Friday, November 29, 2019

Tradition is for the Young: EF Mass at the National Catholic Youth Conference

Our thanks to Mr Samuel Rosko, a seminarian of the archdiocese of Indianapolis, for this account of the EF Mass celebrated at the recent National Catholic Youth Conference. We also have a video of the full ceremony and several pictures.

This past weekend, 20,000 young people were in Indianapolis for the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC). Occurring every other year, NCYC provides an opportunity for young people from across the nation to experience the vibrancy of the Faith through encounters with priests and religious, engaging talks and break-out sessions, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and celebration of the Sacred Liturgy.

For the past several years, a Mass in the Extraordinary Form has been offered as a part of the Conference. Each year, this Mass has been moved to a larger space to accommodate the growing number of attendees; this year, it was celebrated at St John’s, one of the largest churches in Indianapolis, located right across the street from the Convention Center.

The celebration was a Solemn High Mass in honor of St Cecilia, Patron Saint of musicians, and Palestrina’s Missa Brevis was sung; also noteworthy is the fact that the vestments were made by the celebrant himself. The choir stalls in the sanctuary were filled with priests, religious, and seminarians attending in choir. Most significantly, the church itself was filled to overflowing with young people! In fact, two extra ciboria had to be put out to accommodate the large number of attendees.

As the MC, I can definitely say that we did not anticipate that this many people would be present at the Mass. As I made the final adjustments in the sanctuary before it began, I was elated to look out and see a packed church full of young people eager to experience the celebration of the Sacred Mysteries in its more ancient form. Moreover, those in attendance truly entered into the Sacred Rites, following along in the provided worship aids, chanting the responses with the schola, and uniting their own hearts with the priest in prayer and adoration. One of the most moving moments for me was hearing the Salve Regina echo through the church at the end of Mass, chanted loudly and beautifully by the whole congregation.

Oftentimes people wonder why so many young people are attracted to the Traditional Mass. The young people present were certainly moved by and drawn to its beauty, transcendence, and reverence. So many of those in attendance--many in tears--approached us after Mass to express their thanks for such a beautiful and reverent liturgy. Those present were not there because of any rejection of the Ordinary Form--indeed, these same youth (including yours truly) were also very moved and edified by the beautiful closing Mass celebrated by the archbishop, during which the Introit and Communion Antiphon were chanted in Latin by a schola of young people. The youth don’t have the baggage of the “liturgy wars.” They were there simply because they appreciate and are drawn to the beauty, transcendence, and antiquity of the Extraordinary Form as part of the Church’s large treasury of liturgical expression. In a secular world that is noisy, individualistic, and uncertain, young people are drawn to the beauty, certainty, and transcendence of traditional liturgy. As Pope Benedict XVI put it: “What earlier generations held as sacred remains sacred and great for us too!”

The celebration of the Extraordinary Form was just one of the many beautiful liturgies celebrated during the Conference. That 20,000 young people are so engaged in their Faith should be a sign of great hope for the future of the Church!

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