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Sunday, December 24, 2006

More On Liturgy

I have read through the posts below and am still holding my position, but have a few more thoughts.

I'm fortunate that I come from a family who area all solid Catholics. Grew up in the Charismatic Renewal, believe that the renewal is meant for the Church and believe wholeheartedly in the teachings of the Church. So when we discuss things like this it really makes me think hard about such topics.

My sister-in-law brought up a very good point. Let me backtrack:

I still believe that teen Masses-in the context of a regular Mass-are needed and important. I think praise and worship music does have a place at Mass. I believe that most liturgies could be done much better. I believe that a "teen Mass" if you will, HAS to have an excellent priest to say the Mass in a highly reverential matter, and give an excellent homily and that the Mass HAS to follow with a LifeNight, or an evening with the teens in which you continue to catechize and evangelize. I also believe that we need to find ways in which the teens grow into an awareness of the beauty and sacredness of the Liturgy and I am not opposed to sometimes having the participate in high Liturgy, or a High Mass.

Here's the thing: They just can't chew steak! We have had crummy liturgy for ages and most of the kids I work with have no idea, -shoot their parents have no idea what is going on during Mass. And we want to throw them into a High Mass situation? I'm not sure that will do much good.

My sister- in- law then said "Wouldn't it be great if we didn't need so called Teen Masses? " I couldn't agree more.

Pope John Paul II grew up being formed my excellent liturgy. It was always an excellent Mass that was said. What a world to grow up in, that your whole WORLD revolved around the Church with the Mass as central!

But we just don't have that anymore. Not only do we not have that, we have families that have no clue what is going on.

Maybe I don't give the kids enough credit. My goal is to help them connect to the Mass so that they see that is something real and alive that can make a difference in their lives, if they'd only open themselves up to it. Even if the preaching is bad, at least you have Jesus Christ, in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.

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Blogger TerryC said...

I see part of the problem being how we teach the Mass. Typically in my experience the Mass is taught to children preparing for First Communion, which most places in the United States in the Latin Rite happens in the second grade. That's eight years old.
How can we possible expect an eight year old to develop a definitive appreciation for the deep mystery of the Mass? They learn at best a surface fact list of the various parts of the Mass, which most retain, but no deeper knowledge of even the scriptural roots of the Mass, let alone the real and live core of the Mass.
Revisiting the Mass later in the teen years in greater depth could only help.
My problem with the Latin Mass stem from the feeling that while very active Catholics, especially those with a background in Latin, like myself would have no problem following the Mass most modern Catholics would be completely left out. Repeating the Creed in Latin, if you don't understand what you're saying seems to me to defeat the purpose of stating your core Catholic beliefs, which is what a creed is suppose to do. Kind of reminds me asking a POW to sign a confession in a language he doesn't speak.
Now if the Pope were to convene a new liturgical commission to revise the N.O., specifying one or two beginning to end variations equivalent to a high and low Mass, with Latin for certain parts of the ordinary, and vernacular for other parts, with no options allowed, then I'm there.
I do believe we can't go back and we can't go on the way we are. Where that leaves us, except looking at a new revision I don't know.

6:34 PM  
Anonymous Keith Strohm said...

I have nothing much to add except I couldn't agree with your post more.

The other piece of the puzzle is to have a better discernment process for those who may feel a call or pull to teen ministry, as well as providing in-depth formation for those who work with youth.

This will help us move the teens more fruitfully towards steak, rather than milk.

12:34 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

I never experienced pre-Vatican II masses in Latin. Over the Christmas holiday, I asked my mom about how people could follow along if they didn't know what they were saying. She told me that everyone had a Missal and that it had the Latin prayers with the English translation next to it - so everyone could know exactly what they were saying.

I'm not in favor of bringing back the Latin mass, but I am in favor of more opportunities to teach liturgy. Let's be honest - it's not just the teens who are ignorant. Many of their parents are just as ignorant about the liturgy, and so they have no knowledge to pass on at home. Getting either group (teens or adults) to attend something that would educate them on liturgy is NOT easy.

