Posted by Christopher Johnson | Sunday, January 8th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 48 Comments
Hey, kids!! What time is it?!! It’s the bestest and most funnest time of all!! It’s time for yet another disgruntled Roman Catholic, in this case, a guy named Jeff DeGraff, to whine about the new Catholic Mass:
Prayers aren’t just words. They are the way we talk with God.
Using words. Speak in tongues a lot, do you, Jeff?
That’s the brand promise of the universal church — like McDonald’s, it’s the same everywhere. You can attend Mass in an overcrowded parking lot in China where services are in Cantonese and not miss a beat — I’ve done it. All together now — stand, kneel, cross yourself and repeat after me.
“That’s the brand promise of the universal church — like McDonald’s, it’s the same everywhere.” Apparently, to Jeff, all Christian worship consists of is walking into a big building, reciting a script, doing a little ecclesiastical choreography and heading for the golf course. But now the Vatican has completely destroyed that.
So Mass is now new and improved but not necessarily the good kind. It’s more like Michael Bolton’s foppish cover of “Georgia on My Mind” (Senator, you’re no Ray Charles) or maybe the introduction of New Coke (Young man, you will drink it and like it). Yes, that’s it — the New Mass as New Coke.
Jeff’s got a point there. I mean, you hardly see any Catholic churches anymore. My little hometown of 23,000 people or so(and me) is down to three parishes so I can see why the Vatican would want to get the Roman Catholic Church in the headlines again. Too bad Vatican PR screwed the pooch so badly on this one.
Thing is, my little hometown of 23,000 people or so(and me) has had three thriving Catholic parishes since before my family moved here in 1956. And I don’t know, maybe Rome made the changes it did because it wanted to theologically toughen up and get people in the pews to think about the words they say rather than robotically utter them like the Episcopalians do. If you’ll pardon the redundancy.
In a recent article by former Maryland lieutenant governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in The Atlantic entitled “Out of Step with the Flock,” she remarks, “As a woman and a lifelong Catholic, I sometimes marvel that faith can flourish despite the hierarchy’s not infrequent disdain for the faithful.”
By staying true to the word of God. Okay.
In this case she is specially addressing the treatment of women in regards to issues such as birth control but the sentiment can be aptly applied here more generally as well. Not surprisingly, there have been reprisals on Catholic.net and the like with same message — God doesn’t answer to popular opinion. Sadly, these rebuttals miss the point entirely.
I think you all know where this is going.
The Church doesn’t belong to the Vatican, Cardinals or Bishops. It belongs to the faithful who are capable of interpreting the tenants of their faith for themselves.
Quite right. Those particular faithful are generally referred to as PROTESTANTS!! Damn it to hell, you snackeral mappers had damn well better appreciate what I put myself through for you people or so help me…
In short, we didn’t ask for this change to the Mass and from all indicators didn’t want it.
Jeff? Buddy? Catholics are exactly the same as everyone else. If Rome gave them what they wanted, Communion wafers would be replaced by baklava, Communion wine by Jäger shots and you would not only have the right to drill your best friend’s hot wife during the liturgy, you would have the obligation.
Pope John XXIII believed in his people. He convened the Second Vatican Council with representatives from all over the world and all points of view to give the church back to its laity. Funny thing is that when you trust your people they have a tendency to return the favor.
Either that or they have a tendency to turn your church into something that doesn’t believe much of anything, influences nobody at all who can think through their arguments, whose members think that mindlessly performing ceremonies somehow constitutes Christian “worship” and whose spiritually serious members call around to find out when the Orthodox or Southern Baptist services are. See the experience of the Episcopal Organization since the 1970’s. Then my man Jeff gives the game away.
Supposedly this was all done in the name of authenticity. If that were true, why not embrace the Jesus Seminar, a group of over one hundred of the world’s foremost biblical scholars who have identified inaccuracies in the liturgy?
Jeff, nobody with a functioning intellect takes the Jesus Seminar seriously.
Why not go back to the original language of the Bible — Hebrew and Greek?
And do what? Subtitle everything like they did in The Passion of the Christ?
Why not reconcile with the Eastern Orthodox Church which also has a legitimate claim as the original denomination?
Yeah, that little contratemps has only been going on for a thousand years. Rome’ll polish that baby off tomorrow.
Some Jesuit scholars are now questioning if this new translation is indeed more accurate, but no matter, they are usually ignored and frequently excommunicated for their clever use of facts and their crazy powers of reason. Language is alive and updated with the times to be relevant to our lives — like our beliefs. But these innovations move forward to keep up with us and our emerging needs — not backwards to imagined halcyon days.
The other site I run has a motto. It’s applied for a different reason there but I think it applies here as well. “Because Christian worship is not supposed to be about you.”
Liturgically, there’s a danger in giving the laity what it wants. Because the laity not only doesn’t want God to come near, it’s terrified of Him. Kierkegaard descibed it thus:
The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.
Far better then to design a liturgy which lets us think that we are worshipping God but which actually keeps God at a safe distance.