Young Enough to Know Better
Young and Catholic: The Face of Tomorrow’s Church
by Tim Drake
Sophia Institute, 2004
280 pages, $16.95
To order: (800) 888-9344
Readers of the Register, which features back-page “Baby
Mugs” and runs stories on large families and new priests, will not be surprised
to hear that there are faithful young Catholics all over
A Register staff writer, Drake draws upon themes he develops regularly in this newspaper and adds lots of new information to gather an impressive body of evidence that the Church will soon blossom in a springtime for the faith called for by Pope John Paul II. A whole generation, Drake says, has been formed by the image and witness of the current Pope — and has responded to his call to “Be not afraid” as they stand upon the rooftops of modern culture to proclaim their faith.
Yet, for most Catholics, this book will be a revelation. As Drake notes in his introduction, many parishes are experiencing “the graying of the pews,” with mostly older people attending Mass regularly. Catholics from these parishes who are asking where the young people are will receive an optimistic answer from this book. The young and faithful, though not always seen at the regular Sunday Mass, are attending special teen or young-adult Masses, joining youth groups, going on retreats and pilgrimages, listening to Christian rock music, performing charitable-service projects at home and as missionaries abroad, and joining new and orthodox religious communities as priests, brothers and sisters.
Drake admits that these are a minority within the Church and that too many young people are alienated from their faith and engaged in sinful ways. But he quotes one young person who says that young, active Catholics are “a minority with attitude.” They are militants in the best sense, raising the Catholic banner in the midst of a secular culture, defending and promoting the faith on campuses, at work and in the public square — and converting, in some cases, their parents, who grew up in the turbulent days after Vatican II. As the excesses of sex and consumerism leave the West unsatisfied and searching, the witness of these “attitude” Catholics will become more attractive, Drake argues.
A convert from Protestantism and a 30-something Catholic himself, Drake writes that the true revolution of the 1960s Vatican Council will be brought about, not by the doubters of yesterday, but by the faithful young of today.
“Contrary to popularly held public opinion, Catholic young people do care about their religion,” he writes. “They demonstrate a deep passion and enthusiasm for the faith not often seen in the previous generation. By embracing the Church, they are expressing their desire for a religion that is lived out and has the power to transform. For many teens, Sundays are not enough.”
Chapter after chapter, Drake offers story after story of young people who are embracing the faith and making a difference in their hometowns or on the world scene. In addition, a 16-page appendix lists dozens of ministries, organizations and religious groups that appeal to teens and young adults.
Drake’s point is that there are a million points of light. But is such a rosy outlook realistic? What, some may ask, of the clerical sex scandal that has devastated every Catholic, bankrupted whole dioceses and undoubtedly driven many young people from the Church? Drake does not address this and other disturbing issues directly. Yet, in a sense, his answer is this book.
If the young people featured here have their say and win the day, the future of the Church and of society is bright. Those of us who are older can only pray — and teach our children well.
Stephen Vincent writes from
- February 6-12, 2005