Archbp. Gomez: traditional devotions together with new means of communication

Some years ago I was hanging around outside the Paul VI audience hall (Vatican) during a plenary session of the Italian Bishops Conference. I was waiting for my bishop to emerge. As I waited I chatted with fellow journalists, the bishops’ drivers and secretaries, a couple bishops who had fled the hall in the despair of boredom. The day before, I had been to a Eucharistic procession held by the Teutonic College, next to the Paul VI Hall, that went up through the Vatican gardens. Swiss Guards carried the canopy. Deep in his chest one old bishop rumbled “Meno chiacchiere – più processioni. … Less jabbering – more processions.”


This isn’t rocket science.

I was delighted to read these comments by the Archbishop of Los Angeles at CNA.

LA archbishop thinks best ways to reach youth are often old ones

By Matthew A. Rarey

Vatican City, Oct 19, 2012 / 12:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The New Evangelization needs to reach out to young people using every means available, new and old, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles says.
“It is our mission to ask God for the grace to discover new means to reach out to young people,” Archbishop Gomez said. “We need to use all the new means of communication so that they can understand what we are talking about.”  [Like.. the internet too?  But let us not forget that Christ Himself is the perfect Communicator.  Liturgy is our most perfect form of communication.  We need to work on a theology of communication.]

The New Evangelization must present timeless truths in new ways, he told CNA on Oct. 18 during a break of the synod on the New Evangelization.

Beautiful traditions, like the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and the time of contemplation and meditation, are very popular among young people,” he noted. “So we have to go back to that, so that they can feel, too, how important … the Catholic faith is for them.” [Do I hear an “Amen!”?]

Young people are a major focus of the New Evangelization – which is aimed at reintroducing the faith to formerly Christian countries.

Archbishop Gomez believes the Church can accomplish this by taking action rooted in prayer.

“The first thing we need to do is to pray for them,” he said. “And then we have to come up with new, better ways to reach out to them.”


Happily, we have old, better ways which can be new again.

Public devotions, recitation of the Rosary, novenas, exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, processions, Holy Mass in the older form.

I am reminded of what Benedict wrote to the Irish people in the wake of the terrible scandals.  He urged a return to the basics: fasting, prayer, confession, devotions.

Is this so hard?

It is interesting that more and more prelates are beginning to talk about pious devotions again.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Choirmaster says:

    Lucky for the Bishops, we Young People (a group from which I am too-swiftly departing) haven’t seen too much of the “traditional” devotions, so it’s all new to us! They don’t have to bother themselves with inventing and revising, they can just revive! All the work is done!

    Think of the treasures that’ve been hidden for 50 years: The Rosary, processions, chaplets, the Angelus, processions, Marian devotions, novenas, processions, Eucharistic devotions like exposition and Benediction, and processions; not to mention cenacles, Knights of Columbus, and other manner of parochial association that, while not necessarily devotional, still connects people together in a decidedly Christian spirit.

    Yes. This is an easy one for them.

  2. backtothefuture says:

    I agree very much with the good bishop. Give them authentic catholicism. Show them all the beauty of the one true faith, where they can’t find anywhere else.

  3. anilwang says:

    Just a point of comparison.
    There are two Churches near me. Both have taken steps to evangelize and both have strong youth and seniors groups. Both have Legion of Mary groups.

    In one, confession is on Saturdays from 3 to 4 (though I don’t see many people going) and daily masses are in the parish office (the Church is open for provide devotions, although the Church is mostly empty most of the time) and is 95% attended by people over 60, but after mass there is a “fire in the nave” syndrome where people rush to the parking lot after mass. All go up for communion. Sermons are mostly orthodox, though light.

    In the second Church, daily masses are in parish and is attended by all age groups, and before every mass there are long lines for confession. Most but not all go up for communion, and after every mass the rosary is said and private devotions continue throughout the day. Sermons are mostly orthodox, though light.

    Superficially, the only differences that involve decisions by the priest between the two parishes is (1) confession before mass, and (2) daily masses in the parish rather than parish hall. IMO, these two differences make a huge difference in the health of a parish, and appears to bear fruit in traditional devotions, confessions, the understanding that we must stay away from the Eucharist if we are in mortal sin, and appeal to all age groups.

  4. Marc says:

    I have always contended that John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” has more to do with communication than it does human sexuality.

