The Death of ‘Me-Church’

This past Sunday, as I attempted to get my wriggling, squeaking, squirming children settled in our pew for what usually amounts to a liturgical rodeo — see if you can keep them on their best behavior for eight seconds without getting thrown out of the church — I noticed the arrival of two women in their sixties who clearly looked like they did not belong. Processing up the aisle in search of a seat, they were dressed very casually, with the short-cropped, boyish, almost intentionally unattractive hairstyles that seem to be de rigeur for the aging members of America’s post-feminism movement. They stood out in a sea of suits, ties, dresses, and chapel veils.

 
Far be it from me to judge based solely on appearances, of course: I may be a Trad, but when I know I’m going to be wrestling with toddlers for the duration of an hour-and-a-quarter-long Mass in the heat of the summer, I’m the first to arrive in a polo shirt instead of an oxford. Even so, sometimes it’s just true: “By their fashions you will know them.”
 



This daring duo of anti-patriarchalism might have been guests in from out of town and staying in the hotel across the street, unaware that the 9 a.m. Mass at this particular parish is, in fact, a throwback to the glory days of Catholicism, before the option existed to replace all the masculine pronouns for God in the liturgy with gender-inclusive ones. Might have been, I say, but for the fact that they gave themselves away with their refusal to kneel during such unimportant moments of the Mass as, say, the consecration. They stood like Amazon warrior priestesses at attention, forming a phalanx to defend the rear guard of fruit-loopy Catholicism’s last hoorah.
 
As I looked at them (they were partially blocking my view of the altar, so I couldn’t help it), I felt not my usual twinge of irritation at the guardians of “Me-Church,” but instead a kind of amused pity. They couldn’t perform their non-conformist schtick, mad-libbing their way through responses that, in Latin, they couldn’t understand. Hindered by the liturgical language barrier and unfamiliar with the posture of the priest, they were also unable to determine when to hold hands inappropriately during the “Our Father” and were ritually deprived of the showy displays of human affection afforded them by the Sign of Peace.
 
In other words, the liturgical experience in which they found themselves was horizontal-proof. It resists by its very essence all efforts to make it conform to Man. Instead, within its confines, man (or womyn, if you prefer) must conform to God.
 
As I watched the priest, his attention turned to the altar and, incidentally, away from their awkward and ineffectual protest, I felt certain that I was at last seeing the death of an ideology that had long outlived its time. The parish was full — not just with gray-haired hangers-on, but with young families teeming with small children, all of whom demonstrated a deep fondness for tradition, ritual, and respectful worship. The visitors’ triumphalistic “We Are Church” mentality was made irrelevant by a more humble, less self-conscious Catholicism. The people around them were far less concerned with having the attention focused on them, and far more concerned with keeping children quiet and well-behaved, and making it through the confession line before Communion time.
 
This reality is not restricted to the extraordinary form of the Mass, though it finds much substance there. As the Church turns with a view to the past, not just the future, and admits more of its once-abandoned orthodoxy back into its liturgies, the revolutionaries who sought to remake Catholicism are growing old and fading away. The Church is timeless and seems now, at last, to be maturing out of its bi-millennial identity crisis. It is a Catholicism that remembers what it was and where it is going — to Our Father’s house — where the choirs of angels sing not their own praises but His, forever and ever.
 

By

Steve Skojec serves as the Director of Community Relations for a professional association. He is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where he earned a BA in Communications and Theology. His passions include writing, photography, social media, and an avid appreciation of science fiction. Steve lives in Northern Virginia with his wife Jamie and their five children.

  • Marie

    Hush..shhhh! They could have been nuns.

    Modern nuns did not just shed their habits – they replaced them. In our parish, Dominican Sisters dress in identical white t-shirts, jeans and athletic shoes (outside of the Mass) and sport identical short-crop hairdos.

    Which lead people to ask, “What’s the use of throwing out their habits if they’re going to look alike just the same?”

  • Hess Family

    Thanks for the laugh! The day can’t come soon enough when this kind of tired re-tread of the Lie (“You shall be as gods”) fade away.

    I wish there were a TLM near us, but in Europe the best we can hope for is a good Novus Ordo in which the priest doesn’t declare that the Church is “behind the times” and “must catch up to the culture” (Yes, this really happened when we were visiting a beautiful old cathedral in Dresden).

    Terrific article, Mr. Skojec. I’ll be chuckling all day.

  • Mother of Two Sons

    I thought that the two women were going to sit in your pew and help you out…… I was more distracted and disturbed by your thoughts of judgement and condemnation and quite frankly I don’t think what language the Mass is in (since Jesus didn’t institute it in Latin),matters at all to Jesus, He just wants our heart…. even for the moments between your lovely squirming children…. and I would caution that since you already demonstrated to him by arriving with your family, even knowing the battle of the squirms it was going to be,I would refrain from allowing your thoughts to go that way…. you never know at what point of conversion they may be. And aren’t we all at some point of conversion. He only wants our hearts. Question: Did you go up after Mass and introduce yourself and your family to them, and ask them a little about themselves? That could have been another interesting ending to the story.

  • Ellen

    A few years ago, I was talking to a woman who complained about the practice of singing a hymn at the Offertory. She was angry that she didn’t get to say, “blessed be God forever” at the offering of the bread and wine, and that somehow deprived her of fully participating in the Mass.

    People are strange.

  • NorthoftheBorder

    “or womyn if you prefer” – haha classic!

  • Erin Garlock

    I walked into mass not too long ago and felt like a complete outsider to what was happening. Then again, I knew none of the prayers, I knew none of the tradition, I had never heard of the order of mass. Heck, I barely knew why I was even there to begin with.

    You see, I had simply walked in off the street in order to escape a situation in my life. I was not Catholic, I hadn’t been to a church in at least a decade, and quite frankly had no real place for religion in my life.

    I am reminded of a story in the Bible about the boastful person at the alter and the humble man at the back of the temple. I imagine had I met someone who looked disdainfully at me for not practicing their way, I would have simply left. Instead I was met with a warm welcome by those around me.

  • Ann

    I was troubled to see such sneering, nasty, icky commentary on a Catholic blog. Does one really go to mass to assess the souls and spirituality of others? If so, that is “me-thinking” (so much for the end of “Me-church”.)

  • Gigi

    I don’t think making an observation of what is is sneering, nasty and icky.

  • Aaron

    Did people miss the part of the article where he said he intended not to judge them by appearances, but that they gave away the game when they stood through the consecration? Even non-Catholics sit through it, and an outsider who didn’t know what was happening would imitate the rest of the congregation. Standing is a blatant attempt to distract people with your personal protest. It’s the action, not the appearance.

  • Joshua

    Steve, while I agree with you that these women should have made more of an effort to participate in mass as others were, it may not have been entirely their fault. I’ve been to too many Catholic parishes that do not have kneelers or the congregation has been told to not use them, often at the behest of their priest. These women may have been instructed that standing is the proper position and that kneeling is wrong.

    I have a related question. When I go to a church that does not have kneelers, I still kneel during the consecration despite everyone standing. I am curious as to opinions on whether I should be doing that or not.

  • Kit

    A man who admits to having disruptive children at church complaining about women’s clothing. Does anyone who comments here ever complain about MALE behavior, or are women the only people capable of causing you all pain? My bet is on the latter. Men are good and perfect and wonderful so long as they enact their patriarchal duty of shouting down every woman in a five mile radius. Women are only tolerated if we scrub floors in complete oppressed silence. Why are there any female Catholics? Are there that many victims of abuse around?

  • Bryan

    You think it’s easy shouting at every woman around? Do you think I get paid for making sure women shut up and clean toilets? I do not, I can tell you. I do it because it is my duty and Jesus told me so, otherwise I would not interact with so terrifying a creature as a woman, especially if I saw any of her skin because that makes me feel all strange and angry inside.

    I hope that makes your day a little easier, Kit. Carry on.

  • Jason Negri

    A man who admits to having disruptive children at church complaining about women’s clothing. Does anyone who comments here ever complain about MALE behavior, or are women the only people capable of causing you all pain? My bet is on the latter. Men are good and perfect and wonderful so long as they enact their patriarchal duty of shouting down every woman in a five mile radius. Women are only tolerated if we scrub floors in complete oppressed silence. Why are there any female Catholics? Are there that many victims of abuse around?

    I agree. I’m glad you’re not Catholic either, Kit.

  • Pammies

    Are you the same person that pulled me aside after I said my husband did not like my short haircut and hand me a calling card for abused women? She said I exhibited most of the signs and that she just had a radar for such as me. I had met her about fifteen minutes earlier. In other words, consider the possibility that you might be mistaken and reading more into this article than is there.

  • Cammie

    It’s so funny to me how feminists think that men can never comment about anything pertaining to women! Only women can judge other women’s actions?

    Hi Kit, I guess I’m one of those put-upon Catholic women who embraces the teachings of the Church and submits to my husband and his decisions for our family. I must be crazy! But as a woman, you can judge my decisions, right?

  • Hess Family

    You think it’s easy shouting at every woman around? Do you think I get paid for making sure women shut up and clean toilets? I do not, I can tell you. I do it because it is my duty and Jesus told me so, otherwise I would not interact with so terrifying a creature as a woman, especially if I saw any of her skin because that makes me feel all strange and angry inside.

    Bryan, when my husband sees this, he’s going to howl with laughter. [smiley=laugh]

    I truly don’t see what’s so polarizing about this article. Mr. Skojec doesn’t seem to be making assumptions about the state of these “womyn’s” souls.

  • Hess Family

    I have a related question. When I go to a church that does not have kneelers, I still kneel during the consecration despite everyone standing. I am curious as to opinions on whether I should be doing that or not.

    My first parish was temporary while the new building was under construction, i.e., it looked a lot like a VFW hall. There were foldable chairs without kneelers. We all stood during the consecration for two reasons (one good and one bad, I think).

    The good reason was the kneeling would push your chair into the people in the row behind you unless you were sitting on the back row. Even on the back row, the act of kneeling would have scraped the chair against the floor and made a lot of noise.

    The (maybe) bad reason was the everyone else was standing, and kneeling made you look “more Catholic than the Pope,” as though you were criticizing everyone around you. I’m not sure this last one is a good reason, especially considering what’s really happening during the consecration. But if done in a way to draw attention to oneself, it does imply a condemnation of the people around you.

    Maybe I’m wrong, though. Thoughts?

  • Bob

    One of the things that struck me about Steve’s description was the in-your-face non-conformity that was taking place. I can understand truly not knowing what to do (if that was the case) – but it takes about 2 awkward seconds to realize that everyone is kneeling and you should be too. One of the great things I’ve been thinking about lately is our loss of unity in approach to worship (standing, kneeling, communion on the mouth, communion in the hand, take the Cup, don’t take Cup, sing, don’t sing, hold hands during the Our Father

  • Steve

    …squirming children – liturgical rodeo…

    As a father of 7, you had me in stitches there Steve. I’m a veteran where that is concerned. Most people at church I can recognize better from the backs of their heads, from years of standing in the back holding a child.

