Saturday, October 06, 2007

What younger Catholics want at Mass

Every generation, younger folks become attached to things that gives their set-in-their-ways elders fits. The same is true in matters of faith and liturgy.

Here's an example, from the Georgia Bulletin, the paper of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

To the Editor:

I am 16 years old, and for the past 11 months I have attended the traditional Latin Mass weekly, while still attending the Novus Ordo Mass during the week. Because of this, I decided to address certain points made by Carroll Sterne in the Sept. 6 edition of The Georgia Bulletin. Mr. Sterne speaks about the type of Mass that someone of a younger generation is drawn to, and I thought that a teenager’s point of view might be helpful.

Mr. Sterne in his letter gives voice to the opinion of many of today’s liturgists when he says that no one from a younger generation would be drawn to the Latin Mass (many take this even further and assume that we would not like a reverent Novus Ordo Mass either). This opinion causes many of those who plan modern liturgies to do veritable back flips in an attempt to draw teenagers and young adults in. Sometimes this works, but it has a side effect: by doing these things, liturgists show that they have absolutely no faith in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to change the lives of those in my generation. My generation knows about this lack of faith, we are able to see it every time we go to a “teen Mass” and experience priests ad-libbing prayers in an attempt to make them more relevant to us.

This lack of faith backfires; it sends us the message that we also should distrust the power of the liturgy, and it also can turn the Mass into something of a joke.

After experiencing this for months, I attended a Traditional Latin Mass and experienced something that I’d never seen before: Here was a priest who expected my life to be changed without adding anything to the Mass in an attempt to bring this change about. This priest had perfect faith in the power of the liturgy, and it showed. It was beautiful. The traditional Mass did more to change my life then any “relevant” teen Mass ever did.

Ethan Milukas, Peachtree City

Biretta-tip to Fr. Z.


Anonymous said...

Your blog is the third place I have read this; what a great letter. Let us hope more are to follow.

Fr. Larry Gearhart said...

Good for Ethan.

Anonymous said...

May the liturgy tinkerers read & heed! It's only common sense.


Anonymous said...

I think this teen affirms what I have been telling dismayed listeners everywhere for years now: America has dumbed down our youth and they rebel.
Historically, 'teens' are an artificual social construct. Before WWII, "teenagers" were Young Adults. They were called adults and were expected to BEHAVE as adults. Moodiness may have been anticipated, but was certainly NOT tolerated. They had responsibilities they were expected to fulfill.
Walk into almost any secular home with teens today (after working hours) and you will find a mother, still working, and a teen lazing around.
Society tells them this is what is expected of them. And it is one expectation they are happy to meet.
Young Adults will rise to the occasion if we lift the barr and, it has needed raising for a l-o-n-g while now!
Pax Christi

Chase said...

I'm glad this gentleman had the strength to write this letter to the Bulletin. We teenagers live in a world where everything we do is littered with excessive attempts at hipness. In my experience around my peers, the young generation would like to see the sacredness returned to the Mass. The ones who want the hip music in Mass and complain about Latin are the rebellious hippies who were made to suffer the misinterpretations of Vatican II; many of my friends are actually intrigued by Latin. This is what I love about St. Mary/St. Boniface, and I'm looking forward to our first Benedictus-cantored Mass.


Anonymous said...

Yay, rah to this young man (and you, too, Chase). I'm not quite "young" anymore, but I am a convert and young enough to be disgusted with whiny, self-centered baby-boomers who want mass to be about them. (No offense to any of you who fall into that age group. You're here, so you probably don't fit the description.) I fell in love with a higher order of worship and am often horrified by the gathering that is expected to pass as the Holy Mass. It's so sad that in some places, there semms to be a disconnect from the reality that we enter into a heavenly liturgy, not that we create our own. Why are we surprised by the cry in the hearts of the younger generations? They hunger for true bread, and they have been raised on liturgical stones. Jesus said "If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me." Not that our gimmicks, our attempts to "make mass relevant", or our bait-and-switch tactics to get people into the pews would draw them, but HE would draw them unto HIMSELF. HE is able, and HE is worthy, and the grace by which He draws us is sufficient. What more do we need?