotes from the writing of others.
The idea behind the “engaging the culture” movement was that, rather than withdrawing from the surrounding culture as their fundamentalist cousins did, evangelicals should go forth to meet it. The expected outcome of this going forth was a revival of Christian faith.
What this plan never took into account is the dynamics of social status. Evangelicals sought to engage the culture by being relevant, by creating works of art , by offering good arguments for their positions. None of these addressed the real problem: that Christian belief simply isn’t cool, and that very few people want to lower their social status by identifying publicly with it.
Many evangelicals sensed something was going on. They responded as though the problem were a matter of style rather than content. They created churches calculated to prove evangelicals could be as hip as anyone else. The result was churches that had rocking worship bands, superb lighting, a million cool programs and no cultural impact.
The only lasting success to come from this trend was to make the hip pastor in a goatee and skinny jeans a universal object of derision. When the elites see him, they aren’t impressed. Rather than seeing someone so cool they want to emulate him, they see desperation. They see a low-status guy craving their approval, and they are rightly repulsed.
In my work as a journalist, I am writing about the way a secularist, ideological agenda pushed by government and quasi-government bodies such as law societies or physicians, nurses and teachers colleges that accredit people in those professions is ensuring people with the wrong beliefs or conscientious objection to some moral practices are barred from those professions.
Policies within banks and large corporations may soon force people with traditional religious views to either endorse this or that aspect of the secularist ideology or face disciplinary action or firing.
It’s not a great evangelistic tool to tell people, “Become a follower of Jesus and be treated as the off-scouring of the world!” or is it?
I dunno. The consequences were even greater in the first decades of the Church’s existence.
But we have to be realistic. What I am suggesting — no, what I am shouting from the rooftops — is that the environment in which traditional Christian colleges and educational institutions work is rapidly changing: politically, legally, and culturally. We cannot count on anything anymore. As the NPR story indicates, this is not only a problem coming from outside the churches (meaning from politics and law) but also from inside the church (with the collapse among the young of traditional Biblical teaching about homosexuality). Somehow, faithful small-o orthodox Christians have to figure out how to educate within this hostile new heterodoxy. We will have to form new institutions, ones built to be resilient in the face of anti-Christian modernity.
Be aware too that the orthodox within Christian colleges will be savagely attacked by their colleagues within these colleges because their orthodoxy will be correctly seen as a threat to the colleges’ continued viability (as well as to the social and professional status of faculty there). Look what’s happening now at the very conservative Taylor University, for example.
And more broadly: if you are a Christian who is not prepared to be despised and exiled from elite social and professional circles over your faith, then your faith won’t be strong enough to withstand what’s here, and what’s to come. This is a hard truth, but one you had better confront now.