    Also, liked your term “horizontal proof”. Right on.

    Mother of two sons asked if you introduced yourselves after Mass. If I was a betting man, I would bet those two left right after communion.

  • James

    God bless you! What a nice article to read at 8:45 in the morning. You’re so right… the Church is entering a new phase, wherein the juvenile antics of the “We are Church” people will simply fade into oblivion because they are irrelevant.

    We have more important things to do, such as kneeling before the Living God as He hangs upon His cross at Calvary, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in the tongue and tone in which our fathers and our father’s fathers knew it.

  • Ann

    I think this article is rather mean-spirited.

  • Ron Cowie

    I’m reminded of Caddyshack while I read this.

  • InkStained

    Oh goody. One of those ‘I’m-more-Catholic-than-thee’ masterpieces. Truly, we are not worthy. (But then, I’m guessing Our Author knows that.)

    So, during the petitions, when the laity is invited to offer up in silent voice their own concerns, did Our Author say, “Thank you, Lord, that I’m not like them. Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you.”

    ‘I felt certain I was at last witnessing the death of an ideology?” Alas that we couldn’t get just a bit closer to the death of such readiness to judge those worshipping with us.

  • True Catholic

    The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today
    Is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips
    Then walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyle.
    That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable
    Both sides of this Issue

  • Steve45243

    I have to say that I was little bit concerned about the tone of the post, but I do understand what the author is getting at. Whenever I see someone do something dangerous on the road I always try to think, “maybe he’s on his way to the hospital to see a dying relative.” In other word, I try (I do mean try as I’m not always able) to be charitable before I judge. Perhaps both women had just had knee replacement surgery or some such thing or were returning to church after many years away. On the other hand, our parish priest has his “groupies”, has posted the VOF web link on our parish web site (among others), and has even had gay rights lobbying groups to speak before the final prayer at mass. It gets harder and harder to be charitable these days.

  • Aaron

    Maybe Steve shouldn’t have mentioned their appearance, since that wasn’t really the point.

    A few Sundays ago at our Traditional Latin Mass, there was an elderly gentleman I didn’t recognize wearing shorts. In the ten months we’ve had the TLM, I’ve seen jeans and sleeveless dresses, but that’s the first time I’ve seen shorts. I just assumed he was from out of town or from another parish in town where they’re more casual. I hope he’ll be back, and more aware of the unspoken dress code next time. (He scooted out so quickly after Mass there wasn’t a chance to welcome him, so maybe he realized and was embarrassed.)

    But if he’d stood through the consecration while everyone else knelt, then I would have been pretty sure the shorts weren’t an accident, but part of an attempt to make a statement. That wouldn’t be a rush to judgment; it’d just be common sense. If it only looks like a duck, that’s one thing, but when it walks and quacks like one too….

  • Hess Family

    Anyway, I’m confronted with this dilemma every Sunday – kneel when everyone else is standing (and standing with the permission of the Priest, I might add) and breaking unity – or stand (in unity with the rest of the congregation) and know I’m not giving our Lord His proper reverence while in His presence. In this case, should the value of unity trump reverence in posture? Hmmmmm…..

    Bob, what do you do? I’m still not sure what I’d do if we didn’t have kneelers, and I’ve wondered more than once if I was wrong back then (standing to “go along with the crowd”).

    We attend a military parish now, and the youth there are pretty awesome. The choir (all teenagers) don’t have kneelers in front of them, but every single one of them kneels on the floor during the consecration. It’s wonderful to see.

    Re: the tone of the article, one can only assume that those who have complained came here looking for an excuse to take offense. Are we really so thin-skinned that we can’t laugh about the ridiculousness of outmoded militant feminism, hippy-dippy “love in” Masses, and all the other legacies from the 60s? We should be grateful the Church Militant has taken her place before the Cross of Christ — on her knees.

    Anyone who has read Mr. Skojec’s articles knows he has a dry sense of humor. If he gives offense, perhaps not reading his articles would be a good strategy in the future.

  • Marjorie Campbell

    Wow. Isn’t this heart-breaking to read comments where we sneer and snap at each other? I listen to my teenager sons do this so regularly with each other that I visit InsideCatholic.com hoping for recess with fellow travelers. I rather suspect, though, that the tone of the comments track the tone of the column itself which uses the behavior and appearance of two strangers to launch against something this author finds offensive and unCatholic. That’s unfortunate. I think the authors worthy points could readily be made without casting two persons completely unknown to him as representatives of what he rejects and, even, finds vile. Very sad.[smiley=sad]

  • Maypo

    When I am traveling and am attending a Mass in a parish with no kneelers, I kneel. The reason is I want unity – unity with the Universal (aka Catholic) Church and that is what She says is the ordinary (at least in the West) way to adore Jesus during the consecration. Unity with a single parish makes no sense in the Universal Church – so I am completely unconcerned if it makes others around me uncomfortable. God is not concerned with our comfort. He is Truth. And the Catholic Church (not the local Pastor, or Liturgist) is His instrument for transmitting that Truth.
    In His Peace,
    Maypo

  • Francis Wippel

    Our home parish holds most of its masses in an old gym, with chairs and no kneelers. I kneel at the consecration (as do some others), and I don

  • Mark

    While it’s important to be respectful, we must prioritize our values. After all, Jesus said “Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” …Martha probably would have been all for a strict dress code.

    If we were blessed with the knowledge that we would die in exactly one hour and be standing before our Lord in judgement of our lives, how many of us would be:

    A. Heading to the closest church for prayer/confession
    B. Gathering family and friends to say goodbye
    C. Running home to change clothes

    Other than that general point, I found Steve’s article both funny “short-cropped, boyish, almost intentionally unattractive hairstyles” and profound “horizontal-proof”

  • D.B.

    …honestly, did any of you naysayers try and read what his point was? There is a bonafide group of people who fit the model he was addressing…I’ve talked to a few myself. Charity doesn’t necessarily mean tolerating their nonsense.

  • JOANDREXEL

    This is a well written article but not necessarily correct.Did you forget about “Lifeteen” and all the modernist churches with youth Masses that still abound? Lots of young kids and young musicians too.So, they are not “gray and fading away”.
    Some of the most “Trad” people I have met are the older “gray” seniors who have been suffering for many years because they did not have a choice.There was and is only a modern Mass to go to.
    Lots of the seniors have been suffering for a long time with all the novelties. Yet they are gracious and kind.And many, ofcourse, have since died and never did get to see this renewal.The Mass is about loving Jesus and loving our neighbors.
    I would say alot of “youngsters” need to practice charity and humility. If it IS your focus to worship God with a pure heart,
    you would than naturally be filled with these vitues.Even great love for those “fading away”…

  • Jared B.

    I’ve disagreed with a lot of things Steve Skojec has said about exactly which details of the traditional liturgy are theologically/liturgically superior to the new (Anointing of the Sick should be encouraged at non-life threatening moments, the N.O. Lectionary makes for a better Liturgy of the Word than the readings of the TLM, etc.) but this article cut through the theory and showed me that above all, I really need to go find a TLM and experience it before I form any opinions.
    [smiley=happy] Thanks!

  • Steve

    Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other men (and women!).

  • Bo Placebo

    Steve was profiling and for good reason. Surely you have noticed there is a tendency for feminist New-Agey nuns to dress alike and often to look alike. Surely you have noticed that most of the members of dissident groups like Call to Action and Voice of the Faithful are older women (as I am)and it would have been artificially coy on Steve’s part to pretend he wasn’t making a few guesses as we all do based on appearances.

  • Ann

    I know I didn’t come here looking for an excuse to take offense. I read here every day. I found this article mean-spirited.

    Marjorie’s comments sums up my feelings best:

    I think the authors worthy points could readily be made without casting two persons completely unknown to him as representatives of what he rejects and, even, finds vile.

  • sarah

    Two posts struck me. The first was Kit, who just seems childish to me. If you aren’t Catholic and despise us, especially us opressed women, as much as you seem to, what are you doing reading articles on insidecatholic.com?! Especially crass is your comment about victims of abuse….people who have been abused don’t deserve that kind of comment. Kit, I think I speak for a number of others, TAKE A HIKE! The second is from Mark. An interesting point….my hope of course that I’m very quickly on my way to confession!!

  • Charles

    I am amazed at how many comments labeled the author as ‘judgmental’ implying he is a religious bigot whose thoughts should be discarded.

    As Catholics, we are morally obligated to be in continuous judgment of ideas placed before our minds, or images placed before our eyes, or words presented to our ears, of all actions we experience. We must reject what is evil and embrace what is good — which requires judgment.

    What we are not allowed to do is make definitive statements about the condition of anyone’s soul (including our own!).

    That’s it. The two are very simple to keep separate.

    In my experience, the ‘judgmental religious bigot’ is used as a shotgun to destroy credibility, and even then it almost always misses.

    I very much enjoyed the blog. I spent ~40 years in the Novus Ordo desert, my family of 8 children (ages 5-17) will only under the direst of circumstances ever return to a Novus Ordo Mass. The Fruit of Vatican II is rotten, it didn’t work. We know how to fix it.

    Long LIve Christ the King
    +JMJ+

  • Marjorie Campbell

    Why are there any female Catholics? Are there that many victims of abuse around?

    Well, Kit, I think you raise a legitimate inquiry. Many people wonder why women would participate in a religious practice that does not, for example, allow women to become priests. Some women perceive participation in a gender-differentiated church or other organization evidence that the women are being victimized. I recognize that this issue is outside the scope of the author’s article here – but I wanted to assure you that I often encounter the concern I think you are expressing. I hope you will continue to visit InsideCatholic.com and read the articles that do address your concerns. It’s of great interest to me personally that many women argue for “choice” with respect to abortion, but then condemn the “choice” of women to be orthodox Catholic! BTW I can assure you that Catholic men take their share of (often well-deserved) criticism.[smiley=wink]

  • Vir Speluncae Catholicus

    I am sooooooo posting this on my blog! Brilliant.

  • seeker

    Steve was profiling and for good reason. Surely you have noticed there is a tendency for feminist New-Agey nuns to dress alike and often to look alike. Surely you have noticed that most of the members of dissident groups like Call to Action and Voice of the Faithful are older women (as I am)and it would have been artificially coy on Steve’s part to pretend he wasn’t making a few guesses as we all do based on appearances.

    Oh now I am feeling quite anxious! I am a recent “returnee” to the Catholic Faith. I have my hair very very short since I decided to wear my hair naturally and am growing out the dye. I attended Mass in Jeans and a T-shirt! I had an appointment for confession (my first in 34 years) immediately following the Mass.

