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What I meant to say…

posted by awelborn

I actually was going to write something else in that previous post that fits the title. Let’s try again.

We Catholics agonize a great deal about liturgy and attendant issues, and in the midst of the woe, we tend to think we’re all alone. We look about, and all we see, on one hand, is Orthodox reverence, solidity and amazing chant, and on the other, enthusiastic mobs packing in evangelical mega-churches and leaving Catholicism behind for whatever they’re finding there.

But anyone who’s well-read in religion knows that liturgy wars are not, by any means unique to Catholicism. Music issues make Protestants break out in hives, took, and there’s great debate brewing about post-modernism, emergent churches and liturgical issues.

For example, take a look at my favorite Reformed blogger living in Kentucky, The Internet Monk, who, in this post, lets out a heartfelt crie de coeur, inspired by a Mere Comments post:

I’m not an elitist. I’m not some truly reformed sheriff patrolling the creative wilderness shooting anyone who dares innovate. I’m supportive of a lot of the creative, innovative, mission driven developments in evangelicalism. I am not against new tunes, drama or the prudent use of technology. Don’t miss me here. I do not hope for the uncriticized past, for organs and choirs. I simply long for some semblance of dignity; some sense of the greatness of God and the glory of the Gospel. I simply want worship to be worthy of the God who calls us to worship, and not simply to be a pale travesty inbibing the worst of the current cultural pollutants.

It is almost impossible to find a worship leader- or worship participants- who have any idea of what Biblical worship means or ought to look like. Everyone, everywhere is doing the same things, the same way, in a mad competition for numbers. The triumph of evangelical entertainment and sappy, happy, clappy sentiment is nearly complete. Of course, in my ministry setting at a Christian school with many visiting worship leaders, I see what the effect is of all of this on high school and middle school students. (I should say I can also observe the effect of such worship on adults as well, as the majority stay far away if possible, for reasons varying from having experienced 45 minutes of this "praise and worship" menu at their own church to simply being unable to stomach what happens when young people get to "have it their way.") Everything must have hand motions and be greeted with applause. We must never, ever be bored. All is feelings. Thought and proclamation are the enemy. Visuals and stimulation are worshipped. Corporate worship these days needs cheerleaders- real cheerleaders- right there on the sidelines, to keep us all interested. The unchecked, increasing eagerness to depart from anything resembling classic Christian worship and to embrace some new, low and distinctively unspiritual experience is everywhere.

Michael (the Internet Monk) wrote something a few months ago that struck me as just deeply, deeply true, not just for Protestants, but for some Catholics as well:

I must have 300 letters from people asking where to find a liturgical church that preaches the Bible.

That’s it, I thought. That’s it. Sola Scriptura matters aside, more thoughtful readers here don’t need a sign. You get it. If we want to be precisely Catholic in our formulation, we would put it a bit differently, expanding "Bible" to take in tradition, and just the entire beauty of God reaching to us through Church, revealing Himself to us, loving us, forgiving us.

There is such hunger out there, and for so long we Catholics have succumbed, in dangerous ways, to the cultural ethos that frames religion as one more effort to SuperSize Me. McDonald’s is big, profitable, shiny and crowded. But where does it leave us? Unfed, with the illusion of feeling full.



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Suibhne

posted July 18, 2005 at 4:07 pm


just the entire beauty of God reaching to us through Church, revealing Himself to us, loving us, forgiving us.
There’s that word: beauty. We’re a society almost incapable of recognizing the beautiful, even when face to face with it. As the Internet Monk put it:
The unchecked, increasing eagerness to depart from anything resembling classic Christian worship and to embrace some new, low and distinctively unspiritual experience is everywhere.
Pope Bendicit XVI is an accomplished musician. A pianist with a love for Mozart. He recognizes beauty. This offers much hope for the future of liturgy.



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Carrie

posted July 18, 2005 at 4:16 pm


I didn’t get the impression while watching the papal funeral that people were eager to get away from classic Christian worship. The funeral was steeped in it, and may be part of the reason Benedict was welcomed with open arms.



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John Cox

posted July 18, 2005 at 4:55 pm


I identify with the Internet Monk’s longing for some dignity in the liturgy as practiced.
As an Episcopalian wandering toward Rome, I continue to struggle with the masses at the local Catholic church up the street. Anguish is the best word to describe it sometimes, especially intense as I continue reading Weigel’s JPII biography “Witness to Hope,” and apprehend Wojtyla’s (and I think Ratzinger’s) wholistic awe and joy in the Mass, and how it’s intended to correspond to the true innate dignity of man and God.
My anguish is forcing me to examine my own…practice, of whether I truly surrender myself to authentic worship, or whether I selfishly, narrowly, meanly want to simply feel good…just with a different setting than those seemingly embraced in this local parish.
So I need to continue that examination, as part of the vocation of holiness stressed by the late Pope. And yet…to share in a liturgy in which every word, every note, every gesture is to the glory and the majesty of the God-who-is-with-us, a liturgy that calls us, lifts us to His presence, where we can be more than we dare, even, to believe….I do long for that.



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Kathleen

posted July 18, 2005 at 5:25 pm


Amy:
That was a beautiful, well put post.
Kathleen



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John Bianco

posted July 18, 2005 at 5:28 pm


The issue of liturgy runs deep, and while as in other threads the Novus Ordo can be reverent, even very traditional, those in power, from the USCCB, to individual Bishops, to Pastors, to liturgy comitties and “catholic” publishers all seem to have a vested intrest in making the liturgy as banal as possible, hence the lastest GIRM and how Bishops have interperted it. Not to rehash previous suggestions, but somthing must be done to allow people to break free of the strnglehold the establishment has.
John, your experience is not uncommon among many Epsicopalins and Lutherans who want to convert to the Catholic church, but are very put off by very irreverent masses, often in parishes that go out of their way to disconnect themselves from Rome and various church teachings and seem to have the worst attributes of evengelical “services” combined with some of the worst aspects of liturgical protestants in terms of presenting authentic teachings.



