Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dispatch from St. Bozo's Parish

Having grown up in a liturgical "mainline" church before its decline, watching the deterioration of services into meaningless, often cringe-inducing, kindergarten sessions has been especially tiresome.

The New Oxford Review makes the point in a recent promotional piece about as well as I've seen it stated.  New Oxford focuses on the Roman Catholic Church, but its observations apply to my own Church of What's Happenin' Now and to many of the other mainline protestant denominations.

For this morning's sermon, we present it here.

In many Catholic parishes today, the sense of the sacred -- of mystery and majesty and even of worship itself -- has largely been banished. The bells, incense, votive candles, and Communion rail are gone. The Tabernacle with the reserved Sacrament can't be found. Elegant statues of our friends, the saints, are locked in the basement, replaced by balloons, banners with greeting-card sentiments,and other dime-store decorations. The organ gathers cobwebs. The sanctuary has become a stage. And the kneelers are now being ripped out, the crucifix taken down.

It's virtually impossible to pray before (or after) Mass because of all the chatter and backslapping. The Creed is left unsaid. Homilists pander with unfunny jokes and not-quite-the-latest pop-psychology blather. The words of the liturgy are improvised upon by politically correct clerics and lectors with weird agendas -- God our Father becomes "God our Parent," the Son of God becomes the "Child of God," etc. And we must clap, clap, clap for the band and the liturgical dancers and the clowns - we aren't making a joyful noise unto the Lord, but only unto the amateurish entertainers.

The primary purpose of the Mass has been transformed from receiving Christ and worshiping the Almighty into "celebrating community" -- i.e., celebrating our wonderful selves. One influential liturgical "expert" has said the Mass shouldn't convey "a feeling of infinity or eternity or the world beyond," for it's really about "communal sensitivity" among parishioners. But this touchie-feelie Catholicism -- where the Sign of Peace becomes the high point of the Mass -- has no power or magnetism. Normal people seldom get out of bed on Sunday morning in search of warm huggies.

Catholics who are alienated by trivialized or freakish Masses -- who are sick of being guinea pigs in a liturgical lab -- often jump ship for an Evangelical church, or just stay in bed. Indeed, Mass attendance among Catholics has dropped from 70%, just before the liturgical experiments began, to 25% today! And today, two out of three Catholics don't believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist -- which isn't surprising, given that how we worship has a profound effect on what we believe about the meaning of the Mass.

The liturgical experiments have largely been a miserable failure. We agree with then-Cardinal Ratzinger that our damaged liturgy needs to be repaired.

To which I'd add:   who'd have thought the following satire of liturgical modernization, from years ago, would seem like a stately old piece of sacred music compared to what you're likely to find in "church" today?

Leroy Yentuar

1 comment:

moparboy said...

I stopped going to church in HS, so, I have no frame of reference with regards to Catholic worship is, today.

What I've heard from friends and a few family members, makes me think mass has turned into a hippie commune, type experience. My own mother has transformed from a die hard, conservative Catholic, unwavering in faith, into a moral relativist, like so many liberals. If that's what the church has turned into, I don't want any part of it.

I hear the music has become more hippie happy, over time. It was bad enough, 20 years ago.