November 27, 2015

National Catholic Youth Conference 2015

Extraordinary form of the Mass draws youths into quiet prayer

Father C. Ryan McCarthy elevates a chalice on Nov. 20 during a celebration of the extraordinary form of the Mass at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. The liturgy, attended by some 250 youths, took place during the National Catholic Youth Conference. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Father C. Ryan McCarthy elevates a chalice on Nov. 20 during a celebration of the extraordinary form of the Mass at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. The liturgy, attended by some 250 youths, took place during the National Catholic Youth Conference. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

Many of the presentations and other events of the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) are marked by loud, high energy music and spotlights flashing across crowds of youths dancing while wearing a broad array of unusual hats and colorful T-shirts.

The more than 20 Masses that were celebrated during the three-day conference, by contrast, featured times of silence and opportunities for quiet, prayerful reflection for the teens attending it.

On Nov. 20, some 250 teens participated in a form of the liturgy that many of them had not experienced before and was new to NCYC. It was the extraordinary form of the Mass, also known as the traditional Latin Mass. Youths knelt quietly in prayer during it while a small choir of young women sang centuries-old Gregorian chant.

The extraordinary form of Mass is marked by the near-exclusive use of Latin (the only other language used being Greek), and the priest celebrant and the congregation facing the same direction. The Latin Rite of the Church celebrated this form of the Eucharist for centuries up to the start of the implementation of the restoration of the sacred liturgy during the Second Vatican Council 51 years ago.

Those who participated in the extraordinary form Mass at NCYC filled the conference room at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis in which it was celebrated. Approximately 100 more attendees knelt in the hallway outside the room.

Mariana Canales, 16, attended the Mass with a group of Hispanic youths from the Brownsville, Texas, Diocese. Since Spanish, which is rooted in Latin, is their first language, they understood many of the prayers of the liturgy.

But her appreciation of the Mass extended beyond her ability to follow along more easily with the prayers.

“It was kind of relaxing,” Marianna said. “You’re there in the stadium with all of the noise [in a general session]. And then you come here, and you’re calm.”

Liam O’Brien, 15, of Queen of the Miraculous Medal Parish in Jackson, Mich., said the liturgy helped him enter more deeply into prayer.

“It was really peaceful and a new experience that I thought that I’d never get,” he said. “It’s easier to hear God’s voice with that peace and quiet.”

For many of the youths who participated in the liturgy, it was their first time to experience an extraordinary form Mass.

That was not the case for Laura Phillips, 24, a chaperone at the conference from St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Columbus, Ohio.

As a teenager, Phillips attended NCYC in 2005 in Atlanta, and served as an animator for the conference in 2007 in Columbus. Animators help to energize youth attendees by singing and dancing during general sessions, much like high school show choirs.

While a college student at the University of Alabama, she often attended an extraordinary form Mass celebrated regularly in Birmingham.

Phillips was impressed by the number of people attending the Mass at the conference this year.

“It was fabulous,” she said. “It was such a blessing for all of the people who had never experienced it before being given the opportunity.

“They had the door opened for them to the Latin Mass and Gregorian chant and any of the traditional Latin prayers. They can take them back to their parishes and do them within their youth groups. That’s really fantastic.”

Sam Rosko, 17, assisted as an altar server at the Mass. A member of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish in Indianapolis, Sam has participated in the extraordinary form Mass for many years and appreciates its effect on his life of faith.

“It’s deepened it a lot,” he said. “It’s given kind of a substance to my spirituality through the richness of the prayers.”

Father C. Ryan McCarthy, pastor of Holy Rosary and celebrant of the extraordinary form Mass at the conference, said he wasn’t surprised by the number of youths who participated in the liturgy since he sees so many young people attending such liturgies regularly at his parish.

“It was a beautiful thing,” Father McCarthy said. “It was wonderful to see their devotion.” †

 

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