All posts tagged: Mass

Vision for Young Adults: A Summer Retreat for 20- and 30-Somethings

The goal of Notre Dame Vision for Young Adults (YA) was simple. Bring together a group of individuals for a week of prayer, reflection, and rest. The idea was to set a simple schedule where people gather together to pray Morning and Evening Prayer and attend daily Mass together, to listen to and reflect about professionals living out their faith, and to delight in the company of others and the quiet of a summer on campus at Notre Dame. If I am totally honest, my expectations were pretty modest. Perhaps the modesty of my expectations was due to my doubt about the saints. One of the many spiritual pitfalls is treating the communion of saints as (and only as) historical Christian giants who have made it possible for me to consider the different roads that lead to Christ. Ignatius taught me to consider the experience of God; Francis led me to constant material critique; Blaise to be careful when eating chicken wings; and Cecilia to make music part of my prayer. The litany of the …

The Bread and Wine of Liturgical Evangelization

Not to put too much pressure on anyone, but after you read a few hundred pages of the Compendium on the New Evangelization and study Pope Francis’ encyclical letter The Joy of the Gospel, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that the popes are expecting us to bring about, with God’s help, a total transformation of culture worldwide. This renewal of all reality is to organically grow out of the personal relationships with Christ of lay disciples who put their faith into action in our vocations of work, family, and community life. This isn’t to say that the clergy and religious don’t have a role to play. A world evangelization mission requires a laity that is formed in accordance with the Gospel and the Catechism. Thus we will be able to “Observe, Judge, and Act” our way through the myriad situations of our shared lives. That won’t happen without the experience of sacraments and especially the Mass as moments of grace, holiness, and formation. Consider two of the Americans Pope Francis recommended to us during …

Liturgy and Evangelization: The Data and the Task

At a recent event sponsored by the Evangelical Catholic, Rev. Thomas Wray of the Office of Evangelization of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati began his homily at Mass with sobering statistics about those who are baptized as infants in Catholic churches: 15% do not make their First Communion. Of the 85% that are left, 42% do not receive the sacrament of Confirmation. We lose 80% of confirmandi after high school. Statistics presented by Sherry Weddell in her book Forming Intentional Disciples show that “Nones”—as in “I have no religion”—is the fastest growing “church” in the United States: 17% of the population is a None; 24% of 18- to 29-year-olds are Nones. Four times as many people leave the Catholic Church as join it as adults. Of those who leave the Catholic Church: 15% joined a Protestant church. Two-thirds of them say that their spiritual needs were not being met in the Catholic Church and they found a church they liked better. About one quarter cite the clergy sexual abuse scandal as the reason they left. The …

The Hospitality of God

Jesus has come into the world to throw a party. It’s a party unlike any other that’s been held. See, when I throw a party, I want to have the right people present. I want the key friends, who need to be impressed by my keen aesthetic sense. I want important people, who should be overwhelmed by my hospitality because then I’ll be invited to their house where I can meet other important people. Jesus’ party is different, because it embodies the hospitality of God: “‘When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor . . . when you are invited, go and take the lowest place’” (Lk 14:8, 10). Jesus notes that if indeed the bridegroom seeks to have you at the first place at the table, you’ll be invited. But don’t presume it. Be happy to be present at all. If the parable simply ended there, then it would be very good advice for attending a party; a way to avoid appearing …

The Mass for Millennials: The Homily

When I speak to young adults about why they have left the Church, they often say something about the homily. The preaching is boring. It’s unrelatable. It’s long. It’s like listening to insider baseball. It’s like a terrible essay with no organizational structure. While one would hope that our young adults would stick around, recognizing that the reality at the heart of the Mass is worth receiving even when the preaching is mediocre, perhaps these young adults are testifying to something important. Some young adults may be looking for entertainment in the homily. References to the latest music or films. Practical advice. But there is something about the dissatisfaction with preaching that suggests young adults know that the homily is meant to lead to an encounter with Christ. It is not an occasion for the priest to offer a seminar in historical-critical exegesis. It is not time to offer one’s disconnected thoughts on a papal encylical or apostolic exhortation or general cultural phenomenon. It is not the time for the priest to regale the assembly …

