- Who are we?
- What are we about?
- What makes us different from the Evangelical/Protestant world we find surrounding us?
Having attended these Life-Teen masses regularly in a nearby parish, I can testify that they are profoundly contemporary, bordering on a pop concert, in which the worship experience takes on a type of fervor reminiscent of the Pentecostal churches in the Protestant world. Indeed, if an emotional high is your goal, than this type of mass is definitely one way to accomplish it. Though I must admit, that no matter how much effort Catholic parishes put into it, the Pentecostals do it better, and they probably always will. Why? Because that is the focus of the entire Pentecostal religion -- to bring one into an emotional high while worshiping Christ, with the idea that such excited states will draw one into a closer personal relationship with him. The theology and structure of Pentecostal churches are built around this idea, and as a result, they are more suited for this kind of experience than any other type of Christian organization. As a practical Roman Catholic, who is very knowledgeable of our separated Protestant brethren, I am forced to admit that when it comes to emotional highs, Pentecostals do it better, and if that's what you're looking for, than I would have no choice but to recommend you go to a Pentecostal church. You'll be much more satisfied there. Try and try as we may, (and many have tried very hard), we Catholics just don't do it as well as they do, and we probably never will. The theology of the Catholic Church, and the structure of the mass, is just not suited for this.
The kids sure do appear to be having a lot of fun, and don't get me wrong, I'm not opposed to this. I think Catholic kids should have fun, and they should have plenty of occasions to get excited about their Catholic Christian faith. I believe it's our responsibility as parents to help provide innovative ways of doing this. The only question I have is this. Is mass the proper venue for this to happen?
Certainly the pope doesn't think so. He recently banned all contemporary masses at the Vatican, and restored the traditional Latin liturgy, along with Gregorian chant and classical music. Word has it that he plans a similar kind of reform for the rest of the Church worldwide. Now the knee jerk reaction for many will be to complain, and this is unfortunate because those who do complain, do so out of ignorance.
The pope is not a killjoy. The pope is not trying to take contemporary music away from young Catholics. Far from it. I would dare say he favors contemporary music, and the good it can produce, when it is performed in an appropriate venue. An appropriate venue is one in which youth can freely express their Christian joy in exited emotional states without the interruption of liturgy. A "prayer and praise" meeting might be one example of this, or even a Christian pop/rock concert. The problem with bringing this kind of music into the mass is that the two mutually interrupt each other. The solemnity of Liturgy interrupts the emotional excitement of contemporary music and vice versa. Together they are not conducive of the inner contemplation Catholic worship is designed to obtain in the liturgy of the mass. The liturgy of the Catholic mass is designed to draw one into deep personal meditation. The worship is "spiritual," which is higher than emotional. It involves the intellect, the body, the emotions and the spirit working together to give proper adoration to God, in which nothing is left out. The intellect is not put on hold, as is often the case in ecstatic emotional highs. Rather the mind and heart work together. The spirit works on a higher level than the emotions, and the liturgy of the mass is designed to be spiritual, not a merely intellectual or emotional experience. In other words, the pope is calling us to a higher level of worship, and in doing so, he is calling us back to our Catholic roots. The pope is not taking anything away. Rather, he's trying to give all Catholics, young and old alike, something more. By that I mean something greater than any contemporary pop-mass could ever offer. He wants to take Catholics to the next step -- a higher level of worship. He wants us to become authentically "Catholic."
CLICK HERE TO SEE SAMPLES OF THE COMPLETE DVD
Click Here for an audio sampling of proper liturgical music
I would strongly suggest viewing the entire series online, and perhaps purchasing the DVD to show to others.
The contemporary mass will soon fade away -- very very soon. With the liturgical reforms coming to the English liturgy in about a year (2010 or 2011), all former missals will become obsolete overnight, and that includes the Life-Teen worship books used in Life-Teen masses. Accompanying these liturgical reforms will be a strong push from the Vatican, pressuring local parishes to dispense of contemporary pop music, and return to Gregorian chant and Baroque liturgical music. The idea being to draw us to a higher level of worship, which is more closely connected to our Catholic roots and our historic identity.
The pope doesn't want to take anything away from anyone. Young Catholics can still have prayer and praise meetings where all of the Life-Teen music can be used. They can still go to Christian pop/rock concerts, and listen to contemporary Christian music on their MP3 players. But mass is a calling to a higher level of worship, where the heart, mind and body are engaged together in the full adoration of God. The REFORM is coming. We English-speaking Catholics need to be ready for it.