What is a Youth-Focused Mass?
A youth-focused Mass is nothing more than a vibrant liturgy that speaks to young people and challenges them to live as Disciples of Christ. It is not limited to just teenagers, people of all ages can attend youth Mass. The music, homilies and environment are set for youth and their families. The energy, reverence and prayerfulness that teens bring to the celebration that is contagious.
Within a youth-focused Mass, the teens are addressed directly at the homily. The Gospel is broken open for the teens about how relevant it is for their lives. Teens are drawn to the truth as the homily gives them the truth of our faith. The entire homily does not need to be teen-focused, but even a simple acknowledgement of their presence goes a long way.
Hospitality and Involvement
Teens know from the first time they attend a youth Mass that they are welcome there and that this is the place for them. They are greeted, embraced and encouraged. The teens are encouraged to serve in the various liturgical ministries. The teens know that they are a valued and important part of the community.
Teens listen to a great deal of music everyday. Although some of it may be objectionable, it is all produced very well and has incredible sound quality. To bring the liturgy to life for teens, youth Masses use musical instruments that teens are used to hearing on a daily basis. The tone must remain prayerful and the music selection should call the congregation into deeper prayer, not distract from it.
Liturgy and Teens
You must believe that liturgy can speak to teens. And you must believe that teens 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 the issues that touch their lives. We must proclaim the truth with love to the teens. Good Liturgy can and will transform the youth of your parish. Here are some important reminders when building a solid Youth-focused Liturgy:
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 teens understand the central elements 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.
Talk to the Teens
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 teens talk often about them. Teens don’t like to be preached at. Nobody does. It is never effective to come across sounding condescending. Speaking directly to the teens is an effective way to let young people know they are important and valued. While the entire homily does not have to be directed to the teens, it is vital that the homilist acknowledges their presence.
Don’t ever Water Down the Gospel Teachings
The way to “reach” the teens is not to say what you think they want to hear. Most teens have not been taught the teachings of the Church. They want to know what the Church stands for and what it is exactly that they belong to. We must talk honestly about doctrine, moral issues and prayer.
The Role of Music
Music is essential; it can draw teens into an experience of true worship. Good liturgical music (simple, sing-able, and scriptural) should be chosen. It is important that the music be enriched with instruments, sparked with life, and involve the community, not just the musicians.
Involve the Teens in Liturgical Ministries
Involvement is the key to the teens taking ownership of the liturgy. Provide opportunities for teens to serve as greeters, lectors, ushers, gift bearers and Eucharistic Ministers. Give them clear directions, have them practice their ministries, and help them handle their mistakes calmly.
Hospitality Goes a Long Way
Take time before Mass for people to greet each other. Create a spirit of hospitality. Welcome visitors. Make certain that the details of hospitality (song sheets, etc.) are available.
Life Teen Liturgy Planning Guide
The Mass and the Eucharist is the center of the Life Teen ministry. We are committed to helping parishes develop dynamic youth-focused Masses. This resource is part of that commitment.
In each guide there are key words and themes for that Sunday as well as a reflection on the Gospel from the perspective of a teen. These can be used to help focus the liturgy planning meeting and give insight on how to bring the Sunday’s readings to life for teenagers. In addition, each guide contains homily suggestions, prayers of the faithful suggestions and song suggestions. The celebrant, along with the music minister and liturgist, can use these suggestions to invite people of all ages to fully, consciously and actively participate in the celebration of Holy Mass. Finally each guide contains a section called “Liturgy 101.” This small fact about the Mass can be printed on the song sheet or in the bulletin as another opportunity to catechize the teens and their families on the richness of the Catholic Mass.
In order to utilize this resource fully, we encourage that it is shared among the youth minister, music ministers and priests of the parish. While all the suggestions and ideas contained within this book may not work for your parish, we pray that it is helpful in engaging young people (and the entire parish) in the celebration of the Holy Mass. May God bless you in your ministry of leading teens closer to Christ!