  5. jaykay says:

    Young people – or at least as many of them who still attend – can in my experience be deeply moved by even a vestige of the older format. For example, about 3 years ago our choir was invited to sing at Mass in what can only be described as a dog-ugly modern church, built. c. mid-80s (not that I could see any dedication stone) and already showing its age.

    The only saving feature was that it was all bare brick and concrete and there was no carpet, so while we were on the level at one side of the “sanctuary” the acoustic was actually very good, if rather unforgiving. Anyway, given that the tiny electronic organ was really not suitable, our highly professional choirmaster said: “right, we’ll do chant”. So we did (Missa de Angelis). While we’re a mixed choir and some of the voices are… umm… “getting on”, the overall sound was really effective. We sang some 4-part motets at Communion and the Victoria “O quam gloriosum” at the recessional. And everybody, everybody, stayed, including the kids!! The icing on it all was that two girls aged about late-teens, in highly fashionable (but not offensive) garb and a boy with multi-coloured hair stayed to congratulate us and said that they wished there was more music like that (from which it was obvious that they were regular attenders). They weren’t the only ones, but it was great to see them especially.

    I just wish there had been Benediction after Mass, with incense, lights – and the lovely Benediction chants from us. It would truly have showed the beauty of the liturgy, and what can be done even in such a drab uninspiring setting. And what might those kids have thought? It would definitely have been a new experience for them, all right.

  6. MattH says:

    Amen to Choirmaster!

  7. RobertK says:

    Do we think the coordinators of the LA Religious Education Congress will get the Archbishops message. I don’t!. They will still be dancing down the “worship space”.

  8. VexillaRegis says:

    @jaykay: Really uplifting to hear that! When it comes to choosing music for Mass and other services, my maxim is: Don’t give people what they want – give them what they didn’t know they could have. People are usually very surprised, when they understand, what a skilled and professional choir master and/or organist can do, when she (or he) gets a chance.

  9. ajf1984 says:

    “The New Evangelization must present timeless truths in new ways.” This line struck me as familiar, and then I recalled Bl. Pope John XXIII’s statement on the purpose of the Second Vatican Council: “The greatest concern of the Ecumenical Council is this: that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine should be guarded and taught more efficaciously.” Maybe not simply a restatement on HE Archbishop Gomez’s part, but certainly in the same vein? And if that’s the case, the “New Evangelization,” properly understood, is at least 50 years old…maybe it’s just that now we’re getting back to the original tenets of “guarding” and “teaching efficaciously” the Truth?

  10. Choirmaster says:

    @jaykay: I’ve noticed the very same thing. So-called “young people” can see right through the trite, banal, vapid, empty, condescending music and liturgical creativity put on in their name. Any person, young or old, recognizes true art, true worship, and truly logical, intellectually honest religious philosophy, regardless of whether they prefer or subscribe to it themselves.

    In my experience, it’s the grown men and women, who have convinced themselves of their own bias, that generally have a problem with orthodoxy and truly sacred art.

    It’s totally unfair that a “young person”, who already has everything going against them concerning religious observance, should be fed tripe at Mass instead of given a rich serving of the inestimable and priceless treasures that are, by right, their inheritance.

  11. Sandy says:

    Speaking of young people! I emailed that awesome young man, Nico, whose guest editorial you published yesterday, Father. He took the time to write me back and appreciated the support. We must remember to encourage the good we see, and pray that the young will help reform the Church, as it seems they are doing!

  12. Panterina says:

    Thank you for the reminder of Nico’s column, Sandy. I just did the same! We ought not only pass the Faith to our next generation, but encourage them as well!

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  14. RichR says:

    Look at the college campus ministries that are thriving (eg. Texas A&M University’s St. Mary’s, Steubenville, etc….) and you will see traditional devotions abounding. I might add that good catechetical formation accompanies all these successes.

  15. Clinton R. says:

    Nice to hear this from my Archbishop. If I can be considered young at 36, then count me too as someone who is tired of the “Spirit” of Vatican II nonsense and yearns for the beautiful traditions of the Holy Faith. Traditions (namely the TLM) that many in my age group have never been able to experience. Hopefully some sense of tradition will be present at the next Religious Ed. Congress. Hoping and praying. +JMJ+

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