A Catholic Teen’s POV: “Appealing to the young people”

(Part 1?)

This phrase is thrown out quite often when spoken by those who believe that “praise and worship” or “glory and praise,” along with interesting and fun things are needed to interest young people about their faith. But, honestly, this is a phrase I tend to dislike.Why is there such a need to “appeal to the young people” about the Catholic faith? In some common circumstances, this leads to watering down of our prime Catholic beliefs.

Honestly, it would incredibly prudent to ask young people themselves what they want. But, if that might be difficult…here’s a few things that would appeal to me as a young person of the Catholic Church. For some, it may or not be surprising to comprehend the things I’m about to list. Maybe you’re agreeing with my thoughts, or maybe you’re vehemently shaking your head. I don’t entirely know.

Gregorian Chant and the Pipe Organ. Yes, young Catholic people actually like these two things very much. (I myself play the pipe organ, so I especially appreciate it). The pipe organ is the “king of instruments!” It seems like other Protestant denominations put more emphasis on the pipe organ than Catholics sometimes. Some might consider Gregorian chant to be boring or too slow for millennials, but honestly, if millennials wanted upbeat music, they might just easily turn on the radio to the nearest pop music station. Many do really think Gregorian Chant is great! The reason? Because it’s beautiful, the immense history and depth of Gregorian Chant is something young people appreciate. In the world today with the busy noise and beats, when someone hears Gregorian chant, it’s possible that they stop a little and take time to think or pray. Just because something may be old in the number of years it’s been around, it doesn’t mean that it’s worse. The Catholic Church has a rich and meaningful heritage, and some of those things include Gregorian Chant and the Pipe Organ. And just a gently reminder that in the Vatican II Ecumenical Council document, “Musicam Sacram,” it is stated:

“Gregorian chant, as proper to the Roman liturgy, should be given pride of place, other things being equal.” (50. a)

“The pipe organ is to be held in high esteem in the Latin Church, since it is its traditional instrument, the sound of which can add a wonderful splendor to the Church’s ceremonies and powerfully lift up men’s minds to God and higher things.” (62)

Mass. Yes, young Catholics like going to Mass. The more reverent, the better. But, of course there are those that are simply bored whether they’re at a Mass with guitars or a Mass with a magnificent choir singing Gregorian Chant. It is more likely for them to find the Mass with Gregorian Chant more fascinating though, simply because it truly takes them closer to the deep beauty of our faith. Please don’t make Mass more focused on community than God. If the Mass is made into a performance or community event, it will be harder for teenagers to understand why they’re even there. Performance? They’d rather be at their favorite artists’ concert. Community event? They’ll prefer hanging out with their friends.

The more reverence those leading the congregation portray and expect, the congregation (even the youth!) will reflect the reverence expected. If the expectations are low, it’s easy to lower those expectations and not receive wanted results. But, I’m pleading all those in charge of liturgy, music, priests, and others trying to engage the youth during the Mass. Let us experience the Mass! Face the correct way (cough cough ad orientem), create a reverent moment through music, and most importantly is to direct our focus during the Mass to Jesus and His sacrifice, not about the people next to you.

Truth. Honestly, please tell us things about the faith truthfully and straightforward. We don’t prefer hearing sugar-coated versions of dogma. We’re all striving for the truth, especially young people who are at a stage of their lives when we hope for authenticity. Sometimes it seems hard to be blunt about something, but it’s better to clearly explain than to glaze over the topic. Yes, it may not sound pleasing to the ears, but that’s not what is important. Truth is important. Two thousand years of Scripture and Tradition shouldn’t be watered down and made to sound less “offensive.”

Value our opinions. I do know many that value the youth opinions, but at the same time, there seems to be some adults who only value certain opinions; those that agree with them. Most of the people that try to appeal to young people are obviously not millennials. Simply put, find out what it is that young people want, not just your own perception on what it is. Please! Just because something is fun or in with the times doesn’t automatically make it attractive to the young generation!! If we looked at a reverent person versus someone shaking their head back and forth, “having fun,” we would easily get bored looking at the second person, but there will continue to be something attractive and appealing about the person being reverent.

Prayer and Adoration. And Silence. There’s the common notion that young people need to be doing something every minute to stay engaged. That’s not true at all, it’s imperative that young people and adults have quiet time to pray. It’s a lot harder to pray and think when there’s background noise, it can become a lot easier during silence or adoration. Although, the mind can tend to wander, it would be wiser to let young people experience the silence that can help them listen to the voice of God.

This honestly feels like a “Part 1” of something. So, that’s it for today, please please please take this message into account!! I’m not only speaking for myself, but there are many other millennials who will think the same, too.

