(A slightly modified version of a bulletin article dated 18 August)
I am often asked the question, “What is it that attracts so many young people to the Latin Mass?” Here are three attempts at an answer to that question:
Silence is sacred
We are constantly surrounded by noise. While we’re not busy binge-watching shows on Netflix or watching viral videos on YouTube we’re being inundated with emails, calls, texts, Instagrams, tweets, Vines … it never stops! When we go to Mass and hear the Eucharistic Prayer ringing in our ears, it’s easy for even “This is my Body” to become just one more piece of noise. But to go to a Mass where the prayers are silent, spoken softly by the priest to God alone, provides an experience totally opposite to every other moment of life. In this silence we are free. Free to pray along with those silent prayers if we wish, or to add prayers of our own, or simply to rest in quiet solitude with God.
Everything old is new again
Since almost everyone born after 1988 grew up reading Harry Potter, the under-thirty crowd has always known that cool kids wander around Gothic buildings wearing long black robes while muttering Latin incantations. If it’s true that in a time not long past anything medieval was bound to be the butt of a joke, like in the 1975 Monty Python and the Holy Grail, it’s equally true that the same quasi-medieval setting is now extremely popular: witness HBO’s Game of Thrones. It was captured best in an exchange I recently overheard between two young boys: said one to the other as he examined the antediluvian relic of a typewriter, “Old stuff is so much better than new stuff!”
Wounded by beauty
A generation ago, many felt a need for an experience of Church that was more down-to-earth; but in our own day, two billion viewers gleefully watched the extreme pomp of the Royal Wedding. The ceremonies, the chants, and the trappings of the ancient liturgical rites of Western culture are beautiful. And in a generation unsure if there really are such things as “right” and “wrong,” it is not the truth of the Church’s teachings but the beauty of her worship that will stir their hearts. The converts of the next decade will not say “You have convinced us,” but rather they will say—breathlessly and with tears in their eyes—“We did not know whether we were in heaven or on earth!”