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Donna

posted July 18, 2005 at 6:24 pm


Amy: First of all, thank you for recommending your husband’s “The How-To Book of the Mass.” I ordered it from Amazon, it arrived on Friday, and I’ve read up to the chapter on the Opening Prayer. I’m finding it very useful and interesting, especially the historical bits on the faith of the Early Church. A young co-worker of mine wants to read it after I’m done. Please thank Michael for me as well! :-)
“We’re a society almost incapable of recognizing the beautiful, even when face to face with it.”
Suibhne: I think the fact that much of 20th century art and music was so determined to be ugly, so intent in rubbing our faces in emptiness and squalor and vulgarity, has a great deal to do with people’s dulled senses.
When I finally began to tire of non-stop rock music and suspect that there were better things out there than U2 and Bruce Springteen, I began listening to classical stations and buying classical records, but my ears were unaccustomed to intricate harmony and melody. It took a while before my heartfelt reactions to Bach stopped being “Where’s the beat? This is dull!” and became “This is beautiful.” Retraining your ears (and eyes) takes a little work, but it opens up a whole new dimension in life. (For the record, I’m certainly not a musicial expert, and I still like rock, and blues, and cajun music, and the occasional country tune. But I can hear say, Gregorian chant now and find it deeply moving – at age 20, it would have bored me to tears. And, at age 20, I would have been afraid to be seen as odd, or pretentious. Now that I’m 45, I don’t give a rip :-)



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Todd

posted July 18, 2005 at 6:27 pm


While I’m quite aware of the shortcomings in Catholic worship, I find it hard to be at all sympathetic to critics who do more complaining than roll-up-the-sleeves hard work. I had the same complaints twenty-five years ago about liturgy being less than it could be. I did something about it, and I still do.
I’ve often criticized my more traditional friends for taking a hands-off attitude when it comes to liturgy, especially in parishes where there is still a lot of good work yet to be done. Over time, and yes, it usually takes a lot more time than writing a letter to complain to the bishop or the CDWDS, I find that a wide range of sensibilities can work together to accomplish something great in parish worship. But people who expect to ride in on a white horse proclaiming the latest Adoremus survey as the New Gospel … do people in that saddle really expect to be taken seriously? Even if they may be mostly right? Albus Dumbledore once said it is harder to forgive a person for being right than for being wrong. And if the person doesn’t know enough about you to vault past suspicions and questions of your motives, a sensible person can’t be serious about effecting liturgical change by being what appears to be a Vatican toady.
I’ve come to the sad conclusion some (if not most) critics prefer to be outcasts than builders. And if dust-free sandals are your calling, I wish you the best.
My personal experience has taught me that even when people agree with you and like you, it still takes a long time before they will trust you with changes in their liturgy. Every parish I’ve ever served has had problems and challenges to address. Every parish has needed a considerable amount of time–usually years–before I could begin to convince them there was a better way, and more: that they could actually do it themselves. I’ve been at my current parish a bit over three years now, and I think I’m barely starting to make headway.
I also know that as a professional writer, I’ve approached a small, but not insignificant number of people outside of progressive liturgy circles to collaborate on projects for a publisher who was willing to embrace my pitch. I had an easier time selling a progressive editor than enlisting the help of even a single person willing to set aside the tools of the liturgy wars and begin a constructive approach to better parish liturgy. That tells me a lot right there.
So you’ll forgive me (and write me off, I’m sure) if I generally dismiss the conservative side on sentiments such as this as empty wishfulness. Until I see some hands actually willing to get dirty in the work of real parish liturgy.



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John Bianco

posted July 18, 2005 at 6:34 pm


Here is a question, what are the fruits of such a style of worship that brings the world into the santcuary, that makes almost no demands on parishoners, that teaches as little as possible?
At least with Evangelicals that do this, they make to pretense about things such as chuch teachings, much less sacraments. Their ministers are just people who interpert the bible and preach what their biblical view is. Yes this leads to confusion, as one sees within the whole non denominational movment that has no creed to hold to so to speak, but again, they do not make any pretension that there is anything aside from their interperation of the bible to uphold.
When Catholics do this as Amy says, “supersize” style of worship, teachings are pushed in the background, the concept of sacraments often gets lost, and Catholic who go to these masses may feel good, but more often than not take home little to hold on to. To an extent, this is an extension of the extreme low mass mentality so many priests had before Vatican II with the infamous 15 minuite masses, where priests looked at the priesthood more as a job rather than a vocation, and it seems many priests have that mentality today, and now have full free reign to be as irreverent as he wants the mass to be. It is no surprise that there are so many lapsed Catholics when this seems to be the main style of worship in so many parishes, and its no surprise few outside of a conversion outside of marriage, want to convert to the church.
As a well known Eastern Orthodox blogger Serge has stated, one reason for the mainia around Pope John Paul II is that the Pope, not the mass, not the teachings of the church or even the church itself has become the main, prehaps only symbol of unity of Catholics. Its sad that it has come to this.



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Donna

posted July 18, 2005 at 6:44 pm


And who on earth thought folk masses were a good idea? As a teenager in the ’70’s, I thought folk masses were lame beyond belief and my parents weren’t crazy about them either.
I remember listening to many badly sung “Kumbayas” and, once, watching a Martha Graham type dancer dressed in a sack do an “interpretative dance” in the aisle during Advent which resembled a grand mal seizure. It was horribly embarrassing – like watching your venerable and dignified old grandmother suddenly take to wearing a tie-dyed mini-skirt. These bizarre exercises always seemed to occur during the Saturday Vigil masses. My 17 year old wisenheimer self came to the conclusion that it was punishment for being too lazy to get up on Sunday morning, the “proper” day to fulfill your Sunday obligation. :-)



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John

posted July 18, 2005 at 7:18 pm


I have very strong feelings about the Mass. First, I remember the Tridentine Masses and served at them. Without knowing Latin or much of anything at all, beig just a child yet, it left an idellible impression on my spiritual life and was and still remains a potent connection to the Catholic Church.
I never saw any priest say Mass then in a disrespectful way. I do not remember deliberate disrespect for the reserved Eucharist or the just consecrated species on the altar by clergy or lay people. Homilies were often boring [are they not now?] but never noticed or heard from adults that the preacher sounded heterodox.
Today, Mass is often an occasion of scandal engendered by performance happy cantors, bad music, frustrated comedian preachers, and disrespectful laypeople [ignorance or lack of faith?] at the most solemn moments of the Mass. It is a cross to be a captive at such rituals.
Yes, the Novus Ordo can be done very well. I have seen it done. However, sucess requires that priest and congregation maintain focus: no funny remarks, discussing the tripp to Las Vegas, and more importantly, keeping in mind that the event is a representation of the sacrifice on Calvary.
Except for small, special congregatios this is impossible to replicate in the average parish today. Let’s face it, the rite has been totally destabilized by the reforms. Tinkering with it further will not work. The recent GIRM is totally ignored in its details and in its intent.
At this point, my recommendation would be to have at least one Tridentine Mass per Sunday at every parish. Let the faithful vote with their feet. Some Bishops feel the old rite side by side with the new would cause disunity. What do we have now? Furthermore, right now Catholics like myself are subjected to a cruel spiritual dictatorship. What is ironic is that the dictators above us claim to just love diversity.



