Why are people so against life teen mass?

Hello all :smiley:

I have a question about why many people dislike life teen mass. I personal see no problem with it but I understand a lot of people on this forum are not found of it. This may be beacuse I am a acutly teenager but it has lead me to being trying to seek christ. I am not saying that my faith is toatly based on lifeteen, (I go to normal mass sometimes and still find it asome). But I really have to ask why do some people really disapporve of Lifeteen is there one thing in particluar or is more of how a particluar parish does it.

Any imput would be helpful

I haven’t been to many LifeTeen Masses, but the few that I attended did not seem to be out of line. Last year I went to a LifeTeen Mass at my brother’s parish in Atlanta. It just happened to be the Sunday Mass that we went to. But it was so mild that I would never have realized it was a lifeteen Mass if he had not told me.

As far as music is concerned, we have several music groups and choirs at my parish, one of which is a youth group. They play upbeat music but it is not irreverent.

I don’t have a current opinion on the LT masses because I haven’t been to one since I’ve been a teenager, so I don’t think I have a right to make an opinion about what they are like now. But I can tell you why I, my brother and my friends didn’t like it when we were all teenagers.

When LT first came to our area, we were pretty excited about it. I thought that it would be something really great because I’d get to be with other like-minded Catholic teens. That part was true up to a certain extent. I was looking for something deeper and more substantial for my faith than what I was getting.

At first the novelty was exciting. The priest was charming (although as I later found out was a bit of an egomaniac, winning everyone with his charm, then after that layer has worn down his real self comes through). I originally overlooked the grunge/hippy-like rock band that did the liturgical music. I was really trying to “like” the mass so I did make a huge effort at the beginning to “fit in”. But eventually, the so-called “rock music” and the rocking out of some of the traditional hymns seemed to be so out of place for mass to me and to my friends. This was a few years prior to me even knowing that chant, polyphony and other works similar to these were even being done during mass. Our churches did the typical 1970s-1990s hymns with a few token older, traditional hymns.

The activities after mass were rather watered-down with no real depth and substance. They were pretty lame. I know for some who went had a great time and probably got something out of it. The leaders (most of whom were in their 20s and 30s) were devoted and very nice and really meant very well. But for myself and my friends the experience for us was nothing more than to be with each other in a safe place and having fun in the non-religious activities that was offered. In terms of strengthening my faith, the only positive thing I could say about it was that it helped me realize that I definitely did not want my faith and the liturgy that I would have like to attend to resemble a Life Teen mass and program and I was back to still yearning for something deeper.

That all said, I do realize that for some teens something like this can be a stepping stone for furthering their faith journey. There are obviously people who swear by it, so perhaps they had better programs than the one I went to. For myself and my friends, we were considered what other contemporaries of ours would call “dorks”. I still consider myself a dork today. haha! We were the teens who constantly craved something more than what was fed to us and for me, I was sometimes so serious and constantly worried about the problems of the world that something like Life Teen, after the initial seduction of it, grew to be too frivolous and superficial for me at the time. I wanted them to tackle more serious issues or more theologically intellectual information, but all it seemed like was stuff I learned in Catholic grade school.

I will simply say this:

Why should there be separate masses for different age or other special interest groups?

The Eucharist Sacrifice is supposed to draw us together.

This is NOT to say there cannot be other kinds of age- and interest-appropriate activities and devotions.

I think there are Catholics who do not understand the seriousness of the situation.

Teenagers are leaving the Catholic Church in droves. These souls are in grave danger of hell.

Some teenagers prefer traditional settings and music. I think that some Catholics base their assessment of teenaged culture and preferences on these few teenagers (the exceptions) rather than on the majority of teenagers.

Yes, I’ve seen polls posted that “prove” that teenagers want a return to the ancient. But I think that with a little work, you could probably find just as many polls that “prove” that teenagers want rock music and more involvement in churches. I say stop looking at polls, which can easily be “fixed” and instead, look around at real teenagers and real teenaged culture.

