Tuesday, December 11, 2012

And Now, A Word From A Young Convert

Photo courtesy of Catholic With A Vengeance.
Extraordinary Form  for an extraordinary blog.
Rae Marie, over at Catholic With A Vengeance, has a great piece up about parishes (is yours one?) who beg and plead for young parishioners to get involved . . . until the younger people actually try it.

I spoke up once during choir practice (I’d since then joined the choir because I enjoyed singing and praising the Lord). I said “You know, I’d really like some Latin hymns…Maybe we can have some silence after Mass during Lent- you know for reverence…”
I suggested to our priest once: “I think a Eucharistic procession around Christmas to celebrate the incarnation would be cool…” Deaf ears in reply. I was told by the music director: “We don’t do that anymore…Silence bores the congregation…” and by the priest “A procession would be inconvenient…” 
What I gave was the opinion of a young Catholic- a real, live young Catholic. They didn’t want it. 
The problem is all these pastors, youth pastors and music directors keep telling us young folk what bores us, what we really like, what we find interesting. And guess what, THEY’RE WRONG! If one listens to the young Catholic voice, one would find we are yearning for beauty, for tradition and for truth. Traditional Catholicism honestly fascinates us! We go all week hearing perky pop-songs, jumping techno and chatter that doesn’t leave a minute of silence. We go to church and we get exposed to the same exact things. Thus, of course we find it boring! Why should we go to Mass when we can stay home and sing “Gather us in”, listen to a preacher on tv and fill our rooms with noise? Young people are sick of the world. We long for a safe habitat where we can bow before God and think. We crave contact with ancientness, with a strong grounding, with strong Catholic identity. God’s people are chosen out of the world, set apart, destined for a heavenly home. We want a taste of that!
Read the whole thing here.

We see here yet another case of pastoral and liturgical disconnect: committees and "experts" striving to make Catholicism fresh and relevant for the young people of 1968.  It was a different generation, combating different kinds of abuses by a different kind of authority figure.  Yet here they still are, in 2012 - soon to be '13 - rebelling against an establishment that's been dead since the 1970s.  Jim Kalb has an excellent series on this over at Crisis.  Read all four parts; they're worth your time.

I've seen this nonsense all my life.  I was younger than Rae when I volunteered to teach Religious Ed. to high-school kids.  I'd studied the Catechism (brand new in those days), read the Bible daily, and had a couple semesters of Catholic Theology at undergraduate level from professors who later had shows on EWTN.  My qualifications were nothing, however, compared to those of the young lady who got the position.  She lived in such a close imitation of Our Lady that, like her, she managed to conceive a child without a husband - which child she was visibly carrying at the time.  What better way to teach our young folk than by example?

For twenty years, under four different pastors, I offered to train altar servers.  No takers.  Now, even if they asked, I don't remember enough to be of much use anymore (I could talk you through the average Mass, sure, but weddings, funerals, Benedictions, etc. I just can't remember how it went).

Of course, I'm no longer young, by any stretch.  Young Catholics cannot remember a time before John Paul II was pope.  I can.

But speaking as a recovering young person, I can tell you what young people want:  Christ.  They want Christ, they long for Christ, they hunger and thirst for him:  "When shall I behold His face?"  (cf. Ps. 42: 3)
They want a sense of something holy, mysterious, otherworldly.  Something to challenge their imaginations.  Something to live for.  A Mass to dress up for.  A sense that what they're doing matters.

What better means than through our own long-standing (if now long-lost) traditions?  It's no accident that you'll find ample candles, incense, and recording of Gregorian Chant in any college dorm.  Why don't we find them in our churches?  Why aren't we saying, "You like that?  We invented that!  Come check out what else we have to offer!"  It's time to raid the Church's attic and break out the Ancient Tools for the New Evangelization.  Trust me on this.  When I was 18, a traditional-minded priest called us altar boys together for exactly such a raid.  The object:  Locate the old cassocks and surplices the altar boys of the 1940s had used.  We found them, along with lots of other cool stuff.  Our mothers washed and ironed them, and we wore them as we served Midnight Mass.  We had smells.  We had bells.  Father said the Roman Canon in Latin.  It was one of the greatest nights of my life.  I can't even describe - the closest analogy I have would be falling madly in love, but the stirring's in a different part of you, one I can't pinpoint, because I didn't know it was there till I felt the stirring therein.
Christmas, 1987.  Yours Truly, top right.
What I wouldn't give to have that hairline back!
I've been saying a lot lately, with regard to Evangelization, "Get with Christ!"  That's exactly what I recommend for young people.  Get them with Christ.  And the ones who've got with Him already?  Listen to them!  They are wiser than you know.
"And a little child shall lead them." (Isaiah 11: 6)

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