This past Saturday evening in Toronto, to celebrate Palm Sunday and World Youth Day, St. Michael’s Cathedral held likely its largest crowd since Archbishop Collins’ installation. The remarkable congregation consisted mostly of teenagers, making me feel like the old guy at my mere 27 years.
In one sense, I cherish those years that separate me from my adolescent self. I was unlearned and naïve. My notions of faith and Church were simplistic and, at times, altogether wrong. Faith can be shaky in those years: many young Christians I knew flip-flopped from born-again to non-believer (and back again).
Still, not all change is good. My walk to St. Michael’s coincided with that of a group of teens from a Life Teen youth group in Mississauga. While they jubilantly sang praise & worship songs, to my shame, I felt mildly embarrassed. I hadn’t even met them, but from their demeanor I could tell that they lacked the cynicism and aloofness that I had somehow accumulated. You just knew that they were either too young to notice the fractures in the Catholic community, or were too hopeful to worry about them like I do now.
I envy them. Don’t you wish you could see the Church without it turning it into a collage of abstract ideological “isms”? Wouldn’t it be refreshing to worship without inhibition—or even just to remember the last time you did? Witnessing the teens, it became clear to me that I must learn these things from them. No wonder John Paul II loved the youth so dearly.