The Bible says that we are to be all things to all people in order to win some. St. Paul demonstrates this at Mars Hill when he talks about the “Unknown God” and discusses worldly philosophy with his listeners in order to get them interested in Jesus.

The various books of rubrics for the Catholic Church seem to imply that various kinds of music are permissible in Mass, even though chant should be honored.

The choice of Mass “styles” in each diocese is up to the bishop. If he approves of Life Teen masses, then that’s an end of it. HE has the Christ-given authority to make such decisions. The laity should not undermine his or the Lord’s decision by spreading rumors that Life Teen Mass is somehow “wrong.”

Our parish offers a Life Teen Mass. It is absolutely packed, standing room only, and most of the worshippers are teenagers and young people, along with a sizeable group of people my age (50 somethings) who are lost in the 1970s!

Teen life type youth masses were shoved down my throat by my school and local diocese. I gained nothing from these events, they were totally void of mystery, sacrifice and solemnity for me. I lost my faith because of these masses, because I was never exposed to what my faith was. Instead all my faith was suppouse to be was endless world peace groups and charities/ coupled with a tacky mass with music most of my friends and I hate anyway.

I didn’t find my faith again until I came across the Eastern liturgies. They brought back that sense of mystery and awe that my soul so needed.

That is why I walk around with a chip on my soldier, these services caused me to lose my faith. I was never offered orthodoxy, just these new style youth masses. I wasn’t given a choice, I was told to like this music and like the atmosphere simply because I was young. Here’s a news flash, youth are as unique as adults, stop grouping the youth together, and telling us what we should like.

In the end, what me, and my Catholic friends needed was not these youthful services, as they only pushed us away (the common perception, especially at a large Catholic high school is that these services are so korny, thus kids run in droves to try and sneak out from the mass so they can go to the mall instead).

Just give us the faith as it worked for our ancestors. Countless generations have used what was given to them, why are we so special? Just give us a traditional orthodox mass, by the book, thats all I needed, but strangely enough, I never received it.

Has anybody considered that teens were not leaving the Church in droves 50 or 75 or 100 or more years ago? How come they didn’t need LifeTeen Masses in Gay 90s or the Roaring 20s or the Depression Years or the War Years or the nuclear 50s?

LifeTeen sees this new and unprecedented exodus of teens, and proposes to cure it by giving more of the same “relevance” that entered the Church at the same time that teens started their exodus. A curious solution, eh?

Yes, I’ve seen polls posted that “prove” that teenagers want a return to the ancient. But I think that with a little work, you could probably find just as many polls that “prove” that teenagers want rock music and more involvement in churches. I say stop looking at polls, which can easily be “fixed” and instead, look around at real teenagers and real teenaged culture.

Ah, if you don’t like the data, simply reject it and dismiss it with scare quotes.

If you have different data (not anecdotes, but actual data) then by all means post it. Otherwise your comments are really just a case of “I don’t care what the facts are, I’m going to believe what I choose to believe.”

You are kidding, right?

The tendency has always been to disengage pretty much on the way back to your seat from confirmation, since you then “had all the answers.”

If the Catholic Church has one major weakness, in my opinion, it’s that the idea of the “pilgrim journey” never really makes it to the people in the pews. In the old “pay, pray and obey” days that was even more true. People may not have physically left the Church as easily as they do now but they checked out mentally very early on and passed on a legacy of indifference and “filling the obligation” to their own kids.

The whole system of catechesis that teaches kids all the “answers” early on allows them to think that by the time they complete confirmation that they’ve got it all down and that they are now “officially” Catholic and the work is over. Nobody tells them that the journey has just begun or gives them any direction to make their faith relevant to the world. Worse, since they think they already have all the answers it never occurs to them that they would have a need to ask any questions. You end up with “God in a box” that you pay your weekly dues to and go on about your life.

