A “Liturgy Snob” Answers Her Critics

Last week I wrote a piece here on Crisis about good liturgy and its effect on the minds of children. It provoked a number of strong reactions, with some positive and others very critical. This is unsurprising. All liturgy-lovers have heard these critiques before, because they arise as a matter of course whenever liturgical practice is discussed. But because the essay drew out almost all of the familiar critiques in colorful form, I thought I might take advantage of the opportunity to answer them.

“You like high liturgy. That’s fine. But why do you need to make it sound like other liturgy is inferior?”

Liturgy is an important element of Catholic life, and we need to think about what sorts of liturgical practice will make us better Catholics and people. It’s really not just a matter of taste. Good liturgy elevates our minds, and indeed all of our senses, drawing us closer to God. It’s often uncomfortable, because it forces us to grapple with the immensity of the mysteries that are found in the Mass. But that’s a healthy sort of discomfort. We ought to be challenged in that way, and it can actually be a good thing to feel a bit “alienated” at Mass, insofar as that alienation comes from the recognition that (as we read in Hebrews 11) we are “foreigners and strangers on earth,” and that our true home is with God.

Bad liturgy is often oriented towards making worship a more comfortable and communal sort of experience. It’s easy to understand why this would appeal. Modern people often like to shed formality in favor of something more “original” or “human” or “communal.” That’s really just to say that they prefer to downgrade ceremony into something that doesn’t require them to face up to the real, serious significance of what is taking place. Consider the absurdities that take place in many contemporary weddings and funerals and you should understand what I mean.

I think it’s interesting how very bad liturgy can sometimes resemble the sort of entertainment we normally expect to find in kindergartens or children’s summer camps, with tinkling music and silly hand gestures. Sometimes we even get campy costumes or dances; it really does call to mind an episode of Barney or Pee-Wee Herman. One can hardly imagine adults agreeing to participate in anything so juvenile, except at Mass. Can it be an accident that some are moved to dress up for the most majestic hour of their week in the least becoming clothing?

“You seem to be casting a lot of judgment against many people you’ve never even met. How can you know what’s in people’s hearts?”

I can’t read people’s hearts, of course. Only God can do that. Man looks on the outward appearance, because that’s all he can see. So we should be measured in our judgments, but these same cautions arise with any evaluation of human behavior. How do you know that laughter is good for people, while pornography isn’t? Can you read people’s hearts?

Judging liturgy isn’t very different from judging anything else human beings do or create. We can’t read people’s hearts directly, but we can consider their behavior in light of all our other experience of human beings. Sometimes negative judgment is then warranted. It’s certainly possible to have bad liturgical taste without being an overall bad person, but bad liturgical taste is still bad. It prevents us from availing ourselves of one very precious pathway by which we can draw closer to God, and Heaven.

“Does God really care about incidentals like church architecture and liturgical forms? Should we? Isn’t the important thing the Sacrifice itself, and the fact that Christians are gathering together to worship God?”

The Sacrifice, and Christ’s literal presence among us, are clearly the most important things about the Mass. Those elements can certainly be present in the sorts of Masses that I have described as “schlocky.” But liturgy is for us a way of giving honor and adoration to God. It also serves as a teacher, which helps mere mortals like ourselves grasp the significance of these magnificent metaphysical realities. So it matters. Liturgy is relevant to the salvation of souls.

God never asks more of us than we’re capable of giving, and I would of course never criticize an unlovely church that nevertheless represented an impoverished community’s energetic effort to worship God as fittingly as possible. Those kinds of efforts will always, I have no doubt, be rewarded with an outpouring of divine grace. But the churches I described as “monstrosities” were not unlovely owing to a lack of resources. People chose to worship in such buildings. It was a preference, not a necessity. So it’s perfectly appropriate to consider whether those preferences are good, fitting, and conducive to the development of healthy Catholic sensibilities.

“It must be nice to be part of that tiny fragment of Super-Catholics who have all the answers. It’s probably pretty easy to get through the day when you can revel in self-congratulation over your superior liturgical taste.”

Okay, so that’s not exactly a question. But it is a common response to good-liturgy apologetics. Those of us who assert the superiority of reverent, beautiful liturgy are frequently accused of being holier-than-thou worship-snobs.

It was partly to diffuse that common complaint that I recounted my children’s reactions to bad liturgy instead of just my own. Naturally, as a liturgy snob myself, I would be expected to transmit my own liturgical prejudices to my offspring. Nevertheless, mine are at present too young even to be aware that there are other sorts of Masses than the ones they have experienced at our home parish of St Agnes. They certainly are too young to congratulate themselves on their inclusion in the Chosen Few. That being the case, I thought their reactions were revealing, with my toddler confusing a modern Mass for a “party,” while my five-year-old mistook the sharing of peace for the end of the Mass (because it wasn’t clear to him why else people would be hugging, chatting and moving about the room).

There was another point, however, that I attempted to draw out in the piece. Contrary to the expectations of the critics, I virtually never think about bad liturgy except when I am forced by circumstance to experience it. When my family has access to beautiful, decorous liturgy, I can hardly spend too little time thinking about schlocky banners or huggy sharings-of-peace. Regarding my own liturgical life, my overwhelming emotion is one of gratitude. It’s such a blessing to be able to take my family to a genuinely beautiful, awe-inspiring Mass, not just once in awhile, but every single Sunday and Holy Day. It would be petty indeed to experience so much goodness, and react by lording it over others. I can say very sincerely that I would be more than delighted if every parish in America (and beyond!) were to undertake to make their liturgies as beautiful and solemn as those we enjoy at St. Agnes.

