You must believe that liturgy can speak to our youth. And you must believe that our youth are worth speaking and listening to. They are not the Church of tomorrow; they are the Church of today. We must believe in them and in their sincerity. We must talk openly with them about issues that touch their lives. We cannot beat around the bush or have hidden agendas in these discussions. We must proclaim the truth in love to our youth. Good Liturgy can and will transform the youth of St. Priscilla. Here are some important reminders when building a solid youth-focused Liturgy:
1. The Liturgy of the Church is rich.
Don't mess with the ritual. You do a disservice to the community by breaking the unity of the universal experience of the order and flow of the Liturgy. Work at helping our youth understand the central element of Liturgy. Try to do what you do with excellence, style and grace. Bring out the real elements of the Liturgy and place emphasis where it belongs - on the Community, the Word and the Eucharist.
2. Talk to your youth.
In the homily, speak about morality, relationships, families, dating, etc. It's wrong for us not to speak about these facets of daily life because the youth talk about them. Our youth don't like to be preached at. Nobody does. It is condescending. Speaking directly to our youth is an effective way to let young people know they are important and valued. While the entire homily does not have to be directed at the youth, it is vital that the homilist acknowledge their presence.
3. Don't ever water down the Gospel teachings.
The way to our youth is not to say what you think they want to hear. Most young people have not been taught the teachings of the Church. They want to know what the Church stands or and what exactly it is that they belong to. We must talk honestly about doctrine, moral issues and relationships.
4. Music is essential.
Music is essential; it can draw our youth into an experience of true worship. Good liturgical music (simple, sing-able and scriptural) should be chosen. It is essential, however, that the music be enriched with instruments, sparked with life and involve the community, not just the musicians.
5. Call the teens forth to ministry.
Involvement is the key to our youth taking ownership of the Liturgy. Give them clear directions, make them practice their ministries, and help them handle their mistakes calmly.
6. Hospitality goes a long way.
Take time before mass for people to greet one each other. Create a spirit of hospitality. Welcome visitors. Make certain that the details of hospitality (worship guides, etc.) are available. Assist those present in learning the importance of seeing the Word come alive in each other.
7. Make sure that everybody at St. Priscilla understands what the
youth-focused Mass is.
Gently, but firmly encourage those who disagree with its format to attend a different Liturgy.