Contemplata aliis Tradere

A meagre contribution to the mission and work of the Order of Preachers: my reflections, thoughts, ideas and the occasional rant on matters mainly theological, philosophical and ecclesiastical, drawn primarily from my reading and experience of life and the world. Striving to be always Catholic, firmly Christian and essentially Dominican, flavoured with dashes of Von Balthasar.

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A son of the English Province of the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans); born in Malaysia but have lived in the USA, Singapore, the UK & the Philippines for varying durations. A pilgrim and way-farer, a searcher for Truth on the journey of Life... "Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, There’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so. Benedicamus Domino!" - Hilaire Belloc

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Generation gaps in ideology

There has been a fair bit of ink spilt over the French 'Non' vote with regard to the European Constitution. Jacques Chirac, whose baby it was, is understandably upset by the negative vote of his compatriots. However, his approach seems to be to push it forward at a later date and he believes (along with many Eurocrats) that re-education is what the French need.

It is a strange sight, when ideologues cling to decades-old concerns which are simply no longer relevant to the current generation. The older generations who see their life's work shunned or shot down by the newer generation dismiss this as youthful inexperience or lack of education or awareness. The answer is to teach and to do so more forcefully; in other words, to indoctrinate the young to think like the older. But that, as any good parent would tell us, is not what leading means. A good parent or leader listens to the voices of today, discerns with the experience of yesterday and allows himself to share the concerns of the present age, of the young.

A similar scenario exists in some sectors and enclaves of the Church herself - formators, rectors, ideologues of a passing generation press their viewpoints and fears onto the current generation. Rather than to mould the youth in the image of Christ and his Church, who is ever "nova et vetera" (new and yet ancient), some seek to form the newer generation of seminarians and religious in the likeness of themselves. Some appeal to a spurious "Spirit of Vatican II" to bolster their arguments but ironically reject the authentic interpretation of this same spirit by such figures as Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, who were actually present at the Council.In short, the spectre of the 1960s and 1970s still haunts them and they, with admittedly good intentions, seek to prepare the younger ones for an age which no longer exists. They read the "signs of the times", indeed of their time but have not carried on reading.

For the tricky thing about Time is that 'tick' follows 'tock' and it inexorably carries on without us and those who do not move along are left behind. Ideologues who live in the past are the ones left behind: visionaries of a past, dreamers of a self-contained future... Often this leaves us with a tension between the young and the older.

With regard to the above, Freddie Sayers, 23, reflects on the irrelevance of 'Europe' for our generation. It formed the impetus for this post. However, there is another reflection, by fr Timothy Radcliffe, OP - a wise leader, if ever there was one - and his words on the matter are instructive for the Church and all ages:

"This tension is ultimately fruitful and necessary for the Order. Accepting the young into the Order challenges us. Just as the birth of a child changes the life of the whole family, so each generation of of young who come to us change the brotherhood. You come with your questions to which we have not always got the answers, with your ideals, which may reveal our inadequacies, your dreams which we may not share. You come with your friends and your families, your cultures and your tribes. You come to disturb us, and that is why we need you. Often you come demanding what is indeed central to our Dominican life, but which we may have forgotten or belittled: a more profound and beautiful common prayer; a deeper fraternity in which we care more for each other; the courage to leave behind our old commitments and take to the road again... We need to be renewed by those who have been caught by enthusiasm for Dominic's vision. We must not recruit you to fight our old battles... We are bound together as a community by the stories of the past as well as by the dreams of the future... So brotherhood is based on more than a single vision. It is built patiently, by learning to listen to each other, to be strong and to be fragile, learning fidelity to each other and love of the brethren."

If Europe and indeed the Church desires greater unity, fr Radcliffe's words are a good map for the way forwards.


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