Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Da Mihi Animas has this video on "male spirituality" - men above all seem to want to march in step. Someone, a little dismissively, said, "young people always want to know "the rules"". I am convinced confusion doesn't help, "the rules" at least give a basis for action, young people seem to crave action rather than theory. They want to live the Gospel rather than speculate about it.
Young men especially seem to want defined structures, the spirituality of the Centurion, Matt 8:8ff, seems to typify the attitude of many young men, there is a real desire to be under authority. The young men who followed Francis, Dominic, Ignatius, Philip chose join a brotherhood and wanted a Rule, in the same way as young men joining the army both want and need a very definite structure, in many cases the tougher and more demanding the better. Such structures are often used to define one particular group against another, in a competitive or tribal way; Franciscans versus Dominicans, Jesuits versus Oratorians or Royal Marine Commandos versus the SAS. In the past the Church used that youthful sense of competition to stress an orders distinctive charism, the Carthusians stressed their solitude, the Trappists their silence, the Franciscans their poverty, the Jesuits their obedience, the Dominican's their learning etc.
Older religious communities of both men and women that have thrown off the habit and mitigated their Rule are dying and lost any sense of distinctiveness, whilst new religious communities that have a distinct identity and make great demands on their members are growing, this is certainly so with the Missionaries of Charity, Opus Dei and, I have to admit, the Legionaries of Christ too, the same can be said of those communities that use the traditional Rite, indeed they seem to be filled with young.
The Archbishop of Dublin said recently that Irish young people are possibly the best catechised but least well evangelised in Europe, I am not sure quite what that means but I suspect that one of the problems in the Irish Church which is reflected in the UK and elsewhere is a profound confusion in how to live the Gospel, the last forty years have seen a serious confusion precisely over the "rules" of how to live the Gospel. The Church as an institution and even often especially as a "local community", now seems to insist on no minimum expectations. Liberalism thought was a help, now it seems to be a disaster.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake