Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Labouring the point

We got back from London too late on Sunday for Mass in our parish but just in time to make evening Mass at the one down the road. It was interesting. Things are changing there. There is a new curate there with ideas about the Yoof. He'd certainly attracted a lot of Yoof to Mass (Good Thing) but then what they got was less than the Real Deal (and that's a Bad Thing).

We were accomodated in the choir loft because the musicians (drum kit, keyboards, saxophone(!), guitar, cello and warbly girl on mic) were occupying the front third of one side of the church. Naturally. They could have been in the loft but you can't hide young women in their late teens/early twenties when there's an audience for them. All wrong. Stunt their spiritual growth. Or something.

The music started. Paulinus Minor Major said "This sounds like a funky church, Dad". The words of the hymn were projected onto the wall powerpoint-stylee.



The priest wore a blue chasuble. This particluar church does not have the rare privilege of allowing blue vestments and this was not a feast of the BVM. The ten minute sermon took 9:30 to get to mentioning Our Lord. We had beggars by the bins mentioned (but no injunction to personal charity - just a denunciation of 'the system') and some stuff about Global Warming and Trident. At the collection the powerpoint presentation told me I had to support the church through a direct debit or standing order. I put my bawbees back in pocket. I'm sure Monsignor won't refuse the extra next Sunday back in my home parish.

For the readings we were all given candles to light. I was getting disoriented - was it Candlemas or Easter?



Out came the ceramic liturgical vessels and then the improvised preface and a rough approximation to EP2 with references to clergy expunged and 'sisters' always mentioned first. The host was raised at the offertory. "That is one big piece of bread, Dad" said one of my boys.



Eventually we were all dismissed to be nice people. Or whatever. As we came away Paulinus Minor Major (who spends some of his time these days with an iPod in his ears murmuring stuff about "wearing ma Rolex" in a Sarf London accent) said "The music wasn't right for church, Dad".

It's easy to sneer and I'll try not to. Mass is not about feelings. Whether it plainchant or Palestrina or Paul Potts, fiddlebacks or horseblankets, it's not about the aesthetics, important though they might be. It's about Jesus Christ and His eternal sacrifice bloodlessly made at the altar. I am grateful I had a priest to say Mass.

But Lordy, why does it have to be so laboured? At the end of the day the knowing chipping away at the signs eventually causes disorientation and we all turn away from looking upwards to God Almighty into one big cosy circle of self-affirmation.

As we were leaving the choir loft, there was a gaggle of young lads who at one stage in this church's history would have filled the sanctuary. Needless to say there were no acolytes at this church. This was Father's Gig. I know lads. No way in a million years would they be seen dead joining the singing with a group of girlies at the front. The music was pitched too high for their recently dropped voices anyway. So in our supposedly patriarchal Church the only thing they would be comfortable with (the choreographed liturgical action of serving ) is denied them and they slink to the back, any embryonic vocation snuffed out and stamped upon. Welcome, Yoof.

Sursum corda.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Bob said...

Thats a worrying story in Scotland. Scottish curates don't normally do that sort of thing - more usually they are trying to stop the Parish Priest from doing it.

Thankfully I've never seen a powerpoint presentation in a church in Glasgow. Yet.

11:07 AM  
Blogger Paulinus said...

He struck me as a needy sort of guy. Maybe it's my problem for having GIRM Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

11:37 AM  
Blogger Paulinus said...

One postscript: we were invited to say the lord's Prayer in "the language in which we first learned it".

I said it in Latin.

likewise I used the formula 'Pax vobiscum' at the Kiss of Peace.

Two can play at that game.

11:49 AM  
Blogger berenike said...

it's so bloody depressing. :(

12:51 PM  
Blogger Paulinus said...

A thought struck me about the powerpoint etc stuff. There is an evangelical Anglican Church up the road which has services almost identical (guilty secret - I've been to one). The only difference is that the Anglican leading the service wore a suit rather than vestments and, of course, wasn't a priest as I would understand a priest.

In every other respect the services were identical.

Thanks for that, Annibale...

3:06 PM  
OpenID ebomania said...

Sorry Bob, this has been on the go for years. I even was partly responsible as "strummer in chief" who inflicted Sing-it-in-the-valley-clap-clap-clap" on countless souls. Mea Culpa.

If the mass is dumbed down, then young folks will never ask about stuff that's simplified for them. They understand the dumb bit, that's all there must be to it - end of discussion.

On the flip side, when the Celebrant sticks to the Rubric or perhaps uses something like a Thurible - the first thing he gets asked off the Youngsters afterwardsis "why did you do that?"

There's your teaching oportunity.

Oh to travel back in time (1988 or thereabouts) and change the thinking that denies the fact that congregations can sing by themselves. While i'm there, i'll hide the mike stand and Marshal Stack too.

9:56 AM  
Blogger Paulinus said...

I even was partly responsible as "strummer in chief" who inflicted Sing-it-in-the-valley-clap-clap-clap" on countless souls.

There is more joy in heaven over one sinner that repents, etc.

If the mass is dumbed down, then young folks will never ask about stuff that's simplified for them. They understand the dumb bit, that's all there must be to it - end of discussion.

Dumbed down - no mystery to unravel. Our Lord wasn't daft. he left us these mysteries the better for us to understand, the deeper to understand. Dumbing down's a bit like writing 'The Butler Done It' on the front page of a detective novel. Instructive but missing the point.

Oh to travel back in time (1988 or thereabouts) and change the thinking that denies the fact that congregations can sing by themselves.

Hey, and I'd have more hair, more energy and a slimmer waist.

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Vernon said...

A projection screen in/near the Sanctuary and bad music go hand in hand!

12:48 AM  

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