Friday, September 28, 2012

HOW DO WE KEEP OUR YOUNG PEOPLE IN THE CHURCH?

"Yes, Virginia, this is the Ordinary Form of the Roman Missal at St. Joseph Church in the Year of our Lord, 2012!"



Sometimes, Catholics, meaning clergy and laity, think we must bend over backwards to keep our young and not so young in the parish, when in fact, free will means we have to let them make their decisions for or against Christ and His Church when they come of age which also means that they have to accept the consequences, good or bad, for the decisions they make out of free will. Do they want salvation or damnation, grace or evil?

Ultimately, the priest can only remind parents of their grave responsibility to live up to the promises they made at the baptism of their child to rear them in the practice of the Faith. That means, the practice of the Faith as Holy Mother Church understands that and makes it explicit. The minimal requirement is to follow the precepts of the Church, the most important to attend Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation, and to follow the 10 commandments and support the Church. It really is quite simple isn't it?

Yet, when parents fail to come to Church and see to it that their children are properly formed in the practice of the faith and teach them that a sense of obligation and duty is required with our holy Faith when feelings and emotions dissipate, what do the authorities of the Church do? Well, sometimes we flagellate ourselves thinking if we were more modern and hip we'd have all the Catholics in the pews every Sunday. Then we start sinking to the lowest common denominator liturgically and otherwise and forsake our Catholic patrimony and identity as it concerns the faith, morals and discipline of the Church, not to mention our Catholic spirituality, liturgical sensibilities and grand tradition of solid sacred chant and Catholic singing, to keep everyone in the Church.

Is a smaller but purer Catholic Church something we should intentionally cultivate? Should we have a very high standard of practice for our Catholic faith and corporate identity,not to mention personal morality and spirituality, or do we water our Catholic Faith down and accept the most outrageous of faux spirituality thrust upon the Mass and parish life, not to mention immorality and immodesty?

I read somewhere recently, but cannot find the source now, that a South American town that had been nominally Catholic had a great number of converts to Evangelical Protestantism and in being converted to this denomination, the town's people had become more modest in dress and behavior. What does that say about how they were or were not living their Catholic faith which has a strong sense of modesty too? But how many in modern Catholicism hear homilies or teachings on modesty and immorality and the difference between salvation and damnation and that the latter two are what awaits every soul?

Most priests today would not touch these topics with a ten foot pole! Why? What are we afraid of? We're afraid of pushing the immodest out of the Church, that's what we are afraid of and also of being accused of sending them packing, that it is our fault that we didn't bend over backwards to keep them in by offering tacit approval of the most outrageous of behavior and fierce individualism.

But shouldn't we have high standards or not for Catholics and high expectations and simply say, Catholics don't do this, that or the other and when they do they are on the wide road that leads to eternal damnation?

At St. Joseph Church we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council as well as the Year of Faith, by making our 12:10 PM Sunday Mass more traditional in appearance, which simply means that the Liturgy of the Eucharist will be celebrated ad orientem but everything else about the Introductory Rite, the Liturgy of the Word and the Concluding Rite will remain as is currently as well as the current style of singing, music and English, except that on the third Sunday of the month, our men's schola will chant the Latin parts of the Mass including the Introit, Offertory and Communion Antiphons. But the congregation will be expected to join in singing the Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei.

We're doing this not to bring in the young or keep the old or to revolutionize the parish. We're doing it out of fidelity to the principle of the hermeneutic of continuity that Pope Benedict has been espousing and using the legitimate options for the Liturgy that the revised English Roman Missal of 2003 allows. It is simple as that. If that creates an appreciation for continuity and that Vatican II never intended to turn the apple cart upside down but simply desired the very robust Church of the late 1950's and early 60's to become even more robust, then so be it.

12 comments:

Seeker said...

YES!

Robert Kumpel said...

The following letter was published in The Georgia Bulletin, on September 20, 2007 (the official newspaper for the Archdiocese of Atlanta):


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 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. 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.

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

Robert Kumpel said...

and THIS letter was published on October 4 of 2007 in the same paper:

To the Editor:

I am writing this in response to Mr. Sterne’s letter in the Sept. 6 edition of The Georgia Bulletin.

I am 16 years old and a student at St. Pius X Catholic High School. My family has attended St. Francis de Sales Traditional Latin Mass Parish since its inception 10 years ago. I have also grown up in Catholic schools, where I am able to experience the Novus Ordo Rite. I enjoy the morning Novus Ordo Masses offered at St. Pius X High School, but I treasure the solemnity, reverence and piety I see in the Latin Mass at St. Francis de Sales.

You cannot compare the Latin Mass to opera; opera is a form of entertainment, while Gregorian chant is composed strictly for the Catholic Church. There is also a large time difference of the institutions of the two things. They are close to a thousand years apart.

With respect to the willingness and expectations of teens to attend a Latin Mass, I wonder whether it is not so much the language used to celebrate the Mass as much as it is the lack of faith formation. Why is it that so many adults believe that it is necessary to make the Mass more “entertaining” in order to coax teenagers to attend?

