Over at Real Clear Religion there is something that I am finally getting around to talking about and that you should look at.
Here are some high points with my emphases and comments.
The Rise of Latin Mass Youth
by George Neumayr
Liberal bishops dismissed Summorum Pontificum, [“Dismissed” is not all some of them did.] Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic constitution authorizing wider use of the traditional Latin mass, as a bone thrown to over-the-hill conservatives. But Pope Benedict XVI probably wrote it more for the young than the old. [Probably? Definitely. This is because Summorum Pontificum is about the future. It is about sparking, reviving, the organic process of development of our liturgical worship after it’s brutal interdiction by an artificial construct. That takes time. That means that young people are the hope for this new organic process of liturgical growth.]
Left-wing Catholic publications, normally so attentive to the enthusiasms of youth, have taken no interest in this phenomenon. To the extent that they acknowledge it all, they adopt a tone of mocking. A few years back, after thousands of young people flocked to a Pontifical Solemn High Mass held in D.C.’s Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, US Catholic gasped, “Really? Seriously?” It treated the event as a joke. [The joke will be on them, when young priests say their funeral Masses in black vestments.]
The secular press covers youth interest in the traditional Latin mass far more respectfully. The Economist recently reported on the “traditionalist avant-garde.” [The undersigned is quoted therein, fwiw.] The old mass, it found, isn’t petering out but picking up some speed:
The influx of conservative Anglicans has bolstered these numbers a bit: “Dozens of Anglican priests have ‘crossed the Tiber’ from the heavily ritualistic ‘smells and bells’ high-church wing; they find a ready welcome among traditionalist Roman Catholics.” [Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian Unity.]
But the principal source of growth comes from youth interest. “Like evangelical Christianity, traditional Catholicism is attracting people who were not even born when the Second Vatican Council tried to rejuvenate the church,” says The Economist.
Self-consciously “relevant” Catholicism is increasingly seen by the young as irrelevant.
In John Zmirak’s engaging new book, The Bad Catholic’s Guide To the Catechism, [LOL] he explains the paradoxical appeal of the old mass to the young. At first, he says “he hated it,” but something about it kept him interested: “some sense that you’re peering through a window out of time, seeing through a glass not quite so darkly into another world far realer than our own.”
“You’ll feel a little alienated, maybe even offended,” he writes to the skeptical. [I use the paring: tremendum et fascinans when talking about proper liturgical worship. If Holy Mass does not bring to this point – at least over time – then something is wrong with your worship.] “Who is this guy in the shiny robe to turn his back on me and talk to the crucifix instead? You’ll resent the calisthenics, the hopping up and down then falling back on your knees, and you’ll likely find the prayers archaic and strange, like a quote from the Magna Carta….Any traditional rite will be thoroughly off-putting, just like cardio, mathematics, or parenthood. But if you stick with it, you’ll learn to ‘see’ something profound and true: a sacrificial ritual enacting a solemn marriage between the fallen muck of earth and fire falling from heaven.” [Nice. He can turn a phrase.]
The liberal architects of the post-Vatican II period find the traditionalist revival baffling. [And terrifying. Everything they foisted on the Church is crumbling.] The Economist quotes liberal Dominican Timothy Radcliffe to the effect that new interest in the old mass is just a form of empty nostalgia. [I think Radcliffe was indulging in deflection. But that was taken up elsewhere.] But the explanation is no more complicated than what Jesus Christ told his disciples: the young desire bread, not stones.
Go read the whole thing there.