The following came in an August 19 email from Casey McCorry, who is an MBA graduate of John Paul Catholic University, a former employee at the National Catholic Reporter, and the author of Defending the Devil’s Children on July 11 in California Catholic Daily.
The summer marked by great cultural shifts is coming to an end. Gay marriage has been legalized, the transgender movement has taken center stage, and Planned Parenthood videos have been leaked and ignored. Steady attacks on religious liberty and culture’s growing suspicion of organized religion have flamed an anxiety in faithful Catholics. Looking at the dwindling numbers of millennial Catholics leaves much to fear for the future of the church in growing opposition.
Yet what media has silenced hasn’t failed to exist. In the same summer of national shifting values roughly 50,000 highschool students have sought a deeper relationship with Christ by attending one of Steubenville’s 21 summer conferences all across the country. Over 2,000 alone attended the conference in San Diego. These Catholic conferences invite students to embrace their Catholic faith over a weekend of praise and worship, daily mass, confession numerous talks about living their Catholic faith, a powerful Eucharistic adoration experience, commitment to chastity until marriage, and a blessing for those discerning religious vocation. Students alive and impassioned by their faith run around the conferences with “free hug” signs, “viva cristo rey” on their tshirts and a constant praise song streaming out of their mouths. It’s a Catholic Lollapalooza, a moment where Catholic teens can realize, “we’re not alone in our beliefs.” This hidden grassroot pulse of millennial Catholics is alive albeit small, but one need only to step into a conference center on a Steubenville retreat and see the fiery passion in the hearts of these millennials to know the faith’s not lost on them. The generation many feared to be too apathetic is contrarily exactly what the church needs. This small group of Catholics has the power to drastically empower the future church, and they’re starting in their own pews.
Millennial Catholics have grown up in a time of increasingly partisan politicians and polarized segments of Americans. The Catholic faith that once stood as a stubborn cultural anomaly has slowly ingested these same divisions. Since Vatican II Catholics have created two governing ethoses. Members of both parties neglect sides of Catholic teaching in an attempt to characterize themselves differently from the trademark issues of the other side. In this fractured church millennials have grown up beckoned to choose a side, but neither seem to fit the bill.
As a Catholic journalist and High School Youth Minister I frequented CARA statistics and catechetical conferences where everyone wanted to know who these ever elusive young adult catholic were. In short, which Catholic “team” were they on?
The most valuable insight I gained from the studies is one from Fr. Robin Ryan C.P. a speaker on “Young Adults and the Catholic Church”, “Young adults speak of feeling disheartened by the polarization they perceive among middle-aged and older Catholics.” A Boston College survey actually showed this as one of the primary challenges faced by younger Catholics. “Young adult Catholics do not always fit neatly in the ideological categories that are familiar to Catholics of the ‘baby boomer’ generation. This is where many active young adult Catholics register their protest explicitly or silently and feel disconnected from the older generation of Catholics.”
The new evangelization inspired by Saint John Paul II is proof of a slow shift taking place in the church to fully educate its believers and ground them in catechetical teaching. Privileged to be born after Vatican II with a liturgy in English, a Catechism ten times the size of the Baltimore version, and in the cusp of the Youth Ministry movement, millennials have been blessed with a much more intensive understanding of the teachings of the Catholic faith than their parents. These changes have more forcefully demanded a decision from young Catholics. Statistics may reveal this generation to be the weakest of all generations of Catholics but this is due in large part to the fact that millennials have grappled with church teaching in a way that either persuades or repels them. Young adults who find issue with church teaching no longer have the ethnic or cultural pressure to maintain their faith and thus convert or fall away. Cradle Catholics who take issue with the church’s stance on gay marriage may become Episcopalian. Youth bored by “boring services” become Evangelical. And most become Agnostic or apathetic to religion at all. Those left are small in numbers but are powerful, unique, and outside the scope of babyboomer ideology. They are a generation previously unmatched.
Young believers are neither traditional or progressive, liberal or conservative, they are Catholic. A label as profound as it’s practice. Millennials cherish the broad spectrum of faith practices disregarding the invisible labels that such a practice may imply. Living with Catholic labels rejects the fullness of the faith, and to reject the fullness is why Catholicism is a weak argument in a secular world. Each teaching is integral with every other teaching and to remove one is to deny the whole powerfully persuasive truth. We see this with the question of gay marriage. How can Catholics persuade a nation of the significance of a free, total, fruitful, marriage when most married Catholics use contraception. Similarly how can pro-life petitioners plead for the lives of infants and ignore blatant warwaging or the death penalty? Each teaching is like a marble stone that altogether make the grand altar upon which we celebrate the Eucharistic feast.
