"Big Four" Highlights


A Spark of Trust

Millennials’ lack of trust must be met with Divine Mercy

By Jason Godin

Recent data suggests a widespread lack of trust in our world, particularly among people born in the 1980s and 1990s. For the past five years Pew Research Center has examined changes in generational trust levels toward an array of institutions that shape American society. In the U.S. Religious Landscape Study published last year, respondents rated the positive effects churches and religious organizations have on the country. Here are the findings, by age cohort, comparing the survey from 2010 to the one completed in 2015:

  • Silents (born 1928-1945): 54-61% (+7)
  • Boomers (born 1946-1964): 65-67% (+2)
  • Gen X (born 1965-1980): 59-62% (+3)
  • Millennials (born 1981-1997): 73-55% (-18)

While every other age group showed a slight rise in trust of churches and religious organizations over five years, millennials showed a deep drop. How do we explain this troubling trend?

“Millennials didn’t grow up trusting these institutions and then had that trust betrayed like older Americans might have,” observed Michael Hout, sociology professor at New York University, in an interview with Pew Research. “They didn’t trust them to begin with. And these institutions have let people, particularly young people, down”.

It is a sad state of affairs, and one that needs to change. The Year of Mercy affords an opportune time to start building foundational trust in the Catholic Church among millennials. An easy way to do this is to direct them to Divine Mercy. The devotion is, after all, emblazoned with a clarion call of total faith – “Jesus, I Trust in You!”

Along with the image itself, there’s the Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, the Apostle of Divine Mercy and first saint canonized in the third millennium. However hopeful or hopeless one might consider their condition in life to be, passages from it provide building blocks for a brighter future built on trust. Here are three examples:

  • “When a soul approaches Me with trust, I fill it with such an abundance of graces that it cannot contain them within itself, but radiates them to other souls” (1074).
  • “[Let] the greatest sinners place their trust in My mercy. They have the right before others to trust in the abyss of My mercy” (1146).
  • “The graces of My mercy are drawn by means of one vessel only, and that is – trust. The more a soul trusts, the more it will receive” (1578).

In his 2002 homily dedicating the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Poland, St. John Paul II called the Diary a “fire of mercy” that “needs to be passed to the world,” reinforcing his point with words from Christ, whom St. Faustina reported to say: from Poland “will come forth the spark that will prepare the world for My final coming” (cf. Diary, 1732).

“Jesus, I Trust in You!” is more than a holy signature. It is a spark of trust, one an entire generation and beyond can bank on. For that trust to begin being earned among millennials, though, now needs to be a time for mercy.

Jason Godin is managing editor of Fathers for Good