I like Bishop Egan's first Pastoral Letter, in it he makes suggestions for the Year of Faith, good sensible things, well worth reading if you haven't done so yet.
In comparison I have been reading this Sunday's Gospel, it is the rich young man asking, "What must I do inherit eternal life?" The answer Jesus gives is to tell him to keep the commandments. He does, so he asks Jesus what more must he do, "Go sell everything, give the money to the poor, then come follow me," Jesus tells him.
Whenever I read that passage I feel a certain terror, it is not simply that I keep the commandments personally in a minimalist way but I like most priests of my generation, I encourage others to do the minimum too, we are all nervous of excess.
It is probably why we have so little to say to young people today. In the past excess was encouraged, there was a sense that were the body went the soul would follow, it was SAS, Special Forces, Commando spirituality
When it is healthy Christianity is a young people's movement.
So here are few suggestions for the Year of Faith that have appealed to the young in the past:-
- Seek to be more at home with the Cherubim and Seraphim than with men
- Go, find a spiritual Master abandon your life and live with him in the desert as his disciple
- Go and live in solitude in a cave or the cleft of the rock or find a pillar
- Find a deserted island preferably in sea lane with marauding Vikings around
- Wear sackcloth, go barefooted winter and summer
- Fast continuously - mitigate it only on feasts
- Spend your nights in prayer preferably, for the mortified and Celtic up to your neck in water
- Recite the whole of the Psalter every day
- First memorise the whole Bible, then most of the Fathers, sell the books wherein it says "sell everything"
- Use penitential instruments continually: the hairshirt, the salice, the heavy spike chain girdle, always wear a course rope noose around your neck, use the disciple frequently (warning: stop using any of these if you find you no longer disgusted by them)
- Go on long pilgrimages without any money or shelter and beg, preferably where your life will be at risk
- Preach the Gospel anywhere where you will be jeered at, abused and pelted with filth
- Preach the Gospel in places you are likely to be killed for it
- Give your life to care for the sick, especially lepers and plague victims
- Go and live where Christians are persecuted and carry a full sized Cross about with you always
- Make a habit of kneeling outside churches at night, preferably in the snow
Possible other alternatives are become a faithful monk or nun, if you haven't the stamina for that what about becoming a religious or priest, or be a good faithful husband or wife and parent but don't be a spiritual wuzz!
Avoid minimalism at all costs!