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Septimus

posted July 18, 2005 at 7:25 pm


Donna:
LOL! I thought the same thing about those earnest, “folk” Masses: “lame” and embarrassing!
Amy:
I was a Pentecostal for eight years (I am a revert), and I finally found it EXAUSTING; trying to summon up emotional energy every time we’d gather — Sunday morning, or during the week, for worship. It wasn’t all that hard for a college student, but then, there were times I wasn’t “up” — so, was I spiritual?
I went from that to a dry, calm, Evangelical Free congregation, which was a great relief but, as I said, dry.
After awhile, I found myself with no place to go; that’s when I started going to Mass again, even though I’d sworn I’d never be Catholic again — and, while my feelings were nowhere so intense at that point, it seemed to me I had committed myself to something, and I ought to stand by it. So I went to Mass (no, I certainly did not receive communion), and even though I maintained a “distance,” emotionally, it was peaceful; it was helpful. It restored my soul, to cite Psalm 23.
It was a reverent, by my standards, celebration of the Paul VI Rite in Northern Virginia; but, yes, sometimes, the priest might use humor at the beginning, homily or conclusion — so perhaps that would offend some here, I don’t know.
So, I can identify with the Internet Monk, even though I am, I guess, a “quasi-charismatic” if that makes any sense.



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John

posted July 18, 2005 at 7:26 pm


Todd:
The problem is not that people do not get involved in the liturgy but that they do. Then Murphy’s law of unintended consequences clicks in with a vengence. That is why we have a complete liturgical breakdown today.
Pope Benedict wrote quite eloquently in the past about the reform of the rite. I await his reforms. If he fails me…I guess, one should not even contemplate such a pessimistic alternative.



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Todd

posted July 18, 2005 at 9:26 pm


John, I appreciate your wish for perfection, but I don’t agree, and actually, neither do most of St Blog’s. How many times have people posted about the relative uninvolvement of men? Women always outnumber men in choirs. I had a chant choir six or seven years ago. All women, except for me.
I think some conservatives try to get involved, but grow frustrated they’re not listened to like liturgical experts right off the bat. That’s one problem. Protestants manage decently sized choirs with much smaller congregations. And lots of Catholic parishes still have trouble filling out a decent men’s section.
Your regard for reforms from on high is laudable, but Benedict is not hundreds of thousands of pastors. He is one man. Not the savior. The real work of reform, however one might interpret it or carry it out, will be done by the laity.
John, I would ask you: how have you gotten involved in your parish’s liturgy? And do you have the stamina and tenacity to stick it out?



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B Knotts

posted July 18, 2005 at 9:48 pm


If the Holy Father authorizes all priests to say the Traditional Latin Mass without having to ask permission from local ordinary, I think the problem will largely correct itself.



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Dale Price

posted July 18, 2005 at 10:02 pm


It’s a two-way street, Todd. Conservatives didn’t get into the sniping from the ruins mode all by themselves. They have had–and continue to have–plenty of encouragement from an American liturgical establishment that treats their concerns and aspirations with contempt.
Progressives are going to have to admit their misdeeds, swallow a little pride, and extend a hand in genuine fellowship.
It’s one thing to battle the parish’s liturgical mindset. It’s a whole different prospect to go to war with the DLO, FDLC, BCL, CTSA, CBA and OCP, to name but six of the entrenched vested interests that have a lot more to say about parish liturgies than Jane and Joe Parishioner. Not one of which has more than feigned concern for the complaints of traditional/conservative Catholics.
By all means–get involved in your parish’s liturgy. Changes can be made–it’s happened at our parish. Barring the occasional miraculous intervention, just don’t expect anything in the way of official support.



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Colleen

posted July 18, 2005 at 10:16 pm


John: I’ll second that. Too many people involved in the liturgy with one person as the ‘go to’ guy, with his own tastes, his own idea of beauty and the need for a paycheck so he can help support his family (I use ‘he’ ‘guy’ and ‘his’ but most liturgical directors [and related functionaries] around my area are actually women).
In my parish they fairly recently let the person go who used to pretty much run the day to day parish operations and ‘theme’ the weekend Masses (she was also the pastoral assistant). So the parish ended up saving ourselves 45K plus benefits, the Masses are simpler and way more reverent, no ‘let’s try something different to try to get them in’, donations are up and the Mass is the Mass is the Mass again. An anchor for the week and finally it is recognizable as something that binds us to our Catholic traditions and our past brothers and sisters and not something based on innovation and/or newness. You probably need a pretty strong pastor for this though, one who is willing to take the heat and who doesn’t have much time to sit around dialoguing with the various heads of the ministries so none of them are offended by his taking charge as a ‘father’.
Todd: a part of the problem with the guys is that too many women ‘run’ the various ministries and fem it all up. But the salary is low as a rule and for most it would be a good second income, non heavy lifting job but not good as an income that pays most of the bills at home.
I don’t think things’ll change anytime too soon – I know in my diocese they are pumping out MA’s in parish ministry like crazy.
I do quite a few things in my local parish but they are behind the scenes grunt work stuff, cooking for parties, running cookouts for youth groups, messy jobs like that. I prefer the hard work stuff, don’t want to get paid, just hand me a mop and a bucket and tell me what you want cleaned or planted or polished or cooked. I don’t want an ‘altar job’, or a paid position heading up a ministry that probably doesn’t need a formal name or a formal head. I love being in the pews and I thank God every day for putting me there!



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amy

posted July 18, 2005 at 10:16 pm


Todd,
I would guess that you might be surprised at the number of posters here who are involved in their parish’s ministry as musicians, etc.
but I think your contention that “fixing” this requires an inordinate amount of reources is off base, and worthy of its own post. Which I’ll provide in a moment.



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David Kubiak

posted July 18, 2005 at 10:57 pm


Todd:
Your comments would be well-taken if it were not for a fact like this: the pastor simply says that there will be no Latin or chant in any Masses in his parish. And he puts the liturgy in charge of someone with little learning and less taste. Now imagine that pastor as your bishop. Surely you can see why conservatives/traditionalists are in many places forced to walk away. This is where the Pope can make the difference if he chooses to.



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Whitcomb

posted July 18, 2005 at 11:12 pm


I don’t think the “fem” argument mentioned above holds water. Women historically have been the backbone of the American church–the nuns, the ladies running the altar society, the women in charge of the rectory, the lay teachers, the choir and so on. This is nothing new. We had a lot of male participation in the old days but probably never as much as we’d like. Let’s face it: A lot of men go to church simply to keep peace in the household.
When I was a wee choir boy almost 40 years ago, dressed in my surplice and cassock, the majority of singers were women. And among the children’s component in the choir, most were girls. And this was when we had a male choir director.