“Isn’t it offensive to “parish-shop” for the community that most pleases you? Shouldn’t you just go to your territorial parish? The Church won’t get any better if serious Catholics all congregate in a few “elite” parishes.”

Parish-shopping might be offensive if we were looking for something trivial or superficial. As should be evident at this point, I don’t think that’s the case. We want our children to worship God solemnly and reverently, with a firm understanding of their faith. We want them to develop a true sensus catholicus. Some parishes facilitate these important goals more effectively than others, and as parents, we consider it our obligation to do what seems best for our family. Fortunately, we have an excellent parish just a few miles away, so there’s no reason to settle for something less optimal.

Would it be better to join a more challenging parish where we could “do more good”? This seems to me like the sort of question that needs to be answered on an individual basis, and sometimes it might call for careful discernment. Certainly, I don’t think it would always be correct to abandon one’s native parish for a Mass with altar rails or superior hymnody. In some cases that might cause offense, damage personal relationships, and squander opportunities to bring about positive changes. Again, people need to consider their own circumstances and obligations.

In my family’s case, however, I don’t think the prudential calculations are at all difficult. As converts, my husband and I don’t have lifelong connections to a particular parish, or even a particular sort of liturgical practice. Nobody has reason to feel abandoned or betrayed by our choice of parish. Meanwhile, in terms of “doing good” for the Church, I’m just a married woman and a member of the laity; I have no authority at the parish level, nor is there any reason I should. Further, as an adult convert, I don’t have an especially strong appreciation of the ins and outs of parish life. I don’t really understand who organizes what, or how the wheels keep turning. In short, I would be supremely ineffective as an “agent for change” at the parish level.

My immediate obligations are clearly to my own family and children. I have a responsibility to care about the state of their souls, and to help them on their way to becoming mature Catholics (and eventually, I hope and pray, saints). Tending to those obligations is surely (for me) a more effective means to serving the Church than any sort of parish activism. I’d like my children to grow into the kind of men who could be good husbands and fathers. Or, perhaps they might serve the Church in a different way. Having been blessed with an abundance of sons (four, counting the unborn one) my husband and I would be thrilled to give one (or more!) back to the Church. But once again (as my fellow Crisis contributor, Anthony Esolen, has recently observed), some parishes facilitate that development much more effectively than others. Ensuring that our boys get a solid formation in the faith is the best thing we can do, both for the children themselves, and for the Church.

Rachel Lu

By

Rachel Lu, a Catholic convert, teaches philosophy at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota where she lives with her husband and four boys. Dr. Lu earned her Ph.D. in philosophy at Cornell University. Follow her on Twitter at rclu.

  • joanofarc

    thanks. very well-written and insightful. Converts are to be so treasured & welcome in the Church!

  • TERRY

    Latin Mass

    • Nora

      ???

    • Chris Cloutier

      Latin Mass, communion rail, proper music, tabernacles back in the center of the sanctuary with the altar facing the tabernacle, women with covered heads, silence, prayer and contemplation before the Mass begins. These are the things that make the Mass the reverential offering it should be, and has been for 2000 years. Everything focused to the greater glory of God who we are there to honor and glorify. Why did anyone feel the need to change that? With that said the NO Mass can be reverent if people act reverently while there.

      • TERRY

        Agreed, but with the NO (in my experience) it doesn’t happen frequently. When I read at my Parish I get there an hour early and inevitably there are little groups of people – young and old – sitting around chatting and if you ask them to keep their voices down they are likely to be offended. Talk to the pastor about it and likely as not he won’t see it as a problem.

        • GG

          Exactly right. That goes to formation and reverence.

      • Wait a second. There was a significant period of time that Mass was celebrated in caves, and you bet it was reverent. We know because of the martyrs from that time.

        Reverence is a an attitude, not a communion rail. Last year, I attended a TLM at an air show under an olive drab tent, people dressed as you might imagine they would to spend the day under the June sun.

        It was as soldiers would have experienced it in 1944, minus the fear of being sent to your death tomorrow. There was noise, and the sound of planes and for the 50-100 I guess were there-it was reverent.

  • Nora

    Ms. Lu: I would like to offer both some positives and negatives for this peice of writing in the hopes that you will understand what I’m trying to say.
    Positives: this article is very well worded and you offer some interesting points.
    Negatives: you are still using a very condescending tone. If you don’t want criticism, then don’t be condescending.

    • phranthie

      If it’s condescending, it’s done with the best intention — reaching down with a helping hand up.

    • Augustus

      You don’t read very widely do you? You seem to take disagreement personally as if a contrary opinion is a personal insult or offense. Opinion columns will necessarily generate opposition from those who hold contrary points of view. Criticism is a given. Dr. Lu never said she didn’t want criticism. You seem to think that is the normal expectation. Your reaction reveals the sort of naivete one would observe in someone new to the rough and tumble of public debate. You can start getting serious by dropping your own condescending attitude toward those who make accurate observations about human behavior. My parish added a sign in the vestibule that says wear appropriate clothing and turn off your cell phone, among other things. It was necessary because the saintly parishioners you are so eager to defend behaved too casually about public worship. We might not be able to read people’s hearts but we can certainly judge their actions.

      • JR

        Exactly why I don’t like to remain silent about the people who come to Mass in our air conditioned church in spaghetti-strap tops, or tee shirts with inappropriate pictures or words on them, shorts and flip-flops. We are in the presence of God…not the Wal-Mart cashier.

