Sunday, November 11, 2012
What Do We Do Now: Suffer With Him
Yesterday’s Vortex (posted here) was excellent, I thought.
Michael Voris gave a great run-down of what we shouldn’t be experiencing at Mass, but which most parishes provide to us on an ongoing basis. How are people dressed? Do they indicate reverence in their actions? What type of music do you hear? Does the priest act like a priest, or a talk-show host? Are there a lot of Obama bumper stickers on the cars in the church parking lot?!
Voris urges us to run from parishes that have too many of these indicators of “neutered” Catholicism. I think that’s good advice…
…but…what happens when your choices are limited? I mean, seriously limited, as they are in the Diocese of Baker – especially way over here on the eastern hem. It’s not that there are clown Masses or dancing girls in every parish; no, I don’t think either of those abominations can be found here. But the parishes in this diocese, in my experience, are undeniably and unashamedly…mediocre. They are lukewarm. At best.
I haven’t been to every parish in the diocese; I haven’t even been to many! But I have talked to people who attend at different parishes – people who want the Traditional Latin Mass, but are denied, and so are forced to go to the local Novus Ordo.
I also know a couple of priests who have traveled extensively in the diocese; they have visited most of the parishes and celebrated Mass there, and they know the other priests. I asked one priest the following questions about the state of the liturgy in this diocese; his smart-alecky responses are in italics:
Do you know of any parish in the Diocese of Baker where Gregorian chant is sung on even a semi-regular basis?
What's "Gregorian chant"?
Do you know of any parish where Latin is used regularly, even for just a part of the (Sunday) Mass?
Didn't the Church get rid of Latin at Vatican II?
How many/which parishes have only male altar servers?
How sexist! [Actually, I know of two parishes where the priest has taken action to ensure that only males will serve.]
Which parish of the Diocese has the most liturgically correct Mass, in your experience?
Probably least egregious: [He names a parish which I will leave unnamed, but note that he uses the phrase “least egregious” – rather than “best”]
Sigh. Well, at least we have plenty of room for improvement! We need some strong leadership to move away from the Protestantization of our diocese, though. Look at this photo which graces the Diocesan website under the banner, “Welcome to the Diocese of Baker Website”:
About the only thing I can see in this photo that says “Catholic” is the banners. (That’s a joke, folks. Banners are the bane of our Catholic existence, and should be banned in our churches. Let them adorn the walls of the parish hall.)
This photo irritates the heck out of me every time I go to the diocesan website. It does not say “Catholic”. It does not say “Cathedral”. It says, “Aren’t we a happy, comfy community?!” The only reason you see so many nicely dressed people is that the occasion was the episcopal ordination of Bishop Liam Cary. And that in itself says something about our diocese. Why in the name of Heaven did that ordination take place in this “liturgical environment” rather than in the Cathedral of the Diocese?!
Which seems more appropriate for the ordination of a new bishop? This:
Okay, that was just a little side-trip down Memory Lane. What I’m getting at here is “what do we do now?” What do we do when our liturgical options are so seriously curtailed?
I’ll tell you what the temptation is, in my view: it is to run to the nearest chapel that has a Traditional Latin Mass. I’ll leave you to sort out the conscience issues if that chapel happens to be an SSPX one.
But I have another suggestion, especially for those who want a TLM but have no access to one (including those who do not want to attend an SSPX Mass). It comes from a correspondent, but these are my thoughts and actions exactly:
Go to Mass at your current parish, wear your chapel veil, bring your 1962 Missal with you, and pray from your missal throughout the Mass in reparation for the sins of the world and the dishonor to God of this and so many other Masses. The Missal will serve the purpose of occupying your mind, your hands and your eyes. You can skip Holy Communion and make a spiritual communion instead.
In other words, you won't have to watch what is going on, you won't have to get involved in all the "hand stuff", and your mind can focus on the prayers of the Mass in your Missal. In this way you are honoring God in multiple ways, including obedience: you are praying, you are actually participating in the Mass in a deeper way than those around you, and your suffering has merit and means something!
I avoid the “sign of peace” as much as possible, too. Having a missal in my hands and looking at it throughout the handshaking phase of Mass is an effective way of saying, “It’s not that I don’t like you; I’m just busy praying.”
My correspondent adds:
You may choose to receive Holy Communion or you may not, depending on a whole variety of factors. The point of this method of participation at Mass is that you are "keeping holy the Lord's day" in the only public way available to you. You are giving witness to the priest and those around you by participating quietly (and one priest says this makes priests uneasy, and that it’s good for them!). The important thing is to not let what is going on around you "disturb your peace." If you were at Calvary, your participation would be silent and filled with grief. You are simply declining to participate in the event of Calvary in a wholly inappropriate way. You are choosing to suffer for Our Lord, in obedience.
Who knows? Such silent but public acts of reparation may have the same effect that the Carmelites of Compiegne had on the French Revolution: you will effect change through your suffering that could not be accomplished in any other way.
This is a good answer to “what do we do now” – when there is no other parish nearby that is leading you to holiness. Everyone can do this in their current parish, no matter how bad it is. Imagine the effect on an errant priest if a sizable portion of the congregation stopped chit-chatting before and after Mass, stopped glad-handing each other at the sign of peace, stopped singing the inane ditties offered as liturgical music, etc!
But even more than that, imagine the effect of those actions on your own soul. You will be “actively (actually) participating” in Mass in the way intended by the Church. Imagine how pleasing to God your actions will be as you join your suffering to that of His Son on the Cross
After all, it’s really about the Cross, isn’t it? And we much each bear our own, even if that includes bad liturgy.