Thoughts from a young theologian

Tough times


This has been a pretty difficult week for myself and a lot of people both from the city of Vancouver.

First of all, for those who may or may not know (and I don’t know how one cannot know what has happened,) a few days ago, my favorite hockey team, the Vancouver Canucks lost their final game in the Stanley Cup Finals to the bigger, tougher Boston Bruins. If that’s not bad enough, immediately afterwards, a bunch of stupid kids decided to completely humiliate the Canucks and the rest of the city by rioting, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage and tarnishing a reputation the city and its people have worked so hard to build. I did go downtown extremely nervous for the game but hopeful for a celebration when I noticed on the sky train a slightly different vibe among fans. In the past, particularly during the Olympics, there would be an excited, enthusiastic crowd who, even though we were all squished together like sardines, were nevertheless upbeat. I remember that there were even lots of kids and young families around. I think the blue vested volunteers everywhere made a tremendous difference for an event like this.

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On Wednesday, I saw a lot more aggravation on the train to downtown. There were a lot of young guys bringing with them a bit of alcohol too. There was also a lot of pushing and shoving as people by the thousands were trying to be downtown for the game. The game was over really after the second period as the Bruins were too rough and big for the already beaten up Vancouver team and kudos to them, because they deserved to win that game. I was watching the game from the archdiocese along with the youth and young adult ministry office. What’s nice about watching from there was the fact that the chapel was nearby so after the first period, with the Canucks down by a goal, I was able to go in there to pray a bit. It helped me a lot to keep things in perspective… Hockey is, ultimately, just a game!

The whole riot thing was pretty tragic to see and led me to a whole bunch of different questions. The big one, ultimately was why was it that kids, and in particular, young men, were so drawn to all the violence and destruction that went on downtown. As a Catholic Christian, it’s true that I believe in man’s fallen nature but it’s also true that man has been redeemed already through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Why therefore are so many of the youth inclined to violence? Is it simply a matter of the messages sent to them by the media in the form of movies, television and video games? Is the virtual world clouding their (our) perception of the real world? Does it go deeper? This week, during some theology talks up at Simon Fraser University, we talked a little bit about how God, having revealed Himself to Moses as “I am” is a God, really of the present. The devil, prefigured in the Book of Isaiah (Is 14: 12-14), as the king of Babylon on the other hand seems to be the ruler of the uncertain future. The mass and in general, Catholic liturgy, really is one centered around the “hodie”… the “today.” All the readings, the prayers, everything about Catholic liturgy and worship centers around God’s message for each one of us TODAY… Hopefully, as I learn more about this in liturgy classes next year, I’ll be able to say more about it… Maybe the youth of today, given the many options open to them in their life and given the many distractions surrounding them through the mass media no longer live in the NOW. Maybe they play in the devil’s playground in their anxieties and fears for the future and their neglect of the past?

Maybe there’s even a psychological twist to this whole thing too? I was recently watching an amazing interview conducted by Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ with Dr. Ray Guarendi, a Catholic psychologist on the effect of the psychological movements of the 70s, not just on the Church but on the world of today. I’ve embedded the link of this video for anyone interested in checking it out… It’s just on youtube. This topic though was one we looked at a little bit during my seminary year too… It’ll take a whole blog post (or two) to really dissect it… Ultimately though, they speak of how, in today’s society, with the taboo attached to telling people what’s RIGHT or WRONG because of fear of upsetting their values, making judgments and stepping on their rights. Instead of saying “that’s wrong” when a kid is punching his sister in the face, we say “that behavior is inappropriate and unacceptable.” Morality is no longer talked about and yet it exists… there IS a universal moral law… We totally see it even in the backlash that’s happening now against the rioters. We’re trying to hold them accountable for their actions, not because it was inappropriate but because it was wrong and bad!

Maybe it has to do with the lack of father figures in our society today. Do we men really know what it means to be a man, and greater, a husband, and even greater, a father? Society seems to think we’re mindless, gutless, chauvinistic, alcohol-driven and violent animals… We see it all the time in the media we’re showing to our kids. Where are all the men? Where are all the fathers? Where are all those who show us the proper way of dealing with any kinds of aggression we have in us and teaching us the proper object to direct that aggression to? Where are the fathers who, totally confident in us, thrust us into the world, affirming us all the way? (Mothers tend to hang on to their kids, sheltering them from the dangers of the world)

These are all fronts in a battlefield where not just priests, but all lay people really need to be present and fighting for. It’s an exciting time to be a priest and just as exciting a time to be a seminarian… c”,) Have a fantastic evening!!!

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PS. These are cookies baked by a friend of mine that we ate on Game 5 (a game we won) and symbolize hopefully what we’ll do to the Bruins and any other team next year!! Hehehehehhe Go Canucks Go!!! Thanks for a fantastic season

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One response

  1. Well said, Cesar!

    Our society really is suffering from a dearth of moral meaning; we have forgotten what it means to be a man. Instead, we have a culture that encourages selfish individualism, that implores us to do what feels good instead of what is right. “Right” and “wrong” are considered restrictions on being “authentic”, when in reality authenticity only has meaning within the framework of an objective moral order.

    Have you read Charles Taylor’s “Malaise of Modernity”? He’s a Catholic philosopher who’s done some excellent work studying the secularism of modern society; I think you’ll enjoy his work 🙂

    June 25, 2011 at 11:54 am

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