When I was a kid, attending and paying attention in Mass weren’t really an option. As a teen, my parents reinforced my desire to go to Mass. If I chose not to go to Mass then Sunday afternoon was filled with chores, and I wasn’t allowed to attend the weekly Sunday night dance at St. Theresa Parish. That was enough for me – it kept me going to Mass until I was able to see the beauty and Truth present in the Church. However, it’s more than just external cooperation in going to Mass… it’s about the inner transformation that accompanies it.
First, to help teens get something out of Mass we must start with parents. Parents must lead by example. If a parent does not attend Mass, how can children be expected to go? This is the all-important foundation. And when we attend Mass, are we only there to fulfill an obligation, or are we there to return love to a good God? Your positive attitude at Mass can have a huge impact on teens! Extend this positive attitude to the new Roman Missal translation – use this as an opportunity to explain what the responses mean and where they come from. There are many wonderful options to assist you in this, such as SJEC’s Worship page and resources from Pauline Books and Media. For more ideas, visit our local Catholic Bookstore, Divine Treasures.
Second, our example at Mass should extend into our daily lives so much that we live our faith visibly by blessing and praying with our young people, sharing saint stories with them, and placing symbols of our faith in our homes. Teens are looking for faith that is genuine and life-changing – show them Jesus!
Third, teaching teens to connect Mass and loving God can make a difference too. In Mathew 22: 34-40, Jesus states, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” So ask your children how can we best show our Love for God and neighbor? It’s simple… We do it best at Mass. When we are at Mass together, our love for one another and God becomes a prayer worthy of celebration.
Here is a beautiful quote about the Mass: “Mass is the place where we act out our worship, where we demonstrate by word and gesture what is the greatest worth to us.” We must teach our children that when we gather at Mass on the day that Jesus rose from the dead, we gather for the most wonderful, exciting opportunity to show love to God and each other. We just need to set a good example, explain the Mass in a new way, and continue to invite them into this celebration of God’s love!
(Bill Richer, former Director of Youth Ministry at St. Francis of Assisi parish)