Catholic youth is angry and it is completely understandable

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Reverend Fathers, Mr. Chaplain, Mr. President,

Catholic youth is angry and it is completely understandable

Dear Friends of Notre-Dame de Chrétienté- Our Lady of Christendom

Providence has been kind enough to allow a Benedictine abbot to celebrate Holy Mass to mark the fortieth anniversary of the Notre-Dame de Chrétienté Association. Allow me therefore to greet, from afar but very close at heart, His Eminence Cardinal Robert Sarah, who preferred not to celebrate this Mass for diplomatic reasons.

So it is a Benedictine who is here, in a double capacity: as Superior of a community founded half a century ago on the celebration of the holy liturgy according to the ancient liturgical books, and as successor to Dom Gérard, who greets you from heaven. The founder of the Abbey of Saint Magdalene was from the beginning an ardent supporter of the pilgrimage, encouraging the laity who were at the origin of this daring work, and, it must be said, in reaction against the generalized apostasy of a society gone mad.

After forty years of fidelity, of struggle, of trials, of tears, forty years of admirable generosity on the part of so many Catholics, so many lay people and priests, after forty years of labour, of crosses, but also of joy and hope, what assessment can we make?

Allow me, as a Benedictine monk, to pass on to you some of St. Benedict’s exhortations to the father abbot.

Why the father abbot? Because all of you here who have some responsibility in the pilgrimage are sharing in the grace of Christ the Head.

Yes, you, Mr. President, and all of you, his collaborators, even the heads of chapters and all the “officers”, as St. Benedict calls them. Yes, all of you, each in your own place, without clericalism and without any anti-clericalism, are part of this great work at the service of the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

The first exhortation is to remember the name you bear.

For St Benedict, this is very important. Because for this man steeped in scripture, the name is a clear identity. The name is also a mission. “Notre-Dame de Chrétienté”: that is your name. Our Lady, the one who was chosen by God. A name is a vocation, a call, a love of preference. Be assured that God has pointed his finger at you and said: “You! Come and follow me on this path. Come after me in an inner closeness of grace, of the gift of the Holy Spirit and of inner dwelling.

Notre-Dame de Chrétienté: this is your mission. A mission that may seem beyond all human hope and that to some extent is doomed to failure, so unequal is the balance of power. But what can I tell you? Except that this is your name, this is your mission, this is your raison d’être: to work to establish the temporal bed of the spiritual river. Don’t be afraid and above all never be discouraged. It took St Benedict six centuries to cover Europe with a white coat of monasteries of monks and nuns. This was not his plan. But by really seeking God, he “initiated a process”, as Pope Francis says.

Notre-Dame de Chrétienté is a name, it is a mission, it is a beginning. After 40 years of existence, your mission has only just begun.

The second exhortation of St. Benedict to the abbot that I pass on to you is to teach his sons by sound doctrine and example. 3] Even more by example than by doctrine, of course, but never without it.

You receive this exhortation with pride, because for 40 years, whatever the presidents or chaplains, this doctrinal concern has always been crucial. With an obvious concern to adapt, but without attenuation or weakness.

Some may have wondered whether a pilgrimage is the ideal place for teaching. Father Coiffet asked himself the question and the answer fell naturally: yes, and especially in our time which sees a major crisis of faith. And what is at stake, especially today, is not only knowledge. It is true that Christians themselves are ignorant of the most basic mysteries of the faith; the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the real presence in the host, the sacrificial nature of the Holy Mass.

But is the evil not deeper? Saint Bernadette of Lourdes was ignorant of many points of doctrine, but she had faith, she had that supernatural virtue of the obedience of the intelligence to a revelation, to a transcendent truth, which comes from God and which is transmitted by God through the Church. The drama goes so far as to say that not only do souls no longer know where to find light, but they go so far as to think that there is no authentic light that comes from above. The modern world is not only an apostasy of the interior life, it is also a refusal of transcendence. The synodal syntheses show to what extent even committed Christians have lost not only the faith, but the sense of faith.