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Peter Nixon

posted July 18, 2005 at 11:20 pm


I’m sympathetic with many of the issues raised by the Internet Monk. But I had an experience a couple of months back that offers a useful counterpoint.
I was in Ireland and attended Sunday mass at a beautiful Catholic church in Co. Down. Lots of beautiful stained glass and statues, mosaics, etc.
But I have to say I was taken aback by the passivity of the congregation. The choir sang, but few others did (I felt rather self-conscious singing the hymns, something I rarely feel in my home parish). We proceded through the mass at a brisk clip, in and out in 45 minutes. All in all, it felt like the liturgical equivalent of an Irish breakfast: nourishing, but a little bland.
I am in complete agreement that the mass is about prayer, not performance. But this particular mass did feel a lot like a performance rather than a collective act of prayer. I’m not looking for laser lights and praise music. But I also don’t like to race through the Eucharistic prayer like we’re trying to break the land speed record and when we say “Amen,” let’s say it like we really mean it. A little enthusiasm about what we are there to do is not a bad thing.



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Dina Swift

posted July 18, 2005 at 11:23 pm


“And if the person doesn’t know enough about you to vault past suspicions and questions of your motives,”
Kettles? The Pot’s just posted, he wants you all to know you’re black….



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mark

posted July 18, 2005 at 11:28 pm


“How many times have people posted about the relative uninvolvement of men? Women always outnumber men in choirs. I had a chant choir six or seven years ago. All women, except for me.”
I have commented a couple of times, agreeing that we need more men, more masculinization of the Mass and parishes in general. However, on this point, I must confess to a possible contrary view for a very practical reason. It may be that men, with their low voices, simply cannot carry a choir, and are useful only in small doses. Having recently purchased many chant and polyphony CDs, from the 10th to 15th centuries, I lean toward preferring those by women. That is probably because (I am assuming) that these chants were written with young boy choirs in mind, i.e., fairly high-pitched voices. These chants with the higher voices tend to be a bit more beautiful and solemn, at least in my opinion. The lower-pitched men’s chants are good, but not as transcendent. Now, if some parish can find some good 10-year-old boys with good voices . . . but I don’t think there are many out there anymore.
Unfortunately, all too many of the choirs today, even those approriately mixed, and those concentrating on more traditional music and chants, are not as good as they could be. But then, that is not suprising, and its not something that we can really complain about. Most, I suspect, are well-meaning pious folks who simply cannot sing very well. Good chant isn’t easy to do. I go quite frequently to a very hard line orthodox parish, and it has a couple very good cantors, but it also has a couple older cantors who barely have enough breath to speak, much less sing — much less sing in a manner that you can understand what they are singing or chanting. That said, I know that if I was ever a cantor or choir member, I would be a disaster. A good cantor or choir requires someone with a good voice and formal training; one that can get by without instrumental accompaniment. Perhaps those near colleges with music schools have better luck finding such people.



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Dina Swift

posted July 18, 2005 at 11:34 pm


“All in all, it felt like the liturgical equivalent of an Irish breakfast: nourishing, but a little bland.”
Dang.
It’s hard to take seriously the thoughts of someone who does not appreciate the artery-clogging magnificence of the Irish breakfast.



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Colleen

posted July 19, 2005 at 12:36 am


Speaking of the congregation hardly singing… recently I went to a Mass in another state (SC) and the Mass was entirely sung – it was really beautiful! The back and forth was so natural to fall into and I had never been to a sung Mass before. With the way it is today ( I don’t know if it’s right or wrong) it seems so scripted… like you are forced to sing on queue (is that the right ‘Q’ word?) in all the right places or you aren’t ‘participating’ correctly and sometimes you are admonished.
The choir with all women is one thing (and there were always a lot of women but more men ‘back then’ than there is now) and it may indeed be that the songs are too high to sing comfortably, I dunno, — but women run most everything in the parishes, most of the ministries, they cantor, they read, they serve at the altar. I know women are the backbone of the parish and always have been, but it used to be that they were the ones making everyone go to Mass. I’ve heard some all male scholas that are incredible, btw.
I don’t think it’s fair to say that “some conservatives [there you go with the labels again Todd] try to get involved, but grow frustrated they’re not listened to like liturgical experts right off the bat” — when you ask if it would be OK to do something, when you do it politely and those in charge (including the priest sometimes) look at you like you are nutz, you just shut up and go back to your seat. That’s happened to me more than a few times. OK, I am not someone with tons of letters after my name and I am not a ‘liturgical expert’ (whatever that is) but I have been to Mass all over the place, in the USA and also in all different countries and I love the Mass with all my heart and soul. I’m OK to ask to do the gruntwork (which I love to do) but I am not OK in asking if it would be OK if the choir used Latin once and a while because it’s the language of the Church and it is beautiful.



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Todd

posted July 19, 2005 at 6:56 am


“If the Holy Father authorizes all priests to say the Traditional Latin Mass without having to ask permission from local ordinary, I think the problem will largely correct itself.”
It would be an interesting correction, because I think the overall quality of the 1962 Rite celebrations would sink.
“It’s a two-way street, Todd.”
That’s likely true. But despite my acknowledgement of historical mistakes, I don’t see my extended hand taken all that often, except in my own parish.
“It’s a whole different prospect to go to war with the DLO, FDLC, BCL, CTSA, CBA and OCP, to name but six …”
And perhaps a bit less fatalism from the conservative side might help, too. The going to war mindset is perhaps too revealing of the attitude brought to the struggle. Are you a Catholic to worship God in spirit and truth or are you coming to Mass loaded for bear?
” … just don’t expect anything in the way of official support.”
I wouldn’t expect it to sustain what I did.
Colleen, I noticed you assumed I meant the director’s seat; I don’t even think the professional liturgists are making all that much impact. If my conservative parishioners were both as informed and as active as St Blog’s seems to be, they’d do a lot more than I could. I just don’t see it happening. And it’s a fallacy one has to be in charge to make changes. One does need time.
“I would guess that you might be surprised at the number of posters here who are involved in their parish’s ministry as musicians, etc.”
No, I wouldn’t. But I do think that complainers tend not to be as involved. Sometimes they have their good reasons, sometimes not.
” … but I think your contention that “fixing” this requires an inordinate amount of reources is off base, and worthy of its own post.”
I’ll be happy to chime in on that, but I didn’t say change required resources (by which I assume you mean financial) so much as time and personal commitment. My contention remains that people who expect change are living on false hopes expecting it to come from the top. I’ll be posting something on this on my own site soon: my fortunate fourth year in Iowa during which time two very different groups approached me about liturgical change: one which wanted to start a LifeTeen-style Mass and a much smaller group that wanted to begin a chant schola. Each, in their own way, brought their successes and shortcomings to the overall liturgy effort. And each demonstrated that good things happen when people simply get involved with the more or less pure intention of making parish liturgy better.