        • ND

          So the Walmart cashier is not deserving of our respect? She’s below everyone? Love God AND Love your Neighbor, our Lord Jesus commands.

          • GG

            The issue is context. A cashier is not in Church.

          • ForChristAlone

            It must be a racist comment

          • Anthony Zarrella

            Of course the Walmart cashier is deserving of respect – but respect is relative to its object.

            It is perfectly respectful to wear a t-shirt to Walmart, but disrespectful to wear one to court.

            It is respectful to address the stranger next to you at the ballgame by saying, “Hey, buddy, y’wanna pass me that beer [from the vendor]? Thanks, man.” But when speaking to (for instance) the Pope, addressing him as “Hey, buddy,” and “man” instead of “Your Holiness” and using such informalities as “y’wanna” in place of “would you please” would be highly disrespectful.

            Likewise, spaghetti straps, t-shirts, flip-flops, etc. are perfectly appropriate in Walmart (and in front of the Walmart cashier), but inappropriate at Mass (excluding such atypical situations as DE-173 mentions above, such as outdoor Mass in the midst of an otherwise-informal event).

        • ND

          Seriously, could you’ve made your point without bringing down Walmart cashiers? Walmart cashiers are trashed enough already.

          • GG

            Really? Is this your argument? Really?

          • JR

            Seriously, do you always see the Devil in the details? The comment wasn’t meant to denigrate Wal-Mart cashiers. The point I was trying to make (which others seemed to get) was that too many people have the attitude that going to Mass is not much different than going shopping at Wal-Mart. Just a task that needs to get done.

    • fredx2

      I detected no condescension.

      • Nick_Palmer3

        Today many seem to live in order to be offended for others. It’s nice of them…

        • GG

          That is the central point of all who criticize this essay. There such a thing as illegitimate offense.

    • Martha

      I think if you are finding a condescending tone, it’s because you’re looking for one, or are, for some reason, on the defense to begin with. Her article was charity itself.

      • Nora

        All of you need to read a catechism. She is saying ‘ hahaha, I knew if get criticism, they are all idiots, I’m right, so who cares’. Yeah, I’m not going for that. It’s very condescending because she is still saying that some parishes are holier than others.

        • GG

          I do read the CCC. That is how I know you are wrong.

        • Augustus

          What you are saying is that there are no standards by which we can judge an effective liturgy. That all liturgies are equally acceptable and that the actions of parishioners are above criticism. The Church has never believed that. You are an apologist for the status quo–whatever that might be–and all that leads to is mediocrity.

        • N

          You are being judgemental by saying that Dr Lu is being condescending.

          I’m wondering, why are you so defensive? Why so hostile? Why so judgemental of Dr Lu’s interior disposition as being ‘condescending’? How did you get the amazing power of reading what she’s REALLY saying, in words that she never said?

          You seem to have the power to read Dr Lu’s soul, and I for one would like to know your credentials, because they seem to give you the right to judge Dr Lu as being judgemental while at the same time blinding you to the – well, let’s not say hypocrisy -let’s just say the absurdity of your remarks.

        • Matthew

          You’re right.

        • Phil Steinacker

          She didn’t say they are holier, but she did suggest the yare not conducive to raising her boys to be good, reverent Catholic men. YOU implied that to mean some parishes are holier than others, which I suspect is impossible because only people can be holy.

        • Anthony Zarrella

          So, the only alternative to condescension is uncritical acceptance of all practices as being of equal worth and dignity? I think you’d find that this view is very much in keeping with modern secular orthodoxy, but not so much with Church teachings.

          Some parishes *are* holier than others. A parish wherein the parishioners are reverent before the Blessed Sacrament, study Scripture and catechism frequently and well, and show great concern for being of one heart and mind with Christ and His Church *is* holier than a parish wherein the parishioners see Mass as a disagreeable duty that must be made more palatable by making it less formal (or, worse yet, see it as a social, “community-oriented” event!), care more about “inclusivity” and “affirmation” than orthodoxy, and show great concern for being “relevant” and of one heart and mind with “today’s youth.”

    • WSquared

      “If you don’t want criticism…”

      Wow. You inferred that she doesn’t want criticism? Dr. Lu is a scholar, as per her bio. Like all mature scholars, she expects criticism, and like scholars are expected to, she responds.

      It’s not her fault that you don’t like what she says.

    • Atilla The Possum

      Why don’t you stop being so condescending?

    • Phil Steinacker

      We have made the Mass into an image and likeness of ourselves by structuring the focus vertically on ourselves, rather than keeping it vertical has had been practiced by millions of Catholics who did so because they knew better than we do why they are there,.

      Every couple weeks or so a fine article like this one attempts to explain why we need to impose upon ourselves standards much higher than those to which we are accustomed or to which we are attracted. It is clear that Dr. Lu did NOT write anything condescending at all, but that many readers demand that no one say anything at all about forms of worship which, in fact, ARE SUPERIOR, to what has become the norm in our Church today. Emperor’s clothes, anyone?

      We modernist folks have transformed our worship from a Sacrifice into a meal. I have found through many conversations that Catholics no longer understand the actual meaning of “sacred” and therefore wouldn’t recognize it if they tripped over it – mostly because it has been scoured from our NO Masses. The same goes for reverence. As for mystery, transcendence, awe, majesty, and holiness, well, we haven’t seen those attributes at Novus Ordo Masses or heard them mentioned afterwards, with rare exception.

