As QUOTED IN a book reviewed in the Herald last week, "There can hardly be a more important topic than the liturgy if it really is, as the Fathers of the Vatican Council maintained, the source from which the Church's life flows." That is why we carry an account this week of an extraordinary "rave Mass" (page 7) which is to be a monthly feature in the capital.
Is this an example of inculturation, [of) which the Church has the power and on occasion also the duty to adapt to the cultures of recently evangelised peoples (Catechism, par 1205)? For British youth culture is surely as impenetrable and exclusive as that of any exotic tribal people.
For several years, so-called "Folk Masses", with acoustic guitars and descant recorders, were hoped to appeal to "the youth". They do, to some extent, at least to the sort of young people who probably would have gone to church anyhow. It is their non-practising or even non-evangelised peers to whom this "rave Mass" is designed to appeal. If only one such young person is moved by this experiment to explore faith further, then it could be said to have been worthwhile.
How many more, though, will judge this to be the standard of "entertainment" Masses, by which all normal, weekly parish Masses will be judged, and found, inevitably, "boring".
Is Mass entertainment? To be sure, worshippers in previous ages were able to share in the music of Haydn, Mozart, Palestrina and stand in buildings of unsurpassed beauty, their senses filled with delight and their hearts drawn upwards to heaven. Is this what a "rave Mass" does for its worshippers? How do heavy-metal music and strobe lighting speak of the things of God — or do the media convey the message to those who would be deaf to any other form of communication?
The Mass, the eucharistic counter-. part of Calvary, challenges us to emulate kenotic love. The culture to which this stands counter is materialistic, pleasure-seeking, individualistic and boorish. Does it matter if this culture which provides the setting in which Mass is celebrated, is, in effect, affirmed by having the Mass in its midst?
If the target group is really the "unchurched", is Mass the most appropriate form of service to which to introduce them? Are we so poor in the range of devotions that we have nothing other to offer than the very pinnacle of worship itself? Maybe young people may feel differently, but the "rave Mass" seems to us not to be the answer. Liturgists, get to work.