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Henry Dieterich

posted July 19, 2005 at 7:56 am

Lauda Jerusalem Dominum

posted July 19, 2005 at 8:52 am


Unfortunately, all too many of the choirs today, even those approriately mixed, and those concentrating on more traditional music and chants, are not as good as they could be. But then, that is not suprising, and its not something that we can really complain about. Most, I suspect, are well-meaning pious folks who simply cannot sing very well. Good chant isn’t easy to do. I go quite frequently to a very hard line orthodox parish, and it has a couple very good cantors, but it also has a couple older cantors who barely have enough breath to speak, much less sing — much less sing in a manner that you can understand what they are singing or chanting. That said, I know that if I was ever a cantor or choir member, I would be a disaster. A good cantor or choir requires someone with a good voice and formal training; one that can get by without instrumental accompaniment. Perhaps those near colleges with music schools have better luck finding such people.
One has to remember that parishes attempting to ‘do’ Gregorian Chant are trying to fill a 40-year gap during which almost no one chanted at Mass. So it goes without saying that there will be some missteps at first.
Btw, the schola is traditionally all-male, and IMHO Gregorian Chant ‘fits’ the male voice better than the female. I am not opposed to mixed choirs or to children’s choirs but these are not the norm. Of course they can be beautiful in the right situation. Our parish had the children sing the Missa de Angelis (aka Mass VIII) when some of the parish children received their First Holy Communion.
For myself, I’ve already quit my parish of domicile because my concerns went unheard and I don’t want to subject my children to the stuff that goes on there while I’m waiting for my concerns to be heard. It’s one thing for a single man or woman to stay and fight but quite another for a family. One gets tired of one’s children asking why Fr. doesn’t give the Blessed Sacrament the respect It deserves.



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John

posted July 19, 2005 at 9:11 am


Todd:
There is nothing that human beings can do to make things better in the Novus Ordo. God will have to intervene. I hope Pope Benedict is asking Him the right questions. In the mean time, I am trying on my own. Others are doing the same in their own way, I am sure.
The singing can improve. Sung Masses are one way to do it. Very few priests will chant without some training. They lack confidence. The Bishops are not even talking about this. In some countries chant is standard for almost all prayers including the readings of the gospel. This is good because it raises the level of solemnity for the occasion.
However, in our culture GIRM discipline will be resisted as long as people feel that they can improvise. Very few people can improvise in Latin. That is why the Tridentine Mass with its inherent connection with the sacred will always trump the Novus Ordo.
Fortunately Pope Benedict recognizes the fix we are in today. I am confident that he will do everything in his power to get the Church out of the mess we are in today.



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Dale Price

posted July 19, 2005 at 9:12 am


Well, Todd–partial credit. I’m glad you are open to traditional forms and concerns. I also trust you understand that your open-mindedness is far from universal. As is the refusal to admit real problems and the harm caused in the name of “reform.”
Moreover, my central point (however garbed in martial imagery) is that a traditionally-minded Catholic is not merely faced with the prospect of changing a parish’s liturgy–he is also trying to make headway against an entrenched culture, one that is almost uniformly hostile or dismissive of the concerns he brings to the table. No matter how long he’s on the parish committee, and no matter how charitably he frames his views, the opposing position will be backed with a blizzard of publications from “the best scholars and theologians” who say otherwise, written by the someone from the alphabet soup I cited above. That’s a much more trying and difficult prospect.
Unless, of course, he’s a whining slacker because he refuses to start up his own liturgical institute, complete with a degree program and suitable professoriat, in order to change that culture.



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WRY

posted July 19, 2005 at 9:18 am


John Cox,
Try reading Thomas Day’s “Why Catholics Can’t Sing” as an antidote. You’ll discover that the pristine Church of the Perfect Liturgy never existed for typical American Catholics. One funny scene is how, as a child, he and his whole family bolted from the pews in haste when they heard the organ and realized they were in for a dreaded High Mass. Another is when he tried as an adult to pass the peace to a little old lady who was busy praying her rosary, only to have her tell him she didn’t do “that shit.”
Protestant congregations are self-selecting. Chances are the people at that pristine Episcopal Liturgy all read music and appreciate that stuff, and the ones over at the Methodist Church like and appreciate those four-square thumpers written by Charles Wesley. And folks who don’t like those things go somewhere else, where they do have something they like.
In the Catholic Church, it’s “Here Comes Everybody.” So on my pew on Sunday I’ll see the guy who never sings to *anything* standing beside the woman who always raises her hands up high during the Our Father, and she’s beside the Barely There Teenager ™, son of the Latin Mass guy who is beside the one who knows all the Glory and Praise hymns by heart.
In parishes that are big enough and have a lot of masses, I’ve always wondered why they couldn’t have mass at each time have a different musical flavor. The people who care could select their flavor, and the ones who don’t want to fight can just go when they please.



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John

posted July 19, 2005 at 9:24 am


Carreie: “I didn’t get the impression while watching the papal funeral that people were eager to get away from classic Christian worship. The funeral was steeped in it, and may be part of the reason Benedict was welcomed with open arms.”
Exactamundo. I refrained from getting involved in the NO v TLM debate as I didn’t feel qualified to do so but as one who was raised in the banal culture of the church of Peter, Paul and Mary which is as wed to the year 1975 as some trads are to 1945 I must say that many of my generation who have left the church did so because of the absence of mystery not because of “conservative” values as the MSM and Tom Reese would lead you to believe.
JP2’s funeral mass was a sacrifice, in the purest sense, of the Eucharist and of prayers but most significantly it wasn’t a “celebration” or “a performance”.



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Lauda Jerusalem Dominum

posted July 19, 2005 at 9:37 am


Try reading Thomas Day’s “Why Catholics Can’t Sing” as an antidote. You’ll discover that the pristine Church of the Perfect Liturgy never existed for typical American Catholics. One funny scene is how, as a child, he and his whole family bolted from the pews in haste when they heard the organ and realized they were in for a dreaded High Mass. Another is when he tried as an adult to pass the peace to a little old lady who was busy praying her rosary, only to have her tell him she didn’t do “that s—.”
What is the typical American Catholic? If you’re referring to American Catholics of Irish descent, then Mr. Day is probably right. If you’re referring to American Catholics of German or Polish descent, then he’s dead wrong. In each case Catholics practiced what they had practiced in the old country. For Germans and Poles, this was the High Mass. For the Irish, the externals of their faith having been suppressed by the English, it was the Low Mass, originally out of necessity, later out of preference.
In parishes that are big enough and have a lot of masses, I’ve always wondered why they couldn’t have mass at each time have a different musical flavor. The people who care could select their flavor, and the ones who don’t want to fight can just go when they please.
Because some “musical flavors” are not appropriate to the celebration of Mass. I don’t have the slightest qualm in asserting this. Rock and folk music are never appropriate for Holy Mass. Gregorian Chant and sacred polyphony are always appropriate. Guitar, drums — never appropriate. Pipe or reed organ — always appropriate. Of course there are musical forms and instruments that fall in between.