    I feel foolish for not dressing appropriately and am VERY thankful the Father was very gracious and heard my confession anyway.

    I could easily have been one of these ladies. No, I did not stand through the consecration, but now I am wondering if I offended anyone. I pray not.

  • Administrator

    A reminder to everyone to keep it civil — both in posting and responding. We don’t want anyone to take a hike, but nor do we want unnecessary provocation. Let’s try to stick to our points and leave the baggage at the door.

    Everyone’s view is welcome in the Comments, but we ask all to be civil, just as you would if you were having a discussion in a friend’s living room.

    Much appreciated,

    The Management

  • Catachism 2478

    2478 To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way:

    Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.280

  • Eric

    To those who say that Mr. Skojec is being uncharitable – Read the article again. He doesn’t actually say a great deal about the two women mentioned (indeed, he expresses a sort of sympathy), other than that they seemed awfully out of place. What he saw indicated pretty clearly that they were liturgical liberals, and whether he was right or not, the central point of his article is that there is a growing realization that traditional liturgy and practice brings us closer to God; this is basically proven by the fact that their apparent attempts at personalizing the mass and drawing attention to themselves was basically ineffectual. The mass was about God, and it stayed that way.

    For him to feel any different, to shed tears of sorrow for them or feel upset or outraged at their ‘marginalization’ would not be rightly-ordered compassion, because they suffered no real injustice. Instead, it would be to give into the very impulse that has led so many away from love of God towards self-righteous sentimentalism and a denial of truth.

    Mechurch is dying.
    Deo Gratias.

  • Steve Skojec

    I confess, I know nothing about the women in question, and they served merely as an artistic launching point for my column. For all I know, they could have been members of a cult that taught them never to kneel in the presence of the Eucharist before receiving it, or they may have both been fresh from the knee-replacement clinic (or even suffering from old NFL injuries that just wouldn’t heal). In fairness, one of the ladies sort of genuflected for about 14 seconds during the Ecce Agnus Dei before she seemed to think better of it and stand back up before it was finished. Perhaps I should have mentioned that. Wouldn’t want to be unfair to the people who blocked my view of the altar for almost the entire Mass. Who am I to expect some common courtesy, like the idea that grown women might sit the heck down (or stand in the back) if they didn’t want to kneel, rather than sitting almost half way into the congregation and playing the “you make a better door than a window” game?

    Did I speak to them after Mass? No. I thought about it, but I believe the one commenter who bet they left after Communion was correct – they never returned to their pews after receiving. Then again, I was also still dealing with my three children aged three and under (who, by the way, are never allowed to become a distraction without being taken out, thanks for asking, Kit)and needing to find some way to reward with copious amounts of sugar for not making me a total laughingstock for once.

    But it’s Eric who really nailed it – this wasn’t really about these women, but about the changes happening in the Church which will eventually preclude any use of the verbs “gather” or “empower” in anything resembling a Catholic context.

    I’m a simple guy, and I tend to harp on a simple theme – our liturgies should show deep respect for God, worship Him humbly and appropriately, and keep the spotlight off of ourselves and on the Main Event, whether we’re ordained, laity, or singin’ with the choir. And when the Church has done something that’s worked for centuries, and you get it in your head that it’s your job to change it, take a deep breath, count to ten, and go find something within your competence to do.

    Is that so much to ask?

  • Michelle Therese

    “I was troubled to see such sneering, nasty, icky commentary on a Catholic blog.”

    Do adults still use the word “icky” ?????

    I remember being told by a polyester pant suit-wearing, short cropped hair Feminista that the crucifix in the church should be removed because… “It’s icky!”

    I say it’s time for many people to, uh, grow up. Either we’re Catholic or we’re not ~ and if that’s “icky” to say, oh well. Too bad!

  • berenike

    Puzzled by the no-EF-in-Europe comment, unless it meant that the family are staying in some rural parish or small town where it is not offered.

    http://tinyurl.com/ltdjyw

    (list for the German-speaking countries, and links to lists for others)

    It is very bizarre, this anglosphere thing of “no kneelers” = “no kneeling” …

  • Marjorie Campbell

    I confess, I know nothing about the women in question, and they served merely as an artistic launching point for my column. But it’s Eric who really nailed it – this wasn’t really about these women, but about the changes happening in the Church. I am a simple guy, and I tend to harp on a simple theme –

    I guess Steve, for many of us who certainly appreciate the simple point you were making, we worry that our simple selves will be your next “artistic launching point” for a column that isn’t “really about” us, but serves your literary purpose. That causes pain – in a very simple way. So, it seems, we are all on the same page.

  • Hess Family

    Thanks for the link. That was very kind. With my limited German, I had only been able to find SSPX Masses online. We’re a little remote, but a 30-minutes drive will bring us to a average-sized city. Appreciate the help.

  • Deal Hudson

    As I looked at them (they were partially blocking my view of the altar, so I couldn’t help it), I felt not my usual twinge of irritation at the guardians of “Me-Church,” but instead a kind of amused pity. [Steve Skojec]

    Steve may not have felt his “usual twinge of irritation” but, at least in my reading, he was feeling some sort of irritation toward the standees at Mass. And, frankly, I would have felt the same way. If Chippy and I had been sitting behind the two ladies, he would have leaned over the whispered, “Why are they standing up, Daddy,” and I would have said we will talk about it later. What would I have said? Obviously, a discussion of Me-Church would go over his head. I guess I would have said, “they come from a different church, so they just didn’t know,” and start talking about the apple fritters we usually get a Caribou Coffee after Mass.

    The ladies made a choice to stand out among the crowd at that particular Mass — and Steve wrote about it. I don’t think their being women has anything to do with his protest of their liturgical gesture, two guys in bow ties, I assume, would have provoked the same “not my usual twinge of irritation.”

    But, yet, as I read Steve’s account I felt he was pounding them a bit too hard — I would looked for the humor in the utter sadness of their gesture. I see them as two women who felt alone and isolated, and decided to make a public gesture of their isolation. I find that sad, laughable, and adolescent.

  • Mary Rose

    Last night, I read through the comments, which I found fascinating. You wrote a great, provocative article, Steve, and it’s led to some very interesting discussion. (How I love comboxes!)

    My two cents: I spent almost 20 years in the non-denominational church, which could easily be called the “Me Church.” When I returned to Catholicism, I wasn’t sure where I fit. I was able to deduce early on there was a line between those who consider themselves “progressive” and those who were “conservative.” But I will share with you what I continued to come back to – the liturgy and its purpose.

    I already had experienced plenty of self-absorption in a worship service. I was done with it. I am not saying we should not worship – but to me there’s a world of difference between singing “We Are One Body” and “Crown Him With Many Crowns.” The former elevates self, the latter – God.

    Only God knows the heart of a man or woman. However, Jesus also instructed us to pay attention to the “fruit” of a person’s life. The actions of those two women communicated several messages: 1) They did not care about the parish’s traditions and 2) It was important for them to show they didn’t care.

    Now I’m going to throw in a twist here. I love the TLM and my home parish has one each Sunday. But on occasion, I’ve needed to attend Mass elsewhere. I have heard stories about some “trads” attending a Novus Ordo and when receiving the Eucharist, decided to kneel and attempt to receive it on the tongue – even though everyone else was standing when they received it and received it in their hands. So in essence, those “trads” were doing the same thing as those two women standing through the consecration.

    When I attend the N.O., as much as I don’t want to touch the Holy Eucharist, I do, and treat it reverently. But I think it’s important not to use a church sanctuary as a battleground. As you mentioned, the focus is to be upon God and whatever anyone does is really between them and God, although I admit I’ve been distracted before and would have had the same reaction as you if I saw these two women. I’m hoping something shifted for them and they’ll return.

    I must admit I was shocked to see how deeply New Age thought has infiltrated in the Catholic Church. However, when a group “empowers” themselves by embracing such bunk, it’s no surprise to see that it leads to self-centeredness. The Cross is the best antidote for that kind of thinking.

  • Todd

    A provocative article indeed. A few observations.

    In the spiritual life, when handling distractions, the practiced method is to recognize, then move on.

    Indulging one’s reaction to contrariness is part of the secular culture’s Hermeneutic of Complaint. It’s hard not to see that here. One thing to complain about, women’s hairstyles, leads to another, standing during the consecration. And before you know it, a conversation has tilted to matters about women religious, music at Mass, dissidents, and love-it-or-leave-it proclamations. Any speaker from outside the echo chamber is pounded by a few to several posts in turn.

    I have to ask: does this all further the effort to preach the Gospel, or is it an exercise in conservative navel-gazing? The Me-Church seems very alive indeed.

  • Mary Rose

    Last night, I read through the comments, which I found fascinating. You wrote a great, provocative article, Steve, and it’s led to some very interesting discussion. (How I love comboxes!)

    My two cents: I spent almost 20 years in the non-denominational church, which could easily be called the “Me Church.” When I returned to Catholicism, I wasn’t sure where I fit. I was able to deduce early on there was a line between those who consider themselves “progressive” and those who were “conservative.” But I will share with you what I continued to come back to – the liturgy and its purpose.

    I already had experienced plenty of self-absorption in a worship service. I was done with it. I am not saying we should not worship – but to me there’s a world of difference between singing “We Are One Body” and “Crown Him With Many Crowns.” The former elevates self, the latter – God.

    Only God knows the heart of a man or woman. However, Jesus also instructed us to pay attention to the “fruit” of a person’s life. The actions of those two women communicated several messages: 1) They did not care about the parish’s traditions and 2) It was important for them to show they didn’t care.

    Now I’m going to throw in a twist here. I love the TLM and my home parish has one each Sunday. But on occasion, I’ve needed to attend Mass elsewhere. I have heard stories about some “trads” attending a Novus Ordo and when receiving the Eucharist, decided to kneel and attempt to receive it on the tongue – even though everyone else was standing when they received it and received it in their hands. So in essence, those “trads” were doing the same thing as those two women standing through the consecration.

    When I attend the N.O., as much as I don’t want to touch the Holy Eucharist, I do, and treat it reverently. But I think it’s important not to use a church sanctuary as a battleground. As you mentioned, the focus is to be upon God and whatever anyone does is really between them and God, although I admit I’ve been distracted before and would have had the same reaction as you if I saw these two women. I’m hoping something shifted for them and they’ll return.

    I must admit I was shocked to see how deeply New Age thought has infiltrated in the Catholic Church. However, when a group “empowers” themselves by embracing such bunk, it’s no surprise to see that it leads to self-centeredness. The Cross is the best antidote for that kind of thinking.

  • D.B.

    “Conservative navel gazing?”

    How long does the Church have to suffer public disobedience and the flouting of Church teaching publicly and in plain view? (I’m speaking in general) When does Charity cease being that and become license? This is a discussion worth having, because there was once a time where dissidents were given the chance to recant and repent, but if not their nonsense was not tolerated…AT ALL. I for one would like to see more of the “bite” of old…when priests weren’t afraid to call people to account, publicly and in no uncertain terms.

