Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Good Riddance!

Good riddance to the Eucharistic Prayers for children! "Oh God, you are our friend... we love you. You make us happy..." These trite phrases are not helpful to children, and they do not make the liturgy more approachable for children. The intent of the prayers was likely to provide catechesis to children and make the Mass more relevant. I think, however, that it has the opposite effect. First, what is it that children hate the most? Could it be when they're talked down to by adults? Do you remember when you would have parents or an aunt who would say to you "you don't understand, or you'll get it when you're older." How frustrating. We live in a country that has done an amazing job of dumbing down our entire culture. We are encouraged to write at a 6th grade level and large numbers of college graduates complete their degrees without knowing how to spell or critically think. If anything, I think that we should be doing a better job of educating young people to speak correctly and better articulate their thoughts. What better place to do it than in the very house of God? Are we doomed to a vocabulary that is as extensive as that of the cast of Jersey Shore?

It is endemic of a society doomed to believe that things must be made approachable to everyone. It is ok if you wear your pajamas out in public, because you should be comfortable. Or, it is ok that your children run screaming throughout the store. You should be able to allow that if you choose. For me, the purpose of liturgy is to create a transcendence. It is an hour a week when we can focus on worship and reverence that belongs the God of the universe without needing to be entertained. Liturgy should not be so watered down that it makes us complacent and is as humdrum as going to the grocery. Individuals should do a better job about learning the prayers and the rubrics of the liturgy to become more involved, rather than having it explained ad nauseam to them. Priests should do a better job about honoring the reverence of the moment, and not rushing through to get to the next Mass or brunch. Priests would also do well to not make it a sideshow for the sake of being "entertaining." For goodness sakes, children attended Mass in Latin for hundreds of years!

Or, maybe I am a dying breed. Every time I say Mass, I cannot help but to remember the words that were posted in the sacristy of my first parish: Priests of God offer this Mass as if it were your first Mass, your last Mass, your only Mass. It's sometimes difficult with our fast-paced lives, but it's a good thought to keep.