I invite you to read this letter from a 16 year old to the edtion of the Georgia Bulletin, the Archdiocese of Atlanta’s newpaper.
My emphases and comments.
Letter to the Editor
Published: September 20, 2007
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 [This kid has it nailed.] 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. [Right!] 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. [Exactly. As Pope Benedict explains in Sacramentum caritatis, we are our rites. If we stick to the rites, celebrate them well, and get out (especially priests) individual personalities out of the way, we have a great opportunity to encounter the mystery which transforms, the very point of religion.]
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
Yet another lesson to be learned from the fruits of Summorum Pontificum.
My son was raised in the Byzantine Rite of his mother. We knew that the iconoclasm pervading the East a millennium ago had yet to run its course in the West, thus we were determined to spare him that fate. Even as his parents began to live separately, his formation in the Eastern Rite continued. I remember our travels together when he was a boy. Whenever we had occasion to attend a Roman Mass in a contemporary setting, we would see or hear something completely absurd, and give each other that look and roll our eyes simultaneously. And even though as a young adult he has fallen away from his Faith, one look at this MySpace page will show that among his favorite books are the Summa Theologica.
Most parish “teen Masses” I’d had to endure are predominated by the parents of teens. The elders jump around with guitars and tambourines in front of an indifferent assembly of their own children. The fashion-ridden approach may work with some kids for awhile. But they don’t like being patronized by adults, and they eventually tire of it, as they do any other fad.
Good, good, good for him!
His letter is not only expressed well, but in addition it expresses truth. Here’s another teenager who seconds his sentiments.
His words about conforming the liturgy to what people suppose is the taste of teenagers especially rang true.
I don’t want a liturgy that, as he says, does back flips to suit what has been presumed to be my taste. I want a liturgy that demands me to elevate my soul to God, rather than attempting to bring Him to my level, and that’s why I’m devoted to this Church which demands that I be holy, rather than agreeing that I should set the standards so it will be more ‘relevant.’
I also agree with the author’s sentiments. I’m a teenager coming into the faith, and I will always prefer to have to step-up to the liturgy than to have the liturgy step down to my perceived “level.” Most of the time, the adults who believe that we need to be talked down to and not challenged are the ones afraid of a challenge.
It gets better!
Here’s another letter from the Georgia Bulletin for October 4, which arrived in my mailbox yesterday:
For what it’s worth, here’s the original letter to which he refers:
My three daughters absolutely hated “teen masses” and bad music, to the point of refusing to go to Mass when they were teenagers. They were all very drawn to the Solemn High Latin Novus Ordo Masses, such as St Matthew the Apostle in D.C. offers. They love Gregorian chant and traditional Latin hymns. They are all into contemporary popular music, they just don’t want it at Mass.
Teens are young, their not stupid — every “teen mass” I’ve ever attended is irreverent and embarrassing.
Carroll Sterne is yet another Catholic who has been misled about what John XXIII wanted or what the documents of Vat II contain.
I don’t know about the Sterne kids, but we do now that the liturgy of the past 40 years did little to attract vocations to the priesthood or the religious life.
THANK YOU! Young people who wrote to the Georgia Bulletin, THANK YOU!
I strongly encourage anyone who did not grow up with the Traditional Latin Mass and who assists at it/favors it/desires it to write to your catholic papers and let the “liturgists” and powers that be know your experience and feelings. Let them know the truth, not what they think is the truth. Be respectful, but be honest. You get it. They don’t. And until they do, if they do, the reform of the liturgy will be an uphill battle.
What’s even better is that this kid isn’t alone in feeling this way. I’m 17 yrs. old and a seminarian for my diocese (2nd College) and the majority of religious kids my age feel similarly. It’s especially frustrating when people, probably motivated by good intentions, feel they need to “dumb down” the Mass, as if we’re incapable of grasping the Liturgy in its proper form. That seems to be a common thread among the modernist element. For all their talk about increasing the involvement of the laity, they seem to have very little respect for them. “Get rid of the Latin; they wouldn’t understand!” “Throw out the organs; they need to be entertained!” Rather insulting, isn’t it?
If so-called “teen Masses” accurately represented our Faith, I certainly would be pursuing a different vocation. I think attempts to make the Mass “cool” drive away more people than they bring in; and those who are attracted by such a Mass find themselves bored with Catholicism as soon as they lose the emotional high.
