The following is a short article penned by myself about the Juventutem experience:There
was certain appropriateness for Juventutem’s first World Youth Day basing itself upon the theme ‘venimus adorare Eum
’ – we have come to adore Him (Mat 2:2). The Traditional Latin Mass encapsulates centuries of the Roman Church’s very best cry to God centred on such a pursuit. Totally ad Dominum, an imperfect people assisted by the angels and saints process on pilgrimage toward the heavenly homeland. Complementary to the Holy Mass, Juventutem’s activities included Latin Rosary street processions, Eucharistic adoration, the Angelus and selections of the Office, and solid catechetical instruction on topics including liturgical reform, the nature of grace, filial piety, and the art of prayer. Pilgrims were nourished with treasures of Catholic culture in sacred concerts, and visits to breathtaking Bavarian Baroque churches and relics of various saints. In addition to Classical Pontifical High Masses, pilgrims also had a privileged exposure to the Dominican and Syro-Malabar Rites.
One may be surprised to learn of the cultural particulars that the international character of the Juventutem delegation exposed within even the Classical Mass. The more confusing included the liturgical posture of the people at points of the Ordinary, but another practice of ringing the church bells throughout the entire Consecration was quite magnificent.
The Juventutem experience was certainly not purely aesthetical. Awaiting Mass with the Holy Father in Marienfeld amongst rubbish and cold winds, misplaced hymns, singing the Credo
to get through an ice cold shower, overflowing trains, redundant altars, poor church architecture, Cardinal Arinze’s illness, and feeling quite ‘foreign’ are the stuff that would remind one that a pilgrim’s lot is not necessarily comfortable; pilgrims, Fathers, and brother Seminarians nevertheless pressed on. Of course, light is best perceived out of darkness, and memories of the march of the milites Christi through Marienfeld, the haunting echo of Latin Rosary chant through the empty Dusseldorf St Antonius’ church, stars at night and glorious mornings, and the Latin language nullifying linguistic barriers, burn brightly. Compline by the fire and singing the Tantum Ergo
with the Pope at Marienfeld brought warm consolation. I would perhaps say that the comparably smaller group of English-speaking pilgrims shared a closer bond than the French. Personally, the crowning highlight was the ‘actualisation’ of the entire Church, when a small group of us Juventutem pilgrims from the Melbourne community, accompanied by Father Glen Tattersall, FSSP, and with the blessing of His Grace Archbishop Denis Hart, experienced a ‘papal encounter’ outside the Cologne Cathedral.
Through the Liturgy, Juventutem witnessed that World Youth Day need not be another festival celebrating youth for youth’s sake. Ours is a generation that has been largely left unchallenged. One risks severe criticism to dare say that something or some form is objectively ‘better’ or ‘higher’ than another – to dare challenge mediocrity. To deny young people the opportunity to experience the Classical Liturgy on the grounds that it is ‘too hard’ or ‘archaic’ or ‘irrelevant’ is insulting and does them a massive injustice. The idea of contradiction is central to our faith. In a modern world of constant change and innovation, it is scandalous to assume that the stable and permanent are worthwhile. Tradition is looked upon with suspicion, faith, laughable. Through all of this it must be continually stressed that young people are capable of appreciating, and even loving that which preceded them; they have a right to discover their inheritance.
The very existence of Juventutem testifies to the healthy vigour of the ‘Latin Mass movement’ within the Church. Like the Magi, these pilgrims are custodians of a great treasure that belongs to the entire Church, not out of a misplaced sense of piety, but from a genuine concern for the salvation of souls. One of the fruits that I hope blossoms out of Juventutem’s World Youth Day presence is the consideration of the real possibility of a plurality of rites existing harmoniously within the Roman Church, much like in the East, without trying to mould the two into an awkward hybrid, inhibiting the life of both. I hope too that those within the movement will no longer be perceived as ‘on the fringe’ or ‘separatists’. The Classical Liturgy offers the Church a legitimate and proven option to help fill her pews, and seminaries.
Juventutem has demonstrated that clearly of its very essence, the Classical Liturgy is not an ‘appeasement’, an ‘escape’ or a refuge for ‘poor sentimental souls’ stuck in a ‘time warp’. The lambs of this ‘new springtime’ have entered into a bypassed field with a new enthusiasm, and the grass they have settled upon is lush and green. They have discerned that with the grace of God, this is the best means to work out their salvation. How will they show this to the Church and to the world? Not with aggression, an arrogant disposition, or a withdrawn solitude, but with an authentic youthful joy, a joy throughout all days and despite all infirmities. How is this possible? Introibo ad altare Dei, ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam
. I shall go unto the altar of God, to God who gladdens my youth. Deo gratias!