As you probably know, World Youth Day is taking place now in Madrid, Spain.
Cardinal Rouco Varela greeted the young pilgrims by acknowledging that many of them would more aptly be described as the Benedict XVI generation than the John Paul II generation:
“You are the Benedict XVI generation, which is not the same as John Paul II generation” Cardinal Rouco Varela said. Quoting from the Pope’s message for the Madrid gathering he reflected: “The youth of today, with existential roots weakened by a rampant spiritual and moral relativism “hemmed in” by the dominant power”. “Without solid foundations in life, culture and society, and not rarely, in the family … it becomes powerfully tempting to go beyond the limits, to the point of losing your direction on the path of life”.
Meanwhile, Anna Williams, a product of the JPII generation and a recent graduate of Hillsdale College writes in USA Today that for these millennials, faith trumps relativism:
What attracts today’s youth to such “old-fashioned” orthodoxy [embodied in Pope Benedict]?
More intellectually coherent than relativism, orthodoxy is also more demanding. It makes us place others above ourselves, the truth above what we’d like to be true, the fight for virtue above the pursuit of pleasure. In a word, it preaches sacrifice.
These themes will be prominent in Madrid this week, as Catholics of all nationalities gather for prayer and festivity. So why are they happy to be Catholic? Because they have concluded that the church’s teachings are, in fact, true, and because they’ve recognized that true freedom lies in self-sacrifice. Far from repressive, such realizations are — as millennials of other faiths can attest — thrilling.
Pope Benedict knows that young people ponder these matters and desire more than what today’s culture offers. When he speaks to them, he doesn’t water it down. His voice is quiet, even gentle, but he’s not afraid to challenge his congregation. And he is right to do so: Young people don’t need another meaningless affirmation of their worth. They want an explanation of how the world is and a mission that involves changing it. Their question is no longer, “What will make me feel good?” but “What will make me a good person, and how can I do good for the world?”
Whatever you believe, you have to admit: They’re asking the right questions.
Amen (and Bravo)!