It has now been 40 years since the close of the Second Vatican Council in Rome called by Pope John XXIII and finished by Pope Paul VI. Where does the church stand now? Has the church continued to grow or is it merely existing? It is time for Catholics to take stock and chart the course for a 21st century church.
Immediately following the Vatican II council, many changes were implemented, especially in the United States. English replaced latin and congregations were greeted with songs like "They'll Know We Are Christians". After the initial rush, changes tempered until the "Folk Music" period ushered in by guitarists and the Glory and Praise book. Can you imagine a Catholic church without "On Eagle's Wings" or "Be Not Afraid"? Well they were both considered very contemporary for their time.
The 80's and 90's brought pockets of continued change and continued resistance to change. Life Teen started to take on in parishes throughout the country after its humble beginnings at St. Timothy's Catholic Community (note: they don't call themselves a parish). People dared to try new things at Mass like holding hands as a community for the Our Father and allowing women (gasp) on the altar as acholytes and lay ministers.
Now we have a generation coming of age that has never known the pre Vatican II church. You look around at Mass though and you don't see them. Where are my peers? Some have stopped coming to church, some go to other churches, and some seek out the few Masses that feed them spiritually. It's a catch 22, parishes won't cater towards non-existant young adults and young adults won't come to parishes that ignore them.
It's time for a change. We're here in your communities and we're ready to be active members of the parish. Call us, talk to us, listen to us. Not every Mass has to be contemporary nor does it have to be traditional. Catholics are not cookie cutter people and neither should our Masses or churches. Although I have stereotyped by age I know that many older parishioners are also yearning for change. That was shown in HS when I was singing at a Life Teen Mass next to a group of senior citizens that were having a very enjoyable time.