Wednesday, March 18, 2009

From "Chris & Company", Another Fine Catholic Blogger

This post is so wonderful that I'd like to share it with you. Written by Chris (who now has a new blog, Sub Tuum Praesidium, which means, "We fly to thy patronage" and is the beginning of the oldest hymn found to the Blessed Virgin Mary.), it is the description of her growing dissatisfaction with what seems to be the majority of Catholic parishes and her surprised delight in finding that a church that offers the novus ordo Mass in Latin made a huge difference in her spiritual life.

The post: treatise time: how did I get this way anyway?!?!?! Inquiring minds want to know!

(Note: Chris decided to close her first blog to 'members only' but started her second blog for the Catholic audience. Below is her post. I didn't realize the snag others would hit while trying to follow the link. So, here it is. I found it inspiring and interesting. I hope you do, too. Enjoy!


So, I went ahead and joined St. Agnes parish up in Saint Paul.

This in spite of the fact that I do not even live in the archdiocese (normal Catholics go to whatever church is closest- I think we've already established my lack of normalcy here!) I talked to the pastor on the phone today and he was happy to take my name and address.

So, happily, I will no longer be subjected to the following practices- all of which I have observed in one local parish or another:

*hideous projection screens at the front of the church, despite the fact that all they are putting up there is the music that is in the book which is sitting right in front of you

*lack of visible (or altered) crucifix in the church (we're Catholic- by golly, let's look like it!)---lack of kneelers or a visible Tabernacle often goes along with it!

*drum sets which need to be played during EVERY song of the Mass (I love Christian rock music- but there is a time and a place....Holy Mass is neither!)

*hand-holding while praying the Our Father (who started this anyway? I could see within your own family maybe....but everyone????)

*priests who infuse the entire liturgy (including the not-to-be-messed-with Eucharistic Prayer) with their own little tidbits, opinions, campaigns, thoughts, prayers...instead of following the book like they should be

*the saccharine 1970's "Gather"-hymnal-fest of such songs as "Rain Down", "Jesus Come to Us" and "Open My Eyes Lord" (wonderful sentiments in and of themselves...but the lyrics are just pathetic and always made me feel like I was in 2nd grade again....) OK fine, they might sing these at St Agnes at some time, but I doubt I will hear them at the Latin Mass!

*the ultra-distracting communion where I am required to participate in singing no less than 2 songs while traipsing up to receive our Lord and Savior from the unconsecrated hands of a random person instead of a priest

*clapping (for any reason whatsoever) during Mass (tack-Y!)

*priests who turn their back to the Lord and "face the people" (see Fr Z's latest post on ad orientem worship- it's very good)

*someone going up before Mass to read off the lists of people who are "doing things" in the Mass today (hint- "active participation" does not mean you need to be up on the altar doing something...unless you are in fact the priest)

*woefully inaccurate ICEL translations of the actual prayers of the Mass (I didn't take a day's worth of Latin in high school, but even I can see that et cum spiritu tuo does not translate into "and also with you"!)

*altar servers schlepping up to do their duties with their jeans and sneakers showing

I could go on.....

Believe me, even *I* can't believe what a hard-nose I have become. How did this happen?

Well, I think it was because I prayed for some type of conversion experience this Lent. I believe I got it.

Here's the deal.

I believe I have always been on the fairly conservative side of things, religiously and politically. A lot of the things I mention above are things that have bothered my over the years, but I never knew there WAS any other way.

Until I started going to the Traditional Latin Mass (abbreviated TLM because it's too long to type out every time). A couple years ago I went for the first time, purely out of curiosity. I didn't knew the TLM even existed anymore.

Growing up, all I remember hearing of pre-Vatican II Mass was that it was all in Latin, the priest "had his back to the people" (a gross misunderstanding of why he faced East), women wore, yep, that sounded pretty weird to me for a long time. Good thing Vatican II got rid of that. (clue- it didn't!)

Anyway, after going to a few TLM's here locally I started to realize that there was something BIG happening...this Mass was different. The priest was facing the altar because he was leading us in prayer to God -who cares if his back was to me, what does he need to look at me for- he's certainly not praying to me! And there were all kinds of gestures, the candles, the incense--- that made you realize something very important was going on. It was suddenly much more easy to see why it is called the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, not just a "meal to be shared".

As I learned more about the history and liturgy of the Latin Mass, I began to look at the Masses I went to in a very different light. Having been born after the changes of Vatican II, I had never known anything but the modern "novus ordo" Mass. I started to think that I was missing a lot...

