"Life Teen is Irreformable"

Leila Lawler looks at the recent decision to bring Life Teen’s Masses into conformity with the General Instruction on the Roman Missal and says, in essence, “It’s not enough. Life Teen, by its nature, can’t be reformed. It needs to be rejected.”

Here is the link to her column: cwnews.com/news/viewstory.cfm?recnum=31139

The chief problems, she says, are that Life Teen Masses segregate teens from their families and cater to teens in terms of entertainment. Neither one, says Lawler, is good for the teens or for the Church.

Read her comments and post your reflections. Please limit your comments to what she has written. There have been other threads on Life Teen in general, and I’d like to see this one restricted to thoughts about her column.

Hello,
I did want to read this article, however CWN requires people to subscribe to their service in order to read articles on their site. I am not interested in subscribing to more email publications so I was unable to read this piece. I am quite interested in it, though, because I have attended Lifeteen Masses a few times when I had missed Sunday Mass earlier in the day. The Lifeteen Mass nearby was offered at 6 pm and so I went to fulfill my Sunday obligation. I went twice and was quite disturbed by it both times. The Church was filled to the gills, with teens and their parents, but so many liturgical abuses happened. It was simply appalling. I am 49 years old next month and I grew up in the sixties and have always loved Folk Masses as much as Traditional ones, but this Lifeteen–it didn’t feel Catholic even! Not one bit! And the priest was from Ireland, a very kind man, and when I approached him afterward and mentioned that I attend a Traditional parish nearby and had never seen such a thing as Lifeteen he merely said “we have to bring the young people in.” When I was a “young people” I loved Mass however it was offered to me! I just find the reasoning behind Lifeteen false and misleading, especially about young men and women. They need the Traditional Church as it is, not something Protestantized to appeal to them…

I didn’t read the article. Besides there is enough whining going on in this forum regarding the Life Teen Mass without having to listen to more.

I grew up in a protestant church and was very involved in the college aged ministry. It is common for protestant churches to cater to the youth. One thing I noticed is the amount of kids who stayed in church after they left college. I believe this was due to the church’s dedication in providing a place for these kids. When I became Catholic, I was amazed at one thing. It seemed very typical for kids who were raised Catholic to fall away from the church right about the same age they moved away from home. They were more involved in the secular world, and were not interested in church. It wasn’t until they got married and started having children that the church suddenly became important again. I’m not saying this happens with all Catholic families, but it is the case with many. It’s too bad this happens, but what’s worse is why it seems to happen. I have asked many people about this. Most of the answers were similar. Either they were bitter over being “forced” into attending mass or there was simply no encouragement to attend at all. I remember when I was going through RCIA. I often wondered why I was more excited about the church than those around me. My wife’s grandmother gave me an old bible of her’s as a gift. She said I deserved it more than her own children because I showed more love for the church than any of them. I guess my point is that we as parents have failed in the past in the ways we instill religion into our children. I keep hearing everyone say that teens shouldn’t be seperated and treated special. Don’t you remember when you were a teen? Wasn’t there a time when you just didn’t want anything to do with your parents? Teens need space, especially in our modern society. They need a place to call their own.

I happen to attend St. Timothy’s in Mesa, AZ where it all started. I also support Life Teen. I understand the concern with liturgical abuses, but I also know there are liturgical abuses in many if not all parishes in some form or another. What I don’t understand is why adults want to be selfish and not allow our youth to have something they can call their own. Maybe we should just get rid of LIfe Teen altogether. What do you think will happen to the thousands of teens who are currently involved? Do you think that they will just magically decide they want to go to mass with mom and dad? The United States has a rapidly declining birth rate. Our population is aging quite rapidly. One day we will see attendance start to drop at an alarming rate if we don’t start somewhere. Maybe it’s Life Teen. Maybe is parent’s stepping up to the plate and instead of forcing mass down their kid’s throats, instilling the love of Christ in the right way. Maybe it’s time for ALL catholics to start walking the walk. I’m sorry but I had many catholic friends growing up and I can’t name but a few who led a catholic life. I can name quite few, however, who were doing drugs, drinking, having sex while in high school, and are today shacking up with someone. I blame this on their parents. I can’t help but think that a program like Life Teen would have helped with many of these issues.