Another wonderful posting. The Traditional Mass I attend has at least 400 attending on Sunday. I think there are more under 50 than over 50. The are drawn to the mystery not the strummin and drummin of the teen Masses. I refuse to allow my children to attend “youth” or “teen” masses as I feel they can cause damage to their faith.
As a 28 year experienced Music Director in parishes in several parts of the country, I can at least attest that in those places, Youth programs were mostly innefective and short lived. The aproach outlined by the young people in the posts cited here is THE approach used in Catholic parishes across the country. Teens like rock music, so le’s use rock music. Teens are attracted to sexuality, so let’s “energize” the liturgy to the point of physical excitement. Teens are suspicious of adult authority, so let’s not make any demands of them… and the result is worship with no foundation in tradition, no expression of the Sacred, and more in common with their classes at school than with the worship of God. I have yet to ever be involved in the development of a Teen program where the first question asked was “How can we present an authentic experience of the Catholic Faith to these children?”. Instead, the first question asked is “What can we do to get the kids to show up?”… the answer is usually…”Let’s have pizza after Mass!” and it goes downhill from there. Perhaps these young people will get invlove in their parish youth programs and make a real difference.
Robert and Ethan are speaking of my FSSP parish. Way to to guys!
My two sons, ages 11 and 9 were Baptized in the Traditional Rite by the great priests of the FSSP.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again about trying to make the Mass relevant: Trying to out-world the world is a loser everytime.
To priests, liturgists, music directors, cantors, lectors, and all who feel the need to spice the Mass up a bit (especially in pathetic attempts at youth-appeal), just get out of the way and let God do his work. Nothing is as relevant as the Eucharist. Please don’t go out of your way to obscure that.
Sorry for the rant. God bless you all, especially the priests, seminarians, and young people who keep the faith. Pray for those that don’t.
We travel 45 miles to attend Mass. Last winter there was an ice storm and we could not attend our parish and had to go to the parish three blocks from us. Anyway, the Mass we attended was Life Teen. As soon as we walked in my 8 year old granddaughter said, “Nana, this isn’t right! What are they doing; why are there drums?” She was very confused and uncomfortable and even questioned the lyrics to a song that they were singing. I don’t remember now what the words were but I do remember she had every right to question their orthodoxy. I was so proud of her for recognizing error when she saw it.
Three cheers for the 16 year old that wrote the letter being discussed; it was wonderful. Carroll Sterne’s letter doesn’t impress me at all. I was floored when she said, “What the pope and she do not realize is that the beautiful Latin Mass is like theater or a nice opera.”
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.
You know, this doesn’t just pertain to the TLM, this is a beautiful statement that really embraces the spirit of the liturgy overall and should also be present in priests when saying the “Novus Ordo.” Cardinal Ratzinger even said something similar in his book “Spirit of the Liturgy” in the section on “Rite.” Like I said, this shouldn’t just be considered for the TLM but also for the ordinary form of the Mass too. I would bet that if priests took this statement to heart when saying the 2002 Roman Missal, there would great fruits from that as well.
I think it also gives the theology behind Canon #846. It’s not just a law, there’s a reason behind it:
Can. 846 §1. In celebrating the sacraments the liturgical books approved by competent authority are to be observed faithfully; accordingly, no one is to add, omit, or alter anything in them on one’s own authority.
§2. The minister is to celebrate the sacraments according to the minister’s own rite.
As a 17 year old, I would like to thank my fellow teenagers for hitting the nail on the head. I have only had the priveledge of attending a “Tridentine” Mass once in my life, and I personally feel it is the most reverent Mass I have ever attended. I attend a “Catholic” high schoool, but you would never know it by some of the things taught here. Our last all school “MAss” was an abomination to Christ’s sacrifice…a visitor might have thought he or she was ttending a Protestant service. My theology teacher is a Diocesan Priest, though you would never know this either as he prefers more trendy colors to his black suit with collar or even the horrid cassokc as required by Canon Law. I am so sick of being shot down every time I try to adda little reverence to one of the Masses. No we can’t have the organ or Sanctus Bells, but please bring your electric guitar!!!!! In responce to Mr. Sterne’s three points: I will take opera over the “music” of my generation any day, that’s unfortunate because the wine you made tastes bad, and Thank GOD.