The Mass for Millennials: The Responsorial Psalm

Wedged between the First Reading and Second Reading at Sunday Mass (or between the First Reading and Gospel at daily Mass) is a small reading known as the Responsorial Psalm. If you attend Mass today, for example, you will hear: The Lord hears the cry of the poor I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall be ever in my mouth. Taste and see how good the Lord is; Blessed the man who takes refuge in him. The Lord hears the cry of the poor. The LORD confronts the evildoers, To destroy remembrance of them from the earth. When the just cry out, the LORD hears them, And from all their distress he rescues them.  The Lord hears the cry of the poor. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; And those who are crushed in spirit he saves. Many are the troubles of the just man, But out of them all the LORD delivers him. The Lord hears the cry of the poor. Few would argue the beauty, power, and import …

The Mass for Millennials: The Liturgy of the Word

Remember. Sometimes, it takes the opening movements of the mass for my mind and heart catch up with my body. As I sing the opening song, sign myself with the Cross of Christ, and join the presider and community in prayer, I take a few deep breaths as I allow the rhythm of the liturgy to wash over me. Sitting down in the pew for the Liturgy of the Word, I enter into the practice of listening – to open up my ears, my heart, my soul – to receive the Word of God. Sometimes it takes more work to quiet the disjointed thoughts running through my mind and allow myself to be fully present to the presence of Christ in the Scriptures being proclaimed. Yet cultivating this practice of listening is essential for as we participate in the Liturgy of the Word, we encounter the story of God’s mercy and love proclaimed for us both in this moment and throughout all of salvation history. Life today can easily become fragmented and isolated. We sit …

The Mass for Millennials: Glory to God

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Lk 2: 13–14) In the celebration of the liturgy, the Glory to God occupies a unique place. On the one hand, it is a response: we have just participated in the Penitential Act by recalling and confessing our sinfulness as individuals and as a worshiping community, and we have just heard the priest pronounce the concluding blessing “in which the forgiveness of sins is given.” The only response that makes any sense in the face of such a gift is to cry out “Glory to God in the highest.” On the other hand, the Glory to God is also an anticipation: we are poised on the verge of the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, in which we proclaim in Scripture and enact in ritual the mysteries of God’s saving work in Jesus Christ in such a …

The Mass for Millennials: Penitential Act

Silence is not a common feature in my life. As a musician I am rarely without a song in my head, and this song can find its way out of my mind even with the slightest prompting—if a word, phrase, or chord progression resembles something in a song I love, I begin a full rendition. I’ve been known to accidentally hum in class absentmindedly, much to the dismay of my teachers. Heck, I even talk in my sleep. So silence is not something I deal with often, and thus it is not something to which I am accustomed. If conversation dulls with a friend and silence threatens to rear its abrasive head, I am comfortable dropping a joke or lightening the mood with an anecdote. When “moments of silence” are called during prayer services, I often fidget my way through them or lose myself in thought about some completely disconnected topic. But these instances of silence are significant in our culture, which is clear from their frequent use in somber services. Silence does more than …

The Mass for Millennials: Sign of the Cross

“In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.” We begin and conclude Mass with this simple and profound prayer. But have we really thought about what it means to make the “sign of the cross”? Let’s start with the obvious. The “sign of the cross” is made by saying the Trinitarian invocation while touching one’s right hand to the forehead first (Father), then to the lower chest or stomach (Son), then to the left shoulder and the right shoulder (Holy Spirit), and closing with both our hands together for assent (Amen). Are these physical actions just arbitrarily chosen, or do they signify something? Why do we touch the forehead when we mean God the Father? Why do we touch our chest when mean God the Son? And why do we touch our shoulders when we mean the God the Holy Spirit? The Church fathers actually interpreted each of these actions to mean something. For them, the forehead symbolizes heaven, the stomach the earth, and the shoulders as …