(Also, if anyone would like to correct my citations from the document, please let me know!)

A Catholic Teen’s POV: Priest on a hoverboard

Although I wasn’t planning on writing another blog post this soon, I was scrolling through comments about this, and felt that I should write this up.

Ah, where do I begin…

Many comments wrote that the priest might’ve been doing this to appeal to the young people. But, then he was suspended, and people said that the church officials are complaining about church attendance and, “I wonder why…”

As someone who’s considered to be a “young person” at mass…I wanted to say how I felt about this situation. First off, if my parish priest decided to try and do this one day at mass, I would do either of two things at that moment; kneel down and start praying for more reverence, or simply walk outside/away.

To some extent, I can see where people would say it can bring in young people, but I think the idea that the Catholic Church needs to “be/fit with the times” is unnecessary. Just a year ago, I’d totally be on the bandwagon for modernizing things in the Catholic Church, but now I’m more informed.

The mass does not exist for there to be a performance or show of any sort. When we gather for mass, we should be focusing on Christ. I personally do not think a priest on a hoverboard would help us focus on the True Presence of the Eucharist. Some might argue that there are already other distractions in the mass. I agree, but, that doesn’t mean we should allow for more.

When the sacrifice of the mass is made into a performance or a simple event of fellowship, we lose sight of why we are there. Not to hear someone sing, or to see our friend, but we are at Mass to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ present in the Eucharist.

The priest might be attempting to relate to the young people, but I believe that there is greater power in the beautiful Tradition that the Catholic Church has. For many years, the Catholic Church has stood firm without needing to adjust to the ideals and beliefs of the current times, so, there isn’t really a reason to incorporate popular culture into the liturgy.

I don’t think the diocese did wrong in suspending the priest. It might seem harsh, but I believe that the priest will reflect on having more reverence to the Eucharist. Honestly, I think we all need to! This is a time that we should pause and see how much reverence we actually have and should have for the Eucharist.

There is an increasing amount of disrespect and lack of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, and this is simply another example of one. Many have gone unnoticed, but I’m glad this one was brought to light and dealt with appropriately.

I pray that there will be increased reverence for the Blessed Sacrament.

With decreasing involvement from Cultural Catholics what do we need to do to revitalize faith?

This was originally supposed to be a one paragraph assignment, but I ended up going a little overboard. We were discussing Cultural/Cradle Catholics. These were just my views that I compiled together.

There are many ways to revitalize faith among Cultural Catholics. For example, DynamicCatholic has started to make their Rediscover Catholicism book for a lower price so parishes will be able to hand them out during Easter or Christmas masses. The lack of faith in Cultural Catholics comes from the loss of tradition in many parts. Reverence of the mass is lacking in many parishes and churches, and that is one of the reasons why there is a lower mass attendance. Cultural Catholics need to see true examples of vibrant Catholics in the world. We ourselves need to be Catholics, true Catholics, in order to revitalize the faith in other Cradle Catholics, and even in converts and those who are not Catholic.

    Religious sisters and brothers in traditional habits are good examples of the joy in Catholicism. Traditional habits are a sign of the vows of religious life. There is an increase in religious orders with traditional habits, and a decrease in the orders without habits. This means that young people are now finding something more special in traditional orders. They can see the joy and youth of those in traditional habits, and they’re an example for Cultural Catholics to know that there’s joy in the Church. From my personal experiences, I have not met any traditional religious sisters or brothers who have not been joyful. There is misconception on the religious life and how only those who are “not good enough for the secular world” waste their life and so decide to enter the religious life or priesthood.

    Traditional religious life needs to be shown to all, to let them see the inspiring joy that’s possible. Instead of showing orders without traditional habits, we should show the immense beauty in those orders with habits. How else are we going to show the world that people choose this radical way of living and following the evangelical counsels. Also, we should find ways to promote the priesthood, by publishing vocation stories or having conversations with seminarians and priests. In the Diocese of Peoria, seminarian trading cards were made to create a “culture of vocations,” and it was a successful idea in spreading awareness of the call to the priesthood.

    Many cradle Catholics think that mass is repetitive and they find no interest in attending. The focus shouldn’t be on gaining higher numbers in mass attendance, but to have a fire burning in every Catholic’s soul that won’t be easily blown out. Often time, music genres like Praise and Worship are used at mass as an attempt to attract people. Unfortunately, Praise and Worship fails to give true respect and glory to the sacrifice of the Mass. It strikes a series of feelings at that moment, but then the person will not be able to participate in Adoration, since they will find that not as interesting. Traditional music forms such as Gregorian Chant bring more reverence to the Lord. Modernism can ruin the image of the Catholic Church if it gets too out of hand, there needs to be reverence. When a cradle Catholic goes to mass, they should be able to experience that reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, so that they, too can show the same amount of respect. If we instead incorporated modern ideas and and concepts into the liturgy in order to “keep up with the times,” in what way would we be different than the Protestants?

