Yes, I know--this blog's a ghost town. Wasn't planning on posting today, either, but I've had a few things going around in my head that I want to work out on electronic paper.
Our shortage of vocations in America (and most of the developed world, for that matter) is well known. Over at Lifesite, Anthony Esolen suggests a few causes. I won't argue too much, though I think we've done the whole "it's-the-liturgy-stupid" thing to death. But I did note his point that we don't offer as much challenge as perhaps we ought.
It's certainly true with every recruiting effort for the clergy I've ever seen.
Here's a ten-minute clip from a larger project aimed at teens. Two young priests tell the stories of their discernment.
Now, I'm not dissing these priests. I have no doubt their stories are genuine, and their love of the Church is clear. But look at the filmmakers' subtext, and you'll see things common to every religious appeal to young people (apart from World Youth Day itself).
Apparently, there are just oodles of young, single Catholics out there thinking:
"Golly gee - I'd really like to join the religious life, but I'm afraid they won't let me play sports anymore!"
On the other hand, we've got the pop soundtrack, and the edgy camerawork, and from all we see, they spend more time working out than they do in prayer.*
All this seems to say: See? God's not really asking that much of you. You'll still be the same person, doing the same things. For someone like my teenage self, they'd have said, "You can still have your booze, and your cigarettes, and your ponytail, and your Zeppelin albums. C'mon, be a priest; it'll be really keen!"
|It's all fun and games, until someone loses the Faith.|
I wanted a Christ who'd say, "Put those things away. Sell them and give to the poor. Leave your nets on the boat, and come follow me. It's the greatest adventure you could ever imagine!"
If we try that, I think, they will come.
It certainly works for the enemy. Look at ISIS. Young people from all over the civilized world are running to join a barbarian horde in the desert. Why? Because it offers something to believe in. Something to which they can sacrifice everything. Something that shows their contempt of a world full of pornography, political correctness, consumerism, and an overblown notion of fair play that refuses to let them risk anything.
How do we answer them back? One-up them. If young people will go to those lengths for something that offers them death, how much more will they give to something that offers them resurrection?
Let me show you something now that put me in a very good place this week.
This is who's getting vocations these days. Note, for example, that their Prioress is nearly ten years younger than I am. Note the joy. Note the faith.
"But they're Traddies!" I hear you cry. Yes, but they're the joyful kind. They're traddies because they love their Catholic heritage, not because they hate everyday Catholics. But if you're really disposed to argue, here's some Ordinary Form Dominicans getting even more vocations.
Yes, they play sports, too, but note what attracted the young novice from Australia: The sisters walking around campus in their habits. Post-Vatican II modified habits, but still set. Apart. From. The. World.
A modest proposal: If you want to recruit young people, don't tell them how much they can keep.
Tell them how much they can give.
*Not to mention the stereotypes. Fr. White's running through the hills to a Pure Moods-ish movie anthem - or is it a Zyrtec commercial? Meanwhile, Fr. Not-So-White's walking through the inner city to a brooding hip-hop track. Racist much?