Maybe kids look at Life Teen as a sort of surogate parent that provides a place where they can fill comfortable. Bottom line is, all those who complain about Life Teen need to look at why it has become a necessity in order to keep our youth involved. Before you kill the messenger, ask yourself what the message really is. Like it or not, until we as parents figure out how to communicate the love of Christ to our children, Life Teen will be a necessity.

[quote=RichT]I didn’t read the article.
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So much for Mr. Keating’s request “I’d like to see this one restricted to thoughts about her column.”

Karl, is there any chance you can get permission from CWNews to repost the article here?

[quote=tcj]So much for Mr. Keating’s request “I’d like to see this one restricted to thoughts about her column.”

Karl, is there any chance you can get permission from CWNews to repost the article here?
[/quote]

Good idea!

I too would love to read the article and enter the discussion but there is a 30.00 annual or 2.98 monthly fee to subscribe and access the full article. Sorry Karl, I don’t think it is reasonable to ask us to do that.

[quote=Karl Keating]%between%

The chief problems, she says, are that Life Teen Masses segregate teens from their families and cater to teens in terms of entertainment. Neither one, says Lawler, is good for the teens or for the Church.

[/quote]

There is absolutely no point in reading the article. If she starts with the faulty premise that Life Teen Masses segregate teens from their families then she is most likely going to get little else right.

In a majority of parishes using LT a large number of teens do sit with their families. The teens who are sitting with other teens are usually there by themselves. Many, in fact, can’t sit with their families because their families won’t come to Mass.

If this is the basis of her article then it is clear that it is poorly researched.

James

[quote=tcj]So much for Mr. Keating’s request “I’d like to see this one restricted to thoughts about her column.”

Karl, is there any chance you can get permission from CWNews to repost the article here?
[/quote]

According to Mr. Keating

[quote=Karl Keating]The chief problems, she says, are that Life Teen Masses segregate teens from their families and cater to teens in terms of entertainment. Neither one, says Lawler, is good for the teens or for the Church.
[/quote]

This is simply untrue. It would be a waste of time to read the article because, if the summary Mr. Keating gave, is accurate then the article is obviously poorly researched.

I’m married to a Protestant who is interested in youth ministries. He gets all kinds of literature about youth ministries and how to implement them. The Protestants have no problem with having rallies, camps, concerts or anything they can use to get young people to attend and yes…that includes Catholic young people. Yes…I agree its a lot of flash and bang…but the idea is they are working hard to get the kids.

What will we do to counter-act this is the debate.

dream wanderer

I should have mentioned that after the Life Teen mass at my parish, the parents are invited to meet and discuss the same topice their kid’s are discussing. The teens don’t all attend alone. For many it is a family affair. Many of the teens attend mass in the morning and go back for Life Teen, and many go back with their parents.

By the way, whats so bad about segregating the teens and giving them a chance to talk, and share there fears with their peer’s. I’d rather see this happening in a church setting and not during lunch at the local public school. Believe me, I can tell you some stories about what happens when teens have to vent their frustrations to thier friends at school where prayer isn’t allowed.

By the way Karl, sorry for not following the rules of your post, but unless your can pull some strings and get me a free subscription, I wont be signing up just to read an article that by your description alone appears to be a poorly researched article. C’mon, a guy like you ought to be able to get a copy posted for us.

The Life Teen Masses I have attended have been family Masses. I saw no segregation of the teens at all.

[quote=RichT] … there is enough whining going on in this forum regarding the Life Teen Mass without having to listen to more.

