Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The New Faithful

On the ex-CoC board, this article was posted that I felt described my generation of faithful Catholics (and other orthodox Christians) extremely well.

"...many of today’s young adults are not embracing the hippie ethos of their parents’ generation. Instead, they are embracing traditional morality and religion. Their choice arises not from fear, ignorance, or nostalgia. It springs from an intense and abiding hunger for God, and a deep disillusionment with what they view as the God-substitutes of our post-modern culture."


"The young adults I profiled ranged in age from 18 to 35, with a few exceptions on either end of the spectrum.... Their religious affiliations span the Christian spectrum but my focus – on the churches where this trend is most vibrant – tended to lead me to Catholics and evangelical Protestants."


"The Catholics in this group also strive to follow official Church teachings in their entirety, rather than just “picking and choosing” from among them."


"These new faithful base their morality on truth claims that they believe apply to everyone. That belief that flies in the face of the moral relativism that so many of them were weaned on as children, as well as the prevailing values of our culture."


"I also met many young adults who were raised by religious parents who encouraged their devotion. Though they had always believed in God, these new faithful also told me of powerful adult conversions that led them to integrate their faith more fully into the rest of their lives..."

Sounds familiar!

"Though many of the new faithful – and particularly many young evangelicals – favor contemporary worship, the attraction to tradition among young Protestants, Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox Christians is surprisingly strong. In the course of my interviews, I was struck by how many of the new faithful – including many evangelicals – expressed a deep longing for tradition and sacrament in their worship."

Amen to that!

"This generation wants to experience the mystery of God, and to feel His presence in ways that surpass the intellect. They are drawn to churches that worship with reverence and intention. For a great many of these young adults, the hunger for worship that offers a sense of otherworldliness has led them into the Catholic Church, and to a lesser degree, into Episcopalian and Eastern Orthodox churches. These new faithful – many of whom grew up in non-liturgical megachurches or estranged from the Church altogether – now rave about the beauty of high-church liturgies."

Rock on!

One student summed it up well when I interviewed her outside a Eucharistic adoration chapel on the eve of her 21st birthday, which she had decided to spend in prayer.

She said, “There’s something there. In our hearts, we know the truth. And this holds the truth. It’s not fluff. It’s real.”

Authenticity matters to today’s young adults, and many of the new faithful gravitate to the prayers and practices that their parents’ generation rejected – like the liturgy of the hours and even the Latin Mass. As one seminarian told me, “We’re rebelling against the rebellion. We want tradition.”

Yes, yes, and yes...exactly!

"To paraphrase author Romano Guardini, these young believers do not see religion as a question of old things or new things, but as a question of things eternal."


"Parents, pundits, and youth pastors have long assumed that the next generation wants to be entertained, not challenged; that today’s young adults loathe commitment, and like compromise; that the only way to reach the young with the Gospel is to strip it of its hard truths and preach Christ without the Cross.

As the rising devotion of the new faithful shows, nothing could be further from the truth."

*Wild applause*

"In fact, it is the countercultural quality of Christianity – not cultural accommodation – that is attracting today’s young converts. They want a faith that demands something, means something, changes something. And they favor religious leaders who articulate that faith with clarity and live it with sincerity."


The anti-abortion sentiment among these young Christians often perplexes their elders, who sometimes dismiss it as a result of ignorance or childhood brainwashing.

But the view from the inside is different. These young pro-lifers describe their stand against abortion as more countercultural than conservative, a rebellion against a culture that has failed to defend its weakest members. They wear “Protect Life” stickers on their backpacks and “Rock for Life” t-shirts. One shirt I spotted at the 2001 March for Life seemed to sum up the defiant character of today’s young pro-lifers. It said, “You will not silence my message. You will not mock my God. You will stop killing my generation.”

I especially loved that part, so true.

"But the new faithful are not synonymous with the young Republicans. Many of these young believers do not fall neatly into “liberal” or “conservative” political categories...Their political views often contradict the stereotype that pits conservative theology against concern for social justice.

The new faithful delight in breaking that mold. As one young man told me...“I’m not liberal or conservative. I’m just Catholic – like the Pope.”

...no party should take these voters for granted. In my interviews with the new faithful, nearly all of them repeatedly affirmed one political sentiment: that their votes are cast out of loyalty to biblical morality and the teachings of their faith, not allegiance to any political party."

Hallelujah! Giant CHECK!

"...they are taking steps to center their marriages and families on what they see as the surest possible foundation: their mutual faith.

These young adults pray with spouses and make family worship a priority. Nearly all of the young Catholics in this group and a growing number of the young Protestants are rejecting artificial birth control. Instead, they are using Natural Family Planning to space their children naturally. Many told me that they want to give God more control over their fertility and to have larger families."


"...the rising religiosity of their peers indicates that these young adults may be the early adopters of a larger trend – a trend that has the potential to reshape American religion and culture in the years to come."

I certainly hope so! This article gives me hope, and makes me proud to be a part of this generation of the New Faithful.


Jim McCullough said...

This description was me, 35 years ago. I joined the Church and watched the tide roll out, out, out despite all we could do (in religious education, my field) until about the time the CCC was published. Now I'm enjoying the tide rolling back in. And you new young Catholics, Stephanie, are the joy of my work.

Praised be Jesus, in all His angels and all His saints!

Stephanie said...

Why thank you! It must have been hard to see that happen when there's not much you could do to stop it...God bless you for sticking it out and paving the way for those to follow! =)

Anonymous said...

Hello from Montreal, Canada! My name is Wren.
You have a fascinating blog.
I have a discussion forum here...rules are straightforward and brief.
Please know that you are most welcome anytime to register and participate. It would be an honour to have you!

Stephanie said...

Thanks for the invitation, Wren, I already see a couple of familiar faces (or...screennames, lol) over there!

Tito said...

I enjoyed reading your posting. Conversion stories are one of my most favorite to read.

Keep studying about your faith and do please pass it on to your children through practice and teaching.

God bless,


Stephanie said...

I love conversion stories too! I can't wait to pass on the faith to children...just waiting for God to bless us with some :-D Thanks for stopping by!

Kasia said...

Yup - it's me!

Thank the Lord that this seems to be a rising trend!