Traditional liturgical churches attract, retain youth December 22, 2009Posted by tantamergo in Basics, General Catholic.
I think many serious Catholics rightly worry, alot, about the future of the Church. At present, the single largest denomination in the US is former Catholics. And, as one looks around many parishes, there often seems to be a dirth of those aged 18-35. Now, some of these will return when they get a little older, but most will not. The Catholic Church in the US likes to claim 80+ million members, but in reality, the number who attend Mass regularly and are actively involved in their parishes is perhaps 25-30% of that 80 million. ‘Mainline’ protestant churches have seen their numbers collapsing for at least 2 decades. And, a new trend is that the evangelicals, who have definitely benefited from former Catholics, are now seeing their numbers drop, and among the young, they are plumetting.
There are a couple of outliers to this trend. One, referenced in this article, is the Greek Orthodox Church, whose membership among the young is rising. The other area of increased involvement of the young is in traditional, orthodox Catholic Churches, particularly those communities associated with the Extraordinary Form Mass, but also those where the Novus Ordo is celebrated in Latin and/or in a very reverent manner.
The youth recognize sincerity and honesty. They like having something expected of them – a challenge. Traditional liturgies, whether they are Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholic, offer a great deal to the youth of any era. They are challenging, they are most definitely NOT dumbed down, and they are constant – a huge factor in today’s world of instant change and daily fads. This constancy is incredibly important – it serves as a focal point for the fact that truth is being spoken, and that truth is something that doesn’t change – you can count on it yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
From personal experience, I know that children, even young children, find much to like in traditional liturgical churches. While some may dismiss it as “smells and bells,” those that think on the liturgy and its relation to Scripture and Sacred Tradition know that it is far, far more than that. It is timelessness, and it is reverence, and it is love.