So, yes, it is important and urgent to give, during these gatherings of young people, a taste for doctrine, a sense of faith. Yes, it is of the utmost importance to give them a chance to raise their eyes to the truth and – if you’ll pardon the expression – to stick their noses into the truth. Compelle intrare, “push them in”[4]. Sometimes an experience, a shock at the splendour of the truth, is enough to open up a path of conversion and commitment to the Lord.

Saint Benedict adds that good example is decisive, and today I would like to greet all the lay people who have shown an edifying generosity in preparing, organising, accompanying and sometimes adapting the pilgrimage. And I would like to salute all the priests who courageously walk among the flock every year to confess, teach, enlighten and adapt to each situation. But above all I want to encourage you, if necessary, to take care of the holy liturgy. For what better example, what more telling sign of the splendour of the truth, than a holy liturgy. If we love the liturgy celebrated according to the missal of St. Pius V, it is above all because of its sense of the sacred and the respect due to God.

It is undeniable that many young people have discovered this world which, for them, is not old-fashioned but completely new. The traditional liturgy is not a nostalgia for the past, it is the entry into a new world. But I will stop here because I feel that I am preaching to the converted.

I have a third instruction to pass on to you from St Benedict, which I reread twice a year in the morning chapter with trepidation.

St. Benedict exhorts the abbot to remember often that he will have to give an account to the Lord on the day of judgment, not only for his own actions, but also for those of his flock.

Yes, the Lord entrusts souls to us. And if each of us has the ultimate responsibility for our own merits and faults, we also have the task of carrying each other’s burdens[6]. We therefore have a share in the responsibility for the salvation of souls. This is a general mission that every Christian receives at baptism: to participate, to share in the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

Saint Benedict often speaks of the last ends and of the accounts that each person will have to give to the Lord for what he has done and for what he has not done. It is a call to responsibility and for us to be aware that this kingdom of God for which we work is not of this world. Our Lady of Christendom, while founded to work for the rooting of Christian truths in society, must never forget the eternal horizon which is the summit of history.

St. Benedict specifies two particular points on which the father abbot will be judged as to his ministry: the doctrine of his brothers and their obedience. [7]

I have already spoken of doctrine.

And it is with a few pinches of salt that I approach the issue of obedience.

It is with a pinch of salt because Catholic youth in general are angry. Some Bishops are moved by this and are surprised by it. Well, I want to say to Catholic youth, to those young people who remain faithful to the faith, to the traditional liturgy and to the Catholic Church, that this anger is understandable. Because anger is this passion that God created to help us face evil. And God knows how much you are attacked.

But hold on to the Lord’s call: “Be angry but do not sin. Irascimini et nolite peccare”[8] Let us help the youth to hold the line. I still have in my ear and heart the great cry of Father Alexis Garnier: “double fidelity”. I make it mine today. It is a challenge. But isn’t the pilgrimage to Notre-Dame de Chrétienté called the “Pilgrimage of Pentecost”, and thus of the Holy Spirit, and thus of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that give us the strength to keep the right path in extreme conditions?

I need to finish this homily, and I will do so with a final piece of Benedictine advice. St. Benedict said to the abbot, “Don’t worry too much, my good man, or you will never rest.”[9]

No, don’t worry too much because you are too small to be responsible for everything. Don’t worry too much because the Lord is greater than you, and he is the true King of the nations, and he knows.

Don’t worry too much because Mary is there, she who gave birth to the Saviour in a wretched manger, she who saw the true King die on a cross, she who saw him rise again, she who saw poor men go out to preach to the nations.

She is still there.

She is still there.


[1] See Rule, ch. 21.

[2] Cf. Rule, ch. 2, 1-2.

[3] Rule, ch. 2, 11-12.

[4] Lk 14:23.

[5] Rule, ch. 2 and 64.

[6] Gal 6:2.

[7] Rule, ch. 2, 6.

[8] Eph 4:26, quoting Ps 4:5.

[9] Rule, ch. 64, 16.


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