For whatever abuse the Lifeteen program sometimes can be prone to, it does help keep kids excited and involved. As long as their minds are still present they can at least hear what is being said and there is a chance that seeds can take root. If instead they just bolt that opportunity is lost.

Some may write this off, but it is exactly that phenomenon–though at a much later age–that allowed me to be present to at least hear what I needed to hear as I took up space. The simple value of a priest who gave relevant homilies that showed how to apply our faith to our every day lives, even though I had no interest in any such thing at the time, at least engaged my attention for the words to get stored for when I was ready.

I see Lifeteen filling that same purpose. The music isn’t to my taste personally but that doesn’t make it “bad”, just different. I know well at this point that the Master Fisherman has many, many different lures in His tackle box and that He knows which one to use for each individual one of us. I for one am not going to argue with His wisdom since I’ve been able to see the results.


LifeTeen is a hot-button issue around here. The debate between both sides gets hotter than a jalapeno. Most, if not all, of what I will post in these succeeding paragraphs are points that I have made in previous threads.

One of the local Catholic schools adopted the LifeTeen model for their Masses and it is not very good. In fact, one of the priests, a friend of mine, dreads having to go celebrate Mass there because of the music and because of the other idiosyncratic practices that have crept up. The local monastery brought a LifeTeen band to play at its Sunday Mass. It was disconcerting, distracting and totally the opposite of what sacred liturgical music should be.

Most LifeTeen Masses, unfortunately, tend to carry a great deal of baggage with them. Abuses have crept up such as having the kids gathering around the altar and having an alternative ending to the Mass. While the Holy See had to personally intervene to put a stop to the ilicit practices, some groups, as has been noted in these threads, continue to have the kids gathering around the altar. Proponents who enthusiastically defend LifeTeen will claim that an indult was offered; however, no such documentation exists. This begs the question as to whether or not Rome would allow “innovations” to creep into the Mass in the first place, especially since the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has already issued document after document calling for a return to what we are supposed to do, not what we want to do.

The music is not at all suitable for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, despite what impassionate LifeTeen supporters may claim. In fact, the situation also caught the attention of the Fathers of the 2005 Synod on the Eucharist who observed that:

In other responses some lamented the poor quality of translations of liturgical texts and many musical texts in current languages, maintaining that they lacked beauty and were sometimes theologically unclear, thereby contributing to a weakening of Church teaching and to a misunderstanding of prayer. A few responses made particular mention of music and singing at Youth Masses. In this regard, it is important to avoid musical forms which, because of their profane use, are not conducive to prayer. Some responses note a certain eagerness in composing new songs, to the point of almost yielding to a consumer mentality, showing little concern for the quality of the music and text, and easily overlooking the artistic patrimony which has been theologically and musically effective in the Church’s liturgy.

This was the Holy Father’s response, as noted in Sacramentum Caritatis:

  1. In the ars celebrandi, liturgical song has a pre-eminent place. (126) Saint Augustine rightly says in a famous sermon that “the new man sings a new song. Singing is an expression of joy and, if we consider the matter, an expression of love” (127). The People of God assembled for the liturgy sings the praises of God. In the course of her two-thousand-year history, the Church has created, and still creates, music and songs which represent a rich patrimony of faith and love. This heritage must not be lost. Certainly as far as the liturgy is concerned, we cannot say that one song is as good as another. Generic improvisation or the introduction of musical genres which fail to respect the meaning of the liturgy should be avoided. As an element of the liturgy, song should be well integrated into the overall celebration (128). Consequently everything – texts, music, execution – ought to correspond to the meaning of the mystery being celebrated, the structure of the rite and the liturgical seasons (129). Finally, while respecting various styles and different and highly praiseworthy traditions, I desire, in accordance with the request advanced by the Synod Fathers, that Gregorian chant be suitably esteemed and employed (130) as the chant proper to the Roman liturgy (131).

We should not adapt the Mass to changing, fleeting trends. Rather, we should adapt ourselves to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Not very many songs used at these LifeTeen Masses focus on authentic Church teaching. While some of these may quote scripture, the settings are not at all appropriate for the Mass and do not inspire the proper reverence for the sacred mysteries unfolding before us.

