While viewing my Facebook Feed, I came across a snipit from one of my "likes", which is LifeTeen International. For those who've never heard of it, LifeTeen is a structured Catholic Youth Ministry Program aimed at young teens in grades 9-12, to give them a slew of more in-depth teaching Catholic teaching on sacraments, and in addition to cover the controversial or hard topics in our faith, such as sin, right to life, etc.
The program was started in the United States in the 80's and has been constantly evolving to reach the spiritual needs of today's teens, even in certain circumstances when they are not being fed through their "Catholic" education. There is also a corresponding middle school program called EDGE for grades 6-8. These programs are in a number of parishes in North America, and often one will find both the EDGE and LIFETEEN in a parish. While the only caveat to my knowledge is that the youth Masses can have praise and worship or rock-based bands doing the music in the liturgy, this isn't all parishes (my home parish, for instance, just does the program and the youth attend the parish's regular Masses), and for the most part, these youth are getting much needed supplements to their schooling.
So back to the posting, it led me to this webpage with the citations for the Novus Ordo readings, as well as a podcast lecture from Mark Hart, who is currently one of the head organizers for LifeTeen in North America. The link is here: http://lifeteen.com/sunday-sunday-sunday-04212013/.
The podcast to accompany this week's reading gives a reflection on, primarily the first reading, when Paul and Barnabas were trying to spread the Good News to one of the Jewish towns, Antioch. Those of you Church history buffs may remember this as the area of origin where the term "Christian" first came into existence ~50 or so AD. In summary, as more and more people are becoming Christians, the Jewish officials and the others didn't like them welcoming more people to Christ's teaching, especially the outcasted Gentiles! and so, "... they were filled with jealousy; and blaspheming, they contradicted what was spoken by Paul ..."
The LifeTeen speaker, Mark, connects this to a disgusting experience he had on Easter Sunday. I am sure some of you have, or had, this sentiment on that day, when many of your fellow "Christmans and Easter" Catholics that you never see regularly come to Mass. You come to Mass every week faithfully as our Church Law tells us, and you really do love Jesus and love the Mass with your family. And then ... they show up, take your coveted 4th row from the front pew (uh news flash, only special events get reserved seating e.g. Baptisms and Confirmations). Unfortunately, in Mark's parish, the usual pious, high and mighty "Pharisees" were speaking loudly enough to shame the C&E Catholics for their lax of Mass attendance, and likely questioned why they were coming in the first place.
So where this crosses over into the EF is that a common sin or stereotype that gets passed around about us is we are cold-hearted miscreants who act as liturgical police. And for the even more poorly educated, that Catholics are hypocrites. Now look, we shouldn't be tolerating such rejection of their Sunday obligation to attend Mass under penalty of Mortal Sin and therefore, eternal damnation upon death. Also, by the same token, there are those of the EF community who continue to reinforce those stereotypes, to the detriment of all those in the Catholic faith. The more important point though, is that all of us shouldn't be a bunch of hypocrites and be chastizing them, especially in ear shot. Their faith is already not as solid as yours to start. By being a Pharisee or RadTrad, you are cutting off those young people of your generation, and other Catholics off from the Gospel of the Lord with your gossip or detraction, something which in fact our Holy Father in his fervorinos within his Masses has been speaking out against as of late.
Instead of being a Pharisee or a RadTrad by saying things like that in person/online, be it blogging or Facebook chats to your friends, how about posting something that attracts others to the Faith instead of your usual clergy/diocesan bashing? How about posting on something positive about the Catholic Faith and why to be Catholic, be it generally or specifically for the Latin Mass/EF, or showing good examples of the faith in action, despite hypocrisy? In person, how about actually shutting up and not saying that snarky comment about someone's absence from weekly Mass, but expressing genuine concern for your C & E Catholic friends and figuring out why they only come for the "big ones" only when they are truly missing out on the greatest form of prayer in their lives and likely, don't even know about their obligation? In fact, there is likely A LOT they haven't been taught about their faith, despite their "education" in the separate/Catholic system. Why I bet they don't even know what the Catechism is. Perhaps you can take the call of the Holy Fathers Benedict XVI and Francis and be a foot soldier for the New Evangelization on the ground.
And for those of you who venture into the Novus Ordo, or choose to reach out to our Brothers and Sisters who do not participate in the EF, smile a bit at Mass, say Hello, and yes, even reach out that hand at the sign of peace despite its innovation into the modern Catholic litrugy (as always, I prefer the EF sign of peace of a fraternal bear hug. HUZZAH! Seeing that makes me feel manly! But I do extend my hand out at Novus Ordo Masses frequently, albeit with our hypersensitivity to bacterial contamination, it can be confusing what people want to do.)
So, actually read that first reading from the Novus Ordo, reflect on what Mark has to say, and if there is a young Teen out there in need of the Lord, you might want to pass on this website to them, and wherever possible, have them discover Youth Ministry. Better yet, be that Youth Minister to them. Hopefully, Christ willing, I might in future be able to pursue that ministry.
Pax Tibi Christi, Julian.
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