At St. Francis de Sales, there are many children and teenagers. We have weekly catechism classes for all ages, confirmation classes, adult enrichment classes and a thriving Scout troop. The teenagers at my church seem to have a deep love of the Traditional Latin Mass and do not mind at all praying the Mass in Latin.

Freely allowing the Latin Mass as Pope Benedict XVI seems to have done this summer is hardly an “eradication” of Vatican II. It is the “Extraordinary Rite.” It is offered at but a single parish in the archdiocese. The Ordinary Rite in English is offered daily at hundreds of parishes throughout Georgia.

-Robert Q. Shaffner, Atlanta

qwikness said...

I like the idea. I'm so proud of St. Joseph's and that you are our priest!
Did you have to get approval from the Bishop on this? Does any other parish in the diocese do this? Did you get any static when proposed?
Thanks.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I may be going out on a limb here, but as far as I know, no other parish is celebrating the Liturgy of the Eucharist ad orientem except at the Cathedral which has the EF Mass every Sunday. No, permission is not needed from the bishop as this is a part of our tradition and is even foreseen in our current revised English Roman Missal. The only parish that I am aware that celebrates the OF Mass ad orientem and as the norm is St. Mary's Church in Greenville, SC.

Fr. Peter Muha said...

As a priest for almost 25 years, I share the intuition of Fr. McDonald that dumbing down the liturgy or making it more entertaining (my words, not his) seems to be ineffective as a means to drawing young people and their parents back to the celebration of Sunday Mass. I have tried this in the past and it has failed. Now I try to celebrate the Mass as faithfully and reverently as I can. Some have left the parish, but others have joined. Music continues to be a struggle. Everyone currently involved in the "music ministry" is caught in the publishers' web of sentinmental, folksy song singing. It is difficult to find musicians who recognize the need for a "reform of the reform." Congratulations to Fr. McDonald and the people of St. Joseph's Parish for having the courage to do what the Church is really asking of us.

Henry Edwards said...

No doubt, there always have and always will be some Catholics who leave the Church. However, more will stay if the liturgy they experience at Sunday Mass is inspiring and fills them with pride to have and be something that non-Catholics cannot share.

Over the 7-year history of my local Latin Mass community, probably a majority of these attending have been children and youth, many of whom have graduated from middle and high school and college during this time. Most of these I'm familiar with, and so far as I know not a single one has left the Church. Not one!

Militia Immaculata said...

Father, you say, " The only parish that I am aware that celebrates the OF Mass ad orientem and as the norm is St. Mary's Church in Greenville, SC."

Are you referring specifically to the Southeast or in the entire country? Because off the top of my head I can think of a few parishes that have ad orientem Ordinary Form Masses -- Assumption Grotto in Detroit, St. Agnes in St. Paul, and St. John Cantius in Chicago.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Yes, I should have said the southeast or at least our bishop's region or our metropolitan. At any rate, I think we're clearly in the minority!

Andy Milam said...

"The only parish that I am aware that celebrates the OF Mass ad orientem and as the norm is St. Mary's Church in Greenville, SC."

http://stagnes.net/

Now you know of another. St. Agnes and the late Monsignors Bandas and Schuler set the tone (to steal from ER).

Henry Edwards said...

Also the other two Catholic parishes in Greenville, SC -- Prince of Peace and Our Lady of the Rosary.

Perhaps not a standard parish, but ad orientem mostly Latin Novus Ordo daily at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, AL.

Then there's Bishop Slattery's cathedral in Tulsa, OK.

I suspect there's a fair number here and there, but mostly not publicized.

John Nolan said...

Father, I'm a long way from your parish, but a glance at your website shows that you have great advantages; a magnificent church, a curate, two deacons, and it would appear, musical resources which enable you to field a SATB choir and a plainchant schola. In my experience, those who attend Sunday Mass have always been given the choice of a Low Mass or a Sung Mass, and despite the fact that the difference between the two is not quite so marked as it was in the past, I would suggest that the same predilections still apply.

It is important that those who visit a particular church at a particular time know what to expect. To attend one week and hear Mass XI and then the same week later have to endure Marty Haugen is unfair on them, and they are not likely to return.

If a schola is worth its salt it might reasonably expect to sing the GR Propers on a weekly basis(and not simply to psalm-tone them); however late you come to Gregorian chant you will want to do the real McCoy. Similarly a SATB choir will not be satisfied if it is only allowed to sing Palestrina once a month, since for 'pastoral' reasons the PP insists on pop settings on the other three Sundays.

My advice would be to pool your musical resources so that your principal Sunday Mass is as splendid as possible; ad orientem, bags of Latin, bags of incense, bags of chant (and since tone-deafness is such a rare disease I don't believe your deacons can't sing - they need their arses kicking) and above all have the courage of your convictions. And do it week in, week out; in this way is a tradition established.