      Nora, you’re not asking Dr. Lu to avoid condescension; you want her and everyone else to stop publishing pieces which confront you with the deficiencies of worship running rampant throughout Modernist Church with which you identify and which you prefer. You like what is current, and you feel attacked by the criticism aimed at liturgical abuses. Unfortunately, there is no way to advocate improvement without describing the problems and the solutions. These imply inferiority and superiority, even when the words are not used. You are correct to get that, but deeply inappropriate to respond as if we are all in the 4th grade.

      I am friends with a lot of folks who share your preferences and are, at least, comfortable with those preferences without being defensive about it. I email articles like Dr. Lu’s all the time in an attempt to penetrate the barriers to change and my efforts often trigger discussions with allies of yours but with the ability to ask questions and pose opinions rather than bristle at the notion that something’s rotten in Denmark.

      Perhaps you are troubled because the thrust of Dr. Lu’s post and others similar to it is that explaining what is wrong and that we can and need to do better – much better – feels like a direct assault on the quality of your worship. Indeed, Cain was deeply troubled when God told him his offering was severely lacking.

      But nobody on this side of the argument is God – we just have 2,000 years of Church understanding and practice which instruct us on how to worship more like Abel. Some folks seem to struggle with reading and engaging posts like this one with questions and even a cogent defense of the status quo. You really can’t handle someone suggesting you are missing the boat? Most of us have had to deal with that throughout life.

      Finally, Dr. Lu never said she didn’t want criticism. She sees criticism as an opportunity, as do I. But let’s raise it to the level of adult disagreement and skip the pseudo-outrage and offended feelings – the Left has beat both tactics into the ground. Like apparent who has spent too many days with kids and no adults, many of us are just finished with repeated whining over nothing of substance.

  • lifeknight

    As I recall you had a whopping blog response to the first article in the hundreds—congrats! As a coffee-and-Crisis reader, I think that stat- alone- is a laudable occasion. I totally understood your position without explanation, but, again, you have explained the spiritual situation of many parents clearly. Sadly, many remain “clueless” as to the fact that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass CAN be more than a trip to the beach in shorts…..(where I live shorts seem to be the new uniform.)

    • Nora

      I agree that people need to start dressing a touch more appropriately, but that does not mean that we can judge or criticize them for that reason. The people wearing jeans or shorts and doing their ‘silly’ sign of peace may be the holiest people in the world. We don’t know. So what’s best is just keeping your mouth shut about the way people dress for church. I have attended a Latin mass twice before, and it is very beautiful. But can we blame Vatican II for the people’s ignorance? No, because people are ignorant in all areas. So what right have we to judge?

      • TERRY

        To dress inappropriately to me indicates a lack of respect and more importantly a lack of understanding for what is going to happen. Keeping your mouth shut means nothing changes – talk to the Pastor and ask him to speak out about it. If he sees nothing wrong with it – I would find another church. There is a Catholic church 10 miles away from me and the one I attend is 30 miles away – it’s worth the drive. The Latin Mass I attend twice a month is 55 miles away and entails getting up before 5 in the morning. It’s worth it.

        FYI – I’m 71 years old.

        • Nora

          I agree that people need to dress appropriately and that the priest should advise them to. And if the priest doesn’t, then we should advise him to. But if the people persist in inappropriate dress, then it’s none of our business. And assuming that people have no respect for Our Lord by the way they dress is judging.
          And I would attend a Latin mass if I could. The nearest one is an hour away, and as I am raising seven children under the age of nine, find it virtually impossible to attend. I have a church that is only 3 miles away, and it is wonderful to throw my you children in a stroller and walk to the mass, enjoying a relaxing rest in the church.

          • GG

            Outward appearance is indicative of inner disposition. Is this news?

            • Nora

              We still can’t judge them.

              • GG

                Why are you stuck on this phony secular interpretation of “judging”? We are called to judge rightly. If a person shows up for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass dressed like they are at the beach then judging they dressed irreverently is righteous. That is an objective standard. We are not judging their soul. Why is this so hard for you to grasp?

              • Nick_Palmer3

                But we can criticize them, constructively.

                Would you criticize a guest who showed up to your wedding nude? Poorly dressed? What did our Lord have to say on the topic?

                • GG

                  Thanks for making me laugh. I guess absurdity requires absurdity.

                • Atilla The Possum

                  I’m guessing here but if all the guests showed up at Nora’s wedding in the nip, when they sit down there would be a spontaneous round of applause!

              • Therese

                You can’t judge hearts and motivations, but you must judge actions. Take another look at the Ten Commandments…….

            • Liberty

              That’s not always true. From your words here we can surmise certain things about your inner disposition: haughty, arrogant, rude.

              • GG

                It does not have to be always true to be correct. Of course, to the unprincipled every difference is “haughty, arrogant, and rude.”

          • You are judging people that are offended by outrageous attire. Who are you to judge?

          • Phil Steinacker

            “assuming that people have no respect for Our Lord by the way they dress is judging.”

            False. It is NOT an assumption – we KNOW it from the sheer fact of it. People typically dress far better going before a human judge in an earthly court of law than they do when coming before their Divine Judge in a Heavenly Court. Or if they knew they would be meeting the president of the U.S. versus meeting their Savior in the Blessed Sacrament.

            It may not be conscious, intentional disrespect, but it is disrespect all the same. Not knowing any better doesn’t change the respect due to our God and Creator. The Old Testament is filled with instances where God instructs his creatures on how to worship Him and deal with Him. He knew they didn’t know any better.

            Today we once again see ignorance accounting for some of that, but there is also obstinate pride, evident from the sort of comments which are self-evident in their revelation.