Unfortunately, some of the ecclesial movements within the Church have seen fit to do with the Mass as they please. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not the personal property of anyone to do with as they please. Pope Benedict expressed that point rather directly when he ordered the Neocatechumenal Way to stop the abusive practices that they had introduced into the Mass.

There is nothing wrong with either movement, per se. What is disconcerting is the manner in which they treat the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. They can and should conduct their non-liturgical gatherings in a manner based on their particular organization; however, when it comes to the Mass, they should hold fast to the norms that the Church prescribes.

Excellent post Benedictgal :thumbsup:

LT Masses are required to follow the exact same liturgy rules like the GIRM as all other Masses, no matter what group, no matter what language. In many places they did not and made that fact well known. Electric gutars and drum sets were deemed inappropriate for Sacred Music, however some LT Masses continue to use them even after being told not to.

I helped implement LT at my parish before moving across country. If I had to do it over again, I would choose something else (like Dead Theologian’s Society?) over Life Teen.

The good is that the presentation material is overall faithful to the magisterium. It is also Eucharist centered. However, these seem to be the salesman’s pitch to get you to open the door. Once you sign up, the trouble begins. Although LT says there is no requirement to implement certain things, there is enormous pressure to use all their material and above all (and most alarming) implement a LT mass. If you read the suggestions for the mass, you will find lots of encouragement for experiment in classic monkeys-in-the-sanctuary mode (You know, “the GIRM and liturgy doesn’t explicitly say we can’t do this, so we can”) . The hymn list will be one, count 'em, ONE traditional hymn and twenty modern pop-fluff tunes. If you somehow got to keep the siliness out of the mass, the giant party/presentation after the Mass in the social hall is an indication of where the priorties are.

To be fair, I’d say it is not impossible to have Life Teen and have it be successful, but it will be a full-time job keeping the siliness out and frankly, youth directors have enough on their plate as it is. Look elsewhere.

I have been to three in three different parishes, and in three different Diocese’s, one was very nice, the teens did basically everything that the adults in the parish normally do, except they did NOT act as Extra Ordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, (not at any of the three Masses I attended, thankfully.)
One parish was so abusive of the Mass that it was the first time in my life that I considered leaving Mass, unfortunately it was a Sunday evening Mass, so I stayed, not knowing where else I could have gone on a Sunday. I was visiting someone, the ROCK music (no kidding) was so loud that it almost rocked some of us right out of the pew. The people were mostly in jeans and t-shirts, even the adults, and about the only thing they didn’t do wrong was that no one gathered around the altar. However, swaying back and forth holding hands (as if at a football game) during the Our Father was only outdone by the sign of peace being done to death, while some people even crossed over to the other pews and hugged and kissed and fawned all over one another. Some just turned around and gave the victory sign and winked at one another.
The other, in another State was very nice, only two abuses, one was they did all gather around with the Priest at the altar and at the end of Mass Father said, the Mass never ends, (while I agree with that), it is an abuse to say that, is it not? Aren’t they always suppose to say, “The Mass had ended, go and serve the Lord and one another.”/ or just go and serve the Lord? He did however, give us the final blessing.
The last, in yet anothe State was a combination of the two, some abuses, some very nice, mostly what I didn’t like was that a lot of teens were talking with one another and chewing gum and laughing throughout, so, I have come to the conclusion that it depends on where you are and who is running it. I do think that some Priest, after Mass, need to speak up and say, “This isn’t right!” Perhaps they did for all I know, I never returned. I didn’t know that any of them were Life Teen Masses until I was there and in the future I would avoid them, but then, I’m far from a teen.
I was taught by Nuns and no one would have been wearing jeans, talking, chewing gum or gathering around the altar, much less be wearing jeans and a t-shirt, I can tell you that.
Back then, in my teens, they had some Masses at a Neuman Center on campus and my father forbid me to go to them, apparently, from what I’ve heard, they were even worse then, as some people just sat around on the altar and acted as though they were at a movie or something. So, while some things have improved, a lot of things need worked on.

