I promised blogs on Sunday Mass readings, but I thought I should first say a few words about the 2018 Synod on youth, and what I expect from it.
Well, as a faithful Catholic what I expect is direction on how to hand on to the youth the Deposit of Faith received from Christ and His Apostles. I think we have failed to do this for decades. Catechesis for children went from study of the catechism scaffolding upon which to build) to a fluffy Christ who just loves everyone, while out seminaries taught real call to conversion from sin because God loves everyone ‘wherever they are at’. What we have in the Synod then is a group of souls who do not appear to be well formed but think that to love the sinner is to celebrate and welcome the sin or, at the very least, tolerate it. It does not bide wel for the souls of the youth or the participants of the synod.
Many today repeat Our Blessed Lord’s advice “Do not judge” (Matt.7v1), even among the highest of ecclesiastics, but they do so without any reference to His related injunction “When you judge…” (Jn.7v24). So while as a faithful Catholic I expect the synod to affirm the fact that God loves all people and calls them to Himself by a life of virtue, as a realist what I think what we will get will be a demolishing of Catholic moral teaching in order to become ‘relevant’ to, and ‘inclusive’ of, today’s pagan world. The members of the synod talk about listening to the youth, but the youth are not well formed, if indeed they are formed at all. It is a sad thing that young people from Australia have felt the need to write to the Synod all-but correcting them, rightly saying that the youth cannot help form the Church until the Church forms them. Their excellent letter states:
“We can’t hope to take shape amidst confusion over issues such as contraception, sexuality, communion for divorcees and non-Catholics, married priests and female ordination. Such confusion is borne from senior prelates purposefully employing ambiguous language when addressing such issues, even in the face of Christ’s teachings, the Church Fathers and the clear dogma of the Church. Such ambiguity is neither charitable nor desired by the youth and needs to be addressed by this Synod.
“Some of the Synod Fathers wish to avoid a Church of ‘rules’ which fail to encourage a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. However these rules lead us to Christ, they always have. We need the Church to explain why and how this is.
“When the Church eschews the truth for policy-speak, young people are left with only superficial banalities to express their beliefs. Deliberately unclear words are, ironically, relied on and repeated with rigidity. The Church should not discourage young people following its rules in love, nor its priests from teaching them.” (see LifeSite News, here).
In light of the 2015/15 Synods we may well see the current Synod walk down the road of pagan sexuality rather than Gospel virtue, LifeSite News reporting that Cardinal Maradiaga of Honduras is asking that the Church pay more attention to homosexuals and the “realities” they face, specifically mentioning “marriage,” surrogate pregnancy, and adoption, and Pope Francis again claiming that too many Catholics (I assume he means Traditionalists) are ‘rigid’, see LifesiteNews: “Be careful around those who are rigid,” he said. “Be careful around Christians –be they laity, priests, bishops– who present themselves as so 'perfect,' rigid. Be careful. There’s no Spirit of God there. They lack the spirit of liberty…”. And thank God for that -who wants to be liberated from the Gospel? Who wants to be liberated from the salvation it brings?
And may I note an assumption Francis makes? He states that Traditionalists see themselves as perfect, but I think the Confessional is more frequently visited by the Traditional Catholic who knows how imperfect he or she is; it is modern liberals who have abandoned the Confessional and appear to think they are doing well because they are involved in social justice, environmental issues, immigration issues, and the promotion of inclusion of those who are in public adultery or living out disordered sexuality.
By calling for liberty in morality one would only be asking the Church to play ‘footloose and fancy-free’ with Divine Revelation; thus as faithful Catholics we may rightly ask Francis to positively re-label ‘rigidity’ as ‘Commitment’, and the ‘rigid person’ as ‘committed; loyal’. That would, of course, be dangerous, because such positive labels show the modernisers to be lacking in commitment and in loyalty to the Gospel. We can only pray for the Synod members to hold fast to the teaching of the Ten Commandments and the Tradition handed on through 20 centuries of faith, rather than fall into being those who forget that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever; do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings” (Heb.13v7-9). Clearly there is no new teaching to be found; no ‘God of Surprises’, no matter how many times we are told there is. It seems that many of our shepherds (and sheep) are being carried away from the Divine Revelation by the novelties of today’s pagan society; by those who “follow their own desires” and “look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.” (2.Tim.4v3). Perhaps there are some shepherds who are happy to hear (or to be) such teachers, because it allows the living out of unnatural proclivities? Let us stay rigid (committed and loyal) Catholics; let us continue to speak the Truth which is Christ Himself (Jm.14v6) and not try to remake Him into a God of Surprises who, rather than being “the same today, yesterday and forever”, is submissive to and tossed about by man’s changing ideologies.
Let us pray for the Synod and for our shepherds, that the Holy Spirit will take their good intentions with their compassion for those who feel marginalised and focus them on helping the youth by a strong defence and promotion of the Gospel and its unchanging teachings; let us pray that they will have the courage and the will to present these teachings to the youth and the world with compassion and understanding, but with a firm yet kindly challenge. Let us pray that they do not fall prey to the enemy who seeks to make moral truth abhorrent and have our shepherds propagate his lies about what is good, beautiful and true. If our shepherds do not listen to the Holy Spirit and uphold established Catholic morality they are going to lead the youth down the road to perdition. As the above letter indicates, even good Catholic youth have seen that. I recommend their letter to readers -and to our prelates, especially those attending the synod.