"THEN Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards he was hungry. And the tempter coming said to him: If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. Who answered and said: It is written, Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God." Matthew 4:1-4

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday should not include a rant

One should not be moved to a point near despair by one's experience at a worship service.
On the upside, for those Catholics among you who cherish your Marty Haugen songs and inclusive language, if things get really bad for you in the coming years as the Mass turns back towards revering and worshiping God, head to the Grand Island, NE diocese. Everyone is welcome in the human chain of love (during the Our Father) except those who prefer to pray without joining a giant chain of hand-holding strangers. (Just for the record, if you want to hold hands with your family or friend during Mass, I won't look or care. What I am talking about is an entire congregation moving from its places to join the hands of every single person in the church. Then we have to chat with each other and smile and wave and return to our places and the priest either waits for the meet and greet to finish or goes on ahead without the congregation. It has little to do with focusing on Our Father, and frankly, it's difficult to focus on the prayer when everyone is moving about and talking and laughing.)

We've been to Mass oh probably 20 times in this diocese in the past couple of traveling years. We heave a sigh and hope against hope that perhaps at this Mass, in this parish, there will be worship that resembles that described in the GIRM. Today, we were disappointed again. OK so it's not as bad as say, dancing Bishops in LA, but there is still little to resemblance to what worship ought to look according the teachings of the Church.

A lay woman read the penitential rite. (Just for the record, it's been months since we have been in a parish where the Confiteor is prayed except maybe quietly to oneself. I need to check to see if my family still remembers it.) Father included in his homily a little quip about his disgust with East Coast people, they're rude. No offense meant to this native Philadelphian, I guess. And really, none taken. I mean who has time to care if someone thinks East Coast Yankees are rude. I am one, the truth only hurts sometimes, not today, today there were far more painful things than a priest's opinion. It was, though, tempting to tell him what I think of the priests I have encountered in the Grand Island diocese, after all, if one is already presumed to fit a stereotype...

That would have been counter productive. But what I really, really would have liked to have said, after a C+ sermon on balance, was "Father, if you think that things are out of balance around here, put the Lord in the Tabernacle back in the center."   Of all the things that we find disturbing as we travel the country and endeavor to remain faithful to Him (note the use of the masculine pronoun for Someone whom we call Father and who sent a Son!) and the teachings of His Church, the removal of the Blessed Sacrament to an alcove is most distressing.

This *custom* is fairly recent as far as Catholicism is concerned, came about specifically as a directive for churches that attract a lot of foot traffic of the tourist variety. Since we believe that Jesus our Lord is present in Hidden Majesty in the Tabernacle, Catholics make a gesture of reverence to Him that non-Catholics who are say touring St Peter's in Rome or the Cathedral at Chartres may not be aware of. So the Blessed Sacrament is kept in a quiet place off to the side in some of these places.
Pilgrims and tourists are not flocking to Scottsbluff, NE. (Although the Church at St Agnes is worthy of a visit to see the remarkably gorgeous stained glass windows, it looks like someone maybe around 1972 said, "Let's cover all the wood work with stucco." Perhaps they covered the wooden beams and customary ceiling frescoes as well. Hard to imagine that the original builders went to the trouble and expense of the spectacular windows and decided that in place of a reredo there should be some hanging curtains. And sometime maybe around the time when dusty rose was popular, it looks like they decided that pink was the new red. It's a very deep shade of pink used for the presider's chair and the tabernacle alcove. But it is pink nonetheless. Is there such thing as kingly pink?)

So the Tabernacle - quite beautiful - was moved to an antechamber presumably out of the way. Out of the way right next to the door. Yeah, that's cutting down on persons irreverently traipsing around in the Lord's holy presence.

If you are a Catholic and you have never read the GIRM, do yourself, your parish and your priest a favor and read it. Your worship will only be enhanced by understanding why we do what we do. If you are in the Grand Island diocese, well, send a copy to your Bishop, he needs to read it. Really, he needs to implement it. It's only been available for about 7 years.


  1. Ah, my poor friend. I feel for you. I hate going to the Spanish mass because they turn it into a meet and greet party, but then again, they do sing well, and Jesus is always there, in the Sacrament.

    I love the new look of your blog.

  2. As bad as shoving the tabernacle out of the way is, the worst I've ever seen is at a place run by the Liberal branch of the Nortbertines out here in Pennsylvania. It is near the "altar" [a little platform on top of a pedestal], but instead of a tabernacle, the Blessed Sacrament is kept in a little closet in the wall! A little closet instead of a tabernacle; can it get any worse than that? (They believe they can avoid all the Church's rules and regulations simply by calling it an "oratory" instead of a church or chapel.) It's been a couple years since I've been there (and have no intention of ever going there again).
    When I can't get to the traditional Latin Mass and have to go to a Novus Ordo Mass, at least most of the churches around here are tolerable.


About Me

Welcome! The most important bread is the Bread of Life. I am Catholic and do my best to know, understand and live what that means that I might "know Him, love Him and serve Him." My husband, Bud, and I have been married for 24 years and we have seven children. Because of his job, we travel the country in an RV with five of them, learning as we go.