"You aim at a devout life, dear Philothea, because as a Christian you know that such devotion is most acceptable to God's Divine Majesty," says St. Francis de Sales in his book "Introduction to the Devout Life".
And we can all be Philotheas, as St. Francis notes: "I have made use of a name suitable to all who seek the devout life, Philothea meaning one who loves God."
I know there are many who think I’m unjustly and
uncharitably critical of liturgical offenses in our diocese. And I admit I am
not always able to maintain a charitable attitude! But the reason for my ardor,
my zealous defense of the rubrics, my insistence on following the “rules and regs”
is this: it’s important.
An old folk warning suggests that if you put a frog in
boiling water, it will quickly jump out; however, if the frog is placed in cool
water which is then gradually heated, it will be lulled into a sleepy daze and
remain there until it is boiled alive.
And that’s what has happened to us with liturgical abuse.
The more abuse that’s tolerated, the less people will object. And when some of
us do object, we are met with blank
stares and comments like “Do you think God really cares about that?” Yes. I do.
When the bishop of the Diocese of Honolulu says he plans to
say Mass in a water park, that ought to raise eyebrows – not to mention a storm
of protest. For heaven’s sake, the bishop, of all people, should know better!
And the fact that he doesn’t tells the faithful that Mass at the water park is
In the same way, when the pastor of a parish allows a
concert to be held in the parish church, under circumstances that are clearly
outside canonical norms, that’s a problem, too. The pastor ought to know
better. In the case I wrote about yesterday, the issue has been brought up
before, apparently. One former member of that parish wrote:
We were estranged from St. Francis
of Assisi 30 years ago, when [the music director] put on just such a concert,
in the sanctuary in front of the altar; and we and others protested. We were
called "intolerant," "mean-spirited", and all the other
epithets progressives like to hurl at anyone who tries to rain on their parade.
We moved to [another parish] for Sunday Mass, which was then as bearable as any
church in the area – if one could stand the coma the kindly but inarticulate
pastor's sermons induced.
Out of the boiling pot and into a simmering one…
Another parishioner also reacted to yesterday’s post, noting
We gave the building committee,
the pastor and priests, and several parishioners copies of the Code of Canon
Law regarding concerts in the Nave. We were promised it wouldn't happen.
Want fries with that?
Guess what we have right next
door to the Church? We have a very large gym with acoustic panels on the walls,
with hundreds and hundreds of chairs. So why have a concert in the Church? The
only possible answer is to be sacrilegious, to tell God who is really in charge…
We have seen Beatles music, and
an altered version of the Our Father; we've had to put up with drums; and we’ve
been confronted with breasts, bellies, and butts showing from our choir…
… I think I'll go to this concert, with a hoagie
and Big Gulp in hand, wearing a tank top and daisy dukes and flip flops and not
pay the cover charge. While I 'm dressed for all occasions, I think I'll take
in a wedding and a funeral; no judgment.
thought that was quite humorous! And another parishioner added that, given the
general impression generated by the Aztec handball court…Armadillo…new
St. Francis church, maybe a concert isn’t all that inappropriate. Except for
the very important facts that the church is consecrated, the Eucharist is
confected on that altar, and it is the place where the parish faithful gather
to worship God.
point of the humorous harangue of the above parishioner really is not funny at
all. The point is that there are people who recognize when abuse is happening,
who recognize a lack of reverence for Our Lord in the Eucharist, who recognize
that there really is appropriate and inappropriate dress for Mass, and
who recognize that wolves in sheep’s clothing are running their parishes.
in the minority, though, they are squelched by the name-calling and ridicule of
the liberal element that runs most parishes. Case in point: “Living Your Faith”
and “Engaged Parishes” programs, which serve as a training ground for the
heterodox in how to squelch the orthodox. I wrote about these programs almost a
year ago. Allow me to repeat some of my points. First, consider this little blurb
in our Diocesan Chronicle (Nov. 7, 2010 edition):
any CAVE people lately? Those who attended this year’s Clergy Assembly will now
be on the lookout for them. Why? Because it is the CAVE people who contribute
to so many of our parishes being dragged down to the brink of failure. So who
are these CAVE people? CAVE people are those members of our parish who Complain
About Virtually Everything! You know who they are. Whenever you try to do
anything in your parish they are the ones who make it clear to anyone who will
listen that it will never work. The problem is that too many listen to them.
What we need is more of those who do not spend all their time complaining, but
are spending more of their time growing in holiness, to have a greater
influence in our parishes. These people we will refer to as being “engaged” in
“CAVE people”, eh? I think I’m considered one
of those. I have pushed a couple of parish priests – and even a bishop or two –
to conform to the mind of the Church, especially with regard to liturgical
issues. I have tried my best to always be respectful, to back up my request
with documentation from Church sources, and to keep the issue between me and
the priest. And I make an effort to compliment priests when they do things
well, and to acknowledge the tough job they have. Still, here are the responses
I’ve received: “This is the way we’ve always done it”; “Other parishes do it,
so it’s okay”; “Why do you have to be so ‘by-the-book’?”; “You’re right; but
sometimes there are more important things than being right.”
a sneaking suspicion that CAVE people are simply the ones who won’t go along with
the crowd. In every parish there seems to be a core group of people with loud
voices and lots of “political” power in the parish; if we were talking about
junior high, we’d say they formed a clique. “Why can’t we all just get along?”
they ask. But what they really mean is, “Like it or lump it. This is how it’s
gonna be.” And if you complain about that, you are a CAVE person. It amounts to
sanctioned name-calling and stereotyping.
ones whose blood boils at the first tepid signs of liturgical abuse try to
sound the alarm, but the frogs in the water have already been lulled into
submission. And so the average parishioner who just wants to show up for Sunday
Mass and sing a few well-loved ditties is sitting in water that gets closer and
closer to the boiling point, not even realizing the danger.
For related posts, click on the "TLM and Liturgy" tab above.