Thursday, January 3, 2008

Okay - I'm finally back.

Br. Brendan Kneale, FSC, who is very active in his "retirement" here at Mont La Salle, reminded me that I haven't done any entries in quite a while. And so my new year's resolution (one of them, anyway) was to resume a disciplined approach to this method of ongoing communication. With sufficient effort, it should last longer than my resolutions to lose weight, but I'm willing to give it up in order to fulfill my resolution to pray more. I also told Br. Brendan that his name will be the first words of the renewal - as well it should be given his liberal outlook on life.

I think that my reluctance to take this back on stems from the amount of time that it takes to edit and upload the photographs that I like to include. However, there's now a solution to this obstacle. The blog page will include a "revolving window" that includes a bunch of photographs that I've uploaded at different times. I'll simply add to this mix as pictures are taken, and each time someone clicks into the blog, they will see a new picture (or an old one). This will allow for variety and will allow me to upload pictures as they become available, meaning that I'm much more comfortable adding blog entries at more regular intervals.

For this entry, I'd like to highlight and article in U.S. News & World Report called "A Return to Ritual." (Dec 24, 2007) The author, Jay Tolson, analyzes the current interest in traditional religious practices and includes interesting statements such as these:

"People of the postmodern mindset - particularly 20- and 30-somethings - question the hyperindividualism of modern culture. They search for new forms of community but tend to be wary of authority figures and particularly of leaders... The young neotraditionalists also have an almost intuitive attraction to liturgy, ritual, and symbol as forms of knowledge that complement the dominant rational, scientific one."

Quoting Avi Weiss, senior rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale in NYC: "I would argue that people are looking for a dialectic. People are looking for a commitment that is grounded but not one that is stagnant. The other part of the dialectic is an openness but not without limits."

Recently, another person explained that "millenials" are looking for some hold on the sacred, which the US News article calls a "retaining a hold on spiritual truths."

The article also quote Sr. Patrician Wittberg, a sociologist: "I think churches that can articulate what they do and what they stand for tend to grow better." She points to two kinds of conservatives. "One group would like to take things back to the Council of Trent, but I don't think the future's with them. I think the future is with a group that is interested in reviving the old stuff and traditions in a creative way. Sisters in traditional orders may wear habits, but they often live in coed communities."

This article struck me as hitting lots of points that seem correct according to my limited experience. The strong reactions provoked among "older" Catholics when they hear conservative-leaning comments, suggestions, or practices (these older Catholics say that they've been there and done that and didn't like it) are based on a recollection of all the "baggage" that went with those practices in times past. It's a fear of the return of that "baggage" that keeps them viscerally opposed to any new ventures into a rediscovery of the positive aspects of some of those traditional practices. Regular prayer, anyone?