Will Heaven Notebook
0 n the November 23 the Catholic Church will celebrate this year's National Youth Sunday. The Church's youth me included will be called upon to "live simply" and to "reclaim the future!" Why? Because "sustainability is for everyone and climate change affects everyone".
The Catholic blogosphere is in uproar. But not because of these dustbin-lid slogans. Rather, because of what the organisers of Youth Sunday supported by the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales propose to do to the celebration of the Mass. Grit your teeth: it's heinously unorthodox, and I'm going to talk you through it.
First off, you can forget the Penitential Rite. Instead, the celebrant could "highlight the idea that God calls us to wholeness, and to mend a broken world. Use a picture of a globe, cut it into three pieces, and bring these broken pieces together in a mime, dance, or movement as you pray the words, 'Lord, have mercy...' and so on". This, it seems, is the livesimply vision of 21stcentury Catholic liturgy.
It gets worse. The priest could "ask a group to think beforehand of some of the ways that we fail to live simply, sustainably or in solidarity with the poor, and name these in a litany of penance-.
So, what are some of the livesimply sins? Wasting energy. of course: overfilling the kettle; using too much paper; failing to speak up for the asylum seeker. Then the spine-chilling observation: "This would work well musically, too, using a simple refrain."
Without doubt, the most cringe-making part of the proposed Mass is when, after the Gospel (about the Last Judgment), a comedy skit is performed. Here's an excerpt: "News reporter: This is the Good News. The headlines at six o'clock. Bong! Feeling sheepish? It's eternal life for the nation's favourite animal. Bong! Get your goat up! Gruff news for selfish beasts. Bong! It's the end of the world as we know it. Which side will you end up on?
"There was high drama in Jerusalem today as Jesus presented his vision of how the world was ending up. The good Lord divided people up into sheep and goats and had some startling news for them. For the latest, let's cross to our reporter, Sue Stainable."
"Stop!". I hear you cry, and I agree: that's quite enough of that. You wouldn't think these "liturgical directions" were aimed at young people from the age of 13 to 35, would you?
It is possible to imagine the sort of meeting at which Youth Sunday was planned... Ageing trendies sit in a dimly lit room, wearing turtle-neck jumpers. They dip Fairtrade digestive biscuits into herbal tea and slowly pass round the "speaking stone" (only the person holding the stone can talk, allowing for creative debate). There is New Age music in the background it's Dave's favourite, and he strokes his goatee surreptitiously. The speaking stone is passed to Monica. She has an idea.
"We could tell them,she begins to nervously giggle, "to hand out chocolate after Communion with a little livesimply message or action as a tag things like 'change to energy-saving light bulbs' or 'try to walk somewhere this week instead of using your car'."
The room mutters and nods sincerely; Post Communion Rite "reflection idea 2" is added to the heavy hemp document...
what will it take for the Church to understand its bewildered youth?
Bong! Young Catholics don't like to be patronised.
Bong! Young Catholics don't benefit from mindless, inane, liturgy.
Bong! Young Catholics look to the Church for moral and spiritual guidance, not recycling tips.
The headlines at six o'clock? Your Graces: get a grip,