            The truth is, for many, it is not their fault. We had the proper forms of worship gleaned from scripture (both OT & NT) combined with Jewish liturgical practices morphing into early Christian worship forms – all undistracted and undiluted by modernist sensibilities, although not for lack of trying by the enemy.

            50 years ago they were trashed by progressives, and folks born after, say, 1960 – just to draw an arbitrary bright red line – retain no memory of what was lost and the reasoning behind it. If you are going to explore y our feelings, Nora, you might try finding the anger appropriate to discovering you’ve been ripped off royally by those who stripped the Mass of majesty, sacredness, reverence, transcendence, awe, and mystery from the Mass. If you only KNEW what was stolen from you then your attitude would be vastly different.

        • ND

          FYI I’m 78 years old. Beat you!

      • lifeknight

        It probably goes without saying, but I disagree with you. Quite frankly, I have A LOT of experience regarding the influencing of the minds of children and making judgements regarding what is best for them. The key word is FORMATION, not acceptance.

        Looking like you missed the bus stop for the beach is NOT appropriate. It can damage the perceptions of the children regarding what is the type of dress necessary if you were to “see” God. The idea of “church clothes” is a very important concept for them to grasp, and it doesn’t help to see their fellow “nice” people dressed for a tennis match. Having said that, just because that is my parental duty to make judgements, I am not saying those people are bad; that is NOT my call…..However, I can choose to go elsewhere.

        It is not just the casual manner of those who are not cognizant of church appropriate dress. One has to get the idea– in some concrete manner–that the parish supports the teachings of the Magisterium. This is a real concern for a parent. Does the pastor ever mention the “a” word? Would he ever mention the “c” (contraception) word? How about Terri Schindler-Schiavo and living wills that ignore the teaching regarding end-of-life issues? Do his homilies ever address these contemporary evils?

        Just being nice won’t cut it for kids who are discerning if they will stay Catholic. Consistent teaching, formation, formation, formation and living the Catholic life is key.

        • Martha

          Well said.

        • Nora

          Well, I dress myself and my children appropriately and I explain to them what’s wrong with inappropriate clothing, inside or outside church. So leave me to raise my kids and stop telling me how to do it.

          • lifeknight

            Praying for you. The road is long and not easy. God bless you.

          • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

            Who’s telling you how to raise your kids? And in telling them “what’s wrong with inappropriate clothing, inside or outside church” (as you should) you are just doing EXACTLY what Rachel Lu is doing. I don’t think anyone here has an argument with you or is judging you, certainly not because of any preference for the Latin Mass. If I can have a reverent English Mass, with real Catholic music or even a low Mass with no music, I’m fine with that, because prayer is possible. We are talking here about situations in which prayer is impossible or very difficult, which, sadly, is all too common.

          • Atilla The Possum

            Soooooo Church of Nice of you to be ”offended”.
            Well, be offended and stop judging US!

        • Watosh

          The thing is that I wonder if these same people that go to Mass dressed for a day at the beach wearing tennis shoes, sweat shirts and blue jeans, would dress that way if they were invited to a meeting with the President of the U.S. I think that tells us something.

      • GG

        We have a right, and duty, to judge what is objectively wrong. Bringing in personal holiness is not the issue. Holy people are open to authentic correction.

        • Nora

          Don’t call yourself holy.

          • GG

            I did not, but you judge right here.

            Holy people are open to correction. Holy people do not go around looking to fight based on emotional immaturity.

            Now, look in the mirror.

            • Having read Nora’s extensive commentary that essentially comes down to the only valid judgment is nonjudgmental, I’m hearing somebody say “Wayll, isn’t that, spe-shul?”..

              • GG

                It is like arguing with a child.

          • Atilla The Possum

            Don’t change the subject just because you are in the WRONG, madam!

        • Liberty

          There’s nothing objectively wrong in coming to Jesus as you are. What right do you have? Do you think you can measure whether a skirt is an inch too short at the knee?

          • GG

            Talk about straw-men . Coming as you are is so open ended that it is meaningless. Do you use such logic in all areas of your life?

          • Phil Steinacker

            If only an inch was all that is in dispute. You are being absurd in the fight you are trying to pick.

            • Liberty

              You’re being absurd to get up in arms over whether someone is wearing clothing to your standards. Like I said, it isn’t your business unless the clothing reveals too much skin or features inappropriate things.

      • HartPonder

        Saint Paul has another opinion: 1 Corinthians 5: 1-12 shows that it is up to all of us to uphold God’s standards within the Church..

        • Phil Steinacker

          And John 7:24 urges us to judge but to do so with right judgment. Also referred to as “righteously,” as noted above.

          I think most of the laity and half our priests & bishops could use a refresher on judgment and what is and is not prohibited.

          • HartPonder

            Phil, good point! Here is a nice gem from the Catechism:

            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.” (CCC 2477-2478)

          • HartPonder

            Here is a nice gem from the catechism, right in line with your timey comment:
            “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.” (CCC 2477-2478)

      • Darren Szwajkowski

        I guess we should keep our mouth’s shut when “The Emperor’s New Clothes” start appearing in mass. Is that all the Bible is “Judge Not”. Aren’t we suppose to understand the contents of phrases surrounding them in the Bible? Here’s another phrase from the Bible, “judge with right judgment”. So, we have every right to judge but with right judgment.

        If people are ignorant, isn’t it a teachers responsibility to teach them what is correct? What did Christ say He would do to those who are “lukewarm” from the Book of Revelation?