    The abuse of the concept of Charity, coupled with the “Buddy Jesus” mentality has corroded proper Christian discernment of right and wrong…the “Don’t Judge” mantra is a gross distortion of Scripture and Church teaching…we are expected to make judgements….the key is in the next part of that…by the measure you judge others, you in turn will be judged…if one is fair but firm, and evenhanded…no worries, no issues. If you’re being a jackass, and somebody calls you out on it…thats great, and necessary.

    “Worry about your own sins”…I’ll do that, in the meantime why don’t you (dissenter X) stop being an idiot. You’re setting a poor example for me, right?

  • Steve Skojec

    I guess Steve, for many of us who certainly appreciate the simple point you were making, we worry that our simple selves will be your next “artistic launching point” for a column that isn’t “really about” us, but serves your literary purpose. That causes pain – in a very simple way. So, it seems, we are all on the same page.

    Well Marjorie, I suppose if that’s the case then you should avoid drawing attention to yourself in an obnoxious, inconsiderate way. If, for example, I sat in the middle of the parish with my children, and kept them there while they squawked, squirmed and screamed, I can’t see how it would be unfair for someone to write a column about parents who are rude and inconsiderate, using me as a “launching point.”

    Considering that I didn’t give enough detail to paint more than the most vague picture of these women, and that their identities are therefore entirely safe within a broad (and unfortunately very accurate) stereotype, absolutely no one should feel any “pain” upon reading this unless they somehow feel indicted by it.

    And if anyone does feel indicted by it, there’s an adage they should be familiar with: “If the shoe fits…”

  • Marjorie Campbell

    Well Marjorie, I suppose if that’s the case then you should avoid drawing attention to yourself in an obnoxious, inconsiderate way.

    Agreed. If we find ourselves attending Mass together one day, I will do my best not to offend or distract you, Steve. In the meantime, I find Todd’s comment of great interest. I am distracted at Mass more often than I like: restless babies, awful male colognes and body deodorants, hats that block my view, the celebrant’s difficult to follow foreign accent, the buzz of vibrating cell phones, nose-blowing, sneezing, hacking, off-key singing, the elderly person sitting back in the pew so I can’t kneel properly … are a few that come to mind. These distractions can result in irritation but I’ve always considered Mass a lousy place to indulge what, I think, is my problem. I like Todd’s approach: “In the spiritual life, when handling distractions, the practiced method is to recognize, then move on.” And I think Deal’s suggestion is interesting, too – to try to find the humor in the pathetic state in which we all find ourselves. One thing I know for certain is that indulging any irritation has never enhanced my spiritual experience at Mass!

  • Joshua

    Ironically, at mass last weekend, we were annoyed by a couple kneeling behind us. At our parish, when the Body of Christ is reposed in the tabernacle after communion, all those kneeling sit up. The couple ahead of us did and we wanted to, but the couple behind us kept kneeling, forcing us into that awkward sit / kneel position for another five minutes. It would not have been problematic at most times except that my wife was holding our week old daughter and sitting would have been much easier on her.

    Apparently problems can be caused by people being too pious as well.

  • Father RH


    Seeker, please put your anxieties aside. Welcome Home! Praise God that you overcame your anxieties with the help of divine grace, worshipped Our Lord, and received His mercy in the Sacrament of Confession. Welcome Home!

  • Diane

    St. Ambrose said, “When in Rome do as the Romans do.” He was talking about custom, not any immoral behavior. When I go to a Traditional Mass I try to wear what the other ladies are wearing. When I go to a post-Vatican II Mass, I try to dress as the other ladies do, feminine but modest. Somtimes I wear slacks, but try to feminize them with jewelry, medium to longer hair, etc. One of the points I think the author is trying to make is that some women hate being women and try to look like men. St. Paul told us not to do that, and the Lord Jesus did mention some who did not have on a proper “wedding garment”. We do not have to wear rich clothing to look good for the Lord. After all, would we appear before a judge in our worst clothing, and Christ is the greatest Judge? One can usually tell the difference between someone who is poorer and does not have much, and someone who is doing it just to be irksome. The latter, rightfully, gives a bad impression.

  • granny

    Could anyone explain how this is the “Death of the Me-Church”[smiley=shock]
    when the USCCB.ORG/ROMANMISSAL “What you need to know about the
    upcoming changes…” [ see newadvent.org ] has this webpage?[smiley=tongue]
    It is still the same modern Mass, isn’t it?[smiley=think]
    The Church needs one Mass.
    Sounds like you are hoping and counting on death to bring about positive liturgical change.

  • Bunny

    Steve,

    I’m sorry about the encounter and affirm your righteous observations. There’s nothing more offensive than women defiantly refusing to kneel at the crucifixion and death of our Lord – and blocking the view of those of us who recognize the sanctity and miracle of that moment and want to see it happening.

    Well Marjorie, I suppose if that’s the case then you should avoid drawing attention to yourself in an obnoxious, inconsiderate way.

    I couldn’t agree more with you. If you can muster up something funny about sexual abuse or liturgical abuse, be sure to run it by Marjorie first otherwise the holy and charitable salvos will come your way.

  • Vernon

    Whether there are kneelers or not, I will always try to kneel from the Sanctus to the Post Communion in accordance with the norms for the laity at the Usus Antiquior Mass.

    However, if the rows of seats are so close together that kneeling is impossible without pushing the seat back into the person behind me then I would stand along with everyone else.

    Maybe my training as a Server, where we often kneel throughout the Mass on a bare marble step has made me impervious to the joys of a padded kneeler despite my advancing years and creaking knees!

  • Paul

    Steve Skojec makes me feel good. I, too, am a member now of a traditional Extraordinary community. It is quite obvious that the congregation here knows exactly why we “assist” at the Holy Mass. For some reason, none of the dozens of young children seem to have any trouble following the example of their parents. The “vertical” Mass makes it much easier to recall the true reason for our being there.
    I feel sorry for those who seem addicted to the social activity between the “people” who do show up at the “horizontal” events. Most of them do not know there is any other way to celebrate the “Sacrifice of the Mass”.

  • Marjorie Campbell

    My pastor in Park City delivered one of the most beautiful homilies I’ve ever heard about the impact of “kneeling fathers” upon their children. Unfortunately, it is not archived. But I will never forget his imagery – of a child watching his father kneeling in silent prayer, hand on forehead. What child could resist following Dad into his private, reflective moments of submissive humility to a mighty God. I apologize if any of my comments here seem to minimize the beautiful example faithful fathers give their children – I have only a deep gratitude to the Steves, James, Vernons and so many faithful Catholic men whose faithful and humble Mass attendance and soulful participation animate and transmit our faith so fully and completely.

  • Kevin in Texas

    A provocative article indeed. A few observations.

    In the spiritual life, when handling distractions, the practiced method is to recognize, then move on.

    Indulging one’s reaction to contrariness is part of the secular culture’s Hermeneutic of Complaint. It’s hard not to see that here. One thing to complain about, women’s hairstyles, leads to another, standing during the consecration. And before you know it, a conversation has tilted to matters about women religious, music at Mass, dissidents, and love-it-or-leave-it proclamations. Any speaker from outside the echo chamber is pounded by a few to several posts in turn.

    I have to ask: does this all further the effort to preach the Gospel, or is it an exercise in conservative navel-gazing? The Me-Church seems very alive indeed.

    Hi Todd,

    Interestingly enough, as I read the first few lines of your comments, I expected you were going to use them to critique the women who took it upon themselves at Mass to avoid “doing what the Romans do” because it would have distracted them and wouldn’t have fit their notion of what liturgy should be like.

    Your points are well-made and very applicable in this case to the distracting women, as well. If we find ourselves in a new parish for Mass and aren’t familiar with the local customs, we should try our best to recognize that the differences between our “usual” practices and those in the new parish need not be a distraction for us. Instead, we should make a mental note that the practices here are different than our usual practices, but then make a conscious effort to respect the practices in the new parish, unless those be disrespectful or sacrilegious, of course.

    The women Steve described decided to make Mass about them because they found the more traditional practices in Steve’s parish distracting for them. They should have made mental note of those differences, offered their discomfort up to God, and continued to observe the norms of the Mass in the new parish without making a spectacle out of the liturgy to make themselves feel better.

  • Ann

    Assuming they wandered into the Mass, without knowing what it was, why not just give them a break if they didn’t know what to do?

    I have never been to an EF of the Mass, but this article makes me not want to go, lest I be judged the way these women were.

  • Kevin in Texas

    Assuming they wandered into the Mass, without knowing what it was, why not just give them a break if they didn’t know what to do?

    I have never been to an EF of the Mass, but this article makes me not want to go, lest I be judged the way these women were.

    Hi Ann,

    I would tend to agree that not overtly criticizing them would be the charitable thing to do. However, in what possible way were these women not judging the liturgical practices in the church they freely decided to attend? Yes, if they were new and didn’t know the practices but then quickly tried to follow suit and do what others were doing, then by all means they would not have been judging or determining that their way was the “right way” to act at Mass. However, when you are the only one(s) doing something at a Mass where such actions are outside of the norm, you are just as openly judging others’ actions and, by the very act of doing something out of the ordinary, promoting that your actions are better or more appropriate.

    On a side note, just because the notion of “judging people” is so often thrown around loosely in comment boxes on Catholic Web sites of all stripes, it bears repeating that the Gospel verses cited in such cases (like Matthew 7:1, among others) have nothing to do with our modern, sensitivity-oriented usage of the word “judgment”, but much more specifically with the judgment of the state of another person’s soul. We cannot, nor can even the Church, ever determine the state of a person’s soul in the negative sense, and indeed the Church can only name someone a saint after a very detailed and long process of investigation of that person’s life while on Earth, as well as their intercession later from Heaven. We cannot and must not deem that another person is “damned” for all eternity, as only God has the power and omniscience to do so. BUT it is utterly un-Christian of us to allow someone to commit a sinful act, thus risking loss of the state of grace and eternal salvation, out of some modern, misguided sensitivity to the notion of hurting someone’s feelings by telling them that such acts are objectively sinful.

    However, in this case these women’s actions aren’t necessarily objectively sinful. They could be, depending on the women’s intentions and level of knowledge of their actions, but the best way to handle such incidences, from a perspective of Christian charity, is to follow Scripture and make fraternal correction privately, then with other Christian witnesses and a member of the clergy, but only if the person fails to correct or modify their sinful behavior.

  • Shane

    Ann, the two women were there to make a showy public protest during Mass. That’s despicable behavior and was meant to be “in your face” by the women who did it. They might as well have just spit on all the parishioners and yelled “shove it!” C’mon, Ann. You know that’s wrong.

