I was walking along one January day at the March for Life with a couple of families I know, singing the Salve Regina in Gregorian chant with the nine year olds. We passed a group of young people with the banner of a Catholic college; they were singing Renaissance polyphony. Then our paths crossed with a sister, perhaps in her sixties or seventies. She was strumming a guitar and singing a nearly 50-year old song written by a former priest.
Things are awfully upside-down.
Sometimes it seems that the closer a person is to old age, the more they like what at first glance seems to be a “contemporary” style of liturgy–but with closer inspection the ideals are from a generation or two ago. Currently banners seem to be making a comeback, and “creative” phrasing of the prayers of the Mass.
What is troubling about this is it is people in their late middle age who tend to be in positions of responsibility, and, often without sufficient consultation, have the authority to make decisions about art and Church programming that will purportedly “appeal to young people.”
When lay persons of a certain age advocate for these positions, their opinions tend to carry the weight of their pocketbooks.
For myself, I was taught to love the sacred primarily by people younger than myself. Very frequently I have been challenged to reverence in prayer and liturgy by young people, whose heads were bowed lower, attentions more focused, lives quieter and more honest, than my own. By virtue of being older and having some skills, I’ve been privileged to bring them forward sometimes in their capacities to serve the liturgy. But it is they who have instructed me in its reverence.
There have been movements over the last decades to “meet the kids where they’re at.”
I hope we oldtimers can rise to that challenge.