        Rev 3:16 “But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!”
        Is showing up to mass suppose to be revealing? Are we there to draw attention to ourselves or to be at mass to commune with the “Ancient One of Days” in whom our souls will not rest until they rest in Him.
        Our Lady of Snows, pray for us.

        • Martha

          And let’s not forget the Spiritual Works of Mercy. My they sound awfully ‘judgmental,’ don’t they?

          Judge with right judgment. A good phrase.

      • JR

        Sorry. I disagree. Silence implies consent. And yes, we have a right to judge so long as it’s fair and the intent is fraternal correction.

        • Nora

          No, we have no right to judge. So if I said ‘you are going to hell, it’s ok for me to say, because I think I’m right’ no. ( no offense of course )

          • Buzz

            Nora, you’re JUST NOT GETTING IT. Nobody here is saying that we judge anyone’s SOULS as going to hell. Not even the POPE judges anyone’s SOUL as going to hell. Christ did not give it to the Church to judge anyone’s SOUL as being in hell.

            Have you got that quite clear? We are able to say with moral certainty, after very careful investigation and two miracles, that someone is in heaven, but we do NOT as a Church or as individuals have any ability (ability – not ‘rights’ – get it straight) to judge anyone to be in hell. Jesus did NOT give the Church or any individual human being the ability to judge any soul as being in hell.

            Are you QUITE CLEAR Nora?

            Now, can we proceed to where you are clearly confused? ALL of us make judgements ALL THE TIME or we cease being human (dogs have no power of judgement). You have made the judgement that certain clothing is ‘appropriate’ for you and your children. That’s JUDGING. How did you decide what is ‘appropriate’? By rejecting certain options. Now suppose you have made it clear to your children that swimwear is not appropriate at Mass. Your child sees – as a South African friend of mine once saw – someone in full scuba array at Mass. Your child asks you, ‘Mom, how come that guy gets to wear scuba clothes at Mass, but I can’t wear my swimming trunks to Mass?’ You have to say to your child what probably millions of parents have said from the beginning of time: ‘I am your mother, and I say that swimwear is not appropriate for Mass, and that’s the end of it.’ You might also add the old favorite, ‘If that guy jumped off a cliff, would you jump off too?’

            Please, Nora, for your own sake as the (apparently future) parent of teenagers get it entirely straight in your mind that JUDGING is part of what makes us human; it is what allows us to say, ‘Cookies for dinner is BAD; fruits and vegetables are GOOD.’

            Judging – like what judge does in court – means weighing the evidence and applying your intelligence to say what is TRUE about some situation.

            It is TRUE that dressing in a slovenly way for serious events shows a lack of respect. Presumably, that’s the truth you are showing your children by your example and insistence on dressing them appropriately for Mass. And it works while you are still dressing your children. But the day will come when they will insist on dressing themselves in something that is NOT appropriate, and you will have to JUDGE it as not appropriate and make them take it off and wear something appropriate. When that day comes, you will NOT be well-served by mealy-mouthed nonsense about ‘not judging other people’s souls as going to hell.’ You will realize how ridiculous that is and that it’s not the point. You’ll realize that those butt-baring jeans or that cleavage-revealing blouse with no bra is NOT going to Mass – period – because it is NOT appropriate for ANYONE to dress is an immodest or sexually provocative way in public – forget about Mass. NO MATTER HOW MANY OF HIS OR HER FRIENDS DRESS THAT WAY FOR MASS.

            And when your child accuses you of ‘judging her friends as going to hell,’ I hope you are clear-minded enough to explain the difference. Right now, you seem to miss the point entirely.

            • Jenny Tomsic Bioche

              oh my gosh Buzz you are exactly dead on. We have societies built on judging actually. We judge the guy who didn’t pay his taxes, who robbed someone. We actually have “judges” who are appointed/elected as that’s how we keep a society civilized. And exactly – if you’re dressing like a beach goer to attend Mass you have incorrectly judged that shorts/flip flops is ok.

              • Catechist Kev

                Yep! By claiming we have no right to judge, Nora has made a judgment.

          • Phil Steinacker

            Nora, you are correctly citing Matthew 7:1. not to judge people into hell. But you must take into account John 7:24. We are called to admonish wrongdoing; we are called to judge or evaluate behavior and to say so. But if I add to my evaluation of that bad behavior the news that the offender is going to hell, then that judgment is clearly wrong. We are dealing with two forms of judgment and you are treating them as the same.

        • BHG

          I always try to remember–fraternal correction first requires that me to be a brother/sister. It cannot be done in the absence of relationship and cannot be done from a distance. Once I take the time to become a brother to someone, often what I first saw as a need for correction becomes less clear–if it is, I may (not must) proceed in love and then only if I am are willing to offer assistance as well as correction. If not, I find myself glad for the growth in my life and keep silent.

      • Martha

        Would you find the spaghetti-tank jean-short flip-flop wearing crowd a bit disrespectful if they were at someone’s funeral or wedding attired that way? Would it occur to you that they aren’t being as respectful as they should, or would you surmise that, because of their inappropriate attire, they don’t understand the significance of the occasion? It’s not so much a ‘judgment’ as it is an observation, and a fairly clear one at that.

        • Nora

          I don’t mean that’s it’s ok not to dress right at mass. I’m just saying that we shouldn’t judge people for it.

          • Buzz

            No Nora, you’re still confused. You think that saying, ‘That person’s apparel shows either disrespect for the Mass or no understanding of the seriousness of this occasion’ is the same judgement as saying, ‘That person is going to hell.’

            You seem to think that making ANY kind of judgement means, ‘Saying that someone is going to hell.’

