This evening my girls and I attended the Life Teen Mass at our church. We had been camping and didn't get home until late and this was our only option. First, let me say that as a catechist continuing to study the Church and her teachings, I am fully aware that to catechize more fully to each and everyone....."to all nations," we must speak in their tongue, on their turf, and to their likeness. But, must we all appear in jeans and t-shirts? As I was driving home with my two girls (which were both in skirts and nice tops), it occurred to me that the Mass has lost it's importance, it's reverence. We have forgotten that we are there to spend an hour with our Creator, the mightiest being ever. The God of all creation, space, and time. We have forgotten that the Mass is the closest place on earth to Heaven and that all the angels and saints are there as we celebrate the Mass. That showing up in jeans and t-shirts and messy hair is shameful and disrespectful. That this is just another piece of evidence proving our lack of knowledge and respect concerning God, the Holy Catholic Church, and the Mass.
During the Mass, Christ celebrates his salvic passion with us, as co-celebrant with the priest. The bread and wine actually become, miraculously, Christ's body and blood. During this time, our venial sins are forgiven, we are taught from the Book, and we fellowship with not only each other in bodily presence, but with the communion of those who have gone on to be in Heaven already and are with God now. A host of angels and saints gather with us to celebrate God's gift to mankind....Christ saving us from damnation and giving us heaven on a couple of boards of wood! Now, if we saw all of this, or better yet, were given an announcement from the parish priest that "next Sunday Mass we will be given the gift of sight by God Himself and we would be able to see the heavenly host of angels and saints for ourselves and pray with!"
How do you think you would dress for that next Sunday's Mass? So what is the difference? We can't see them! Well, do you see air? No, but you breath it and it keeps you alive. You love your spouse, and or family and still you can't see love, but you believe in it. We as parents teach our children to "sit up tall!" "No elbows on the table." "Go brush your teeth and make your bed before you come down for breakfast." "Homework first before TV, mister!" But we don't teach our children reverence for our Creator? Why?
Life Teen Mass should be youthful, certainly and I don't have to like it, too! I can accept that. But the Mass is not something that should be downplayed either. The Mass is still the Mass whether it is for the oldest or the youngest....the same thing happens, the same host of angels and saints are there, Christ Jesus is still co-celebrating with our priest during the entire hour. My thoughts on how a Life Teen Mass should go is this: The dress should be completely Sunday best...If they found out that Pope Benedict XVI himself was there you'd dress up nicely...I would hope. But the homily could be delivered in a youthful manner.....Teens speak and the music could be more livelier and interesting. But not to the tune of a rock concert! The Mass must be put in it's correct place in our daily schedules...or weekly for most. The Mass on Sunday, or Saturday night, must be set aside for us to treat it with the utmost of all respect, above all other activities that we do, the Mass must be distinguishable from all others. Teens have lots of loud music on their own time, and they can wear jeans and T-shirts all the time, if they want, but the Mass should not be one of those times. The teens must be taught to respect the Mass for what it is and for whom it celebrates.