Whining? For me it is actually protesting–I am concerned that Lifeteen does not accurately reflect or represent our Catholic religion. When I attended two of the Lifeteen Masses, it didn’t even seem like Mass at all. It was a totally chaotic free-for-all, and much liturgical abuse occurred…both times I attended.

… My wife’s grandmother gave me an old bible of her’s as a gift. She said I deserved it more than her own children because I showed more love for the church than any them

Perhaps if she offered the Bible to her own children they may have wanted it. It is sad that she gave up on them

I keep hearing everyone say that teens shouldn’t be seperated… Teens need space…They need a place to call their own.

Teens should be included, not separated. Yes, many teens do go through a time when they don’t want anything to do with their parents. What we did as teens was sit in Mass apart from them! The Church is already a place they may call their own.

… I understand the concern with liturgical abuses, but I also know there are liturgical abuses in many if not all parishes in some form or another.

That does not excuse the abuses of Lifeteen

Maybe we should just get rid of LIfe Teen altogether. What do you think will happen to the thousands of teens who are currently involved? Do you think that they will just magically decide they want to go to mass with mom and dad?

Yes, we should just get rid of Lifeteen altogether. Teens may continue to attend Mass as usual! When I attended Lifeteen most of the teens there were actually with their moms and dads anyway!

Maybe kids look at Life Teen as a sort of surogate parent that provides a place where they can fill comfortable. Bottom line is, all those who complain about Life Teen need to look at why it has become a necessity in order to keep our youth involved.

*Catholic Mass is not celebrated for their comfort!! It is up to the youth to involve themselves in the practice of our religion! Lifeteen is not a necessity! *

Before you kill the messenger, ask yourself what the message really is. Like it or not, until we as parents figure out how to communicate the love of Christ to our children, Life Teen will be a necessity.
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*Yes, we parents are usually the first to communicate the love of Christ to our children. If we do not do so it is not up to some other group to lobby the Church to alter Mass for these kids whose parents may or may not have failed them. The practice of the Catholic religion does not need to be changed for anyone. *

*In all the parishes I have been involved in there have been youth ministries. This does not mean Mass is altered for them; it means there are activities and Catholic education made available to them. They become involved in Mass by becoming altar servers, ushers, singers, musicians, or just plain attending. *

*When I was a teen I often went to Mass without my parents and went with my friends. We didn’t clamor for Mass to be changed! We went often whether our parents went or not, because we enjoyed going together on our own. My parents *never *attended! I went because Christ had more power in my life than anything my parents ever could say or not say to me! *

And when I attended Mass, it was in the sixties and seventies and there was no Lifeteen!!

:amen:

[quote=MaryChelan]*Yes, we parents are usually the first to communicate the love of Christ to our children. If we do not do so it is not up to some other group to lobby the Church to alter Mass for these kids whose parents may or may not have failed them. The practice of the Catholic religion does not need to be changed for anyone. *

*In all the parishes I have been involved in there have been youth ministries. This does not mean Mass is altered for them; it means there are activities and Catholic education made available to them. They become involved in Mass by becoming altar servers, ushers, singers, musicians, or just plain attending. *

*When I was a teen I often went to Mass without my parents and went with my friends. We didn’t clamor for Mass to be changed! We went often whether our parents went or not, because we enjoyed going together on our own. My parents *never *attended! I went because Christ had more power in my life than anything my parents ever could say or not say to me! *

And when I attended Mass, it was in the sixties and seventies and there was no Lifeteen!!

:amen:
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I would dare say you are among the few. I too had no problem going to church on my own, and would have gone even without the special services for the youth. Most of my school friends, however, were busy drinking, doing drugs, doing each other, and had not one urge to attend church. It’s a sad state of affairs…

The Lifeteen Masses I have attended didn’t even resemble a Catholic Mass. It was madness. The priest was addressing individuals directly all over the chapel, many teens were milling about the altar and around the ambo, both times I went Mass didn’t start anywhere near ontime, the priest did not perform most of his required duties. It was awful. I would have thought so as a teen, also, as there simply was no reverence for Our Lord at any time. It seemed very Protestant to me, not one bit Catholic. This is not the way to bring teens into Mass; this is merely teaching them complete disrespect for our Traditions.

