Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

What I Have Seen and Heard (May 17, 2007)

Published May 17, 2007

The acronyms that young people—the primary text messaging culprits—have devised as shortcuts to longer words and phrases both amuse and often confuse me. These brief-lettered communications can be humorous as well as informative.

The other evening, I spent some time with about 200 of our teenagers for an evening of prayer. They referred to their assembly as XLT (Exalt), and it is a time for our teenagers to engage in prayer—spirited, joyful and musically vibrant prayer!

Like most teenage activities, XLT is loud—not offensive, disruptive or annoying loudness, but loud with the spirited energy of young people speaking to the Lord. What amazed me most was that the boys were also singing. As many of you must know by now, teenage boys take a secret and solemn vow against singing in church—even when they know the songs, even when they are with other boys! But the young men at XLT sang, clapped and prayed with great energy and obvious happiness.

During the conversation that I had with them, one of the youngsters at XLT asked me if I had a favorite “Praise and Worship” song when I was a teenager. At that moment, I felt that same sensation that I have when I am attempting to text message—“I am out of my league!”

I told her that Praise and Worship songs like those that our youngsters enjoy today were not around when I was their age. I had favorite church songs to be sure, but they were not of the tempo, rhythm or beat that teenagers today find in the Christian music of this generation.

The Praise and Worship songs that our youngsters (and many adults as well) enjoy are a product of the past decade or so. When Pope John Paul II came to Denver for World Youth Day in 1993, the music that was played was of this genre. He seemed right at home, clapping and swaying with the thousands of young people (including the guys) who sang their praises to the Triune God using the music of their generation.

The young people who gathered last week at the Cathedral auditorium are excellent examples of a new and vibrant age of Catholics who are very comfortable praying together in energetic and enthusiastic ways. I was happy to share an evening with them and to tell them of the love that the whole Church and especially their Archbishop has for them—as they are youthful, happy and full of life and, yes, quite thunderous at times.

I know God listens to their young hearts and voices, and I am equally certain that the Father is honored, glorified and praised by their music—as He was by the music of our own generation, no matter how long ago that might have been.

As I sang and prayed with them and listened to the sincerity of their questions and prayers, I thought to myself this is like text messaging—you know you can do it if you just learn more of the language that the kids use when they are doing it. Then I had to LOL at the thought!