  • Todd

    “Your points are well-made and very applicable in this case to the distracting women, as well.”

    Oh, of course. No question. But they didn’t post here; Steve did.

    I certainly endorse the practice of congruent ritual whenever I worship in a non-Catholic setting, so far as I’m able to do that. As for variances within Catholic churches, there is a virtue in a practical unity. I wouldn’t go so far as to say this:

    “The women Steve described decided to make Mass about them because they found the more traditional practices in Steve’s parish distracting for them.”

    I don’t know that these women found traditionalism a distraction. Maybe I can imagine they each had knee surgery and thought standing more respectful than sitting, which in our culture it pretty much is. Except that during the Eucharistic Prayer, the gesture of reverence seems to be to keep one’s head down.

    When I see students at my parish kneel in the aisle and receive Communion with arms crossed on their chests, the first thing I think isn’t that the liturgy is about them. They have an ingrained habitual practice. It’s not a terrible disruption. I pretty much choose not to make an issue of it.

    If I were, for example, to make an issue of standing when everyone else was kneeling, I would stay in the rear of the pews where I could practice and not be an obstacle. When I had a back injury a number of years ago, I didn’t sit in my usual place in one of the front rows, because I was unable to tolerate sitting. I stood in the back, and when I got tired, I went into the reconciliation chapel and stretched out on the floor.

  • We are so sorry to have caused t

    Dear Steve, Shane, and all the others that we have so deeply offended by our attendance at Mass at your church. We are very sorry that we did not kneel during the Consecration of the Bread and Wine into the precious Body and Blood of our dear Lord. Please forgive us. We are also very sorry that our unattractive appearance and hair have also insulted you. We can kneel during the Consecration, and again we apoologize for not doing so. Unfortunately we are old and unattractive. Truth be known, even when we were young we were not considered particularly attractive by young men. But we offer it all up to the Good Lord who sees our hearts and not our hair, wrinkled faces, and bodies that have exercised too little and eaten too much. We thank the people who were kind to us at Mass at your church and who encouraged us to return. Next time, we promise to try and not be distracting. We will find our places in the back of the church so as to not distract others. As an aside, we loved seeing the many children at Mass. We love children and many years ago we watched them for their parents who were at Mass. There was a little room off the side of the sanctuary where the children would come, and we would teach them about the Good Shepherd. Again, please accept our apologies. In His Holy Name, Gabriella and Michaela.

  • In His Holy Name Gabriella and M

    Dear Steve, Shane, and others…

    We are so sorry that an impostor named “We Are So Sorry” has tried to apologize for us when we were self-contented with our open protest and lack of basic respect for the parishioners at that traditional Catholic Mass. We do not agree with traditional Catholicism and are openly protesting it everywhere we can. In fact, our protest is so open and belligerent that it could rightly be categorized as protestantism. But we digress.

    We apologize that someone has tried to take away from us our proud true intent of mocking others who cling to a dying patriarchal bigoted form of old-fashioned backwards Catholicism.

    Please reject the earlier false apology and kindly accept our restatement of protest.

    Sincerely,

    Gabriella and Michaela

  • Sally

    If I cannot kneel, what is the next most reverant posture. Is not standing (as the Orthodox do) better than sitting?

    Since we know nothing about the women other than that Steve didn’t like their haircuts, why are we presuming eveil motives to them?

    Perhaps they did know the Latin responses and weren’t all fired up to hold hands during the Our Father. Since they were women “of a certain age” it’s likely that they learned them long ago.

    An elderly woman in pull on pants and with a short haircut is most likely just trying to make life easier on her arthritic joints and for that same reason she’s not likely to be comfortable kneeling.

    I think it would behoove us all to follow the adivce in the CCC and not ascribe to malice that which can be explained very easily in charity.

  • Marjorie Campbell

    My goodness – now we have the appearance of humble Gabriella and Michaela, along with the fierce twins of the twins, and the comments have morphed into creative writing 101. I like it – because it does illucidate the concerns Steve provoked by projecting presumptions upon two strangers to make his point. But, let’s go with the fierce twins for a moment (and Steve’s take on their intent) because, if this protest was in fact taking place, then the Eucharistic minister might well have concluded that the visiting protesters should not be admitted to Holy Communion under Canon 915. If these ladies were, in fact, participating in Mass with the point of politicizing the sacrament, like the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in San Francisco, then it is appropriate for the minister to exclude them from the sacrament. Perhaps, Steve, you might want to take this up with your pastor, if you felt their behavior was so unambiguous. Of course, Canon 915 does not give authority to eject them from Mass altogether, a practice long abandoned by the church. Even drunkards, drag queens and fierce Gabriellas and Michaelas are canonically welcome at Mass!

  • DaveD

    Does anyone really think that God cares whether we stand, sit, or kneel at a particular point during the Mass? This is a rubric established by a committee. It isn’t the same in every rite, it hasn’t been the same since the days of the Catacombs, and any discussion of posture is noticeably lacking from Scripture. Sheesh. Why is this so important, when clearly large numbers of people feel each way? I don’t think the Holy Spirit is leading the Universal Church in a definitive direction on this matter.

    Does anyone think it’s great that people attend Mass in whatever numbers and in whatever clothing and in whatever posture they do? What are the statistics for weekly attendance among Catholics today? I’d welcome them if they came in a gorilla costume.

    Does anyone else think that there are a lot of reasons for participating at Mass? I heard a homily on this not long ago. Sure, an important one is to worship God; but another important one is to celebrate and reinforce our Unity in the Lord, and you know what? We’re not all alike, but you don’t have to be alike to be united.

    And finally, does anyone think it at all ironic to think that variation in posture doesn’t support “Unity in the Universal Church” … while overlooking the Traditional/post-Vatican preferences being described in the thread?

  • Hess Family

    Does anyone else think that there are a lot of reasons for participating at Mass? I heard a homily on this not long ago. Sure, an important one is to worship God; but another important one is to celebrate and reinforce our Unity in the Lord, and you know what? We’re not all alike, but you don’t have to be alike to be united.

    DaveD: Instead of make a long-winded argument about this, I’d respectfully ask that you watch the following short video

    http://tinyurl.com/9zwoqr

    and see if you think that argument still applies.

    Best,

    HF

  • VR

    Steve also makes a reference to their attempt at holding hands at the Our Father. Not to hijack the thread, but my daughter was scared out of her wits when she was young by an older man next to her who literally tried to grab her hand as she was shying away from him. I actually had to tell him to back off. We eventually left that mass entirely and attended another time to get away from the hand grabbers.

  • Bunny

    My goodness – now we have the appearance of humble Gabriella and Michaela, along with the fierce twins of the twins, and the comments have morphed into creative writing 101. I like it – because it does illucidate the concerns Steve provoked by projecting presumptions upon two strangers to make his point

    That you would pick up this obvious troll to make the point that parents who object to Mass protests that distract their children and their prayer are uncharitable is nonsensical.

  • Kmarsh

    Mr. Skojec, when will the judging end?

    Wouldn’t it be a boring world if we all looked, acted, & sounded alike? WWJD?

    Prayers for all.

  • Laurie

    I could have written this article myself a few years ago. The tone and attitude I can identify with because I have been there with my bitter criticism of those I felt did not live up to my level of piety. But in my journey of faith and constant prayer, Christ brought me to a place where I can see myself clearly…..I have come to know what I am made of. All that I have to call my own is my sinfulness, my weakness and my nothingness. My vision of faith has evolved and, above all, I have learned that my piety does not make me holy even though I still practice piety. However, my piety is not just an outward show. It is love and humility that must be learned through constant prayer petition to recieve the true Spirit of the Lord Jesus. The caustic tone that comes through in this article is a hostility rooted in pride that needs to be recognized and rooted out. You see, Steve, it is not about them, it is about you. Pay close attention to this coming Sunday gospel!
    Mark 7:1-8,14-15,21-23.

  • chloesmom

    I’d just like to put in a humble word for us “women of a certain age”. I am 62, and grew up with the “Old Mass”. At first, like many others, I was enthusiastic about the liturgical changes and went with the flow for many years. However, a personal crisis some time ago brought me back to my true Catholic roots, so to speak, and it was as if a mask had been ripped off. I saw the lack of reverence, the noisiness in church before and after Mass, the blatant public sin that was ignored (and sometimes even seemingly encouraged) by a pastor who was more interested in being Father Popular than being a shepherd of souls. [smiley=sad] Since I was also the organist, my frustration grew at the lack of decent music for Mass, and the incompetence of inept choir directors. Eventually I resigned in disgust. Nowadays, I’m just a very quiet body in the pew. My main focus at Mass is worshiping Jesus — all else is straw… Incidentally, I wear my hair short — it’s cooler in the summer — and I’ve also let the grey grow out. But (most importantly) I kneel at the Consecration! [smiley=happy] The two women Mr. Skojec wrote about certainly acted unwisely. It would have to be a heck of a coincidence for both of them to develop knee problems at the same time.[smiley=think] Most people (and I’ve brought non-Catholic friends along to Mass at times) will try to imitate what everyone else does. Unless these ladies had medical conditions we don’t know about, they were being disrespectful to Jesus, and disrupting the view of others behind them. [smiley=angry] A true display of “Me, Me, Me”. Pathetic.

  • Vianney33

    My family finally left our progressive parish after 7 years of enduring constant distractions and feeling either sad or angry at the end of Mass. A new “church” was built because the original church was too small to handle the growing population. Unfortuantely, it has a stadium style layout so you sit and face half the congregation. Needles to say, the distractions abound such as scantily clad women and men dressed in beach wear. Someone even brought in a dog, no it wasn’t a service dog. Our pastor brings his dog to Eucharistic Adoration and whenever someone walks in it barks loudly and scares the hell out of you.
    My point is that we should not have to put up with so many distractions during Mass so as to take away from the reverence and sacredness of what is happening. Much less any kind of protest such as what was described by Steve or the rainbow sash wearers at our Cathedral.
    I say to the idiots who don’t realize what is going on during the Liturgy, stop the stupid protests and actively participate quietly as Vatican II intended. You may get something out of it.

  • Patrice

    Dear Steve,

    I read your article and found it interesting. I have a dear friend who is an exorcist in Madrid, Spain. He is one of the holiest persons I know and he says the mass everyday in Latin. While working as a travel agent and assembling a large pilgrimage for 42 persons from St. Louis to tour the great Cathedrals of France, this dear priest offered his talents as interpreter and spiritual director for our group. We have since become dear friends. I believe if this holy priest (who not only says the Latin Mass, but wears the corresponding “fiddle back” vestments, and is a contemplative who tries his best to knee in prayer at least three hours a day before the blessed sacrament) would have given those to women an extra warm greeting if given the opportunity, and if not, he would have said a silent prayer to Our Heavenly Father that these two women happened to have attended this Traditional Ceremony and asked the Lord for extra graces on their souls. This priest, Fr. Ruiz, sees the Lord’s hands in everything quoting always from the French author Pierre De Caussade that their are “No Coincidences” with God. He would be rejoicing that these women, who were perhaps not familiar with the ways of a traditional mass were exposed by their presence at the beauty of the service.

