Monday, December 5, 2011

So Much for Relevance

Not being alive during the tumultous period just after the Second Vatican Council has its perks.

I mean, for me, a baby Catholic who's only been going to Mass since 2006, tales of clown masses, Pizza Eucharist and liturgical dance are as foreign to me as the Abominable Snowman or Sasquatch; unbelievable horrors I've heard about but never seen with my own eyes. (And thank goodness)

But while those vestiges of Sacrosanctum Concilium misinterpretation are almost gone, a few remain. No, I'm not talking about hand-holding during the Our Father, though I am thrilled it's on its way out.

Much worse, I'd argue, is the idea that the Mass is something we do, something that ought to entertain, something that is about us. This is a postmodern, mega-church mindset, and while such a mindset is not necessarily bad, is isn't appropriate in a Catholic liturgy. The liturgy is about God.

Jimmy Fallon did an NPR interview the other day during which he mentioned his Catholic upbringing. As a child he loved elements of the Mass now considered old-school: bells, incense, his special job as an altar boy. In the interview, Fallon mentioned that he recently went back to church but found it off-putting:

GROSS: Do you still go to church?

Mr. FALLON: I don’t go to – I tried to go back. When I was out in L.A. and I was kind of struggling for a bit. I went to church for a while, but it’s kind of, it’s gotten gigantic now for me. It’s like too… There’s a band. There’s a band there now, and you got to, you have to hold hands with people through the whole Mass now, and I don’t like doing that. You know, I mean, it used to be the shaking hands piece was the only time you touched each other.

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

Mr. FALLON: Now, I’m holding hand – now I’m lifting people. Like Simba.


Mr. FALLON: I’m holding them (Singing) ha nah hey nah ho.

(Speaking) I’m doing too much. I don’t want – there’s Frisbees being thrown, there’s beach balls going around, people waving lighters, and I go, ‘This is too much for me.’ I want the old way. I want to hang out with the, you know, with the nuns, you know, that was my favorite type of Mass, and the grotto, and just like straight up, just Mass Mass.

Notice that? Things that are supposed to make Mass more "relevant and accessible" to hip young adults like Fallon - like having a cool worship band, holding hands all the time, using gimmicks - didn't speak to him. And you know what? I don't blame him.

We don't need gimmicks to make the Mass relevant. It's already relevant for what it is. Jesus is always relevant, and His Church will endure forever.

Bring on the smells and bells. The hip music and social hour can wait outside, thank you.

1 comment:

Emma said...

Exactly. I was raised in a reverent Anglo-Catholic church, but for reasons obvious to nearly everyone, I am in the process of leaving, and have been for 6 years, ever since I moved to Toronto.

While at university, I attended the Newman Centre every so often to try and get a feel for the Catholic faith, but found it really off-putting.

I have never had any desire to attend "First Church of the Band/Choir", and the liturgical music was so dreadful that despite excellent preaching, it as hard for me to attend.

Until I attended the St. Vincent dePaul Latin Mass in Roncesvalles, I despaired of ever finding a church that was able to do the whole Church "thing" without pandering.

For reference, I'm 23. I brought 3 others with me, a Presbyterian, a NO Catholic, and a recent theist who is looking for a faith. All 3 loved it, and came out with the express desire to return, preferably with a Latin Missal.