10 September 2018


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.


Fr Ray Blake said...

It was so patronising.
If this what senior bishops believe young people want no wonder so many opt for the exits.

Richard said...

I hear that the bishops have thoughtfully provided a version of the Catechism for young people. It's called YouCat - youth catechism. The idea is that this highly trendy name will make Catholic doctrine attractive to the young.
Here's another idea. Why not replace dreary organs with electric guitars and synthesisers? I'm sure that once the young realise how 'cool' it is to be Catholic, they will flock to Mass in their droves.

Donna Bethell said...

Oh, what a difference a pond makes. On this side, "spunk" and its adjective "spunky" are mild and even affectionate terms. But I also fail to see their place in a liturgical celebration. Thank you for providing this penetrating insight to the Mainstream, which I normally avoid. I will now return to my Gregorian Rite cocoon.

Thorfinn said...

In our diocese the Youth requested - and received - a Traditional Latin Mass at their annual shindig. And I recently spoke to a faithful 40-something couple who, while anything but hostile, were confused and surprised that their teenage son has developed a liking for the TLM and has tried to spur them to share his interest. There truly is a generational divide among orthodox Catholics whose primary formation, in youth or adulthood, was pre- or post-election of BXVI.

Marco da Vinha said...

Father, it might just be that the poor American lass doesn't know that that word has a quite different meaning here in Blighty than it does across the pond.

Et Expecto said...

My guess is that the gathering was of teenagers, but the Archbishops spoke to them as if they were six year olds. I doubt whether the young people were impressed!

Thomas said...

Many years ago I was present at a 'dedication liturgy' kicking off a parish First Communion preparation program at which the children were solemnly presented with expensively produced workbooks. These had been designed using lettering that mimicked large, childlike handwriting, presumably to make the material suitably child friendly. As the children examined their books afterwards, I overheard one little candidate ask one of their friends: "Why's it written all funny like that?". To which the other child replied with studied disdain: "Oh, that's how they think we write!"

Ignatius, Cornwall said...

After half a century of the "yoof" voting with their feet to escape Modernist trendy Novus Ordo NuChurch "liturgies" with unpleasantly strummed gitters and folksy rubbish and agonisingly awful kiddie-quality songs, one would have thought that those in charge would have twigged that, colloquially, IT JUST DIDN'T WORK!! It seems to me obvious that our hierarchs are either (1) intent on destroying the Church OR, (2) that they actually believe they are evangelising but they're just plum dumb! Surely they can see the horrific results of fifty years of the downgrading of the liturgy, the ugly-fication of so many sanctuaries by "re-ordering", and terrible catechesis that has cost the loss of uncountable souls. Many churches and religious communities have closed. Conversions and vocations are few. AND Now it seems that we are to ignore the exhortations of Our Blessed Lord and Saint Paul and "accompany" (a trendy Francis/NuChurch buzz-word) those who continue to live in their sinful ways. Thus, heresy and sacrilege are now actually being encouraged, for heaven's sake!! Far too many Catholics will accept this evil because they've been softened up by decades of creeping Gradualism and left with a sort of pick-n-mix Catholicism -- which feels just like a form of Protestantism to me. ((Plus: The present scandel of those Cardinals, bishops, and other clergy, (many still in place), who protected those priests involved in perversions, abusive crimes, hypocrisy, and lies -- or acrually have been at it the filth themselves - and still said Mass!! Check-out Fr Zs recent blog postings. THE CHURCH NEEDS A CLEAR OUT -- from the top, down!!)) Truly, our hope is in the Yoof -- the coming generations -- and a return to a holy priesthood and a PRAYERFUL liturgy.

Michael Leahy said...

These two bishops spoke dismissively of older people-on what basis do they deem themselves exempt from their own classification, or are bishops becoming younger these days?

Peter M said...

I would have thought that an auditorium full of young people spending time in adoration of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament on a Saturday evening was cause for rejoicing. But then I'm just a grey haired, tired catholic who spent his Saturday evening at the cinema watching Mamma Mia.I don't possess an anorak.

GOR said...

You may not be familiar with The Mary Tyler Moore Show on that side of the pond (or the American use of the word ‘spunk’). It was immensely popular here in the 1970s.

Mary works for a TV station and her boss is Mr. Grant – played by Ed Asner - who is a curmudgeonly fellow not given to praise. In one scene he calls Mary into his office and surprisingly proceeds to compliment her on her work.

He ends with: “Mary, you’ve got spunk!”

Mary smiles broadly at the compliment - until Mr. Grant adds: “And I hate spunk!”

RichardT said...

Ignatius, Cornwall said...
"...one would have thought that those in charge would have twigged that, colloquially, IT JUST DIDN'T WORK"

Part of the problem is that if they changed direction now, that would mean admitting that their previous tactics were wrong, and that the decline of the Church in the West is, at least partly, their fault. Never underestimate how many stupid things people will keep doing to avoid admitting that they were wrong.