I finally got a chance to meet up with a friend I met from my Newman U of T Evangelization school today. After our meeting, we went together to partake in a young adult community in Toronto, called 808. I think the group is named after the apartment number of a building that actually contains a number of young Catholics who live in the downtown area.
Usually the outings are organized by an Orianna Bertucci, who is also the director of Chaplaincy at Ryerson University for their Catholic Campus ministry. Each outing involves a 1/2 hour of Eucharistic adoration and benediction, followed by a Mass either at the smaller St. John's Chapel of St. Michael's Cathedral or the Salt and Light studios chapel, and then either a potluck dinner or a dinner at a restaurant/pub. I finally had the opportunity to go today for a full 808 session.
Well, what a privilege it was to be at the Mass site. They were using the St. John's Chapel of St. Michael's Cathedral, and wow is it traditional-looking and magnificent! The floor is marble and there are chandelier lights on the sides, and there's even older-style mouldings, the kind you'd see in nice houses (or those who have money). Seriously. Here's a picture of the tabernacle and altar:
Add a pair of altar rails and you'd think this place was untouched by the wreck-ovation trend back in those swinging 70's.
Anyways, more importantly, the Mass was presided by Fr. Steven Kwon, associate pastor of St. Justin Martyr Parish Unionville (with an altar server donned in black cassock and surplice yeah!). It was the feast day of St. Alphonsus Liguori, one of my favourite saints in the Church, due to his founding of the Redemptorists. Seriously, I would not be doing the Latin Mass stuff, or have turned a new leaf with regard to social justice without the Redemptorists. So you think that today would be a nice sermon about St. "Alfie" ... NO. We young adults got to hear a royal treat ... a Pre-Vatican II type sermon.
Fr. opened up with a brief mention of St. Liguori and led into a question about us and Christ? "Are we willing to sacrifice ourselves like St. Alphonsus did, for him?" This is important because it will come back to us at the end of the Homily. Then Fr. proceeded to talk about the issue of the crisis of faith amongst the world today. He threw us a BIG shocker. He worked in Rome for a number of years while he was (formerly) part of the Legionnaires of Christ. He left for good reason, but while there in Rome, he said "You'd think that the churches would be full every Sunday in Rome?" Well, I and the rest of the laity present, thought wrong. They are not. As for the minority of those who go to Mass weekly as supposed to .... it's mainly elderly people. The adults and youth are not there.
Fr. then began to discuss how unfortunate that people do not care about their spiritual salvation, or even their basic duties when in the majority of the world they have the freedom to go to Mass every day when they want to without fear ... (for now) ... In other parts of the world, our Catholic brethren are being persecuted! Even in Africa! I was thinking recently about our Middle Eastern brethren in Syria and other countries, and the family that the Archdiocese of Toronto helped bring over under the aid of ++Collins himself. He then mentioned how lucky we are to have Daily Mass when in Korea (or another Asian country), for years the laity kept the faith going, while waiting for priests for even one Mass a year.
He then turned to us, and said that despite our situation of freedom ..... PERSECUTION IS COMING! Can you believe he'd say that to us? A Novus Ordo priest saying that? to young people? I can. While he didn't go on about it, I could tell in my mind, thanks to my investing in certain online catholic media (blogs, conservative internet site) as well as the politics in my own province under its current govenors, I would not be surprized if Catholic were to go in future, in Canada, at the very least "White Martyrdom", possibly even bloody "Red" martyrdom.
Finally, he then ended on some positive notes. Looking at the young adults he was preaching to, he told us that we are the Hope for the Church despite the oncoming persecution. While there are many "Good" people, few are truly striving to be "Holy" people, like St. Ligouri. It was then at the end of the sermon, with us now knowing of an oncoming spiritual, maybe physical persecution, he re-asked the question at the beginning of the homily: "Are you willing to give yourselves up to Christ?"
So there you have it. It seems gradually, more and more priests are beginning to shake of those old cobwebs of liberalism and are coming back, partially or fully, to truly carrying out their vocations at the pulpit. It'll be a long time before the effect is diocese/state or province/country/world wide, but it is happening .... brick by brick as Fr. Z says.
Pax Tibi Christi, Julian Barkin.