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On Fire for the Faith in Scotland’s Universities

Scot University

Regina Magazine

Regina Magazine - published on 08/24/14

A young convert explains the attraction of the faith in a thoroughly secularized society.

He is 22 years old, on his way to an advanced degree at one of Scotland’s universities. Astonishingly, he also belongs to a small cadre of young Scots “on fire” for the Faith.

This is all the more remarkable against the backdrop of Scotland’s history of anti-Catholicism and its modern elite’s fixation on atheism. So, what is fueling this modern-day interest in Catholicism in Scotland?

At lunch on a grey Scottish spring day, Regina Magazine interviewed this young man. Like many in his generation, he is wary of blowback from social media. Therefore, in the interest of a candid interview, we have presented his remarks anonymously.

Q. Scotland as a whole seems quite religiously indifferent today. What effect would you say this has had on the Scots as a whole? On young people in particular?

A. In Scotland religious indifference has helped to produce a society in which the family is a dying institution. It is no accident that the state increases in size to take on more and more roles that the family, and also the extended family once performed.

It is remarkably telling that the Scottish government is enacting legislation to appoint a state-sponsored guardian over every child, essentially giving them the powers of parents.

It is also a land of great poverty, and the Church, and other ecclesial communities, are at the forefront of tackling that.

I would conclude by saying that, fundamentally, it is a society that lives without hope.

Q. How do young people in Scotland today view the religious atmosphere of their parents’ generation? Would you say they were concerned with Truth?

A. Though I would shy away from saying ‘Truth,’ young people are certainly more concerned with absolutes and ‘extremes’, one might even say.

I have yet to meet a young liberal Protestant, for example, in terms of theology and morals.
In terms of politics, I see increasing polarisation among young people on the various wings of the political spectrum. Those who are Conservative are right-wing free-marketers. Those who are Labour are dyed-in-the-wool Socialists.

Q. You’re a convert to Catholicism from an Anglican background. Does that seem odd to the Scottish students you meet?

A. Though, I must confess, this doesn’t frequently enter into conversation, on those occasions when it does it is often a source of interest.

Indeed people will often ask me “why” I converted. In answering that question, I must confess I have never encountered outright hostility. The worst I have ever come across is little more than bemusement.

Q. You are an altar server at a traditional Latin Mass. What drew you to that form of the Mass?

A. The beauty, reverence, history. But most importantly the God-centred nature of it.

Q. Are most of the students who are active in your university group cradle Catholics, or are they converts?

A. Though the majority are cradle Catholics, there is a significant minority of converts too, about 25%. However, among the ‘cradle’ Catholics, a fairly decent number are from families whom they themselves would not describe as particularly devout.

Indeed all have made a conscious choice to follow the Faith rather than simply following it because it’s the ‘done’ thing.

This is one benefit of the secular culture’s relationship with the Church; it forces the Church’s members to take the Faith more seriously and thus live it to the full. Confronted with this reality, we realise that the spiritual life is a constant period of conversion rather than one ‘event’, so to speak.

Q. What would you say is most compelling about Catholicism to the converts that you meet?

A. Most assuredly the liturgy, and by this I mean to say beautiful, reverent, God-oriented Liturgy; liturgy that points to the ‘Other.’

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