Then over Lent I started reading a lot of Catholic blogs- a lot of people that are fired up about the faith, who are working to expand the use of the TLM, to bring back treasures of the faith that have been lost over the last 40 years (post-Vatican II). And it was in my search to find a weekly Latin Mass in the area that I found St. Agnes parish. I was a little hesitant at first because they do not celebrate the old Tridentine Mass, they celebrate the novus ordo Mass in Latin (there is a difference- it may not make a difference to you, but it is a big difference). But they do it right- they don't make up their own stuff, they don't put in stuff that doesn't belong there.

Ah, big deal, you say. So they're old-fashioned.
So, why drive all that way just to go to church? Isn't that a little odd? A Catholic church is a Catholic church, right?
Well, one would hope....
The word "catholic" actually means "universal". Back in the day (pre-Reformation) there WAS only one Church- it was universal (catholic). So one would think that going to any Catholic church anywhere, the experience of the Mass would be (you guessed it) universal.

This is far from the truth.

I know there are lots of Protestant churches etc. that aren't used to having "rules" that as a church, they need to follow. But (in case you haven't noticed) Catholics do. There is a "how to" book for how Mass is to be done- and a great many Catholic churches have thrown it out the window.

WHY, you ask, does this matter.

Why do I have a little logo on the side of my blog (thanks to the Closed Cafeteria) that says "Save the Liturgy, Save the World" - other than the fact that it sounds cool? Could anyone possibly believe that how a bunch of Catholics celebrate the Mass has any effect on anything outside of the church walls?

I actually do.

The title above that logo to the right says "lex orandi, lex credendi": the law of prayer is the law of belief. Basically- it means that how we pray affects what we believe.

Have you ever thought of it this way? It should be the other way around shouldn't it?

Well, for those who are Catholic...picture your typical Sunday Mass that you go to:

What indications are there that something sacred is happening?
What reverent positions or gestures do you see which show our respect and worship of the Almighty?
Does the music inspire you to prayer, or is it there to fill the time?
Does the Eucharistic Prayer reflect the fact that at this moment, the sacrifice of our Lord on Calvary is being made present?
Does the priest's handling of the consecrated bread and wine reflect that this is the true and literal body and blood of God Himself?

Because if your average Joe and Jane Catholic don't SEE and experience this at Sunday are they to know that it is truly our Lord and Savior that they are receiving in the Eucharist? How are they supposed to believe that anything miraculous has happened? What is going to "give that fact away"?

Ever seen a poll on how many Catholics don't believe in the Real Presence? Can you imagine now why that might be the case?

Skits and hand-holding and sappy music Masses don't tell us what is really going on at Mass. The Eucharist is the "source and summit of the Christian life" - THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. How many treat it as a 45-minute social engagement?

If we REALLY believed we were receiving Jesus....would we be so casual about it?

How we pray DOES affect what we believe. If your parish is of the "Mass is a community meal, let's all gather round the table and sing folk songs" mindset, you may have a tough time recognizing the Mass for the Sacrifice that it is. And in turn, the fact that it is your Lord that you are receiving could too easily be sidelined. And if you miss that boat, you've missed EVERYTHING.

In light of that, the latest Pew Forum report on the decline of religion in America- particularly Catholicism- isn't as surprising. Very sad. If all the ex-Catholics had truly believed in the Real Presence and understood Whom they were receiving at Mass- I would like to think that they would never left it.

If you've actually read this far you deserve a cookie, so go and get one for yourself, I'll wait here.


So those are my thoughts and the basic story of how I became a hard-nosed, mantilla-wearing, rosary-toting, Latin-chanting traditional(ist) Catholic. Other than that, I haven't changed. I am still a nice (and downright hilarious) person. And my faithful Lutheran husband and children have yet to disown me despite the fact that I am spending all our money on gas to drive to St Paul every weekend. (Not only that- but he actually DOESN'T think I'm crazy, if you can believe that.)

Thanks for reading. Enjoy your cookie. :)


Chris said...

oh goodness- an oldie but a goodie!
Thanks for considering me noteworthy :D

Shirley said...

I tried the link to her post, but her blog is open to invited readers only. Any chance you could cut and paste the post?

Shirley said...

Thanks, Mary Rose, for posting that. It could be me talking, except that I don't have a TLM to go to. The lack of reverence at Mass is so very sad. I wear head coverings at our church, and I'm the only one there that does. One of the local churches has a youth who plays the drums for every hymn; it's extremely annoying and distracting. The lady who is in charge of the music makes the offertory hymn so long that Father's offertory words are obliterated. Gah!