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mizznicole

posted July 19, 2005 at 9:38 am


I’ve witnessed an interesting trend among the children of folks at my former church who became evangelicals in the 80’s. Having grown up almost entirely in the charismatic movement, they’re sick of it. And what are they doing now? Becoming Catholics. Many have come through exploring Anglo-Catholic spirituality…but given the current state of the Episcopal church, have turned their hearts and feet to Rome. It is happening, folks! You’d be amazed at how much even a poorly done mass speaks to people who are hungry for something that didn’t spring out of their own subjective reality.



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Rod Dreher

posted July 19, 2005 at 9:57 am


A slightly different tack: A Catholic friend, a fellow convert of longstanding, wrote last night to ask me how many Catholics I knew who have a light spirit, seem filled with joy and give the impression of living like “blessed children of God.” That’s an interesting question, and I’m afraid the answer I came up with is unsettling. The smiley-face Catholics I know seem to me to maintain their status by studiously ignoring the very serious problems in the Church, and the orthodox Catholics I know who haven’t become mired in despair are gritting their teeth and gutting it out. Maybe things are different for the rest of you, but that is my experience. “Joy” is not a word that comes to my mind when I think about the experience of being Catholic.
I guess what’s on my mind a lot these days is how preoccupied Catholics in general are with suffering. It’s like we focus so much on the Crucifixion we forget about the Resurrection. I’m speaking metaphorically, but seriously, I find the passivity so many of us have in the face of grave problems with the liturgy, with parish life, with this and that, seems to come from a mindset that says we don’t have the right to expect more or demand better. Somebody on the Osteen thread yesterday mentioned that perhaps parish and liturgical life is so crappy because we don’t deserve better.
That’s such a Catholic statement, I’m sorry to say. And I wonder why anybody would be drawn to a Church in which people accept misery and unhappiness as their fated lot. The denial of suffering is a lie, to be sure, but I think the idea that Christ expects us to endure spiritual, moral and liturgical mediocrity without hope of renewal is also a lie. To believe that is to believe that when we ask our Father for bread, he will give us stones, and expect us to be grateful that we got anything at all.



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Jeff Z.

posted July 19, 2005 at 10:13 am


It is possibly to have a reverent celebration of the Mass even when humor is used in the homily or at the time of the announcements. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen used humor in his homilies fifty years ago and didn’t scandalize anyone.



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mizznicole

posted July 19, 2005 at 10:47 am


I know that I keep repeating myself here, but this sense of lightness and joy is exactly what I find in the Schoenstatt community (which, by the way, has a family branch in Dallas). It comes through childlike faith in Divine Providence–“being careful to be carefree” as our Founder put it–not through hiding our heads from the problems of the church, or any suffering which God has ordained. We live for the renewal of the church and are experiencing it. Like everyone says here, there’s lots of work to do. But last Saturday, as we met to discuss the master building plan for our land, I found myself immersed in people who are actually doing the work of renewal, and not fretting about what’s not being done. I left the meeting feeling with everyone else an intense optimism and hope for our mission. I’m sure we can’t be the only community experiencing this.



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Pat Gonzalez

posted July 19, 2005 at 11:21 am


As some of you know, I’m an organist at my parish. It was interesting to read (as I think Colleen mentioned) that her parish actually paid the organist a salary. For playing at Sunday Mass (Sept. to June) and one choir rehearsal per week, I receive a stipend of $100 CDN per month. For weddings, my fee is $175; for funerals, $60 (all in CDN $)… It came as a shock that people assume that these services should be gratis. For example, one woman asked me to play at her daughter’s wedding, which I agreed to, then asked what the fee was. I told her, and her reply was: “I just want you, not the whole choir”. My point being that if you want decent music, you have to put in place musicians who provide it. THe choir directors I work with are nice women, but their understanding of liturgy is close to nil. Like our community and parish, they’re country-club types whose parish involvement is another “to-do” item on their social calendars. There’s no malice there, just cluelessness. Consequently, like some other posters have mentioned, whenever I try to suggest alternatives, I’m treated as some kind of weirdo who takes things “much too seriously.” As for our PP, he once shot down my suggestion that he remain on the altar for at least the first verse of the closing hymn. (But he does that now, so maybe it worked somehow, like yeast.) So when choir resumes in September, I’ll get a progam of music covering six or seven weeks of liturgies put together with no input whatsoever from me. Spiritually, I’m almost burned out because I see things happening that are totally incompatible with proper worship — though we don’t do folk Masses, never did. Gotta be thankful for small mercies, I guess. At the beginning of last December, I went on retreat to “re-fuel” . It helped a lot over Christmas, so this year I’ll do it again — because when it comes down to the crunch, the main challenge is to work on my own soul and leave everything else to the Lord’s mercy.



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Lauda Jerusalem Dominum

posted July 19, 2005 at 11:24 am


It is possibly to have a reverent celebration of the Mass even when humor is used in the homily or at the time of the announcements. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen used humor in his homilies fifty years ago and didn’t scandalize anyone.
Certainly. But all things in moderation. Too much humor detracts from the solemnity of the Mass.
As far as Archbishop Sheen not scandalizing anyone, well, that’s not exactly true. There was a time at which he was not permitted to preach in New York under Cardinal Spellman.



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Rod Dreher

posted July 19, 2005 at 11:42 am


To have attracted the ire of Cardinal Spellman was, for Bishop Sheen, a mark of honor.



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John

posted July 19, 2005 at 11:46 am


Rod Dreher: “To have attracted the ire of Cardinal Spellman was, for Bishop Sheen, a mark of honor.”
Agreed! Spellman was very much the Pharisee that wanted to be girting his loins and seated at the head of the table……….
I think we know what the Lord had to say about such behavior!



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Maureen

posted July 19, 2005 at 12:00 pm


I know I may not give the impression of joy, because I’m a naturally depressed (possibly depressing!) sort of person.
But Mass gives me joy. If you saw me coming out of Mass, I think you’d see that, and I think I see that in a lot of other people. Prayer gives me joy.
And it’s funny, because I do cry a lot during both prayer and Mass. (Did I mention this is really embarrassing when you’re with other people? This is the good bit about choir being off for the summer — more convenient for burying your face beneath your folded hands!)
It’s sorta like the blues — acknowledging your own sin and the suffering it causes (to others, to yourself, and most of all, to Jesus on the cross) gives it away to God and gives you joy.
(You know…a Catholic blues group might not be the worst idea.)



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WRY

posted July 19, 2005 at 12:09 pm


(sings)
Woke up this mornin’
Got to confess my sin
Oh, I woke up this mornin’
Got to confess my sin
Oh Lawd you know
‘Bout the shape I’m in!



