Friday, October 05, 2007

"Let the [16 year olds] come to me, and do not hinder them"

A seminary friend (and YF reader) let me know about a letter which appeared in the Georgia Bulletin, the newspaper for the Archdiocese of Altanta. I leave you now in the hands of 16 year old Ethan Milukas:

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.

Rock on, Ethan! First and foremost, find your spirituality within the confines of the Church. But once at the table (meant here either metaphorically or in the sense of coming to the "table of the Lord"; take your pick), don't let others force-feed you something you're not hungry for!

Critics of Summorum Pontificum are quick to point out that, in years past, not every Mass celebrated using the "extraordinary usage of the Roman Rite" (to use the terminology given to us by the Holy Father) was done so with reverence and rubrically correct. This is true. But one can also say (and those who do usually do so with direct, experiential knowledge) that neither has, in years recent, every Mass celebrated using what it now called the "ordinary usage of the Roman Rite" been done with reverence and rubrically correct.

The "dirty little secret", I'm beginning to think, is that many of those who are reluctant to see the "mainstreaming" of the older Mass feel they may be a little responsible for its return. Maybe, in years past, with a little less of the "folk Masses", the "give everybody something to do Masses", and the "let's sit around the coffee table and just be relaxed Masses", and perhaps a little more of the "Gloria in Excelsis Deo" or "Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabbaoth", would there be (almost 40 years later) a desire to make "what is old new again"?

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