Anna Williams, an editorial page intern at USA TODAY, wrote a wonderful article about the triumph of faith over relativism. Regarding "relativism", Pope Benedict says "relativism, that is, letting oneself be "tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine", seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires." Hopefully, the youth attending WYD in Madrid will see the danger of "relativism" and toss it to the wind.
Crowds of young people throng the streets, singing, dancing and waving flags from around the world.
When a diminutive figure emerges in a white car, they erupt, jockeying for the best view of this international superstar. A rock idol? A marquee athlete? A political prodigy?
Nope: an old man — more scholar than celebrity — smiling shyly to acknowledge the adulation.
Pope Benedict XVI will arrive this week in Madrid for a weeklong celebration marked by up to a million teenage and twentysomething Catholics as World Youth Day. The international event gives young Catholics a chance to learn about and practice their faith together: Think Mass, lectures, prayer and more Mass.
But this is not your average religious conference. The music is loud; the hours, late; the attendees, young, diverse, exuberant.
The whole spectacle might understandably confuse those outside of the church: Why would these young people belong to, much less celebrate, such a backward, oppressive institution as the Roman Catholic Church? And why do they seem to find Pope Benedict, 84, not just endearing but also inspiring? The answers to these questions lie in the discontent and desires of a peculiar subset of the millennial generation.
At first glance, studies such as Pew's 2010 report "Religion Among the Millennials" seem to indicate that young Catholics (age 18-29) exemplify their generation's tendency toward religious indifference. To wit, they are less likely to attend Mass weekly, less likely to pray daily, and less likely to consider religion "very important" than Catholics 30 and older. Yet the millennial Catholics who do practice and value their faith are doing something odd: They are spearheading a resurgence of traditional Catholic liturgy and disciplines that their parents and grandparents had largely abandoned.
A recent study of Catholic religious orders confirmed this trend. Sister Mary Bendyna, a member of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas and director of the Georgetown University-affiliated center that conducted the study, summarized the findings for The New York Times. Compared with older generations, she said, millennials who consider becoming priests or nuns are "more attracted to a traditional style of religious life, where there is community living, common prayer, having Mass together, praying the Liturgy of the Hours (the church's daily cycle of Scripture readings and prayers) together." "They are much more likely to say fidelity to the church is important to them," she added. "And they really are looking for communities where members wear habits," the age-old garb of monks and nuns.
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