Monday, 25 July 2011

Our Catholic Youth; have we failed them?

I was alerted to this post on Chant Cafe by the blog Catholic and Loving it. As it happens I preached on something similar yesterday. The terrible tragedies in Norway and the sad death of Amy Whinehouse along with Sunday's first reading about the young Solomon, made me think about the general condition of youth and young adults in western society. I was also thinking about how the hierarchical Church failed its young people in the second half of the 20th century. As we know, the Faith was not taught properly in its entirety. Although the RE schemes in the 60's and early 70's were reasonably good, they were replaced by shoddy ideologically-driven settings that have left many Catholic young people defective in their understanding of the Faith.
Not only that, but many of our Catholic teachers have been inadequately trained, and in so far as they are products of faulty catechesis, have been unable to rise to the real needs of their pupils.

But it is not all the fault of Catholic educationalists (and I do not criticise teachers who are not responsible for the training they received), bishops and priests have also failed. When have we ever challenged the dangerous elements of the pop culture? Catholic parents, either through bad catechesis or because of a lack of sound leadership in their dioceses and parishes have been left without moral support and direction as their children listened to disgusting and anti-Christian lyrics, and identified with individuals in the media, films and pop world who, like so many pied pipers led many of them to destruction. Priests have failed to grapple with the challenges put before them. Perhaps they too were misled by others who had been lulled into silence by the power of the Media or because we wanted to seem in tune with the times or "relevant". How much nonsense have we swallowed and regurgitated?

I have posted on this before and, no doubt, will do so again. Thank God for the initiative of Pope John Paul 11 and World Youth Day. At least that allowed some Catholic young people to have real contact with Papal teaching. I pray that Pope Benedict will speak out boldly as he and his predecessor have already done, and that he will insist - again - on the proper presentation of the Faith. In trying to settle on one or other cause for our recent problems, I believe it is a mistake (as in the case of Chant Cafe) to single out one thing. If there is, or has been, a basic problem it is the faulty presentation of the Faith in all its aspects - educational, liturgical, parochial and as regards family life and the Church's social teaching. Above all, Catholic spirituality and teaching has been infected with aspects of modern psychotherapy and defective Scripture study. For myself I connect all of this with the so-called "abomination of desolation" which, as I understand it, refers to the exaltation of man in the place of God. In the 20th century this was clearly the program of the "enemy" who, as in the parable, sowed darnel amongst the wheat so that we were unable to tell the difference. Now that we know it is there it is extremely difficult to remove without causing upset and confusion. I give one small example. I like guitar music - I play the guitar. At seminary I not only played the guitar at Mass and church services, I wrote a simple Mass setting for the guitar and other music. As I look back now and think about the great problems we have had - and still have - with the liturgy, I believe I was misled. When I look at the magnificence of the Orthodox Liturgy (although it needs some reform) and the very best Anglo-Catholic liturgies I feel ashamed at the seemingly slip-shod, ugly and dumbed-down liturgy that has been offered in some Catholic churches. There is more, but that's enough for now.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Father John

    I sent a comment on Youth, Madrid and guitars and I think I may have clicked "Anonymous". Can't remember.
    It is sheer laziness that I sometimes do this as it is swift and less of a palaver than a long name.

    Instant communication encourages anonymity and I'm all in favour of leaving behind mobiles, laptops, even TVs for a period. It certainly gives one insight into addictive behaviour when the temptation to see what's going on is very powerful.
    I sometimes wonder if certain bloggers send anon comments to themselves to stimulate debate and boost their stats!

    No matter.