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Julia

posted July 19, 2005 at 12:19 pm


I’m in a great choir – not perfect, but great considering what I hear at this blog.
This past Sunday, the men in our choir sang the Agnus Dei in chant without accompaniment – even included 30 second pauses between the verses. Really cool. It pleases the men to be able to do this now and then – and they don’t feel so much like they’re just providing harmony for the sopranos.
If anybody thinks only high voices should sing chant then they have not heard the Solemnes guys who were at the forefront in the return of properly-sung chant in the 1800s. Also, listen to the really gorgeous low, low voices in Orthodox chant.
Our choir does a variety of music ranging from Mozart’s Ave Verum, great English motets, things from the Music Issue, and things written right now and published by OCP, Morningstar and others. We’ve even done some things our assistant pastor wrote while he was studying in Rome. There’s a lot of good things being written in English and in Latin. I heard that some of the St. Louis Jesuits went on to get music degrees and their newer things are much better. We even do a few of those shape note songs from the Harp series if the words fit Catholic beliefs.
Our choir is accompanied not only by organ, but also sometimes piano (when appropriate – “Rain Down”, etc.), and by parishioners who play violin and flute.
This past 3 months or so, we started breaking in a new mass – “Mass of the City” by Proulx. We are starting with the Sanctus in unison. Several times, our director has gone over the Hallelujas with the folks before Mass. The choir will sing it and then the parishioners sing along a few times. Our director jiggled the Mystery of Faith thing and the Amen to use the same tune, so folks are able to sing along comfortably with those reponses, too. In the fall, we’ll be progressing to the Agnus Dei and probably end with the Gloria in the spring.
Once the parishioners learn the melody, they don’t seem to have problem continuing to sing it when the choir starts doing the harmony.
Good music for Mass can be done and doesn’t have to be all old Latin things (my personal favorite) to be good and appropriate. But, I agree, that the parish has to have a knowledgable choir director and/or liturgy person.
Where are the less-than-adequate choir directors and liturgists getting their ideas for the things they inflict? Just in the past 2 months in the St. Louis area there has been a 3 day liturgy gathering for African American musicians and another large one on my side of the river for choir directors. The St. Louis Cathedral has a program every fall open to singers and director from the archdiocese to learn some new good music. Or is the St Louis metropolitan area unusual? Do directors and liturgists in other places have to travel to the national conventions to get their training? Or do the parishes think that training and updating isn’t necessary & you can just do your own thing?
It appears that Benedict will be having something definitive to say about all this. That would be helpful. A person I know involved with Teen Mass says it looks like Rome is tightening up things. Well, maybe that’s needed when the liturgy gets so way out of whack.



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Dina Swift

posted July 19, 2005 at 1:05 pm


“In some countries chant is standard for almost all prayers including the readings of the gospel. This is good because it raises the level of solemnity for the occasion.”
But you’d be amazed at the numabers of people in positions of power that don’t see solemnity as a positive value.
Why do they think we sing a text? They’ll say, to make it pretty, to make it memorable, because music is uplifting, singing keeps us all saying our prayers at the same speed so we finish up at the same time, to generate enthusiasm —
but not one liturgist or church musician in a hundred knows that we sing a test to SOLEMNIZE it.
“Where are the less-than-adequate choir directors and liturgists getting their ideas for the things they inflict?”
Well, yes, St. Louis may be unusual.
I have a friend, a really fine happily underpaid full-time church musician who is getting ready to pack it in, she says she burned out and felt she could keep going until she realized that it wasn’t the people in the pews who were fighting doing things the “right way” but the heirarchy who likes making things up as they go along.
In diocesan sponsored workshops or from diocesan newsletters over the past few months she told me she has “learned”
1) The Church doesn’t really encourage confession as a preparation for participating in Eucharist,anymore.
2) Your neighbor sitting next to you at Mass is the only physical presence of Jesus you have access to since His ascension.
3)Music in Catholic Worship has force of law, but Tra Le Sollectudine is just one pope’s opinion.
4)A crucifix with a corpus is not to be used for veneration.
(None of this is word for word, I wasn’t there.)
SO, there’s plenty of misinformation being spread out there by people in authority, people who should know better.



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meteorologist

posted July 19, 2005 at 1:51 pm


Julia,
After reading your post, I’m ready to move back to STL. Actually, I was visiting family there over Easter and attended the Good Friday liturgy at the Cathedral. It was absolutely beautiful.



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Septimus

posted July 19, 2005 at 3:39 pm


I brought up the issue of humor, because I thought the lack of it was posed as a sine qua non for a solemn, not-offensive celebration of the Mass.
Some (many?) priests don’t chant because they perceive themselves not to be very good at it; why others don’t, I know not. I’m not sure you can do much about that, except in a NICE way, say something like, “have you ever thought about doing that, father? It would be ever so nice!”



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Anon

posted July 19, 2005 at 5:40 pm


“I brought up the issue of humor, because I thought the lack of it was posed as a sine qua non for a solemn, not-offensive celebration of the Mass.”
Humor is not out of place, but I wish some priests showed a little more discretion or sense or good tast or whatever.
A pertinent shaggy dog story that leads naturally into a serious theological point during a homily? Great.
Good grace and a sense of humor dealing with the altar server who knocked over the consecration bells, or with the baby who returns the favor after Father baptizes him by dousing the priest? Absolutely necessary.
But we had a visitng priest this year who cracked jokes during the Eucharistic prayer. Another made jokes during benediction.
If you have no better sense than that, it’s probably better to be stone-faced and humorless, IMO.



