The Australian Catholic Youth Festival begins on Thursday. And everything indicates that the occasion will be, as the young are fond of saying, awesome, writes Peter Rosengren in The Catholic Weekly.
An estimated 19,000 young Catholics will converge upon Sydney for ACYF’s three-day national celebration of Jesus, which will culminate with Mass in The Domain on Saturday evening, December 9, when the Lord will come to be present in the celebration of the Eucharist with all who receive Him and hear His Word.
They will be joined at the Mass by tens of thousands of Catholics from all over Sydney and even further away to make the Domain Eucharist the largest Mass in Australia since World Youth Day 2008.
None of it, by the standards of our society, makes any sense. How – or why – can so many young people flood to Sydney, many having travelled vast distances from the most outlying parts of Australia such as the Tiwi Islands and the Kimberley, to celebrate such an apparently irrelevant thing as the Catholic Church?
Young Catholics in Australia today face a culture which grows more hostile to Christianity – and especially the Catholic Church – by the day. Outside the parameters of their parishes and schools, a culture of indifference, ridicule or hostility to Catholicism is all they have ever encountered.
For well over half a century, Australia has been busy divesting itself of the vestiges of a moral order that springs from the Judeo-Christian tradition. This tradition acknowledges the reality of God, and believes we should treat others with respect and love as God loves us. What has been busily replacing this is, to borrow a phrase, the dictatorship of relativism which might also be called a dictatorship of selfishness or a dictatorship of noise which seeks to drown out the voice of God.
The young have been told consistently by our society that their Catholic faith is no longer relevant or applicable.
ACYF, on the other hand, offers the young something they long to hear and experience – conviction, certainty and the knowledge that there is a God who loves each of them personally – to the death. But it offers more: the possibility of trust (in God and in others), communion and joy.
Editorial: A sign of life and hope for the future (The Catholic Weekly)