31 August 2009
Young People Flock to the Old Mass, Redux
Some of the comments on a post below by an anonymous commenter prompted me to repost an article from Inside the Vatican that I posted on a couple of years ago. The anonymous commenter states that the claim that the attendees of the traditional Mass are younger than the novus ordo is a purely anecdotal claim that is in essence a fantasy.
Colleen Carroll Campbell's book The New Faithful contains statistical verification of the correlation between the orthodoxy of the praxis of any particular faith and the youth of its adherents. This doesn't speak directly to the type of liturgy per se of course, but it does go to the question of the draw of the fullness of the faith to the younger generation.
The traditional Mass is, in the Roman Rite, the timeless expression of Catholic worship. The new Mass lacks the obviousness of orthodoxy of the traditional Mass. The new Mass cannot be considered heterodox as promulgated-- that is impossible, considering the indefectibility of the Church. But it is undeniably less strident in its presentation of the reality of the sacrificial nature of the Mass and the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
Please note that I do not in any way claim that one cannot be a good and orthodox Catholic and attend the new Mass. Put that keyboard down! My point here is just a comparison of the forms as promulgated-- get a side-by-side comparison of the prayers and rubrics and decide for yourself. The reverent and rubrically correct celebration of either form will have a similar effect. It is harder to measure with the new Mass, though, because it varies from priest-to-priest, often within any given parish. Therefore, it is not as capable of measure in the way that one can measure the population of a traditional Mass oratory that has a fixed location and mode of celebration. To my way of thinking, such stability and consistency is another trait that makes the traditional Mass superior-- but I digress.
To a certain extent, obviously, our personal experiences of the the average age of attendee of the Mass, new or old, is anecdotal. The statistical evidence exists, of course, in the records of the places where people attend Mass. It will depend on location and other factors, not just the type of Mass.
However, when it comes to the traditional Mass, it really depends less on the ordinary parish considerations and more on the substance of the liturgy itself. Why? Because for the new Mass, the general rule is that one would go to their territorial parish. But few territorial parishes have the traditional Mass (yet). In the case of the traditional Mass-offering churches in this Archdiocese, on the other hand, they are attended by people who choose to be there without regard to territorial parish identification. This is true not only with the two oratories, but even the parish churches that offer the traditional Mass draw the faithful from a regional area.
In short, I would bet a large sum that the registry records of St. Francis de Sales or SS. Gregory and Augustine will bear out the demographic claims. Unless and until they are made public, this remains just my opinion-- and if you hate the traditional Mass, as some of you do, feel free to call the claim a fantasy if you like.
For everybody else, enjoy the article below, and reflect on how much as happened in just the last two years.