On Sunday morning, the Beeb broadcast extracts from the young people's service at the English Catholic Eucharistic Congress in Liverpool, which had taken place the previous day.
Liturgical Apartheid along age lines has always intrigued me. At Lancing we once had a head master who profoundly disliked our traditional Catholic Solemn Mass; in the end, as a compromise, it was agreed that the younger students would have a separate and more "age-appropriate" plain-said-Mass-with-hymns provided for them. This led to a most diverting rebellion; some of the students concerned, naturally, would have preferred not to be compelled at all to go to Chapel, but they all made it very clear that, if they had to attend, they insisted on going to a 'proper', adult, service. The 'experiment' was discontinued amid general rejoicing.
So I listened with curiosity to the first part of the Liverpool service!
It began with addresses by two Metropolitan Archbishops. The first of these Most Reverend and Palliate Fathers expressed his joy at being with the vigorous young people because "people in anoracs with grey hair" tended to be a bit tired. The second hierarch also managed a deft sneer at the older people "next door". (In Classical Latin Rhetoric, this sort of game is called a captatio benevolentiae.)
Beautifully old-fashioned, don't you feel? We shall know that our archbishops really have been swept up into Modern Thinking about Ageism when they also tell older people how much better it is to be with wiser and more experienced people than it is to waste time with the rash and facile impetuosity of Youth.
Or, far far better than both, when they have learned the difficult art of speaking to Catholics of all and every ages without any such clericalist condescension. Sneering at one age group is not, surely, the only way of ingratiating oneself with another group. Indeed, I find this sort of Age Discrimination distinctly unattractive.
They were followed by a voluble and enthusiastic (but pallium-free) Americanette. She started by trying to get a revivalist-style roar out of the gathering ... but failed! This was the point at which a "Whoopee" sensation passed through my mind, as I realised that our splendid Catholic young people were not going to allow themselves to be led by their unwilling noses into noisy vulgarity. This augurs well for the future of English Catholicism, and I am most certainly not being ironic or, I hope, condescending in saying so.
But the speaker didn't like their reticence, and she accused the gathering of ... ... lacking "spunk"!!! Yes, she actually used that indecent obscenity!!!
Two great nations, indeed, divided by a common language!
I was so glad I had listened in. One must keep in touch with the Mainstream.