Pope Francis spoke to millennials this summer in Brazil saying, “Make a ruckus, but do a good job of it! A ruckus that brings a free heart, a ruckus that brings solidarity, a ruckus that brings us hope, a ruckus that comes from knowing Jesus and knowing that God, once I know him, is my strength.” This millennial generation is the one God has been molding to answer for the church in this specific time. We have great opposition and seemingly no success but we’re madly in love with Christ and thus will make a ruckus in a misguided world, but also, in a severed church.
We practice NFP in the height of contraception usage and love Theology of the Body in a nation of porn. We value marriage and courtship in a culture of one-night stands. We read encyclicals in weekly Young adult groups and enact Catholic social teachings at soup kitchens on weekends. We are Jesuits and Carmelites. We practice Leccio Divina and pray the Divine Chaplet. We admire Pope Benedict and Pope Francis. We make a ruckus in the streets of D.C. whispering Hail Mary’s in the March for Life. In the hush that falls over the room as the Eucharist is processed in the Steubenville Conferences. We face the homosexuality issue with love, as brothers and sisters with warm embraces and not solely a battle. You’ll hear our voices sing in small college chapels with FOCUS missionaries, and Salve Regina’s at the Catholic Underground. This ruckus will empower us through the inevitable future of our faith: the friendships we will have to end, the jobs denied, rights revoked, laws created. We will stand with the truth.
Christ prayed for his disciples in the Gospel of John,
“May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” Our unity alone can testify to Christ being the truth. We must speak with unity on the teachings God has given us all the teachings. We must remove prejudices and politics and resentment and toss it over our shoulder like nets to follow our Lord like loving children. The survival of our church demands our unity. It’s time this world met the fullness of our Church.
I LOVE these words from the Holy Father, especially as young people should be encouraged to use their energy, creativity, and Catholic pizzazz:
Pope Francis spoke to millennials this summer in Brazil saying, “Make a ruckus, but do a good job of it! A ruckus that brings a free heart, a ruckus that brings solidarity, a ruckus that brings us hope, a ruckus that comes from knowing Jesus and knowing that God, once I know him, is my strength.”
Why do you love young people being told to make a ruckus? Since that is their predilection anyway isn’t that a bit redundant? It reminds me of some of my more unfortunate art professors who told their students to draw an impressionistic tree, for example, without the basic training of how to draw a tree in the first place. Young people are at their peak intellectually and physically…this is when they’re most passionate about life. This is the richest opportunity to guide them, train them and encourage them that they grow straight and true and productive of good fruit…not making yet another ruckus in an already overloaded niche of rowdy knuckleheads.
“So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth!” Revelation 3:16
This, Dana, is what Pope Francis means!
He doesn’t want wishy-washy young people with no convictions: he wants them to speak up, to act forefully, to work for change.
If this scares you, get over it.
How on earth do you know what he means? You’re imposing what you think he said as the final authority ! Your audacity in claiming some special understanding of the pope’s remarks the rest of us lack is presumptuous and arrogant and I’m really tired of all the self righteousness I encounter on this web site. Ruckus is a word that has always had negative connotations… like mayhem, set-to, fight etc.
PS, If this annoys you, anonymous, write your own dictionary or become a translator for the pope. Heaven only knows you couldn’t do any worse than the ones they’ve got even if you don’t speak Italian. He uses alot of hand gestures. Maybe you could become a mime. ;)
…she said sweetly. ;)
Oops… she said sweetly ( the kinder me) Heh
I thank God daily that He has given us so many ways to worship Him, draw closer to His Son, and allow our Catholic faith to “grow up” and better form our lives and our decisions.
The energy of the Steubenville experience is one powerful fruit of the Holy Spirit, giving our young people (and their loved ones) a chance to use body, voice and indeed ALL the senses to move from being God’s frozen people to truly being God’s chosen people.
It’s not for everyone, but then again, neither is the Charismatic movement, the TLM, or Bible study.
For those Millennials who remain as die-hard Catholics: Amen.
Catholic Priests’ Forgotten Flock: Catholic Men
– Catholic “man-crisis,” the New Emangelization Project has conducted dozens of interviews with top Catholic men’s evangelists that suggest that a core reason for the “man-crisis” is that bishops and priests have not yet made the evangelization and catechesis of men a clear priority.*
Men are being ignored by the Church.
To gain deeper insight into the critical role that priests play in the evangelization and catechesis of men, the New Emangelization Project fielded the Helping Priests Become More Effective in Evangelizing Men Survey in the Fall of 2014.
Over 1400 practicing Catholic…
The only flock forgotten to Michael Voris are the flocks who planted that nest on his head in place of real hair.
I’ve seen him in person with the wind blowing, and that is his real hair.
What is your real problem?
Your attacking people rather than issues?
Well said Dottie!
Anonymous, is your daily goal to start trouble, sit back with a cup of coffee and laugh at your own comments ?