    I grew up in an Irish Parish in St. Louis, Mo which has the largest numbers of Catholics per capita than any other city in the US. Growing up with 7 siblings we did not have the money for portraits of the kids on the wall, so my father proudly displayed a photo of the Pope and
    President Kennedy. I remember the Latin Mass vaguely as a child and my parents being upset. I remember I was 5 when the modern service first incorporated “petitions from the parishioners” as part of the service. One Sunday the priest called upon me to say my petition.
    I thought seriously about the one thing I would like Jesus to help me with so I spoke up with
    my infantile voice as loud as I could…”Dear Lord, Please keep Daddy from the Drink.” Did I mention we were Irish? Daddy did not come to mass w/us, he usually wasn’t feel well on Sunday mornings and Mom dressed the 7 of us immaculately, and we sat in descending order
    and never moved a muscle, even the baby, but I am sure there were plenty that looked down upon us. My father was an alchoholic, but he loved us, and he always wanted to go to church,
    and I loved him. (Of course, after my heartfelt petition all future petitions needed to be cleared w/the priest.) My father was not the picture perfect father image, but I am a devout Catholic because of my father. He felt better by Sunday evening and I would watch reruns of Bishop Sheen with him while he whispered what a wonderful woman my mother was. Dad did
    not go to mass any longer because they had taken away the Latin Mass. I said an extra prayer
    each Sunday for God to excuse him. He did not like change, but Mom loved obedience, so she took us to the Novus Ordus Mass, and she prayed for Dad too.

    Now that I’m grown and have 5 of my own I have had the opportunity to witness Masses all over the world, I saw the beauty and unity of our Universal Church in the International Mass in Lourdes. The grandeur of the magnificent rose window of Notre Dame, and the lunch hour
    mass in Rue Du Bac Chapel in Paris filled with wealthy international business types in silk suits and youth with colorfully tatooed arms and spiked mohawks kneeling before the incorrupt bodies of St. Catherine of Laboure and St. Louise De Merrilac at the end of the service. I have been to services in my home town with a priest using a puppet to give his sermon, and at other times having grown women dance in a circle with ribbons during the reflection after communion.

    But the most beautiful mass was the first mass in our new parish when we moved to El Paso.
    My husband and I were met at the door by a most welcoming usher who kindly told us that the Baptist church was just up the mountain. I told him we are Catholic and he flung open the door and escorted us down the center aisle to a pew in the middle on the right.
    He leaned over and whispered, “This mass is in Spanish but in an hour and 1/2 they will have one in English.” I thanked him and said we were brand new to the parish and did not know.
    He shook both of our hands vigorously, and said on behalf of the the Franciscans, he was a third order, “Welcome to your new spiritual home”. The entire church looked back to stare.
    We were the only “Anglo’s”, well most of us, my oldest daughter is adopted from Korea.
    All during the mass, the beautifully dressed children pointed us out to their parents, but at the end of the mass the same parents made a special effort to welcome us. I was immediately invited to join a rosary group for young mothers in one woman’s home. I accepted. The priest wore sandals and the “cry room” encompassed a third of the church.
    Their deep heart felt devotion to the sacraments and our Lady was palpable. With blonde hair and blue eyes I looked like I did not fit in but I was “home” with My Lord and his people. He
    came for the poor, the unassuming, the downtrodden. There I was the happiest I have ever
    been. They actually cried there on Palm Sunday as they read the passion. That mass was so moving, so emotional, I had to step out to compose my self. There there is not “Me Mass”. I wish we could all have masses like that. We are the universal church, we need to all be like
    the holy people in El Paso who embraced the sojourners. Like the good samaritan did with the injured man on the side of the road. It is really all about love. God is love and his true followers are full of love.

  • Christine

    I go to church regularly and I would be hard-pressed to know what to do during a mass conducted in Latin. I don’t know if these ladies were militant lesbians or not, but I can’t help but feel bad for them. I wonder what you would think about my slightly overweight 41 year-old body, my fashion choices and my curly bob-haircut should I ever wander into your parish…

    P.S. I am not a militant feminist, but I don’t have children and my husband is not Catholic, so I may very well look like they do if I were to stroll into your church while on vacation.

    I am glad that I am loved by our heavenly Father no matter what I look like and no matter how I am perceived. I take strenght from another who was looked down upon by the way she appeared during mass – St Therese

  • Jason

    The third part of the secret of Fatima (which has NOT been fully released by the Vatican) warned against Vatican II and the novus ordo “mass.” If a pope would have consecrated RUSSIA (specifically, as God and Mary requested) to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, then the above problems wouldn’t be occuring. Russia’s errors have spread even to the U.S.A. Obama and the democrats are trying their best to make the U.S.A. a socialist/communist country. Just look at the parallels with once-Nazi Germany.

  • Steve Skojec

    Let me just set the record straight:

    1.) The hangup on my comments about the hairstyles and fashions is just silly. I don’t have a bias against women with short hair – my wife has short hair, and it’s lovely and feminine. The point was that these women fit the image of militant feminism – hair cut in an almost boyish and intentionally unfeminine fashion (think Rachel Maddow), and their casual wear consisted of sleeveless shirts and bermuda shorts. The attire was inappropriate for any Mass, not just the extraordinary form. It just happened to be particularly noticeable in the context of my parish, where most people dress in their best for Mass.

    2.) I do not hold myself up as a model of piety. Far from it. If I were more pious, I might have been able to ignore the display before me and focus on Mass. But that’s precisely why people shouldn’t make narcissistic displays in the middle of a parish that draw attention to themselves – to help those of us who are not so pious and easily distracted not to lose our focus on the important things. These women weren’t standing up during all the kneeling parts in the last two rows – they were standing up during all the kneeling parts almost half way into the church. I watched as the family behind them tried to look around them or in between them rather than stare into their backsides for the duration of the liturgy. (It was a low Mass, with a lot of kneeling.)

    3.) Charity does not preclude criticism; judgment, in the sense of the word that we are not to judge, but leave it to God, is the action of determining the state of a person’s soul. I violated neither of these precepts by drawing inferences from my observations. Could I have been wrong about what I saw? It’s possible, but I don’t think it very likely. I’ve seen this kind of thing too many times before. So I used a somewhat snarky tone and hyperbolic language to make a general point about people who make the Mass about them. I’ve done no harm to any individual, as there’s no way any individual could be identified by my description. I didn’t say where I went to Mass and I didn’t describe these individuals in detail. Considering the editorial delay on the article, it’s impossible to even know WHEN I attended the Mass in question.

    4.) It’s interesting that those who find my tone judgmental have such harsh words for me. I do not see any of my critics giving me the same benefit of the doubt they assume I should have extended to the offending parties in my article. No one is making excuses for my behavior in the way that they are for the standing women, hypothesizing that perhaps I’m cranky because I have a chronic ulcer or because I have suffered from long exposure to liturgical abuse, or that maybe where I come from, people just speak sarcastically about those who do annoying things in their presence at Mass, and thus I don’t know any better.

    The supposition, on the other hand, that I have no concern for those who are unfamiliar with the liturgy I attend, or with non-Catholics in general, is insulting. Do you know the work I have done for the Church? Are you privy to it?

    In fact, if you came to my parish and showed respect for our liturgy, and those in attendance there, I would happily do all that I could to show you my support, and help you find your way. Incidentally, I spend a good bit of time helping people who want to know about the Gregorian Rite learn how to understand it.

    Just don’t stand like a sore thumb in the middle of the parish while everyone else kneels, which any person with an ounce of sense would avoid doing. Unless, of course, they were protesting, which brings us back to the beginning of this discussion again…

  • taad

    We are tolerant, open minded, non-judgemental, diverse, loving, kind, forgiving, etc… unless we judge you violated one of these virtues , then we will tear you apart and never forgive you!

  • Steve

    A very special letter from a modern saint.

    This is a reprint of a letter from St. Pio

  • diane cleary

    Dear fellow sinners. I too found myself observing ‘things’ during mass that led me to judgement (not condemnation) of others. This was not good at all I decided. So I sat at the front to stop myself observing others. When the mystical reality of the mass is entered one becomes oblivious to surroundings. This is the challenge. Those who ‘mess up’ in someway are to be looked upon only with eyes of love and compassion. It is the spirit with which things are done that counts with God not strict adhesion to the letter. All that matters is love. If you wish to correct people do it by example. If you find someone blocking your view of the most holy Eucharist, gaze upon the Lord with the eyes of your soul. Thank the Lord for this suffering of desire that makes us burn with longing to behold God truly present,body, blood,soul and divinity. Pray for those who would crawl in the dust for miles to attend mass, are tortured for thier faith and would give thier lives to recieve this blessed sacrement. Pray for the priests who have to endure witnessing peoples irreverence, abuses and ingratitude.Remember always that you have not only a log but a forest in your own eye and should in comparisson be only able to see a splinter in your brothers eye.

  • Sue

    …which might be paraphrased: “I used to be proud, but now my humility is surpassingly wonderful.”

    Right.

    Yeah.

    I thank Thee, Lord, that I am not like that Pharisee…

  • Ceilia Fraschetti

    The problem with “trads” as you call yourself, is the assumed right to be sarcastic and uncharitable in comments. It belies a proud heart and haughtiness that’s a real turn off.

    People who engage in this behavior rationalize it with a pseudo-intellectualism and feigned indignation for the sake of the Lord. The pride they have in the appearance and accoutrements of their church (and in themselves) trumps the Gospel itself. It is downright obnoxious.

    Such attitudes are sinful. (Love thy neighbor as thyself, judge not). The writer admitted as much in the column. Much more sinful than any lady wearing short hair or “modern syle” of dress. I am truly concerned that such a demeanor doesn’t affect the victim in such a way that their faith is negatively affected and that God will not hold the perpetrator responsible. I truly wonder, given the negative reaction such obnoxiousness brings up in me. I would propose that your soul is in more danger than theirs. I would bet on it.

  • Post Vatican II Catholic

    (Being in my 30’s, Even I know that folks in their 60’s most likely would know the proper deportment at a TLM if they had been cradle Catholics. Praise Jesus for their conversion or reversion to the Faith if they’re not.)

    Since most of the experimentation with the Mass didn’t really get going until the 70’s when I was coming up in the Church. My thinking is cradle Catholics of that age would know better and would hopefully have more respect, if not for Christ in the Eucharist, then at least for their “Brothers and Sisters in Christ” and “Catholic Community”. Besides who wants to look at their butts as they stand for the consecration while everyone directly behind them kneels [smiley=wink]. As Steve said, his view was blocked.

