Sunday, November 1, 2009

My Latest Trip To The Local Latin Rite Church

I ended up working on Halloween night and didn't get home until almost 10PM. I was pretty wound up and didn't get to sleep until late. When I woke up this morning, I decided to make the shorter drive to my local Catholic Church, instead of the longer drive to my Byzantine Catholic Church. I believe I have posted before about the crazy things that go on in some Latin Rite parishes and how that had me searching out other options in the Catholic Church or Eastern Orthodoxy.

I try not to be critical and look for liturgical abuses, but they just seem to jump out at me. For those who are not Catholic or were not Catholic during the 70's and early 80's, these things may seem trivial or even the norm. Some of the things today that bothered me:

  • The Sense of The Sacred - During my growing up years, people came to Mass early and prayed or quietly reflected before the mass. My first experience at a Protestant church had me shocked; people acted like it was a party, yacking it up like they were sitting in their living room. One of the things that bugged me about the Latin Church I found in this decade was that we had lost the sense of the sacred. This morning, I heard more people talking about yesterday's football game or where they were going to watch football today. I heard people complaining about other people in the church. It went on and on and on. And the killer for me today happened when the an annoucement was made today that there would only be one collection today; someone belted out, "It's about time" and most of the church erupted in laughter. Catholics believe that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist and in the tabernacle and this is how we act?
  • The next thing that just grated my nerves was the Vestment worn by the Priest. Again, for those who are not Catholic this may seem trivial, but the Vestments worn by the Priest have a meaning. For example, on Pentecost, the Priest wears Red to symbolize The Holy Spirit. Today was the Feast of All Saints Day which means the liturgicl color is white. The Priest's vestment was some multi-colored item that looked like it was made in the 60's by someone using LSD. Why is it so difficult to follow the prescribed liturgical norms?
  • Another thing that has crept into the Latin Church is an increasing push by some parishes to make the Mass more "Protestant like". This is exclusively a post Vatican II phenomena. One could write a book on things that have changed, but the one that just seems to bug me the most centers around the Lord's Prayer and Sign of Peace. In many Latin parishes, people join hands for the Lord's Prayer, raise their hands for the doxology and making a ridiculous show during the sign of peace. Again, to someone from a Protestant background, this may seem silly. But you have to understand why an orthodox Catholic is bothered by this. The whole purpose of the Mass is to honor and worship God. It is not for fellowship, catching up with old friends, shaking hands or making a show of being a big happy family. The Lord's Prayer comes right after the body & blood of Christ has been consecrated and is present on the Altar. This should be the most reverent time of the mass and all our focus should be on Christ, yet it has become a focus on "We" instead. The sign of peace comes and you find people walking all over the Church to shake hands, give hugs, etc. Again, it takes away from what our focus should be; the worship of God.
  • There is a publication called the General Instruction of the Roman Missal. It is the "roadmap" on how the Mass is to be conducted. There are prayers that are to be said exactly as they are prescribed. One of the things Vatican II brought into the Church was "poetic license" on the part of some Priests to make things up as they go along. Today, during the Ecce Agnus Dei was just another example of poetic license. The prayer, which takes place as the body & blood of Christ are raised in front of the congregation is to be said as follows" This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, happy are those who are called to his supper." Today's version went something like, "Today is the time when we honor all those saints who have gone before us or those saints who are sitting next to us, happy are we who are called to this banquet". Yikes.
  • In the Latin Church, there has been a spike in the use of Eucharistic Ministers (EM). An EM is someone approved by the Priest to distribute the Eucharist. In the Byzantine Catholic Church, we do not use EM's, however I fully understand why they are used in the Latin Church and have no real issue with it. My pet peeve comes from EM's giving a blessing to those who come up for communion but are unable(not in state of grace, not Catholic, etc). There is an office in Rome called the Congregation for Divine Worship that gave guidance on this very subject in 2008. In the letter, the following points were expressed and intended to serve as the liturgical norm. 1) The liturgical blessing of the Holy Mass is properly given to each and all at the end of the Mass; 2) Lay people, within the context of Holy Mass, are unable to confer a blessing; 3) Furthermore, the laying on of hands or hand, which has its own sacramental significance, is inappropriate here; 4) In a similar way, for others who are not admitted to Holy Communion in accord with the Law of The Church, should not approach Holy Communion or receive a blessing. With all of this said, I continued to see an EM laying hands, offering blessings, etc. Please, say the black, do the red.

I just can't in good conscience attend a Mass anymore with such disregard for the Holy and Sacred Celebration of the Mass. Until the "Reform of the Reform" of Vatican II is completed, I think I will be attending an Eastern Catholic Divine Liturgy or Holy Mass said using the liturgical books of 1962(the Latin Mass).