It's probably not permissible under current rules/teachings, but one of the best opportunities to teach liturgy is DURING the liturgy. A skilled preist can take a few moments during a particlur part of the mass and explain it in some detail.
Another thing that I think would help (and again, I doubt it would be permissible) is for the preist to give some context/background before each reading. I suspect that a brief explanation of the Book from which the reading comes, or something about the author, or the events leading up to the reading, etc., could really make the readings more understandable. Also, there is sometimes vocabulary that makes no sense in today's society. Taking a moment to explain those words would be helpful. (I dare you to poll people on the way out of mass as to the meaning of "Zion.")

Some preists try to do this prep during the homily. Too late. Much of what is read is lost by then. Trying to prepare retroactively by explaining it during the homily is backwards. The prep needs to come before the reading for it to be beneficial (in my opinion).

Of course, this kind of preparation would ideally be given before mass. But good luck getting people to show up. Many people are disconnected or bored at mass because they flat out don't understand what is going on. I think the Church needs to be creative and somewhat flexible if we want that situation to improve. Otherwise, we can simply expect more of the same - people looking at their watches, leaving immediately after Eucharist, parents more than happy to take the toddler outside and take a break, or of course, not showing up for mass at all. By the way, isn't the closing hymn PART of the mass? When I stay to sing the entire closing song, I usually end up standing by myself. Many people seem to think that the closing hymn is simply music to accompany their departure. The lyrics might as well be:

"Thanks for coming.

Come back again.

Don't forget your bulletin and a quick splash of holy water.

Dunkin Donuts has a deal on munchkins, and if you hurry, you might catch the entire Bills game.

Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines."

3:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have 8 children and we have homeschooled 6, so far. We "teach" Mass from the very beginning. One of my favorite teaching experiences is getting a few of the old pray together books from church and cutting them apart then putting them back together in order and discussing each part of the Mass as we do. We start this in first grade and repeat it often. I do not want to see a return to the Latin Mass, yet. We have to much to do to educate our people first. I would, however, like to see Latin reintroduced in parts of the Mass so that people can hear how beautiful it is. No, I don't remember Latin Mass-I was born the year of Vatican II-but I agree with my parents that it helped the Church form a tighter bond all over the world because we were all speaking the same language.
My husband sings at the Life Teen Mass in our community. He loves to be able to share his faith with the kids and adults that come to this "teen" Mass. Again, I think that it is important to attract the people in the door so that we can feed them with Christ. As long as we respect Jesus in the Eucharist with our music, I think that praise and worship has a place, just like organ music.
We must all become teachers and hearers of the Word, if we are to reach people with the Truth!

10:19 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

I think part of the problem with youth ministry is that it places too much emphasis on the perceived need to "teach" liturgy. The liturgy is actually our most important teaching tool. It does not matter how much you preach and teach the Real Presence, if you are pedestrian in how you receive it or revere it in the liturgy (e.g. hands-clapping, dancing, etc.), it will be lost on not only the teens but everyone present. Liturgy is the Faith in motion.

6:33 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Mike - I don't think the need to teach teens about liturgy is "perceived." It's very real. Teens often have a short attention span as it is. If they don't understand what is going on, they drift. Oh, they may be forced to attend mass by their parents, but many don't connect because they don't understand and/or they don't care. Often the not caring part is a direct result of the not understanding part.

I would agree with you that the adults in youth ministry must set a good example on how to participate in liturgy and how to receive Eucharist, but that doesn't negate the need for teaching and explaining it (as best we can).

Not sure what you mean by the hand-clapping and dancing in receiving Eucharist, or did you mean during the mass in general?


11:57 PM  
Anonymous mallys said...

The only thing that I would add is that "praise and worship" doesn't enhance the Mass. The Mass elevates any "praise and worship" songs to join with the sacrifice and Real Presence of Jesus and makes those songs more acceptable to the Father. In other words, "Very nice, you are praising God. Let's unite it with Jesus and make it better."

11:29 AM  

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