    In either case, Praise God they came to Mass and pray heartily for the softening / conversion of their hearts. Pray even more that they weren’t part of a satanic or sacreligious group, there to try and steal Jesus for some diabolical sacrelidge [smiley=shock].

  • Debbie Gum

    I believe that as of this current place and time (in history), Catholics have much bigger fish to fry than what the author is speculating and writing about. For instance, innocent babies are being slaughtered every day at the hand of abortionists. We ought to be on constant prayer, fasting and vigilance and stand up for the rights of the unborn, rather than worrying about how someone else looks/behaves in church.

  • Maggie

    Appearances arouse yearning in fools (Wis 5:5).
    Modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love. It is decency. It inspires one’s choice of clothing. It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet. Modesty inspires a way of life which makes it possible to resist the allurements of fashion and its of prevailing ideologies (be in the world but not of it). Modesty exists as an intuition of spiritual dignity proper to man. Teaching modesty to children and adolescents means awakening in them respect for the human person. Purity goes along with this. When one goes to church – does not one realize that he or she is going before the Lord of Lords and King of Kings? In clothing, one should show a concern for respect and also restraint. One is not going to a picnic or beach. The so called moral permissiveness that anything goes rests on an erroneous conception of human freedom. Yet, the necessary pre-condition for the development of true freedom is to let oneself be educated in moral law, and virtue, not what the ‘world thinks’ is okay. Purity of heart enables us to see God and even now to see things according to God. Purity of heart requires modesty which is patience, decency, and discretion. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. And that is what is beautiful and is something that pleases God when one is in church.

  • Brian

    Steve,

    You knew nothing about these women, but apparently felt qualified to judge, assign motives, and denigrate the celebration of Mass in a form perfectly accepted by Rome, but somehow inferior, in your view, to the “trad” way. How Catholic is that?

    Brian

  • Dee

    I can no longer stomach the casual Kumbaya modern mass where people are more concerned about socializing and making themselves more important than the Lord. I see people holding their palms upward like a priest during the

  • Jennifer

    To Strangers in a strange land- I cannot tell you how happy I am that you ended your post as you did. In fact I found myself holding my breath until I read that. Every church is made up of humans and humans make mistakes; some unfortunately more than others. I cringe when I hear of those mistakes keeping the curious or weary away from the Church. I am very happy that didn’t happen to you!

    To Another reason I’m not Catholic- if you are needing reasons to justify your position, you need not look far- we Catholics are filled with imperfections. I am certain that if you hopped in your car and began a cross country trip and stopped at Catholic churches all over America looking all the things you could criticize, you could write a book. But to say Catholics have a monopoly on those short comings is rather short sighted and self serving. I realize it is simply way more fun to pick on and point out these flaws of Catholics over – oh I don’t know say the Church of Christ or Assembly of God because chances are there will be someone more likely to join in with you trashing the Catholics than other faiths. I just wonder if you call yourself “Christian” while you are “justly” marching about spreading your truths? Interesting if you do.

    As for the Catholics who have posted criticism for undesirable behaviors during church- Really? What is your purpose? To vent- what is proper about airing dirty laundry in public? You hope for change- here on a forum where no one will recognize themselves? Take it up with your priest or parish council discreetly; this is not how a family takes care of business.

    As for those who don’t understand what it is like to have protesters interfere with your worship- aside from the Mormons, I don’t think you get what it is like to have someone come to your place of worship and purposefully mock your faith. I don’t know if they want a confrontation so they can justify their behavior and say “see I told you those Catholics are nothing but a bunch of hypocrites.” I don’t know if they are just simply being hateful and want to disrupt and possibly ruin the Mass for everyone that day and that is satisfaction enough- Does it not wrap your insides in a million knots to think of them in close proximity with the Blessed Sacrament? It does me. I’ve seen them present themselves for communion, take the Blessed Sacrament and pretend to consume, but not and then head straight for the door. Some may not understand- but it is very upsetting and what I think the intent of this article was it was nice to it backfire and not work as they planned.

    The comment by some one asking if they were warmly welcomed was a genius question and would have taken a strong in faith person to reach outside their own hurt to make such a loving and bold move and one would hope that kind of strength existed that day.

  • Nick

    The author wasted his energy on a blog by making fun of others who are not part of or are unfamiliar with a Traditional Latin Mass. Steve, shame on you.

  • Judge

    We have been so brainwashed to accept everyone and anything in any place that people will immediate say we are being judgemental if we make the observation that someone is being defiant in church. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck… then it’s a duck. Pointing out that the age of Catholic-buts (the people who say they are Catholic but they don’t like obedience, or they use birth control, or they disagree with the Pope…etc, etc.) is going the way of the Dodo bird is not being judgemental. It is being HOPEFUL!

  • Annie

    I thank God every day that we can attend the Extraordinary Form of the Mass every Sunday at our parish. In fact we have 5 such Masses every week in our diocese which is considered quite liberal by some. My dream is either that a parish in our diocese will have the Latin Mass daily, or we can move to one where the parish has the Latin Mass exclusively. Years ago (I am 70) after Vatican II I was happy to jump in, relished the changes, some of the music. As a musician, I saw the type of music deteriorate, pianos brought into the church, sometimes in the sanctuary, the Communion rails pulled out, churches remodeled into something resembling a meeting room, or worse. Rarely did we hear homilies about sin, much less mortal sin, or abortion, or contraception. One must not disturb the parishioners, or the collection plate offerings would drop. It became evident to me, after returning to the Latin Mass, that many Novus Ordo Masses are for the benefit of the comfort, the happiness, the contentment of the congregation, NOT the worship of God in a worthy, sacred manner, unfortunately. Attending the Latin Mass has made all the difference. I’ve seen people come back to the Church after 40 years away, all because of the Latin. And we don’t have to contend with the multicultural liturgies where you need a program to keep up with all the different translations! The sermons are always inspiring and instructive. I pray that more and more people will begin to see the extraordinary beauty of this Rite.

  • Susanne

    I attend a TLM every Sunday. The instructions for Low, High and Solemn High Mass are printed on the back of the missals provided. When one candle is lighted on each side of the tabernacle, there is no choir and the priest reads instead of chanting the prayers and readings, it is a Low Mass. When all three candles on either side of the tabernacle are lit, the choir is singing the Mass parts and the priest chants virtually everything, the instructions are all over the missal to stand where one would remain kneeling at a Low Mass. My family stands at High Masses at the indicated times. Nearly everyone else stays kneeling. This has been going on for some time now. I believe stubbornness may not be entirely a progressive trait.
    Would you advise us to just go with the flow? I feel that liturgical abuse can be extended to refusing to adhere to the rubrics as much as injecting theatrics into the liturgy. I welcome feedback on this.

  • katy

    I know that in some churches it is easy to brand Catholics as Trad or Novus Ordo or Life Teen or Praise and Worship but we are still all Catholics, no? I have been to many different types of liturgies over the years and the Eucharist is the unifying factor in all this. Jesus is present at all these liturgies calling us all to be one. I have seen others on both sides of the liturgical debate and just realize we are all one body!

    Sometimes there can be actual blinders on and we feel that our way is the only way and we poke fun at others who are not just like us or see things the way we do. Can we really assume they are the Me-Church people or Call to Action just based on their hair cuts?I have seen communities and friends divided over this issue. I have seen others refuse to attend a liturgy because it was not what they were used to! What is more important than what these ladies looked like or what they wore or what hair-cuts they had was that they were at Mass celebrating the Eucharist. How do we know that they refused to kneel – maybe they could not kneel and felt that it was improper to sit. Maybe give them the benefit of the doubt. I hope someone welcomed them so that they would come back and try the Latin Mass again. Many people have not seen the TLM and are unfamiliar – they might need coaching or a friendly hello to show them the beauty of this Mass. As Catholics there are many different ways to celebrate the Eucharist – the TLM is one beautiful way to celebrate but it is not the only way to celebrate the liturgy

  • Chris

    In reply to Joshua’s comment that “it may not have been entirely their fault” I would reply that they obviously recognized that the rest of the parishioners were kneeling which would mean there were kneelers in the church.

    “Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; 5 and found human in appearance,
    he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.
    Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:7-11

    This passage is used as a deliverance prayer to free those under demonic obsession.

  • John

    To “Told to not kneel”…

    Perhaps You might check out PortaKneeler.com for a full range of Catholic emergency equipment. They’ve got inflatable kneelers (both the kind You blow up and the self-inflating rip-cord type), pocket-size battery operated votive candles (for churches where candles are considered passe), and more.

    smilies/wink.gif

  • Brian Saint-Paul

    To “Told to not kneel”…

    Perhaps You might check out PortaKneeler.com for a full range of Catholic emergency equipment. They’ve got inflatable kneelers (both the kind You blow up and the self-inflating rip-cord type), pocket-size battery operated votive candles (for churches where candles are considered passe), and more.

    smilies/wink.gif

    I actually checked to see if that was a real site. Apparently, my brain doesn’t click on until noon.

  • Check yourself, sir.

    It seems The Liturgy has become your God. How would Jesus treat these outsiders to your parish? If your worship currently leads you operate as your article suggests, you’re not doing it right. Steve, you are reflecting the state of your own soul. Scary part is, you don’t even see it.

  • JMC

    You asked about attending a church that does not have kneelers. My answer to that is, it’s never wrong to kneel, whether or not kneelers are present. When I was in grade school, pre-Vatican II, we were taught that sometimes visitors would sit when we stood, or stand when we knelt, simply because things might be done differently in other parishes. If such diversity existed even in the Tridentine Mass, I don’t see why it’s such an issue now.

    Here’s an interesting anecdote that not only illustrates that point, but also highlights Mr. Skojec’s point. In the 1980s, the pastor of the church in my hometown had the church drastically renovated, its interior stripped so bare that it looked like a Mormon temple—even the crucifix had been removed. This happened after I had moved to another state. When I went back to visit my family, I was quite literally sickened by what had been done to the place. The kneelers, too, were gone, though some people still knelt during the Consecration, to that priest’s annoyance. Fiften years later, when I had occasion to go to that church again, I found that the new pastor had replaced the crucifix, though the kneelers were still absent. Yet, when the Consecration came, everyone in the church knelt directly on the floor. So it doesn’t matter whether or not kneelers are present; as in the old days, people will do what they are used to doing, regardless of what others around them are doing.

    As for the appearance—well, if someone were to look at me, I might be taken for a radical feminist, or even gay. I keep my hair very short, and I don’t even own a dress, but there are medical reasons for both. So the old saw still holds: You can’t judge a book by its cover—at least, not by its cover alone.

    God bless.