In most of the parishes I have been involved in there are youth ministries. This does not involve altering Mass. They serve as outreach to the youth. Mass is not celebrated to help teens feel comfortable…

Teens do not need to have special Masses for them just because they are teens. Let them participate in youth ministries and let them learn the actual teachings of our Catholic religion.

When we were teens and didn’t want to sit with our families at Mass, we sat elsewhere! We sat with other teens. And we went because we wanted to, to honor Jesus, that was our reason for attending. Lifeteen is an embarassment to Catholicism.

Lifeteen DOES segregate teens from their families. And that division carries on when we’re at home. It’s happening in my family right now. I have recently changed parishes just to get my teens OUT of the lifeteen program. The parish we moved to focuses on getting the kids to Mass, not on the social hour afterward, and they don’t use the lifeteen program to do it. And nobody, not even teens, should be on the altar during the consecration except the priest.

[quote=Karl Keating]Leila Lawler looks at the recent decision to bring Life Teen’s Masses into conformity with the General Instruction on the Roman Missal and says, in essence, “It’s not enough. Life Teen, by its nature, can’t be reformed. It needs to be rejected.”

Here is the link to her column: cwnews.com/news/viewstory.cfm?recnum=31139

The chief problems, she says, are that Life Teen Masses segregate teens from their families and cater to teens in terms of entertainment. Neither one, says Lawler, is good for the teens or for the Church.

Read her comments and post your reflections. Please limit your comments to what she has written. There have been other threads on Life Teen in general, and I’d like to see this one restricted to thoughts about her column.
[/quote]

Karl, I totally agree.   I really do not understand why there keep poping up new ultra modern movements, ever so often changes to the Mass, etc. Is there not content with  the Church and the Rubrics of the Mass for being the Mass?  Why do they change here and there then change more?   Yes, these Masses seem to entertain the members, jsu like some other modern Masses which seem to cator to feelings too.  Hence, electric guitars, drums, clapping, jumping up and down, etc.

[quote=MaryChelan]The Lifeteen Masses I have attended didn’t even resemble a Catholic Mass. It was madness. The priest was addressing individuals directly all over the chapel, many teens were milling about the altar and around the ambo, both times I went Mass didn’t start anywhere near ontime, the priest did not perform most of his required duties. It was awful. I would have thought so as a teen, also, as there simply was no reverence for Our Lord at any time. It seemed very Protestant to me, not one bit Catholic. This is not the way to bring teens into Mass; this is merely teaching them complete disrespect for our Traditions.

In most of the parishes I have been involved in there are youth ministries. This does not involve altering Mass. They serve as outreach to the youth. Mass is not celebrated to help teens feel comfortable…

Teens do not need to have special Masses for them just because they are teens. Let them participate in youth ministries and let them learn the actual teachings of our Catholic religion.

When we were teens and didn’t want to sit with our families at Mass, we sat elsewhere! We sat with other teens. And we went because we wanted to, to honor Jesus, that was our reason for attending. Lifeteen is an embarassment to Catholicism.
[/quote]

I totally agree, if only others would open their eyes too.

I would like to respond in a more full manner to her article, but here are my initial thoughts: the author makes good points – in LifeTeen programs there can be a risk of over emphasis on the entertainment factor, and the accidental creation of a “teens-only” version of Catholicism that impairs religious unity in the nuclear family.

However, the author’s vision is short-sighted and is too stereotyped. I volunteer with a LifeTeen program, and while there are changes I would like to see, it can in concept and reality help present teens with the full, undiluted Gospel (i.e. the Catholic Faith) and provide a context for authentic Christian communion among the teens.