I agree with this…
Why does there have to be an actual mass for teens? Why not just have a youth group? The mass is for everyone… young and old… and all in between =]

Just my two cents.

I agree, i defiantly love the mass, the regular, one. Mass should be for all and there should be no different ones for different ages, of course i think we should all return to the Latin mass but that is me and another subject.

I do, however, think the catholic church has dropped the ball on something, and that is the youth. there is nothing for them. Protestant church have excelled on grabbing the youth. I do believe the church needs to implement something to grab them. Especially young men. The church needs strong and powerful, brutal, men who will not back down from Satan and will carry the word like a banner to war. we need these men for preist, for deacons, for Husbands, and for men to lead the boys. because then the men will lead the women and the women will drive us men to holiness and create an army of believers who know what they believe and believe what they know, and will make Satan sorry for any attack he makes on the church.

as a song from Disciple says, “When the lights come up, this fight is on, Are you ready for me? Because i am Ready for you!”

we should be ready to answer the call of evil with the sword. The ferocity and brutality of our faith must be ready to defend our church at all costs. and our church needs to grab the hearts of the youth, before Satan grabs their souls. Because all it takes for our church to die, is the for the youth, to not be taught the word of God for one generation.

I don’t want to see separate masses, because mass is such a beautiful and wonderful thing that i will never willingly give up, but we need to grab the hearts of the youth, before it is too late, and the catholic church is failing at this and the protestants are winning.

I agree with you. Have an awesome, grounded youth group for after mass. Give a balanced approach. With everyone talking about how important chant is, maybe include some of it in their masses, along with traditional hymns and maybe one or two newer hymns to balance it out. Then have the praise night with that kind of rock/praise music after the mass and all the other things that go along with the after mass LT activities. It would show to kids that they aren’t being kept in a box and expose them to things they actually might find spiritually edifying.

Just keep the mass consistent to be accesible by all - not just a target group. But have a priest who works really well with teens and can give a knock-dead homily for that mass which focuses on teen life and challenges.

We are not permitted to commit an objectively immoral action in order to prevent another objectively immoral action from being committed. In other words, we can’t kill an abortionist to prevent him from performing abortions.

Doesn’t it seem just a little hypocritical to say it’s ok to be irreverent in Mass just so fewer people will stop going?

The reason so many people don’t like Lifeteen Masses is the lack of reverence inherent in the form of music that is used. I speak as a fan of rock, funk, jazz, reggae, and blues music – none of which is appropriate for a Mass setting. One can argue very effectively that the sincerity of a songwriter makes up for the nature of the music, but it does not change the fact that rock, funk, jazz, etc. forms are designed for a purpose that is incongruous with the purpose of the Mass. These forms are about expression and/or feeling the groove and/or showing off one’s musical chops and/or communicating an emotional texture; sacred music is intended for praising God – period.


I am not familiar with LifeTeen masses. What exactly are they? We always attend the Saturday vigil mass at our church. A few weeks ago, the 10th grade students attended that mass because there had been a retreat for them earlier in the day. I left feeling confused because although the mass was pretty much normal, a few things bothered me. We had the traditional music/cantor at first. Then you start hearing someone sing Amazing Grace and then there were guitars, etc. The teens were swaying back and forth and seemed to be having a great time. This continued through the rest of the mass. I just didn’t like it. It didn’t feel right. Even my kids who are 12 and 13 said they didn’t like it either. I thought it was inappropriate for mass. This was the first time this has ever happened. Our main pastor was not the celebrant. It was our new, younger priest. I have a feeling that our main pastor wouldn’t have gone for that. I hope this doesn’t become a trend. It just doesn’t sit right with me.