    Events such as Steubenville conferences are targeted to bring a rediscovery of one’s Catholic faith, especially among the youth. They sound like a great idea, but often times, it  just end with a “retreat-high,” and end quickly, but of course, there are exceptions to it. What really needs to happen is a way to make known the reverence and “genius of Catholicism” as Matthew Kelly often states. There needs to be more promotion for adoration, liturgy of the hours, discernment retreats, etc. Although at first they might seem boring, but in the long run, it is from those hours in adoration that many vocations to the religious life have sprung to life. Cultural Catholics need to have a lasting impact of Catholicism, not something that is quickly found and gone.

    There is a Catholic community on Instagram and another one on Twitter, which many have joined and in the big picture, it’s all a part of the New Evangelization. Others and myself included have used our Catholic twitter accounts to reach out to those who many not be accurately informed about the teachings of the Catholic Church. Social media is one of the ways that many have utilized in trying to bring a revitalization among cradle Catholics. There are priests, religious, and laypeople who have incorporated Catholicism into their social media. Surprisingly or not surprisingly, the “MediaNun” on twitter is a religious sister of the order of the Daughters of St. Paul, an order that has a habit. So it doesn’t necessarily mean that orders keeping the habit are old-fashioned and can’t get with the times, it means that Tradition can still be relevant in all time periods.

    One of the most important reasons why many have strayed away from the Catholic faith is because of the recent scandals that have caused many to be heartbroken and confused. There’s a large number of uninformed cradle Catholics who still do not know the true teaching of the Catholic Church and this causes problems. There needs to be more individuals who can show the faith authentically, not by false actions deceiving others. Cultural Catholics are sometimes waiting to see those living authentically and striving for true holiness, and Pope St. John Paul II has often said, “Be not afraid.”

    Ascension Press is a very good example of the New Evangelization, especially Fr. Mike Schmitz. When Fr. Schmitz gives a talk, people can see his eyes light up with the Holy Spirit. This is how every Catholic should look to everyone, we need to be the first ones who have that excitement about our faith. Only until then can we inspire other inactive cradle Catholics and non-Catholics to explore the Catholic faith more deeply.

Starting the Day Off

The best way for me to start the day is by going to mass. Well, truthfully, my morning schedule is; wake up, pray the rosary, maybe pray the morning office, then get ready for the day. That’s my schedule for the school year during the weekdays, at least.
When it’s the weekend during the school year or summer, I find something inspiring about going to daily mass in the morning. Ever since third grade to eighth, I’ve been attending morning daily mass for mostly everyday. People assume morning mass is for the elderly, but let me tell you that it’s not entirely true. For example, I see young parents bringing their children to daily mass since they were little whenever possible. I also witness young men and women who take part of their day to celebrate the mass before heading off to their busy work lives. But then of course, you can also see loving elderly couples going to mass together every morning, and it definitely makes you feel something moving in your heart at that sight. How about middle-aged folks, aren’t they there? Of course they are! Middle-aged people definitely go to daily mass, some bring their family intentions to mass, while others also go to have a meaningful start of their day.
It’s not just lay people that go to these daily masses, though. Often, I see religious sisters from several different orders. I’ve seen missionaries, Rochester Franciscans, Nashville Dominicans, Schoenstatt Sisters, and even a Handmaid of the Heart of Jesus. There’s also been seminarians from my diocese and others. There’s something beautiful about seeing those choosing the religious life and the priesthood at mass. I’ve witnessed the inspiration that they have brought to me and to others.
Me? At first I was just a child who was told by my parents to go, and so I went. On days when there wasn’t mass, I was a little happy. But, that was a few years ago…before I realized the importance of the mass in my life.
While I am in high school, it’s not possible to go to morning mass since it starts after the beginning of school. I still go on Saturday mornings and of course, I will attend Sunday mass. During the school year, about every two weeks we have an all-school mass that everyone is required to attend, and every Wednesday there is an optional mass before school. There’s something I must say, as a student, if you’re at school early, why don’t you take spend some time with Jesus instead of standing around in the halls talking about worldly things? I don’t mean to be hypocritical, but it’s heartbreaking to see a maximum of 4-5 students at an optional mass on Wednesdays, when the school has over 400 students.
Why go to morning mass? I can’t give you a definite answer, but I’ll tell you my personal experience. I’ve received so many blessings known and unbeknownst to me. I’ve experienced tiny miracles that I give all credit to the Eucharist. That is the main reason why I go to mass, to receive the Eucharist. Although at times, it seems like there’s better things to be doing. I guarantee you, going to mass brings a peace and wellness to the rest of your day. I’ve had terrible mornings, but when I entered into prayer in the mass and received the Eucharist, I was open to the goodness of more things.
Morning mass is something that I treasure very deeply. When I could go all the time, I took it for granted, but now when I can’t go everyday, I long for the days that I can. So, I sincerely hope that anyone that is able to go to mass everyday, to take this opportunity and attend morning mass. It’ll make a difference in your life, I promise.

