Filed under: Catholic Liturgy | Tags: abuses, Castrillon Hoyos, Catholic church, liturgical abuses, liturgy, prayer, Redemptionis Sacramentum, SSPX, talking in Catholic church, tradition, traditionalists
Cardinal Prefect, Congregation For the Clergy
Piazza Della Città
Leonina I, 00193
Dear Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos,
I just read what you wrote about how some traditionalists were still not satisfied after the Summorum Pontificum, and were writing letters and posting their complaints on the internet to have more traditional masses available. You seemed disturbed. I would like to tell you why I am tempted to complain in public, too.
I am a person who likes to go to daily mass. I need to go to daily mass. My adult children have so many challenges in their work and relationships, and I still have, as their mother, all the cares for their spiritual and material welfare. I have troubles of my own, too. So daily mass is a necessity, not a luxury, like exercise and vitamins pills.
But I cannot go to a decent daily mass. Because there are no reverent and obedient daily masses here.
Yesterday, for example, at a church about six blocks from me, there were numerous bad things. Besides having a Eucharistic minister instead of a priest for the ten or so people, besides having no place to kneel to receive Our Lord except the flat marble floor, or kneel not at all, which makes me feel sick, besides these things (that are bad enough), after mass, when I want to make a little thanksgiving to Christ still physically present in my body, every single other person present began a private conversation right there in church, just as soon as Father left the sanctuary.
Some stood talking, some sat together, one actually hopped over a pew to sit companionably with the person behind. The church was happily abuzz with socialization that should have taken place in the vestibule–if we believe in the real presence of Christ. As it always did, prior to the Council. Now it is as if–“the show” is over.
It is not a small thing to me. Oh, I can give myself all the talkings-to in the world, how I should be more patient with my fellow Catholics, how I should even join them, what’s the harm, a little friendship, we’re only human, etc. It would be an act of charity, and so forth.
But my Catholic training is too strong. Christ is present here. That is all. These women like myself, older, lonely, women whom I would ordinarily like very much, and help, and suffer their–our–little idiosyncrasies with a laugh; or younger women on their way to work, stopping at mass just as I once did, and upon whom I would ordinarily heap my blessings and praise and love: these women young and old appear to be–witches! In that harsh light, with their backs to Him, stealing from Him. Denying Him. Simply witches, greedily lapping up the grace still flowing in the space, from the altar, from the cross. Talk to me now! Taking what is His, the way a cheap blogger will paste a tasty quote from a really good writer on their mastheads.
A second possibility for morning mass is six blocks in the other direction. I wentthere last week. It is a magnificent church with the most beautiful, big, carved walnut or mahogany crucifix. They also had a mere handful of faithful present. Father must like to sing, because he ‘sings,’ (if you can call the half hummed, half mumbled, unaccompanied and off-key jumble actual singing) every sung part of the new mass. He tries to get us to sing, but we don’t. It’s too early. We want what we used to have, a plain, simple low mass like we used to have, that, or either a real high mass with a choir that practices.
When Father must interrupt his singing/directing to attend to the other business in the mass, the parts only he can do like the consecration, he still hums along into the fully-amplfied clip-on mic. There’s a hidden message here; this is the disturbing part. The message is, God will take anything. No practice needed, whatever comes out is pleasing to God.
There is no such thing as bad, so you just make yourself happy, yes? It screams that we’re only pretending there’s a God.
And what about the physical torture of actually listening to it? Cardinal, I confess that I sneakily put my hands up over my ears. I think most people react with more restraint, by simply–not showing up. The empty pews. The empty, empty pews. It’s a big church.
At this mass, also, Father invites us to chime in with our own petitions after he reads the official ones. Most are homey–please pray for Aunt Betty, she’s sick with the gout again. Some are political, some even contradict the teaching of our Faith. “Support the success of all those working for democracy in the Church, Hear us, O Lord,” that was one last Tuesday when I went. A person is placed in the position of appearing to support them, and what is one to do? Shout out, ‘Leave me out of praying for your party’s candidates or your ambiguous causes’?
No, one does not shout. One often fails to show up at the next mass, though. That’s what I do.
Father also likes to substitute an old Irish blessing for the one in the rubrics (he’s such a cool ethnic guy) and he leaves the sanctuary and joins us laity for the Peace sign (he’s such a friendly guy), and the sacred vessels are cut glass rather than precious metals, because ‘this is here, this is not Rome’ (as Father told me when I protested this violation of the rubrics). And of course there is no place to kneel to receive Our Lord, and this congregation also likes to chat as soon as mass has ended, except that in this church the lady lector likes to stand right at the edge of the sanctuary, in the middle, and invite people into the conversation. They stand so that all have their backs to God in the tabernacle, and they talk away, gesturing, laughing out loud. She motioned to me to join them, and I don’t know what she made of my horrified look, and it made me feel so bad, so uncharitable, because in any other circumstance, I’d be happy to socialize. Invite me to coffee, or walk me to the corner. Just wait til we get outside!
Father has long gone, of course. Father would never, ever take five minutes and pray after mass-or before, either. He doesn’t join in the conversation, in this particular church, but neither does he come out brandishing a cat o’ nine tails, which is what I kneel there and pray for. When I should have been praying for my children. For my brother’s health. But who can concentrate on prayer in all the post-mass sanctuary socializing?
The dissonance is too large: who is right, do we come to church to pray to God, or to socialize? Is the place for prayer at home, is that the message, and not here in front of the Blessed Sacrament?
The non-verbal message, of course, is, He is not here. That makes sense, that explains it. And this realization almost makes me cry, and then makes me mad, and I have to kneel there and pray hard against the temptation not to shoot these non-believers.
I’m only kidding about that, trying to show you how much it hurts. Cardinal Castrillon-Hoyos– it hurts! That’s why I’m writing you. And posting it on the internet, too.
Because it seems you think the reform of the reform is done; that there are no more abuses and that we all have a perfectly obedient, perfectly reverent daily mass right down the street in our home town. Isn’t that the official position? We got Redemptionis Sacramentum and the bishops nodded and smiled, and now everything is tidy, and the only reason to ‘release’ the traditional mass is to appease those darn Lefevristas from SSPX and those other cranky traditionalists?
No, Cardinal! Not to be able to kneel to receive Our Lord is an abuse. A eucharistic minister distributing communion to ten people is an abuse. All the politics in the petitions or whatever they call it is an abuse. Talking in church after mass is an abuse. All the tortured acapella singing without any practice is an abuse.
It’s not fixed yet!
Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, sir, I just want to go to daily mass according to Redemptionis Sacramentum, except with a couple of things you forgot and I’d like you to add them, some cleaning up of the ambiguities, especially around Eucharistic ministers (calling on them to resign their commissions evidently wasn’t enough), providing a place to kneel to receive Our Lord, and also including one new directive about not chatting inside a Catholic church! Oh, and also something excruciatingly specific about sing-along music in the new mass. Like, lose it! Have a choir and an organ and practice, or have quiet mass.
Rules enforced by–the mafia! Don’t you have any unused mafia lying around? Or a couple reformed Jesuits? Somebody with some cojones?
But if you can’t certify (by on-site inspection, such as those endured by hospitals and schools) that masses without abuses are available in my neighborhood, then please give me the traditional mass! Every day!
Jan Baker, The White Lily Blog
11 Comments so far
Leave a comment