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.