(Previously posted on vibrantcatholic.blogspot.com, I’m just moving most of my posts over in some form)

A Catholic Teen’s POV: How to Pray

First topic and post for this blog series…let’s get started. We’ll talk about prayer. It’s sometimes considered easy, but other times considered hard. It all depends on the person and the method of their prayer. But, today, I’ll tell you my thoughts on prayer, and what prayers I usually pray.

I think it’s always good to have prayer be a part of a person’s life from a young age. This can mean teaching a child to say a Hail Mary or a Glory Be at night or in the morning. I believe that by doing so, a child will have a very good foundation of the faith. It’s obvious that many will resolve their thoughts about prayer as just “being repetitive and monotonous.” Although that may sometimes seem like the case, there are ways to get out of that mindset.

The rosary has been something my family and I have been praying together everyday for as long as I can remember. There became a period of time when it seemed boring to me, and I thought of it as a task that just needed to be done so I could continue on to other things. When I went to a retreat, I had spiritual mentoring with a religious sister. This religious sister was the person that had helped me with my prayer life at it’s “slump.” She advised me instead of just saying the rosary and being distracted about other thoughts, that I should take that time to reflect on the mysteries and other Bible stories. I took her advice, and it has helped me immensely when I feel distracted about other things.

It was at this same retreat that I discovered the beauty of the Liturgy of the Hours. There were about four religious sisters there, and the other female teenagers, the religious sisters, and I would chant the Liturgy of the Hours. It has been some of the most beautiful moments of prayer in my life.

Prayer will only be boring or repetitive, if you make and think of it that way. My advice? Be positive about prayer, look forward to when you can pray, and start small if you’re beginning to pray. Don’t overwhelm yourself when first starting to pray. It takes time to pray.

I suggest that you could start with just talking with God or reciting the Our Father or Glory Be, then as you progress, maybe say the Divine Chaplet or pray the rosary. Then, maybe you could think about the Liturgy of the Hours or the Examen Prayer. Also, going to Adoration is a beautiful way of prayer.

The above suggestions are somewhat the process of how I’ve prayed. Even though I suggested that, in no way is that the correct way to pray. There’s so many forms of prayer out there, that there’s no absolute method for how to pray. I had someone ask me once, “How do I pray?” At that moment, I didn’t know how to answer them, because honestly, I had never thought of the question or answer. Although I had also struggled with my prayer life, I know that there is always a possibility to escape from that struggle.

If you are having difficulty in your prayer life, it would be extremely helpful to talk to a priest or a religious sister from my experience. Please know that you are all in my prayers, God bless you!


VibrantCatholic’s 1st blog series: A Catholic Teen’s POV!

For those who have looked at my blog before, you may have realized that there is not a specific topic in which I discuss in my blog posts. I tend to find certain things that are interesting or sometimes annoying me and I will rant on them.

I have decided to create a new blog series: A Catholic Teen’s POV. I intend for this series to explore certain issues and popular events available in the common Catholic teen’s lives. For example, I recently wrote on my personal experience at a Lifeline at NET Ministries.  Some topics that I have thought of writing on include, but are not limited to; Steubenville Conferences, Kairos retreats, abortion, charismatic prayer and other forms of prayer, etc.

It’s also important to note that I will not speak on behalf of every Catholic teen, but I will only give my opinion which may be the same or different than others. I hope everyone will anticipate my blog series! Oftentimes it seems as certain experiences that “every Catholic teen loves” are very inaccurate in that truth, but more of an advertising device.

Thank you for reading this short notice, and please read about my first experience at Lifeline to have a glimpse of how I’ll be writing.

I’ll keep you all in my prayers, God bless you!

If you have any topics I should write on, please let me know in the comments or in any other way of contacting me! 🙂