            So if you choose oatmeal for your kids’ breakfast, and won’t let them have SugarBombs, by your apparent reasoning, you are judging the producers of SugarBombs as going to hell? You have no ‘right’ to judge the product as showing a lack of concern for the health of consumers? You have no ‘right’ to judge the placement of that product on a shelf at your child’s eye-level as a deliberate marketing ploy to entice your child to eat junk food? Because if you made those judgements, it would be the same as ‘judging people who make junk food and people who put it in kids’ faces as going to hell’?

            People who manufacture pornography are marketing spiritual poison. Am I not allowed to judge those people’s ACTIONS as clearly immoral – without, in your view, judging the PERSON as doing an immoral act?

            Do you NEVER ‘judge’ your children by saying, ‘Hitting your brother was a wrong thing to do, and now you have to apologize’? Is it ‘wrong’ for courts to ‘judge people’ as being in contempt of court?

            Perhaps you could clarify your position by explaining WHEN, if EVER, anyone is ever allowed to ‘judge people.’ Because if you insist that we ‘shouldn’t judge people for’ what they do, I think you need to remove yourself from human company.

            You seem to confuse ‘judgement’ with ‘condemnation.’ A very common failing in today’s mentally muddled world. Nobody is condemning anybody to hell by saying, ‘That person is showing disrespect by the way he’s dressed.’

          • Watosh

            The only people who do not judge the actions of other people are people who have ceased breathing. Life involves judging the actions of others. What we musn’t do is to make unjust judgments and unmerciful judgments.

          • Liberty

            I get what you’re saying. I don’t think you think wearing provocative clothing is appropriate. The point is sometimes people can hardly get out of bed because life is hard so if they just have the energy to put jeans on and go to mass then who had the right to judge?

            • Phil Steinacker

              OK, perhaps an occasional person MAY fit that description. I surely hope it’s not worse than that, or else I have a church full of folks who need counseling and medication.

              • Liberty

                The point is it isn’t your business. If you think someone wears sloppy clothing or looks homeless then maybe you should try to help the person get some church clothes instead of judging the state of his soul. Do you think Jesus only appears in fine linen and cashmere? Why don’t you take the plank out of your eye and fix your gaze on Jesus.

      • Tone

        It is tiring to hear so many Christians using don’t judge and who am I to judge etc. in an erroneous context. We created humans most certainly lack the authority to judge another’s soul. However, where in Holy Scripture or Tradition does it preclude we Christians from judging the behavior/choices of our brothers and
        sisters? In fact, based on your post above, it is obvious that you are judging the merits of the article.

        • Buzz

          People have no understanding of the difference between ‘judging’, which means weighing the evidence and using your intelligence to discern what is true and right; and ‘condemning’ which is a speech-act that imposes punishment on a wrong-doer.

          We need BOTH reasoned judgement AND just condemnation to have a functioning society.

          The people who scream most loudly, ‘DON’T YOU JUDGE ME!’ are screaming to drown out their consciences. Depend on it.

          • Nice swing, love to hear the crack of a bat putting one in the cheap seats this time of year.

          • Phil Steinacker

            Yep.

      • Jenny Tomsic Bioche

        It’s not judging, it’s reacting appropriately to inappropriate behavior. Dressing for Mass is one way we demonstrate our reverence, among other behaviors. We wouldn’t wear shorts to a Presidential Inaguration, a job interview, meeting our future in laws, and if we did, others viewing that as tacky/disrepectful would be in order.

      • Phil Steinacker

        There is a HUGE distinction between judging and criticizing. They are no interchangeable except to liberals. Or else you’d come under fire for criticizing Dr. Lu. Actually, because you insist on playing it that way, others here have appropriately ture3nd the tables on you.

    • JR

      Yes. Exactly. Why are people so content with dressing slovenly at Mass? Well, I suppose it’s not just at Mass. I’ve heard from police in the family that people show up at court slovenly dressed and think the proceedings are a big joke, laughing with family and friends. Oh, the same way on airline flights: shorts, flip-flops, or loafers they actually take off during flight so they fly barefoot. Now, who wants to smell sweaty feet? Not me. Sorry if I’m being condescending, but it seems more and more of people in contemporary society have no respect for themselves or others.

      • I’m 6-1 and 250. I wear shorts in the summer when its over 90. Neat, clean, wrinkle resistant modest men’s walking shorts.

        Trust me, I’m doing you a favor by not walking in sweating like I just ran two miles and assuming the odor of savannah wildlife right about the time of the Consecration. I go to a new Church and I’m not going to make it smell like a gym before it’s even paid off.

        • beentheredonethat

          Thank you thinking about others. Before you changed your dress habit for Mass, I use to sit behind you. 😉

          • My mother sat behind me one time because the pew filled up and she couldn’t sit next to me. We got home and she told me how she watched my shirt moisten.

            I attend a Church with fabric pews now. When Romulus gets to sit in my sweat puddle, I hope he or she showers and offers it up.

        • Romulus

          I doubt you’d wear shorts to be married or be presented to the Pope. You wouldn’t wear shorts to apply for a job or to appear in court.

          • But I should appear sweaty and stinky?

            • Romulus

              I live on the Gulf coast, where summer is five months of temperature and humidity both into the 90s. I wear a jacket and tie every Sunday, and I am not alone — by a long shot.

              Take a shower. Use antiperspirant. Park in the shade. Avoid strenuous exercise while walking from the car to the church. Think cool thoughts. I know you can do it.

              Offer it up.

              • Why don’t you attend to your own affairs?

