At his (fabulous and new!) website, Patrick Madrid posted about young people and the Mass. You’ll want to read in full, but here’s a snippet from a priest’s comment on the subject:
Young people do not want a Mass the reflects the world, but a Mass that reflects heaven, which is other worldly and mysterious. Drums, guitars, clapping, etc., do not reflect heaven, they reflect a rock concert.
I am in total agreement here – well, at least, about the appropriate music for Mass.
But there are lots of kids who really, really, really like Praise and Worship music at Mass. Lots of adults, too. It hasn’t been my personal experience that Praise and Worship music doesn’t work to get teens to Mass; it just doesn’t work to get all teens to Mass.
I’m not trying to launch some apocalyptic showdown of chant-versus-guitars here. My point is that we need to be okay with the fact that teenagers, just like every other demographic…well, aren’t one big demographic.
If a teenager likes youth group, loves LifeTeen, and is on fire for retreats – awesome. And if not? That’s okay, too.
Give kids a menu to choose from as far as how they’ll be involved in their faith. That autonomy is what they’re hoping for, as they enter adulthood, anyway.
The best youth ministry programs already accomplish this – they offer a wide variety of ways for kids to share and grow in their faith.
But I’ve also seen families – and religious educators – try to “force” kids to fit a certain mold of what an Active Catholic Teen looks like – you know, the ones from the pictures in the youth Bibles?
See, I’m an expert on teenagers, because my own children aren’t in their teens yet. (heh) What I hope to do with my own kids as they enter their teenage years is to allow them to decide, to a certain extent, how they’re going to be involved in our parish beyond what I consider the minimum (Mass attendance and some form of religious ed – either Catholic school, if we decide to go that route, or CCD.) If they don’t cotton to the youth Mass but really enjoy volunteering at the food bank or Gabriel Project, that’s fine with me.
Isn’t that what we want for them as adults? To discover their unique charisms, and put them to use? How are we helping them to do so if we try to make all teens fit into a certain mold?