I have this friend named Michael. He lives in Philly and may be the most hipster man I know. He looks exactly how you would think he looks. He can one up you on almost any intellectual topic and his music taste is impeccable. He and his wife Melissa can be spotted doing interesting things of which you’d wish you had thought. They are about as trendy as it gets but there is something that makes them just a bit different. They are traditional, orthodox Catholics. In a recent conversation, Michael told me that he would prefer to attend a “high” novus ordo mass. Why? Because of beauty, duh!
Michael and Melissa are millennials to their very core as evidenced by their social media posts but they live an orthodoxy that would rival their grandparents.
There is then my friend Emily. Emily is all expression all the time. She is a woman who is most at home on the stage yet she turned down a dream opportunity to study acting in Oxford to become a missionary.
Over the past five years, I have met countless men and women who fit right into the millennial stereotype. They are creative, innovative, they can be too into their social media and they can come off entitled but what sets them apart is that they are living out radical orthodoxy. They are clinging to tradition in such a way that would seem crazy to a society of no rules but they would tell you that in living by the rules, they have found freedom.
These men and women center their lives around communion with God. You can often find them in prayer. They are not afraid of silence. They may go to the same music festival as everyone else, but they might stop into Confession on the way. Many of them are becoming priests and religious sisters. They are waiting until marriage to have sex and are choosing to have larger families. These men and women are encountering the poor in such a way that they know their names. They are trying to live their lives in true worship with Jesus Christ by doing just what He has commanded us to do.
Relativism has been presented to them but they have rejected it, finding it to be empty. They have chosen instead to conform their lives to a Truth that exists outside of themselves rather than change the truth to suit their appetites and passions.
Peter Kreeft brilliantly said, “In an age that has thrown off all tradition; the only rebellion possible is orthodox.” Many are rebelling.
Rebellion exists in every age. The young are always wanting to challenge the status quo and in many ways, we are so much better off today than ever. But what happens when it becomes clear that the effects of certain rebellions and revolutions of the past generations have left us with so much confusion and failure? The natural answer would be a return to clarity and this has become a popular response in my peers.
For all of the bad that is written about millennials, I am starting to believe that we may be the generation of hope. When St. Paul was spreading the gospel, he wrote “When you read this you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit”
St. Paul believed that the Lord was working through his generation in a way that had not happened before and I believe that something similar is happening now. Young people in all denominations of Christianity are giving themselves over to God for the sake of the gospel with a commitment that did not exist in our parents’ generation and an understanding that was not quite there with our grandparents.
I would go so far as to say that the Lord wants to do something with the millennials that may not have been done before in America. If Truth is unchanging, and a return to that Truth becomes the ultimate rock’n’roll move of our time, it may just be my generations who become the restorers of culture.