Vatican II is mentioned a lot. It was the start down the road of “humanism” that were warned against by prior popes. It was not meant to do that but it did happen. It is the distruction of the Church from within. Evil men have reached high places within the Church and are trying to tear down the Church. They will not succeed but many souls will be lost. This pope is my hope that he can turn the Church around. The Mass is not a show for the faithful and the priest but is a daily Sacrifice of our Lord to allow us to get to Heaven. Why do we want to make God suffer even more with the insult of a “humanism” Mass? We should be praying and thanking God for His sacrifice. I lost my faith after Vatican II but found it due to the Latin Mass being offered in some of the churches. I could not stand the fact that I was not praying to God but joining a show. Now, I feel that I can join the priest in Praying to God because the priest is doing the same thing. I must say that most of the people opposed to the “old” mass are old like me. The young people are wiser than we think and some can see the clear difference. The people are being brainwashed with the Novus Ordo. It is the small deviations that are not noticed until it becomes the norm for the mass. New deviations are then added until they become the norm. Eventually, the mass will no long be a mass but a shell of what it is meant to be. This is why we have “teen” masses, clown masses, witch masses, etc. The excuse is attendance. The Mass is about saving your soul, not about attendance. The people that want to save their soul will attend mass because it is the right thing to do.
Mr. Sterne gets it wrong another way, too: teenagers – indeed, children of any age – are a lot less stupid than he expects them to be. I think the only people the Lifeteen junk appeals to is the 60- and 70-something who were infected with “SV2” (“Spirit of Vatican II”) virus. Sad.
I get the feeling that younger people are actually drawn more to traditional, solemn and thus, more powerful liturgies. These “teen masses” (or services, generally) are ubiquitous and have little impact on the spiritual life of those present; speaking from experience, these amount to little more than quasi-spiritual hang out times. The broader the implementation of the TLM, I predict, the broader the spiritual renewal we see in stagnating parishes. Thank the Lord for B16.
As a GenX’er, my way of rejecting authority was to reject the Boomer Masses of my parents. Boomer Masses are ugly and filled with the goopy anthropology of the 60’s (not to mention that aweful music). Mass in Latin, however, is not only beautiful, but it seems to genetically agitate every Boomer who encounters it. How ironic! Here’s to the kids who are realizing the transformative power of the Holy Mass. Cheers!
The letters of the two young men in Georgia show an understanding of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that many adults sadly lack. I remember suffering through many “relevant” Masses during two years of preparation for confirmation (resting in the Spirit, felt banners, blessing each other, etc). In retrospect, it was only relevant for the disgruntled catechists. Most in my confirmation class thought that the whole thing was campy. I remember thinking, “Why were people willing to be martyred for this?” It was at this point (16 years old) that I began on my journey toward tradition. My wife and I (both 28) have found a Mass that is truly relevant and allows for us to enter into the awesome Mystery of the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ – the Traditional Latin Mass.
As long as no one is exposed to reverent liturgy, sacred music (ie. music that is inherently angelic, not music that you have to be told is sacred), and traditional architecture, they won’t know what they are missing.
Teens are figuring it out. They’ve been denied a patrimony too long.
Yay! This kid has only confirmed what I’ve suspected for quite sometime: teens (and younger) don’t want to be patronized. I started experiencing this last year as a 2nd grade catechist, but in a small way. The children I teach are usually from hispanic immigrant families. Last year, I introduced to them Eucharistic Adoration by sitting in front of the Tabernacle for a few minutes during class time as well as traditional Latin Hymns. There response after the first time we did it?
“Can we do this again next week?”
This year, in just the first two classes, I’ve already introduced to the children traditional Latin Hymns as well as traditional Religious Art, specifically, The Calling of St. Matthew by Caravaggio. The kids eat it up. We simply cannot and should not dumb down our children for the sake of relevancy. Last year my children had fun trying to say the word “transubstantiation”. They had fun saying it because they knew what it meant, but just found the word challenging to say. I couldn’t get them to stop trying! :)
Fortunately for me I have DRE who not only backs me up on my approach, but is ELATED at it.
tradteach:I remember thinking “Why were people willing to be martyred for this?”