I would like to say, I consider myself a highly conservative Catholic, even a traditional Catholic (but not a traditionalist). Having said that, I will note that in the very near future I will be interviewing for the half-time paid high-school youth minister position at my parish. If hired, my parish will remain a “LifeTeen parish” and in planning our activities, I would actually adhere more closely to the LifeTeen model than we do now.

If I can at all help it (the liturgy committee may override me), we will not have a “LifeTeen Mass” per se. BUT I would like the teens to worship together at least twice a month as a way to begin our Wednesday night activities. This worship schedule on every other Wed. would probably rotate through Holy Mass, Benediction and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, the Holy Rosary, and Evening Prayer from the Divine Office. Music would be taken from the Adoremus Hymnal, the back of the one-volume breviary Christian Prayer, and a careful selection of modern guitar-based “praise and worship” songs.

The activities planning for the bulk of the Wednesday nights will be based, sometimes loosely and sometimes closely, on the “LifeNight” outlines that come quarterly with our parish’s LifeTeen subscription/affiliation. I will also (sparingly) make use of the CDs and videos that are included in the subscription.

Currently, and I would continue the practice, we warmly encourage parental participation in our program – though such participation is rather low. And one of the points we make over and over again to the teens is that of encouraging them to practice their faith 24x7, and especially at home around Mom and Dad, brothers and sisters.

Okay, well this has been a bit of a brain dump. But, Karl, the article you linked to is what prompted all these thoughts to bubble forth at this time.

Please give me feedback, ladys and gents! I will be needing your prayers, insights and ideas! [though I’m not trying to re-direct this thread toward my interests]

In the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

Life Teen is not irredeemable, nobody is, no human person or organization is. My LT experience is unwittingly attending Masses and gatherings at a city park where local parish that is a regional HQ for LT has its functions (Hudson OH). My biggest objection was that having built a $5 million church and complex the parish felt it necessary to hold the function in a city park, but that’s my hangup with Masses outside. The Mass itself was as liturgically correct as you can get in the Cleveland Diocese (which is not saying a whole lot). The gathering following was fine, usual youth group stuff. My own diocese where I was a catechist (Youngstown) had banned LT so we never used it. Neither did our parish have any youth program at all, so most of the high schoolers went to a dynamic YG at an evangelistic parish, and most of them have sinced dropped the Catholic faith altogether.

Having attended summer conferences at Steubenville I was at first appalled that rather than develop a YM track the catechetical conf elected to use LT. With an open mind I listened to their rationale, and I firmly believe if anyone can redeem LT, the Steubenville people can. They will instill in the leaders they train devotion to teaching the truth, and they insist on proper liturgies.

Most of the objections posted in this and the CWN forums are about the concept of youth ministry in general, and abuses of the liturgy in particular, our failure as parishes and families to catechise youth, not about LT per se.

The quality (or not) of a particular LT program depends on its leadership, just like all other catechetical and parish ministries. The biggest objection is about the wider abuse of separate Masses for various interest groups–polka Masses, mariachi Masses, children’s Masses (remember them from the 50s, all the school kids sitting together by class), and other semi-private liturgies. Anything that separates any group or class from the wider assembly is and should be frowned on. BUT, if the kids are coming to Mass, personally I don’t care how and why they get there, they need the Eucharist and I am willing to relax my prejudices to see they get it.

Locally, my post-confirmation (11th grade plus) students participate in a great YG at the campus Baptist center near the local college. While our diocese has only two full time persons for Young Adult, Campus and Youth (HS) ministry for the whole diocese, stationed at two campuses, this one local Baptist congregation has 3 paid YM pastors full time and over 60 volunteers. I can’t get enough catechists to teach HS CCD and Confirmation prep. Enough said. If you are not willing to evangelize youth in your parish, someone else will fill the vacuum. Sure they should be coming to Mass with their families (and not just milling around in the vestibule) but evangelization is reaching those who are not coming. I’m not worried about the 10% of parish kids whose parents bring them to Mass and CCD, but what about the 90% we are not reaching.

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