  • Mick

    …Our pastor brings his dog to Eucharistic Adoration and whenever someone walks in it barks loudly and scares the hell out of you…

    I wonder if the dog gets credit in the bulletin as Deacon for assisting with the Service?

    Perhaps Gabby and Mikey were there with an entirely different purpose- maybe they were there to allow all of us to reflect on our own “appearances”? If I can bring a NASCAR analogy to the conversation (and I realize that’s a stretch…) it ain’t about the show, it’s all about the go.

  • RudytheScottie

    Our church has been infiltrated, if you will, by members of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender community. One sits on our Caritas Committee and makes decisions, unilaterally, to donate parishioner donated money to GLBT causes. Other committee members do not object for fear of being labeled homophobic. So for you Catholics who judge the author for judging, consider that he is may be making a moral judgment, one that uses his God given powers of discernment, a judgment Christ himself would ask us to make. Loving our neighbors, as Christ commands us to do, does NOT require that we accept their evil ways. Be vigilant fellow Catholics, our church is at war with Satan. The Trojan Horse is within the gates.

  • Barbara

    When I am traveling and am attending a Mass in a parish with no kneelers, I kneel. The reason is I want unity – unity with the Universal (aka Catholic) Church and that is what She says is the ordinary (at least in the West) way to adore Jesus during the consecration. Unity with a single parish makes no sense in the Universal Church – so I am completely unconcerned if it makes others around me uncomfortable. God is not concerned with our comfort. He is Truth. And the Catholic Church (not the local Pastor, or Liturgist) is His instrument for transmitting that Truth.
    In His Peace,

    EXCELLENT POINT!!

  • JQ

    …. you never know at what point of conversion they may be.

    It was brought up that maybe the two women may be in some sort of discerning state of conversion.

    It would seem difficult to experience a true conversion of heart without sincere intent. Though we cannot assume we are privy to one

  • Christine Guerriero

    I believe I would leave it to the Lord to judge those women.For all we know they are breast cancer survivors amd were just confused by the old order Mass. At ay rate, it is not our job to judge. You should have given them a warm hello after Mass.

  • Carl

    If you go back far enough the Church never had pews, let alone kneelers. The faithful stood for the entire mass.

    For Eastern Catholics it is as common to stand as kneel – depends on the local parish tradition. A lot of Eastern Catholic churches intentionally do not have kneelers.

    Little known fact: John Paul IIs funeral mass was bi-ritual, including both Western and Eastern Catholic traditions.

  • Juan Ferreira

    I am from Spain, the churches (Cathedrals) do not have kneeling stands within the pews, that is becuase it is the tradition and custom. This goes back in time, do the reseach. You stand throughout the entire ceremony. It is just the writer not knowing other cultures just as per the haicuts of the two (womyn).

  • Sandy

    I didn’t find this mean spirited in the least. I did get the feeling that many others reading this imposted upon it their own mean spiritness, or their hurts when they encountered real mean spiritness in their lives.

    Two people attended a Catholic Mass, and did not conform to the congregational norms. An observation that in many locales the celebration of the Mass has become a celebration of the “me” and not the “Thee.” The writer then saw a possible connection between the two separate cases. The 9 a.m. Mass, he usually attends is the intersection point.

    All I can say is “been there, and done that.” Except the language was not Latin, I was with friends in ski gear, and we quickly conformed to the congregational norms, but maybe not quickly enough.

    There is a BIG difference between, “opps!” and “protest,” sounds like the two were engaged in protest.

  • tim

    A sense of

  • Scott

    I believe I would leave it to the Lord to judge those women… At ay rate, it is not our job to judge…

    The Lord will judge those women, and all of us, whether we leave it to him or not. In other words, He alone will determine where we will spend eternity. Thankfully, He will do so with perfect mercy, justice and love. However, we are all responsible to make moral judgements about things we encounter all the time. Recognizing the differece between good and evil is making a judgement between the two. Don’t confuse the two different uses of the verb “judge”.

    …For all we know they are breast cancer survivors amd were just confused by the old order Mass…

    What does the possiblity of being breast cancer survivors have to do with this discussion?

    …You should have given them a warm hello after Mass.

    Perhaps you didn’t read Mr. Skojec’s follow-up post, but the two women did not return to their pew after communion, so he didn’t see them again.

  • Jose Torres, MD

    Dear Patrice thank you for sharing your beautiful life and experience in the “Roman Catholic Church”. I suspect that many of us are somewhat parochial in our view of “the Church” and would benefit from travel such as you document and have the oportunity to experience the Church Universal that is the Roman Catholic Church. I have been blessed to have had the oportunity to worship at Sunday Mass in a few other countries and know that I will hear the SAME readings and Gospel as is being read in every Roman Catholic Church through out the whole WORLD. Awesome and humbling to know that I am connected at that moment with countless sisters and brothers throughout the world who are hearing the SAME Gospel that I am.
    As to kneeling, standing, sitting etc I believe that during the Eucharistic Prayer at the moment the priest says the words by which the bread and wine are transubstantiated into the Body and Blood of my Lord Jesus Christ that He is at that moment present before me. At that awesone moment in time (speaking only for myself) as long as I am physically able to do so I will kneel in reverence to my Lord. Again Patrice thank you for sharing your beautiful life. God Bless you and your fammily.
    Jose.

  • Christine

    Mr. Skojek,

    You really should consider your tone and context when you write your articles. As you can plainly see by the comments written above, you were clearly taken out of context. As you blame others about their snarky and judgmental comments, you too came accross both snarky and judgmental. You have come accross this way in several other articles and it is very off-putting.

    To put it more succinctly, your article neither clearly related your point of view nor did it portray you as anything more than a harsh finger wagger – the very thing you are protesting about in the comments of the others who responded to your article.

    I think that your point of view about the lack of piety in church is valid and this website is a great forum for it. I was looking forward to reading the article when I read the title. However, I think your singling out individuals that you have only seen on one ocassion as illustrative of this commentary is not only mean-spirited, but also proves a disservice to you as a writer who is trying to make a point, as you could have found a much better way to elaborate on your idea with the state of our society today (as others in this commentary stream clearly have).

    Do not dismiss the others’ comments about the potential state of your soul just because they are snarky, as their comments may have a point as well (I thing thou protesteth too much).

    I am praying for you as I write this and I will continue to pray for you.

  • Christine

    PS – I think that your illustration would have served better for a commentary on how hard it is to not get distracted during the sacred mass with screaming children in tow and militant lesbians blocking your view of the Holy Eucharist.

    Somethimes I can’t keep my mind from buzzing like a beehive at mass…

  • Cathy

    I don’t have an issue with the author’s frustration regarding the women’s lack of reverence and/or obedience to proper form during the Mass. I absolutely do believe that his description of their physical appearance was meant to convey his impression that they were probably lesbians. Indeed,I would be willing to bet that at least two-thirds of those reading this article received exactly that impression. I simply don’t see why it was necessary.

  • Marjorie Campbell

    Let me just set the record straight:
    It’s interesting that those who find my tone judgmental have such harsh words for me. I do not see any of my critics giving me the same benefit of the doubt they assume I should have extended to the offending parties in my article. No one is making excuses for my behavior . . .hypothesizing that perhaps I’m cranky because I have a chronic ulcer or because I have suffered from long exposure to liturgical abuse, or that maybe where I come from, people just speak sarcastically about those who do annoying things in their presence at Mass, and thus I don’t know any better.

    Oh dear, don’t do the sniffling thing, please. As one of the critics in these comments, I don’t doubt the distraction and discomfort you felt at Mass, or your cultural license to speak sarcastically. I respect all that. REALLY – You had your kids with you, good grief! That alone qualifies you for sainthood. But no one needs to make excuses for you. You are a wonderful, orthodox Catholic man-writer – we are just making excuses, apologies and diversions for a couple of errant women who certainly have not your skills, your insight, your spiritual development. Good grief. Don’t irritate your ulcer. We all understand and thank you for an article that brought us together in this cyber-dialogue! Sincerely.

  • Daphne

    It seems like an unfortunate number of readers are taking some judgemental pleasure in accusing Steve Skojec of being judgemental. I’d like to suggest that we consider Christ as our model in sorting out a particular conundrum.

    His “Woe unto ye, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites!” was certainly not a model of lack of a judgemental attitude. But was it therefore inappropriate? On the other hand, with honest but mistaken or confused believer, those with limited understanding who craved to understand more, his reproofs were fairly mild but to the point.

    It is often difficult to discern when to respond as if we’re faced with a scribe/Pharisee and when to respond as if we’re faced with someone of unresolved conflicts or limited understanding. We won’t all make the same judgement call on that one, and we won’t all be right when we make it. But to suggest that we shouldn’t notice someone’s behavior, when the person seems to be going to a great deal of trouble to make us notice it, is a little dishonest.

    The cults of tolerance and non-judgementalism have their hypocrites too. They’re usually the people who insist that tolerance should be extended to them, but not by them. Get a grip!

  • L

    “As the veil in the Temple was rent in two, so will My Church be!”

  • Fiat
  • Deb

    I can’t help thinking of the words of Jesus,

    “I was a stranger, and you welcomed me.”

    Apparently, not everywhere.

  • Dana

    Steve’s article and and a few of the responses are quite troubling to this Cradle Catholic. Some speculated over the motives of these noncomformist strangers attending Sunday Mass. Stand? Kneel? By their fashions you shall know them? Boyish haircuts? Then, this morning’s gospel reading quieted my troubled heart as only the True Word of God can do:

    “So the Pharisees & scribes questioned him ‘Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?’ He responded ‘Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocites, as it is written: This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.’ You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.” Mark 7:5-8

    The second reading was also on target: “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, his religion is vain.” The Letter of James 1:26

  • Patrick Stone

    Boy, I am not sure I got the same thing from some of the comments as others, but I think everyone should be welcome in the church, even the stumble bum alcoholic that comes in because he has hit bottom, do people actually expel people who are down and out or judge them? most catholics I know are very slow to judge,
    Lets not be like the radical islamics and judge people too quickly. the not-one-of-us attitude
    But I can see the authors point…

    I noticed thought that it is natural for poeple to come in to an organization and start immediately trying to change it in thier own image, this is a very untasteful and bad habit.
    Accept things the way they are and learn and try not to impose your own ideas on people that have an extablised way that goes back 2000 years
    The Boy scouts is a prime example; some come in and instead of deciding they dont like it and leaving they want to come in and change it all around to suite thier own agenda

  • Chris Seeber

    Steve

    First rule of getting out of a hole is to stop digging.

    You call yourself a “trad.” Do you know what “exitus acta probat” means? I ask this because your point and counterpoints might be valid but you used two human beings as a “launching point” for YOUR article and YOUR point. This is dehumanizing and although it was minor (perhaps even trivial) could you have made your point with a different set of premises and not ridiculed two people, even if it was anonymous?

    Just curious, do you think my post judges you or your actions?

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