I spent the weekend on retreat with the youth leaders of Our Lady of Peace in Geneva this weekend. As always, I wonder how I wind up so lucky as to chaperone these things. For some absurd reason, these young people seem to think they get more out of my presence than I get from theirs. If that is true, they are a truly blessed bunch! There is nothing quite like working with youth!
Also announced this weekend is a major change for students at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Previously, Mass on campus was a 4:00 PM affair on Sunday afternoons. Now, however, the Mass will take place at 6:30 PM (Still in St. John's chapel on Main Street, Geneva). This will also now become a LifeTeen Mass. I have mixed feelings on this. It could help bring about the conversion or reversion of many to the Catholic faith. On the other hand, LifeTeen Masses threaten to diminish the purpose of the liturgy. To quote Pope Benedict XVI, "The real "action" in the liturgy in which we are all supposed to participate is the action of God himself. This is what is new and distinctive about the Christian liturgy: God himself acts and does what is essential." Or perhaps another B16 thought: "When liturgy is self-made, then it can no longer give us what its proper gift should be: the encounter with the mystery that is not our own product but rather our origin and the source of our life."
LifeTeen, founded in 1985 in Mesa, AZ, is somewhat notorious for its willingness to ignore the GIRM, and play fast and loose with the liturgy. In 2004, the USCCB instructed LifeTeen that this was unacceptable, though liturgical abuse certainly still occurs in some places. It is available elsewhere in the diocese at St Leo the Great in Hilton, and the Church of the Assumption in Fairport, both at 6 PM.
Another major concern with LifeTeen involves the behavior of its founder, Fr Dale Fushek. Lawsuits are pending with Fr Fushek over both sexual harassment and sexual misconduct, and he is currently considered to be in schism and was formally excommunicated in 2008. LifeTeen president Randy Raus, however, notes that "LifeTeen continues to faithfully and enthusiastically serve the Roman Catholic Church in complete obedience to the Magisterium and strict fidelity to Church teachings."
I had an opportunity to visit Assumption and attend their LifeTeen Mass. It wasn't exactly my favorite Mass, to say the least. Local blogger Ink had a chance to get to the LifeTeen in Hilton, which she criticized heavily. That said, Fr. Cantinese in Hilton is a wonderful, orthodox priest, and he speaks glowingly of LifeTeen, and I have certainly seen LifeTeen-like masses (NCYC, the youth Mass at the March for Life) that were done very well.
If any of you have thoughts, experiences, suggestions, etc. I know the folks at Our Lady of Peace would like to make this a POSITIVE change, with the goal being increased Mass attendance among young people and increased love of their Catholic faith. This will definitely be in my prayers