This past week is the first week of Easter in the liturgical calendar. Easter is a 50 day season in the church. “Rituals transfer the values of a culture” (Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, 2006). This idea is interesting because the emphasis of rituals are formed after the values of the culture have been established. While this argument could be made the question becomes if the values change does the ritual die with it? If this is the case it’s a scary concept that many civic organizations with its rituals and rites will die because millennials find no value in the ritual or tradition. While millennials are facing high religious distress they will inwardly focus on themselves and their own personal rituals. It’s not until the ritual of marriage and family that an individual is brought about to a sense of calm from religious distress and a beginning to the desire for ritual of liturgy for the acceptance of the children and family. This ritual provides moral and values that parents wish to pass on to their children. Then as we become older and death comes closer, there is an acceptance of end of life and understanding, the continuation of one’s life as they leave the earth draws a deeper calmer understanding.
While I don’t believe in the ideas and thoughts of Rosicrucians, however, the podcast is interesting in the manner of defining ritual and its purpose for us as a society. The concept that maybe ritual is not meant for the young. I have focused so hard on trying to find solutions to bring Millennial age individuals to the same enthusiasm level of performing ritual that maybe it’s a matter of growth and experience that they will eventually bring their way to it. The baby boomer generation was this way in many civic organizations. They left to go fight in Vietnam and came back to families. These families often attend church less and have adapted to finding other ways of teaching their moral values and traditions. Could it be there is a short time frame or “sweet spot” that by interjecting moral and traditional ritual into the lives of individuals that they will go down the traditional paths of their family?
As a new generation is coming of age which are the children of millennials and generation x, this will be the first real generation that has not experienced the rituals of church or civic engagement through multiple organizations. Organizations such as Knights of Columbus, Blue Lodges, Elks Clubs, VFWs, and Odd Fellows were impacted by the Vietnam War and never recovered from that while organized religion suffered it did not have the same impact these civic organizations took. These millennials are the first generation separated without any knowledge of these organizations and what they do. While these organizations continue to function and serve a purpose of promoting fellowship and engagement for the elderly, the church might actually face its second round of drop in participation. Millennials do not go to church because it’s close relationship to their parents. Millennials are now raising children and still not attending. It’s too early to see if they will use church as its way of defining and establishing their family’s moral code and traditions or if something will replace it. If something replaces it, the church will suffer and miss out on an entire generation for the first time in its existence.
How will that impact the church? I can relate it to attendance in church. On Easter I was barely able to fit in a pew and the first Sunday of the Easter season, I could have slid down the pews I had so much room. Is this part of the customization that Millennials desire so badly? Not to be judged but wanting an a la carte moral and traditions menu. Which church cease to performing mass if no one is there to engage it? Will the church close its doors on Sunday morning because no one attends? These questions cannot be answered. However, as the tradition of church is passed down through participation, ritual and auditory means if no one comes to engage and learn it, then does the ritual die? What then happens to the moral structure and traditions do they become like dead languages and studied by future generation’s decades to come? These questions are made to make one sit and ponder.
Until next week may the Spirit light your way to knowledge.
From the rising of the sun to its setting my Name shall be great among the nations, and in every place incense shall be offered to my Name, and a pure offering; for my Name shall be among the nations, says the Lord of Hosts. Malachi 1:11
Thanks be to God.
Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum. (2006, November 1). Ritual-Grand Master Julie Scott [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from https://rosicrucian.org/podcast/category/ritual/page/2/