Reminds me of the Novus Ordo in the 70s when we were told “This is how the early Christians worshipped” Surely not, this would never have caught on!
Good work young ‘uns, your faith will sustain you. You are the future.
tradteach: I remember thinking, “Why were people willing to be martyred for this?”
Sadly, there seem to be a fair number of Catholics who will fight tooth-and-nail for their “right” to have the Ordinary Form of the Mass “performed” according to their fancies and whims! “Over my dead body” indeed! :(
It has always bemused me that one of the shortest documents of Vatican II is on the reform of priestly life: “Presbyterorum Ordinis.”
If people had had a bad experience with the Old Liturgy — if priests spoke “gibberish,” not Latin, as Fr. Benedict Groeschel is wont to say — then why all of the Council’s concern for rituals and language and whatnot, and almost none for the “men in the field” who might be gumming up the works? The bishops, the liturgy, the laity: All thick documents. Social communications; missionary work: all substantial documents. But, the people who were most directly responsible to carrying out liturgical renewal get a slender tome. Never made sense to me.
The Mass of Pope Paul VI can be done with great beauty. But, it’s almost as if seminarians from the 1970’s onwards were taught to hate sacred ritual. Beauty = Old Mass. Even the bishops in their cathedrals are stuck in a “perpetual Low Mass”: They won’t sing the liturgy; incense is out of the question, except on Christmas and Easter; a chanted Gospel is unknown (a what? do we still do that?). I doubt many even know that the dalmatic is still an optional garment; most still don’t know — even the “conservatives” — that they shouldn’t be wearing the pectoral cross over the chasuble.
The problem is not liturgists; the problem is the priests. That’s where the rubber hits the road. Priests today — young, old; liberal, conservative — do not know or do not care about liturgy . . . which was precisely the reason they were ordained.
Just standing there and reciting the Mass does not fulfill the vision of Vatican II. “But, I’m not changing the rubrics,” the young conservative priest argues. God bless you. But, read “Musicam Sacram”! Vatican II didn’t go to all the trouble of revising the liturgy so that Catholics could just go back to the Low Mass, with priests reading from the Sacramentary and Gospel like they’re the Telephone Book.
And, for God’s sake, GO TO AN EASTERN CATHOLIC OR ORTHODOX CHURCH where liturgy still matters in many places and *see* what liturgy looks like. No one needed the Tridentine Mass to see what beautiful liturgy looks like; the Eastern Christians have had it down for centuries. (A Byzantine “Low Mass”? Ya gotta be kidding me!)
When priests do not know what they are or why they are, then we’ve got a problem (as we all know already). And, frankly, I don’t see the Younger Generation being any better. I’ve seen plenty of men who’ve left seminary. They play the game for a few months because they’re still unsure about what to do — but, when they learn, they eventually get caught up into the whole “This is MY Mass”-mentality. I’ve seen it over and over. It’s become a plague on our Church.
Will it end? Not until Vatican III, when the Church *really* decides to say “enough,” and reform the priesthood. (Maybe, it will take a persecution from outside to get us serious again.) But, I feel like Moses in the desert, waiting for the older generation of Israelites to die off before a new generation can enter the Promiused Land of liturgical reform.
(And, yes, I know I’m Byzantine. But, I still care about where I came from. If it could happen to the Roman Church, it can happen to us. *Shiver*)
GO TO AN EASTERN CATHOLIC OR ORTHODOX CHURCH where liturgy still matters in many places and see what liturgy looks like
This is what I would call the fallacy of reducing everything to the quality of liturgy. We have a sizeable Byzantine community where I’m from. Are their liturgies beautiful? Sure. But it’s sort of like a shell. Each family has no more than 2 kids. Their worship of God might be more aesthetically-pleasing, maybe even based in some ways on a better theological foundation, but if they’re not living the life that goes with it, it’s sort of like Eastern Anglicanism.
The liturgy is important, and it is important that it be beautiful, theologically-sound, and so forth. But if it doesn’t change people’s lives, then something is wrong. I have visited various parts of the world and noticed a surprising thing: some countries (such as Mexico) are about 20 years behind the United States in terms of liturgical experimentation. They are just now starting to do the crazy things that we were doing back in the 70s and 80s. I would not at all be surprised if we don’t see some wave of craziness infecting some of these Byzantine communities sooner rather than later. I hope it doesn’t happen, but it seems to me that they are already “there” morally, and their worship will only follow suit eventually.
