Please explain the Charismatic Movement and "Lifeteen"

Today I was introduced to the Charismatic Renewal and the “Life Teen” and I was wondering what exactly are these movements? For LifeTeen, I have seen abuse such as gathering around the alter etc. I was wondering, isent this an abuse?

As far as the Charismatic Movement goes, there is a thread ‘stickied’ to the top of this forum (see here: asking for a moratorium on discussing it. In the meantime, check out:

As far as LifeTeen, it is a youth ministry (mostly geared to high school age) program with a special emphasis on participating in the Eucharist. See their web site at:

They have, at times, been ‘corrected’ for some of their innovations they made to make the Mass more accessible to youth. They tend to be very orthodox on teaching while their liturgy may be a bit… free wheeling.

BTW, gathering people around the altar is not always ‘wrong’. There are situations where Mass is celebrated in unusual places, e.g., in a cabin in the woods during a retreat where gathering around the ‘altar’ is perfectly acceptable practice since there is no discernible ‘sanctuary’ and the numbers are small. Where LifeTeen draws criticism is that it gathers the youth around the altar during a parish’s Sunday Mass, which, while drawing in the youth, has the tendency to make the rest of the congregation feel like mere spectators. And even then, characterizing that as an ‘abuse’ is a bit much. I’m sure we can all think of much more profound ways the Mass has been truly abused which would make gathering around the altar seem rather nonchalant.

But, among bishops, priests, and national youth ministry organizations, LifeTeen is seen as a perfectly acceptable program for youth ministry, It’s pros are it’s focus on the Mass and Church Teaching. It’s cons are that seems at times that there’s nothing else to it forcing parishes to supplement the program with its own or other programs of service, community development, addressing adolescent human developmental issues, introduction to other types of liturgy and prayer, etc… It’s other con is that it sometimes relies too much on a parish priest who is very engaging during the Mass, sometimes building the whole program on the charisma of just one priest. I’m sure you can imagine how that can fall apart.

Gathering around the altar should not be happening. I have never seen this at our parish’s Life Teen.

Your best bet is to check Life Teen’s official website:

The charismatic movement doesn’t have an official website, because it’s not an official organization like Life Teen. You might try Wikipedia:

Here is EWTN’s link on the charismatic renewal:

Hope this helps.

In respect of the current discussion moratorium, here are two links to the Catholic National Service Committee website. This is the official website for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church. Please see menu on left side.

Link to basic information book.

At the beginning of the LifeTeen movement, it was encouraged. Their official promotional video shows it happening. After receiving correction from the US Bishops’ Committee on Worship, the organization no longer promotes gathering around the altar. Though, I imagine there are many ‘LifeTeen parishes’ that still do as a matter of habit.

Thank you all for your answers, they really helped.

God Bless!

Oh I’ve heard of it, don’t doubt that it happened/happens. But I’ve never seen it.

In my old parish they still gather all the teens around the altar during the consecration. I know this is not allowed by the Church but the priest goes right along with it. that’s disappointing because we reasonably expect our priests to know better.

I personally don’t like the Lifeteen mass because I don’t like the idea of creating dumbed-down liturgy in order to attract teens. And it is dumbed down–i.e., the rock band music has no place in sacred liturgy, and based on what Cardinal Ratzinger wrote about liturgical music in his book “The Spirit of the Liturgy,” I’m confident the Pope feels the same way.

I’m sure Lifeteen has some good to it as far as youth group activities and such, but I don’t like them turning the mass into a rock concert and violating the rubrics of the mass itself in order to make teens feel “included.” Properly lived out and understood through good catechesis, the mass is beautiful the way it is and needs no gimics or tweaking to attract any one group of people.

The way to keep teens in church is to make sure they have good catechesis from a very early age, and that catechesis goes on for their whole lives into adulthood. And even more important than that is for the parents to fully live out their Catholic faith in their own families**.** Do those two things and teens won’t give you too much grief about going to mass because it becomes such an important part of family life that it’s just naturally expected.

It can, if done correctly. The problem with the LifeTeen rock ensembles that I’ve seen is that they draw their music from a ‘praise and worship’ repertoire which is too often too Protestant in theology and too repetitive musically. Then they tend to do completely new music every week so that the only ones that sing are the band (a rock version problem of the traditional choir that sings complicated Palestrina polyphony… nice to listen to, but impossible to participate in unless you’ve been to choir practice).

A rock ensemble done correctly will have a tighter repertoire that brings in new music as well as draw from the regular Catholic hymnody repertoire. And it will weed out songs which are more for personal listening in favor of songs suitable for communal worship. I’m sure their are LifeTeen music groups that do it the right way. Unfortunately, in the beginning of the LifeTeen movement, they were advocating doing it the wrong way.

The Popes have had their share of rock ensembles singing to them at stadium Masses, especially during World Youth Day. John Paul seemed to enjoy it.

Yes, I know they’ve been present at masses where rock music was played, but that doesn’t mean it’s something they were crazy about. Let’s look at what our current Pope actually has to*** say*** about the subject. From Cardinal Ratzinger’s (now Pope Benedict) The Spirit of the Liturgy in reference to liturgical music:
On the one hand, there is pop music, which is certainly no longer supported by the people in the ancient sense (populus). It is aimed at the phenomenon of the masses, is industrially produced, and ultimately has to be described as a cult of the banal. “Rock”, on the other hand, is the expression of elemental passions, and at rock festivals it assumes a cultic character, a form of worship, in fact, in opposition to Christian worship. People are, so to speak, released from themselves by the experience of being part of a crowd and by the emotional shock of rhythm, noise, and special lighting effects. However, in the ecstasy of having all their defenses torn down, the participants sink, as it were, beneath the elemental force of the universe. The music of the Holy Spirit’s sober inebriation seems to have little chance when self has become a prison, the mind is a shackle, and breaking out from both appears as a true promise of redemption that can be tasted at least for a few moments. (The Spirit of the Liturgy, pp 147-8)

Music and Logos

Not every kind of music can have a place in Christian worship. It has its standards, and that standard is the Logos. If we want to know whom we are dealing with, the Holy Spirit or the unholy spirit, we have to remember that it is the Holy Spirit who moves us to say, “Jesus is Lord” (1 Cor 12:3). The Holy Spirit leads us to the Logos, and he leads us to a music that serves the Logos as a sign of the sursum corda, the lifting up of the human heart. Does it integrate man by drawing him to what is above, or does it cause his disintegration into formless intoxication or mere sensuality? That is the criterion for a music in harmony with logos, a form of that logiké latreia (reason-able, logos-worthy worship) of which we spoke in the first part of this book." (The Spirit of the Liturgy, p 151)

It’s hard to get around these problems with rock music when trying to incorporate into the liturgy. It usually ends up turning the mass into a rock concert.

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