The vocational crisis of the modern Church is often linked to the dismantling and banalization of the liturgy and this becomes clearer all the time.
Why is it that the traditional religious orders and societies of apostolic life are blossoming and booming? The longing of the human heart for transcendent meaning and purpose in life, or put differently, for a taste of perfection and holiness, has by and large not been met by the ordinary form of the Roman rite.
The problem with the new form of Mass can be stated quite simply: it has neither the mystical silence of the old Low Mass nor the political, dramatic beauty of the Solemn High Mass. It is neither glorious in its outward expression as triumphal celebration nor glorious in its inward dimension as contemplative prayer. So it has neither the outer splendour nor the inner profundity of the old Rite.
In its effort to be everything for everyone, it ends up being nothing for anybody. In trying to reach out to the anonymous ‘modern man’, it ends up creating a vacuum and … grace abhors a vacuum no less than nature does.
For decades, liturgists have advocated special ‘children’s Masses’ and, since people tend to heed experts regardless of how little common sense the experts may have, many parishes have instituted such stripped-down Masses. The sad reality is that the standard ‘adult’ Novus Ordo is already a children’s Mass of sorts, what with its simplistic prayers, workbook structure, and vapid transparency. Indeed, and here is another bitter irony – the new Rite cannot nourish children’s souls as effectively as the old Rite is capable of doing. Conceptualize, if you will, the difference between a child seeing a Solemn High Mass according to the classical Rite and a child seeing a typical Sunday parish Mass. Anyone with reliable knowledge of child psychology would be able to see which one of these liturgies, when coupled with catechesis, will have the greater and deeper long-term effect.
The ultimate ‘children’s Mass’ – and I mean for everyone, from the child to the old person, who seeks to live the vocation of spiritual childhood (not for those who remain locked at a childish stage of development) is a Mass of All Times with all the stops pulled, thundering orthodoxy and whispering mystery to all present.
If you want a church full of Catholics who know their Faith, love their Faith, and practice their Faith, give them a liturgy that is demanding, profound, and rigorous.
They will rise to the challenge.