Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday keeps sneaking up on me!

Whoa, it's been a long time since I did one of these!! Thanks, as always, to
Jen, our hostess with the mostest


The beginning of the school year is almost here!  I haven’t been a full-time student in sixteen months, but I’m still excited about the newness September brings.  As Tom Hanks so adorably says in You’ve Got Mail, “Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.” 


On the other hand, the close proximity of the fall means I need to put the final touches on my religious ed curriculum, finish shamelessly begging asking people to be catechists, and firm up the calendar.  Yikes!


I have come to really, really, love the simplicity of daily Mass.  It’s so… easy to focus.  A priest, two dozen older people, one altar boy, the lady who lectors, and me.  It’s also nice to know that everyone is there because they want to be, not because they felt they had to come.  No one texts during the homily. No one sprints for the door after Communion.  Everyone reverences the tabernacle. It’s refreshing.   This probably means I’m just not charitable enough toward the “typical” parishioners who won’t come to Mass if it means missing the Packer pre-game show.  Clearly, I need to pray for humility.  Speaking of which....


The Litany of Humility is awesome.  And, appropriately, very humbling.  Written by Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (Secretary of State for Pius X, whose memorial is today!) he used to recite it after each time he celebrated Mass.  But it's also a darn good way to start the day and remind myself that I am not, in fact, the most important person in the universe.  


I went to another wedding last weekend. It was a beautiful ceremony, but I acutely felt something lacking.  My friend married a wonderful Lutheran man.  They had a Catholic wedding but not a Mass.  It felt so….empty without the Eucharist to complete the symbolism of marriage.  


My mother and I had an actual conversation about religion, which hasn’t happened since I became Catholic two years ago.  She mentioned that she doesn’t miss the Eucharist at all, and is so much more “fed” by the good preaching at the Presbyterian church she and my dad attend.  I know God touches each of us differently…. but I wanted to weep.  The Sunday Gospels have all been from John 6 recently.  The Bread of Life discourse from 6:22-71 is *the* defining reason I love being Catholic.  I’m simply flabbergasted that my mother, with her years of Catholic education, considers the Eucharist to be negligible.  It makes me so sad for her, and mad at her catechists and professors. Sad and mad.  Smad.


I’m starting St. Faustina’s Divine Mercy in my Soul this week, and  I’m prepared for some serious spiritual butt-kicking.  I think I love St. Faustina so much because she was overlooked and under appreciated.  Like St. Bernadette, everyone thought Faustina was stupid, and no one took her visions seriously at first.  Despite all the things she endured, she was always humble and always loving.  I need to be more like her. 

......and I'm out!  

Monday, August 10, 2009

GIRM Warfare: Part Two

There are few things in Satan's military arsenal more upsetting than the monstrosity that is the Polka Mass.
(alright, alright, things like genocide, abortion, slavery, blasphemy, adultery, and a few others are trillions of times worse.  But good Lord.)

This summer, due to many different comedies of errors involving traveling, mixing up Mass times, and oversleeping, I've been subjected to *three* Polka Masses.  The all had varying degrees of hokeyness and irreverence, but regardless of the band's talent, the congregation's degree of participation, or the popularity of the concept, all three had something in common: they were liturgies where I received Jesus in the Eucharist but spent most of the Mass trying desperately not to groan or hiss.  I slipped up a few times.  Last Sunday when the Umpa Band began playing "Peace Like a River" in lieu of the Agnus Dei, I did audibly hiss.  The woman next to me stared.  I gave her a sheepish apologetic smile before muttering under my breath, "Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi...."

The most ironic thing is that all the parishes where I suffered through experienced a Polka Mass normally have beautiful, reverent, appropriate Novus Ordo liturgies.  They were a beacon of hope that the "Spirit of Vatican II" and her liturgical dancers, clowns, 261 Eucharistic Ministers, and stand-up comic priests were on the outs.  

Where did this tradition come from?  I know it's a very Wisconsin thing, since there are lots of people here with Polish heritage.  I was talking to a friend about this, and he said, "A few years ago the pastor [a more traditional fellow] tried to abolish the yearly Polka Mass but people howled.  So he moved it to Saturday afternoon, where most of its fans [ie, elderly people] are anyway."

The Polka Mass, and its fellow liturgy-abusing cousins, is deeply troubling to me because it reflects a fundamental problem with how we see liturgy.  A Mass that reminds me of a beer hall is not one where I feel like I'm in heaven.  A Mass where liturgical dancers float up and down the aisle reminds me of an elementary school dance recital, not the Lamb of God.  A Mass where the priest tries to be a folksy stand-up comedian during the homily reminds me of a high school talent show, not the Communion of Saints.  In all these cases, liturgy becomes about "us" and not about "Him."  I don't know whether the GIRM precisely forbids themed Masses (probably not), but something like this-- where the form severely detracts from the meaning -- can't be good.

I've just finished reading Seraphic Goes to Scotland's hilarious and informative "Secrets of the Trid Mass" (Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four).  While I do love Novus Ordo when it's done well, I'm beginning to wonder if I shouldn't make the effort to check out a TLM every now and then, just to comprehend what my grandparents' Mass experience was like.  I don't think I'll become a regular TLM-er, nor do I believe that we should revert solely to Extraordinary Form, but I do appreciate Papa B's motu proprio which gives us the opportunity.  Time to buy a mantilla!