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.