Anonymous, I loved your comment about Michael Voris. :)
The poor thing is dying for attention, and apparently believes he has a monopoly on truth and orthodoxy – like the Islamic State.
These youth are “blessed” to have been born after the Vatican II catastrophe?! They understand their faith better than previous generations because the liturgy is in English? Oh really, and Catholics for hundreds of years didn’t understand their faith? I wouldn’t be so sure this young man understands his faith so well when he refers to the Holy Sacrifice simply as the “Eucharistic Banquet.” And the charismatic (i.e. Protestant) adoration service pictured at top is not particularly encouraging. The hand-waving Proddy emotionalism is not exactly a sign these kids know their faith. Sure there is some good stuff in here, but remember: a glass of fine wine is ruined with even a drop of arsenic.
MS, I agree and Thank You. This event is nothing but a, its all about and look at me event.
I agree ms. Also, I dislike these false dichotomies such as millennials, boomers, gen xers, et al. that are geared toward comparisons, competivness and condemnation. All of these young people would profit from a deeper understanding of just how little they know about the world ( humility), how much they owe to preceding generations ( wisdom) and how much they still need to learn ( respect for their elders). Because they love Jesus , they,re beautiful and full of promise…but that is just the first step of a life-long journey. May God bless them and protect them from well- intentioned do- gooders who have more hair than sense.
Dana: They are beautiful because Jesus loves them and gave them life everlasting if they follow Him… but I in general I agree with your observations.
Deeply held faith is more than a conference, a song you can’t get out of your head or a feeling.
Thanks Alice. I appreciate the distinction! God bless you
Praise God. We need to reach them at their level. This is a great way to do so. Many of these youth also love the TLM.
If these young people are so excited about Eucharistic Adoration, that speaks volumes!
There are many ways to experience the Real Presence before the Monstrance, not only in a silent chapel:
True Stefanie! God bless our youth. We pray for them. They need our prayers.
“He loves, He hopes, He waits. If He came down on our altars on certain days only, some sinner, on being moved to repentance, might have to look for Him, and not finding Him, might have to wait. Our Lord prefers to wait Himself for the sinner for years rather than keep him waiting one instant.”
-St. Julian Peter Eymard
Does anybody follow a rule of life or even a daily horarium?
What does the author who wrote for the heretical “National Catholic REPORTER” mean by “Catholic’ ?
Catholics who are not to the left or to the right, or heretical or schismatice – adhere fully to the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, second edition” of 1997.
Ahhh… but Who Influences the ‘Millennials’?
How Google Could Rig the 2016 Election
Google has the ability to drive millions of votes to a candidate with no one the wiser…
Research I have been directing in recent years suggests that Google, Inc., has amassed far more power to control elections—indeed, to control a wide variety of opinions and beliefs—than any company in history has ever had.
What we call in our research the Search Engine Manipulation Effect (SEME) turns out to be one of the largest behavioral effects ever discovered. Our comprehensive new study, just published in the Proceedings of the National…
The saga continues, i.e., the implosion continues. In a generation or two, it will be gone, only Roman Catholics practicing tradition will remain, and they may be back in the catacombs then! God save us!
All is tradition.
The word means “what is handed down,” and thus not static.
The Catholic Church in Africa has handed down worship that lasts for hours, with dance, chant, and much preaching.
Others want a quick Mass with no homily and no music at all.
Still others value the TLM.
One size does NOT fit all in our big, glorious Catholic world! :)
AH yes the main sacrament of liberals-Diversity
I was always taught that there are two different types of tradition in the Church. As Catholics we believe in the Bible and the Tradition (handed down from the Apostles) which is our faith, and small-t traditions which are the various actions and things that have been done over the years. Small “t” traditions would be things like altar rails, pews with kneelers, statues around the interior of the church, gilded vestments, etc. Large “T” are the articles of faith.
Bob One, this makes sense to me.
In my parish, people would squak about “our traditions” (such as permitting the children to come into the sanctuary for the Lord’s Prayer), as if such things were written in stone on Mt. Sinai.
On the other end of the spectrum, some people would bemoan the fact that our pastor does not wear a cassock, as if this fashion statement had been declared by Jesus Himself in the Gospels.
Some things come and go, but the essentials remain: one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism!!
Unfortunately Susan, there is one Lord, but there is not one Faith. Just reading the many articles on this website over the years, and more so the controversy and disagreements by the bloggers on faith, morals, and character go to show the diversity in the modern church. It is not one, i.e. it is not catholic, but a smorgas board of whatever practicing or unpracticing members want to believe, and where anything goes not to offend ones political correctness or neighbor. But what about God? He taught us His Way, He is the Truth and the Life, and sadly so many, many of us do not follow Him! That goes for each and everyone of us. There will be a price for us to pay in the end, unless we truly show God we love Him and follow His 10…