I concur whole heartedly.I’m 17, and the supposed “youth masses” are almost alway dominated by adults.Most of us don’t like them very much at all. The music, the “liturgical prancing”, the lack of conformity to the norms of the missal all make it impossible to truly understand the mass. It becomes a party-hardy gathering where we worship ourselves,and use music that was dead 20 years ago, instead of timeless music.Rock doesn’t speak to my soul, Palestrina does. Invalid/illicit consecrations in the name of creative relevance does’nt do anything for us. A reverent mass does better for us than the loudest,craziest,most liturgically abusive lifeteen mass could ever do.Because we can meditate on the Holy sacrifice of the Mass, rather than spend every second holding hands and listening to our friend’s power chords.
Thank you, Mr. Crane. Point well taken.
My comments were more directed at the clergy than the Catholic “pagans” who stumble into a church every now and then. I’m in no way absolving myself or my church from your observation about there needing to be something *more* than beautiful liturgy.
However, liturgy is the job of the *PRIESTS* — not the liturgists. Frankly, I believe the bishops of Vatican II must shoulder the blame for failing to realize that it was the priests, first and foremost, who might have been the problem. How else to explain the vitriol and hate directed at the Old Liturgy after the Council by the very men who had celebrated it for decades?
Maybe, we need Schools of Catechesis like in the Early Church, when Christians would come together for further instruction. (The Neocatechumenate, I think, is committed to this. But, even they have succumbed to that enchantress, named “Liturgical Abuse.”)
I’m drawn to the liturgy because of Christ. But, to have the *consolation* of the liturgy in the Roman Church, that seems to be a thing of the past . . . or, at least, a long time in coming.
Amen!!! I am so tired of priests “dumbing things down” for us teens.
I am a 13 year-old freshman in high school. At my home parish, St. Wenceslaus, the assistant pastor puts on the “HOUR,” which is supposed to be an hour of Eucharistic adoration. This “HOUR” is nothing but an Evangelical singalong. None of the songs go any deeper than “Jesus loves ME, he saved ME, He will give ME anything I want.” I have now experienced the Tridentine Mass several times in my life, and the difference is unbelievable. It is filled with such reverence and beauty that I can hardly bear the new Mass. At 6:30 Mass on Saturdays, my parish puts on an infamous Youth Mass. This Mass is filled with tambourines, guitars, and bongo drums. Ugh. While a small number of teenagers do go to this Mass, they will openly admit they only want the pizza afterward. I am apalled by the way the formerly beautiful Mass has gone downhill, and I hope more youth will get to experience a real Mass, a Latin Mass.
Being a 21-year old college student who grew up with “Lifeteen” Masses during High School, I have to agree with what others have posted above. I had never even heard of the Tridentine Mass until I got to college and now I go every week (and if I could I would attend the Tridentine Mass every day).
There are a lot of young adults in my generation like me who had never been exposed to or heard of the Tridentine Mass (which makes me wonder what would happen if they were all exposed to the Tridentine Mass). I now take new people to the Tridentine Mass and after Mass I get remarks such as “I really liked it!” and I also seem to get the following question as well: “Why did they change it?” and I always respond: “Good Question. I have been trying to figure that one out myself!”
Ex ore infantium! This letter should be required
reading for all US bishops. As I have said on many
occasions, the problem with liturgical “progressives”
is that they are largely patronizing and condescending.
Only they could possibly understand sacred liturgy,
the little people can’t. Tom
One related point has not been covered; what happens in late teens / early 20s, and yet every Sunday the average Parish Mass is still trying desperately to cater for youth, with guitars and attempted “relevance” to a slightly dated fashion?
Even for those who liked that as an early teen, one’s tastes and needs change, but does the Parish send out the message that the Faith is something that we have to grow and engage with? Don’t be silly; just pass the tambourine.
How uplifting to hear the young people in the States with their instinctive attraction to the “old rite” of which they have been deprived for so long!
May God bless them so that they are never discouraged by the uphill struggle like it has been here and that they will be able to spread the message to their age group.
Peter Cullinane, Havant, UK.