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Donna

posted July 19, 2005 at 6:53 pm


Joy” is not a word that comes to my mind when I think about the experience of being Catholic.
Rod: As a longtime reader of NR (and NRO), I admire your writing. However, I have noticed, that since I’ve been reading (and lurking) on Amy’s blog, “joy” is not a word that comes to my mind when I think about your posts here. They’re always well-written and thought-provoking, but they are not posts that would make a fence-sitter rush to sign up for a RCIA class.
I have felt a great deal of joy (and relief), since I have returned to the Church. Yes, I know, I’m a recent revert, and that “walking on clouds” feeling will probably wear off (C.S. Lewis warns of seasons of spiritual “dryness”), but I feel deep happiness everytime I receive the Eucharist, if even I don’t find my eyes welling up, which is what kept happening – to my great astonishment – the first few times I received the Host after my 20+ years of absence from the pews.
Now, I’m a rather reserved person, so you won’t see me doing cartwheels on the sidewalk after Mass. But it’s there – it’s always there when I focus on the Gift of the Eucharist.
My idea of the perfect Mass? Stunning old church, beautiful music, congregation participation, profoundly uplifting sermon, nobody behind me holding a private conversation, nobody in front of me wearing shorts and skimpy halter tops. I haven’t yet found the perfect Mass. And I gather, from this, and other Catholic blogs, that they’re in dismayingly short supply.
Certainly I can complain (see my posts above) and I don’t think it’s wrong to want better and more aesthetically pleasing Masses. But I know I am inclined to be critical to the point of letting one thing that displeases me cloud my enjoyment of everything that follows, and I just don’t want to be stuck in that place when I’m at Mass.
My parish is the Cathedral of St. John’s in Milwaukee. The first time I walked in, I was immediately irritated by the renovations Weakland imposed as his parting “gift” to Milwaukee (don’t get me started on Weakland!) High altar gone, the usual crucifix replaced by an huge crown of thorns and a highly stylized, featureless, crucified Christ who, bizarrely, appears to be holding a wishbone in His hand, chairs instead of pews, etc. I was also annoyed by the priest’s jokes, and the sloppy dress of many people in the congregation. (I am turning into my mom, who would never let me go to church with jeans on.)
Now I could have sat there and stewed and really ran with it – and I would have entirely missed the point of why I was there in the first place. And the joy that comes from receiving Christ’s Body and Blood.
The smiley-face Catholics I know seem to me to maintain their status by studiously ignoring the very serious problems in the Church, and the orthodox Catholics I know who haven’t become mired in despair are gritting their teeth and gutting it out.
As a good conservative, I don’t want to be a total Pollyanna. I also don’t want to sit through Mass gritting my teeth like a professional theater critic forced to watch “Cats” at gunpoint. I guess it’s confusing to me at this point to know when appreciation for what has been given becomes an uncritical willingness to shut one’s eyes to problems and when honest criticism (born of a worthy desire to make one’s Church and parish better) becomes carping and griping.
Gee, this whole post is a mess, but at this point I’m not going to rewrite it:-)



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Mark Shea

posted July 19, 2005 at 7:26 pm


The smiley-face Catholics I know seem to me to maintain their status by studiously ignoring the very serious problems in the Church, and the orthodox Catholics I know who haven’t become mired in despair are gritting their teeth and gutting it out. Maybe things are different for the rest of you, but that is my experience. “Joy” is not a word that comes to my mind when I think about the experience of being Catholic.
Rod:
Unfortunately, this reminds me of the conversation between unbelieving Jews and Messianic Jews.
UJ: Jews do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah:
MJ: I believe that Jesus is the Messiah.
UJ: You’re not a True Jew.
If the definition of “joyful” includes the assumption that any joyful Catholic is “maintain[ing] their status by studiously ignoring the very serious problems in the Church” then, yes, there are no truly joyful Catholic, just delusional ones.
Nonetheless, there are joyful Catholics. Catholics who are fully aware of the problems in the Church, but who do not choose to let the problems define either the Church nor their relationship with Christ. That is not an act of denial. That is an act of faith that Jesus, not human beings, is the ultimate definer of reality.
When I came into the Church–in the mid-80’s in the Archdiocese presided over by Raymond Hunthausen–I came in with the full awareness of how f***** up the Church was, from a human perspective. It’s why the Scandal appalled, but did not shock, me. It’s *always* been a giant mess. And because of that, it had room for me, who am also a giant mess.
But more than that, it’s not *just* a giant mess, just as I have discovered I am not. Christ is at work. So I don’t think it’s pollyanna to acknowledge that. I think instead it is a cold sober acknowledgement of reality to say that “Eucharist”–that is, thanksgiving–is not merely “supposed to be” at the center of the Catholic life. It *is* at the center because Christ, who is the center, is the one who really decides what is at the center, not us.
Are there delusional Catholics who pretend there are no problems? Yes. But the way out of the delusion is not to replace a happy face delusion with the delusion that the anger of man will bring about the righteousness of God. It won’t. The way out of the delusion is to face the reality that Christ remains at the heart of his Church and at the heart of the world.
We do well always and everywhere to give him thanks and praise. To reject that as smiley face Catholicism is not “realism”. It’s just another form of self-deception.



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Donna

posted July 19, 2005 at 7:40 pm


Mark: I dithered around all over the place and then you came along and hit the nail on the head.
Thank you, sir!



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Sam Schmitt

posted July 19, 2005 at 9:44 pm


Rod,
Before you dismiss happy Christians, take a look at Pope Benedict. He is clearly a joyful man, and don’t tell me he’s not aware of the “filth” in the Church (the word he used in the Stations of the Cross he composed for the last Good Friday). No, he’s not smiley-faced, just one of the most joyful Christians alive. It’s a much needed witness in this age of complaining and fault-finding.
In one of his essays he wrote: “The history of Christianity begins with the word ‘Rejoice!'” I’d encourage you to read the whole thing called “Faith as Trust and Joy” – it’s in his book “Principles of Catholic Theology” published by Ignatius Press. it’s very, very far from any mindless Pollyana escapism, but also a important antidote to the “if you’re not (as) angry (as I am) you’re not paying attention!” trap.



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Maureen

posted July 20, 2005 at 8:54 am


Re: WRY
Keep tryin’ to walk, Lord,
Keep tryin’ to walk alone
Keep tryin’ to walk, Lord
Keep tryin’ to walk alone
But my feet keep getting cut up,
Stumble over every stone.
Ain’t eaten this mornin’
But Mama’s biscuits just won’t do
Ain’t eaten this mornin’
But Mama’s biscuits just won’t do
Gotta go to Confession, Lord,
I can only live off You.



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Pat Gonzalez

posted July 20, 2005 at 6:07 pm


Bravo, Maureen! That’s the whole point, isn’t it? We need the Bread of Life, and that’s what keeps us coming back to Mass every week despite the many liturgical shortcomings. “Mama’s biscuits”, no matter how delicious, are no substitute for the Bread of Angels. And that’s the hunger expressed in virtually every post: a deep desire for God, for His grace and mercy and strength — an acknowledgement of our own weaknesses and our need for Him. Indeed, [we]”can only live off You.”



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WRY

posted July 20, 2005 at 6:57 pm


Maureen:
I like!



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Books for Lent
No, I'm not going to ask you about your Lenten reading lists...although I might.Not today, though. This post is about giving books to others. For Lent, and a long time after that. You know how it goes during Lent: Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving, right?Well, here's a worthy recipient for your hard-

posted 9:22:07pm Mar. 04, 2009 | read full post »

Why Via Media
How about....because I'm lame and hate thinking up titles to things? No?Okay...how about...St. Benedict? Yes, yes, I know the association with Anglicanism. That wasn't invovled in my purpose in naming the joint, but if draws some Googling Episcopalians, all the better.To tell the truth, you can bl

posted 8:54:17pm Mar. 04, 2009 | read full post »

Brave Heart?
I don't know about you, but one of effects of childbirth on me was a compulsion to spill the details. All of them.The whole thing was fascinating to me, so of course I assumed everyone else should be fascinated as well in the recounting of every minute of labor, describing the intensity of discomfor

posted 10:19:45pm Mar. 03, 2009 | read full post »




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