Crisis—It sounds like the start of a “shaggy-dog” story. So … there are these three Western Canadian bishops at a Catholic youth conference called “One Rock 2.0.” The bishops are prepping for a Town Hall, a “Q and A” session with a tough audience, 620 millennials aged 18-35, and the episcopoi are steeling themselves for a grilling on the clerical abuse scandals. One of the conference speakers (a millennial) is overheard suggesting that the bishops may want to prepare for questions on the liturgy.
“Is that really something they think about?” one of them asks.
The Town Hall begins. The bishops take their seats on the podium, the young people line up at the microphones, and the grilling begins. And, yes, some questions address the scandals, but seven-out-of-ten millennial questions focus on liturgy and Church traditions.
“I never dreamed they cared…” one bishop is heard to mutter.
Another is overheard to ask: “How do they even know about ad orientem worship?”
Conference participants, millennial and older, attest to the bishops’ manifest public surprise at the liturgical questions. A very precise Ancient Greek idiom holds that we do not march forward into the future. We face the past, the future is behind us, and we back into it. Like all of us, bishops navigate by seeing only where they’ve been and are often blind to what the future might bring.
Millennial Catholic blogger Brian Holdsworth, a speaker at One Rock, expected this issue. “Millennial Catholics are trending toward tradition, in the States definitely, and probably in Canada, but here it’s harder to tell,” says the bearded web developer. “We want authenticity, but nobody’s really prepared to tell us what that is. We’ve got a sense for the vapid and vacuous, and there’s lots of that going around, but we really want to know how to be uniquely Catholic.” Millennials’ hunger for liturgy is easy to understand, he says it comes from anxiety.
“The Age of Aquarius didn’t deliver on all its promises,” says Holdsworth, himself a child of divorce. “We still want marriage and families and real friendships, but millennials see their parents’ mistakes, and it’s like we’ve been cut off from all that.” So millennials generally are swamped by anxiety. “The long-time therapists say they’re seeing an anxiety tidal wave,” he says, and Catholic millennials are fleeing into prayer, “thirsty for righteousness.”
“We’ve been told that all change is progress, but three-quarters of the time, it’s not,” says the father-of-five, a convert of 15 years. “We’re learning that… Read more>>