Friday, July 16, 2010

Youth Liturgy needs to do a 180 degree turn

Thanks to Fr Finigan's Hermeneutic of Continuity blog for carrying this item concerning an interview given by Cardinal Cañizares Llovera (Prefect of the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Sacraments, the dicastery that oversees liturgical matters in the Church) to the German Catholic newspaper Die Tagespost on the occasion of the third anniversary of the publication of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.

Fr Finigan quotes the following words concerning the participation of young people at the Liturgy, which could very well apply to so-called youth Masses, Life Teen liturgies, etc:
We need a new introduction to Christianity. Also for children and young people. An introduction to the liturgy does not only mean to know something about the celebration, although of course that is indispensable both theologically and doctrinally. Young people and children should participate in liturgies celebrated with great dignity, which are entirely permeated by the mystery of God in which the individual konws himself to be included. Active participation does not mean to do something, but to enter into the worship and the silence, into listening and also the prayer of petition and all that which really constitutes the liturgy. As long as that does not happen, there will be no liturgical renewal. We have to turn around one hundred eighty degrees. Youth ministry should be a place where the encounter with the living Christ in the Church takes place . Where Jesus Christ appears as someone of yesterday, neither liturgical education nor active participation is possible. As long as the awareness of the living Christ does not awake again, nothing will come of the much-needed renewal.

To turn 180 degrees means to go in the opposite direction to which one has been travelling. It means to stop going in the wrong direction, further and further away from our tradition and authentic liturgy, and to return to a renewed understanding and experience of the transcendent in the liturgy. Noisy guitars and drums, I'm sorry, do not help one pray the Mass.

My experience has been that introducing children at a young age to the beauty of chant gives them a sense of 'awe and reverence' at Mass. The use of incense, candles, processions also enhances this. Oh, and altar rails provide a clear sense that there is a part of the Church - quite rightly called the Sanctuary - which is more sacred than the rest by reason of the Sacrifice that is offered there and the liturgical actions that are performed there.

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