Jeremiah 6:16

Thus saith the Lord: Stand ye on the ways, and see and ask for the old paths which is the good way, and walk ye in it: and you shall find refreshment for your souls.


Ecclesial Pussification

This week as I was visiting a local parish, I happened to read the bulletin for this upcoming Sunday. The mystery was solved. Last week, I happened to notice a drum set in church and found this most unusual. Why on earth would you ruin the beauty of the church with a drum set? What need was there exactly for such a thing in the Liturgy? To my disgust, I read in the bulletin that St. Joseph’s would now be offering the “Life Teen” mass (with a lowercase m) on the first and third Saturday evening of each month. (The Life Teen mass will replace the usual weekend Mass at that time.) If you attend Saturday evening Mass traditionally, and this new method makes you uncomfortable, tough, it’s what “the young people want.” Or is it? If this is what the young people want, why do vocational trends indicate otherwise? Saying that all young people “want” Life Teen is like saying all Irish people all drunks, it’s a terrible and most inaccurate stereotype.

There are some in “pastoral leadership” who would say “If we don’t make the Mass ‘fun,’ young people will leave the Church.”

I have one response to that statement: When last I checked, crucifixion was certainly no picnic. However, Christ loved us so much that He made the ultimate sacrifice. During the Triduum, we hear the final HOURS of Christ’s suffering and ultimately His death. His gift to us (among other things): the Eucharist. ONE HOUR A WEEK. Sixty minutes. That’s less time than it takes to watch a movie, a football game, or play a video game. Less time than a high school dance.

The Mass, fun? Since when did Truman Capote and Andrew Lloyd Weber take a seat on the College of Cardinals? Why is it that the music of the Mass has to sound like something off Broadway in order for young people (and some adults) to desire to attend? Why should we “dummy down” the mystical supper in order to appeal to young people. This generation is spoiled. In our classrooms, in our shopping malls, television, everywhere you go, we cater to make things “fun.” To make the Mass fun is like slapping Jesus in the face. Each and every youth who sleeps in on Sunday because “Mass is boring” is personally telling Christ “Thanks for dying on the cross and all, but your sacrifice bores me.”

There was a time when Catholic young people dressed up for Mass. You would never see a female’s mid-drift, nor did young men dress up nicer for the homecoming dance than they do for Mass. (I had a Catholic priest tell me once, that the reason he did not turn away people who dressed inappropriately was that he feared “sexual harassment.” Give me a break. The bottom line is that he feared angering those who put money in the collection basket. That’s another problem. Priests are too afraid to preach for fear they will anger parishoners. Let’s face it, sometimes, the truth hurts.) When are shepherds act sheepish, what are we to do? When our clergy caves into the youth’s request for fun, what does that teach them?

There was a time when young people would gather with their family at the Church on Sunday night for Benediction, there was a time young people knew how to pray the Rosary, the Angelus, and the Stations of the Cross. These days, if they aren’t set to a rock beat, Pastoral leadership claims “our youth doesn’t want it.” Interesting theory isn’t it? If we don’t add some “pep” to the Mass, our youth apparently turn their backs on Christ. What kind of lesson are we teaching if we give in to this sad demand?

Let’s take a moment to really take a careful examination of Christ on the cross, and really adore the Eucharist, and think to ourselves, how selfish is it to demand the Mass be more fun and enjoyable. Never once did Christ ask for a less painful death for our sins.

When Pope Benedict was elected to the Papacy, needless to say, I was delighted. Having read most of Cardinal Ratzinger’s books I knew we were in for something wonderful. However, a couple of times he has let me down. Why? Honestly, I think he is letting the media have too much control. Before his election, he was seen as the “Rottweiller,” the one who really upheld tradition. For the media this was apparently a concern. During world youth day, we tune in for evening prayer and see a clown juggling fire on the stage. Why on earth was this necessary? If Benedict is so traditional, why would he stand for such a thing during Divine Office? Simple, because it “made the youth feel good.” Does that make it right? No. But if the Pope’s doing it, why shouldn’t parishes?

Over the past few months, we have read time and again that Pope Benedict will be granting universal approval for the use of the 1962 Roman Missal. We have read that talks between the Vatican and the Society of St. Pius X are progressing very well. Who on earth is the source of all this information?

Thus far, not one inkling of it has held water. Last week, TIME magazine online ran an article that stated how this fall Benedict would really be getting into full gear and really giving the world an idea of his platform. His platform? It read more like a fall movie preview than an article, but honestly, what platform are we talking about? The Cardinal Ratzinger we knew and loved? Or the Servant of the Servants of God, Pope Benedict XVI who doesn’t seem to be very firm on much of anything? I certainly hope this fall marks the beginning of the downfall of several liberal tendencies in the Church. I hope the “watchdog” of the faith gets out of the dog house and gets to work. Enough of these articles speculating, let’s see some action! His Holiness can not hep but know that it's out there, and so I would like for him to stop playing the game we all know and despise, that of silence and obfuscation which has won us so many friends lately, and speak. I am a hardcore Papist, everyone knows that. But sometimes those who love you most, must be your staunchest critics.

The bottom line, I can sit here and write about how much I despise Life Teen, I can write my disgust for Pastors who allow such things, and I speculate on liberal Bishops, but ultimately, at some point, IF the Pope really does have a conservative card up his sleeve, he needs to play it. Ecumenism has gotten out of hand. The modern church looks very protestant in many ways, and unfortunately, not much sets us apart from those who broke away centuries ago. If we continue to cave in to the requests of the youth and everybody else, what kind of church are we really? Is this a rock … or somehow has the foundation turned to clay? I hate Life Teen, yes. I don’t believe it should be permitted, but obviously the Holy Father doesn’t have a problem with the movement, so it can carry on.

Sunday after Sunday, our pastors can tell young people “let’s have fun at Mass, this is supposed to be exciting.” Meanwhile, Jesus hangs there on the cross looking miserable -- and only if your sanctuary happens to have a Crucifix. When we start to replace bread and wine with cookies and milk, maybe then somebody will say something. Until that time, enjoy the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, after all, IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU!

Note: This is a post from my original blog on 6 June 2007


AdAltareDei said...

Good and faithful Catholics aren't produced through dissent, disobedience, and sacrilege. That seems obvious enough, but apparently there are many people who have trouble grasping such a simple fact.

Anonymous said...

Hi! For three years, I volunteered quite alot in college with the life teen program at a local parish. It certainly was not for everyone, and there were a group of teens who specifically went to other Masses which were of the more traditional variety. But the teens all came together for our Life Nights, which were often very fruitful and thoughtful and entirely orthodox. In addition to the Mass, Life Teen leaders met with the kids during the week, on "their turf", in the schools, at their school plays, football games, provided the context for some pretty wonderful encounters, at the heart of which, of course, was an encounter with the Risen Christ.
My experience as a Life Teen "Core Team Leader" and as a singer in the "Life Teen Band" had a tremendous impact on my faith. I had an opportunity to work with people who truly wanted to bring the faith *alive* and not necessarily make it *fun*. There was a distinction, and our Life Teen program was aware of that.
Without Life Teen, the world would have one less Catholic who is now deeply committed to her faith and to the magnificent traditions of her Church. God works in many ways, including the ways that you hate.
I'm not saying Life Teen is the greatest way to go, but I am not ready to dismiss something that was so instrumental in my own story, and in the stories of other young adults that I have met over the last seven years.
Anyways, that was it. Happy Easter and best wishes! peace