I disagree with any one who says that Rock and such music is inappropriate. God said Make a Joyful noise. he did not say chant in gregorian scale or anything of that Nature. It Truly is a Matter of the heart. Music in it self can not be Christian or not Non-Christian. It is just music. It is the intent and words of the music. If you takes stuff like Slipknot, of course it is not meant to be God Honoring. but then you Look at Demon Hunter who’s soul purpose is to take the Gospel of Power and strength that is our Lord Jesus and give it to the Youth, they Honor God with what they sing and say, now would Demon hunter be good in Mass most likely not, I doubt songs, like Undying, or Not I, or Beauty through the eyes of Predator, would be ok in Mass. But songs like The Mercy of the Thorns. or Carry Me down, or Heart Strings. Or from DC Talk, You consume me, or Mercy Me’s I can Only Imagine. all songs that Glorify and honor God. And I think sometimes the Old Crotchety people Need to lighten up and stop being so Legalistic and Critical. You do not see the heart of the person God does.

If the Music and intent of the people and Kids is to Glorify and Honor God, Back off. Who are you to Deny the Worship of Someone just because it does not fit your Mold? I am not saying don’t check and make sure that they are worshiping with a heart of Humility and and understanding that they are worshiping and Good and Holy God. But don’t you dare stop them. Because that is why Teens and young people are leaving, and Going to the Protestant churches. Christ said Don’t hinder the little ones but let them Come to me. LET them worship how they worship, ONLY if it is in their hearts to Truly worship and Honor God, if it is not then it is all in vain. Who are you to say they are not Worshiping, only God knows for sure. if they are or aren’t. If you don’t like that is fine, God never said you had to like it, but he did say respect and love each other, and denying some one a way of worship is not loving or Respectful.


It might interest you to note that the Church has a different view on the matter. Pope John Paul II, the founder of the World Youth Day movement, wrote this in an official document of the Church, his Chirograph on Sacred Music:

. In following the course of the teachings of Saint Pius X and of the Second Vatican Council, it is above all necessary to emphasize that music destined for the sacred rites must have as its point of reference sanctity: it in fact “will be the more holy the more closely it is united to the liturgical action”. Precisely because of this, “not all that which stands outside the temple (profanum) is fit to cross the threshold”, sagely affirmed my venerated Predecessor Paul VI, commenting upon a decree of the Council of Trent and clarified that “if it does not at once possess the sense of prayer, of dignity and beauty, music – instrumental and vocal – by this fact is precluded from admission into the sacred and religious realm”.

On the other hand, the category of “sacred music” today has undergone such a broadening of meaning as to include repertoire that cannot enter into the celebration without violating the spirit and the norms of the Liturgy itself.

The reform effected by Saint Pius X had specifically in view the purification of Church music from the contamination of profane theatrical music, which in many countries had polluted liturgical music repertoire and praxis. This is also to be considered attentively in our times, as I have placed in evidence in the Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia: that not all expressions of the figurative arts and of music are capable “of adequately expressing the Mystery worshipped in the fullness of the Church’s faith”. As a consequence, not all musical forms can be considered suitable for liturgical celebrations.

Now, read what the former Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in his book, the Spirit of the Liturgy:

Three developments in recent music epitomize the problems that the Church has to face when she is considering liturgical music.

First of all, there is the cultural universalization that the Church has to undertake if she wants to get beyond the boundaries of the European mind. This is the question of what inculturation should look like in the realm of sacred music if, on the one hand, the identity of Christianity is to be preserved and, on the other, its universality is to be expressed in local forms.

Then there are two developments in music itself that have their origins primarily in the West but that for a long time have affected the whole of mankind in the world culture that is being formed. Modern so-called “classical” music has maneuvered itself, with some exceptions, into an elitist ghetto, which only specialists may enter – and even they do so with what may sometimes be mixed feelings. The music of the masses has broken loose from this and treads a very different path.

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 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.

While the Spirit of the Liturgy is not an official document, it points the way to what the now-Pope Benedict XVI wrote in Sacramentum Caritatis.

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