The Old and the New

Written by Fr. Anthony Odiong

I visit with young people on a day to day basis.  Many of them struggle with questions about faith.  They wonder why they must believe in anything, let alone a God.  Faith in God, for them, is that which belongs in antiquity and is no longer necessary.  My take on this is that they desire that which is truly true, if I may put it that way.  That which is novel appeals to them, much more than that which seems to be antiquated.

To one young man recently, I responded in the following fashion:

There is an old truth, or let’s call it, the “Old Myth” in the words of Thomas Howard.  The myth states that men, women, the stars, acorns and angels were all operating in their different modes under the sovereignty of the whole pattern, called The Dance; as though we were all moving solemnly and joyously in a measure, finding our true freedom in the steps appointed to us. The Old Myth defined everything as belonging together and giving meaning to each other.

However, the “New Myth” is the root of a lot of discontent today, resulting in a cosmic disharmony, a disruption of the Dance – the symphony of existence. The New Myth reduces justice, truth and transcendence to common idea, and common place invention, and religion to a fancy club.  In this new dispensation, there is no sense of sacramentality; man is alienated from reality, he is alone and very unhappy.  There is no totally other – no concept of a loving God.  The New Myth has resulted in a hermeneutic of suspicion.  Everything is questioned and human life is at the level of base matter.

To all my young friends, the issue here is not the Old or the New, the issue here in contention is truth – the kind that brings peace and a feeling of home. The Old Myth is what St. Augustine once called “Beauty ever ancient and ever new.”  What you desire is the beauty that saves.  We find it in the eyes of love, sometimes in the elegance of poetry, but always in the transcendent faith that tells us that we were meant to be here.

I encourage you to pay attention to the Old Myth, to listen to the symphony that plays eternally.  Find your steps in the dance.  Believe in yourself.  Believe in the God who lovingly willed you into existence.  Make sense of everything.

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