                Now stop being ignorant and look up hyperhidrosis.

              • Phil Steinacker

                Did you really just preach to him?

                • Romulus

                  Just sharing advice from a lifetime of experience in a steamy climate.

  • ALT

    Hear, hear! Good thoughts.

  • Jane

    You didn’t even understand the criticism. I prefer the Latin mass. It has nothing to do with liturgical preference. It’s your attitude that is critical and unappealing.

    • GG

      No, it is your willingness to find fault that is unappealing.

    • Phil Steinacker

      There is absolutely nothing offensive about her attitude. Clarity, however, often upsets those who’d rather have vague language so they can pretend what was said wasn’t actually said.

  • DrollDog

    Lame. Your pieces have gotten better over time. This response (not the original piece, which I thought was fine), seems to be a throw back to to an earlier, less mature Rachel. Too defensive, too caught up in your self.

    • fredx2

      Thanks for sharing.

    • Martha

      Such a bizarre comment! The author is answering the accusations and questions thrown at her with great charity and patience. She could let people wallow in their silly imaginary injustices, but she’s attempting to be light and salt for them. I thought the piece was humble and caring; an honest attempt to explain to those who don’t (or refuse to) understand.

  • Objectivetruth

    The most holy, and orthodox priest I’ve ever met never went to Catholic school, had a lukewarm Catholic upbringing, and thought the “Hail Mary” growing up was a football play!

    My point is some of us only need a thimble full of grace from the mass to convert towards Christ, others of us need grace the scale of the Niagara Falls. If the Latin mass or extraordinary form gets you there, God bless you. But the “shlockey” mass can do it to. God changes our hearts in different ways. if you have to look at others at the ordinary form mass don’t look at how they dress. look into their eyes, you might see someone in the back pew wearing a hoodie and jeans getting all the wonder and awe during the consecration to become a cannonized saint.

    • DXM

      Even if it is true that the schlockey Mass suffices for some, why have schlockiness?

      • Objectivetruth

        I agree…..but what are we at mass for?

      • GG

        Exactly the point. Why defend what is wrong?

    • GG

      How is that a valid defense for schlock? The answer to your post is that irreverence is to be corrected when found. That one can overcome schlock is not evidence we should embrace it when correction and improvement are available.

      • Objectivetruth

        Good, GG. I look forward to you coming to my shlockey mass this Sunday and cornering the Monsignor after mass and giving him what for. Give him a good correcting tongue lashing, because you obviously know more about how to run a parish then he who has spent the last forty years dedicating an sacrificing himself to Mother Church and the holy priesthood.

        While you’re at it, track down Seahawks coach Bill Carroll and scream at him that he should have run the ball. I hear experts on liturgy moonlight as expert NFL consultants.

        • GG

          I have no idea why you say any of that. First, you can vote with your feet and wallet. You can go to another parish where reverence is found. Secondly, no one has said you are bound to argue with one who is nkt open to the truth. Essays like the one Dr Lu write are a great help. They shine light on a problem. They help others formulate their thoughts.

          I cannot follow your logic. You say that irreverence exists and people survive it therefore all is well?

        • Romulus

          Yet you seem to have no problem holding opinions about liturgy and (sort of) arguing in their defense.

        • Phil Steinacker

          PLEASE.

          To hear you tell it modernist aging hippie priests shouldn’t be challenged and corrected. I thought that was called clericalism?

          Besides, giving a good tongue lashing rarely works. You are presupposing GG wouldn’t elect to proceed a different way, perhaps n small does over time.

          In fact, I suggest that you just judged GG – and I’m not kidding.

    • Romulus

      You imply that the Mass is there to make us better, to evangelize us, to console or instruct or edify. You are mistaken. The Eucharist is an end, not a means. It is not to be instrumentalized. Thos who attempt to do so have an essentially Protestant understanding of liturgy.

  • GG

    Another excellent piece, Dr. Lu. Thank You. Your talents are well used here. Those that complain about your essay and “tone” will never be satisfied because they seek to be offended. For them it is about subjectivity alone. Feelings and emotions guide their understanding.

    There is a reductionist understanding of the mass that runs through their comments.

    • Objectivetruth

      No GG, there’s not. I have a great appreciation for the Latin Mass, but I’d have to drive my family of five 40 miles each way on Sunday to it, when I have a NO mass 2 miles away. And guess what: I’m receiving the same Real Prescence. We all know respect-wise the NO mass needs to up its game, but I’ve been to Latin Liturgies and they’re as half full as NO masses, also with people in a hurry cutting each other off in the parking lot after mass. The question is what do you do the other six days of the week, after you have received His Body and Blood.

      • GG

        Few are saying the NO mass should be avoided. What Dr. Lu seems to be saying is that reverence matters. I attend a NO mass.

        • Reverence is something that is difficult to define, but easy to see.

          • LarryCicero

            It is best exhibited through silence, which is not seen or heard.

          • TERRY

            As is the lack – easy to see, and hear.

      • hombre111

        Good post.

        • ForChristAlone

          Objective, Beware of Trojans bearing gifts

          • Objectivetruth

            LOL!

            It’s lent, and I’m trying to pull the beam out of my eye before pointing out the speck in someone else’s. I don’t think I’m succeeding, however.

      • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

        Has it occurred to you that the “hurried” people in the parking lots may have to drive a lot farther than 40 minutes? There was a time when I drove two hours for a Latin Mass.

        • Objectivetruth

          I said 40 miles…….

          • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

            Sorry, yes, but my point still stands. God bless.

        • Objectivetruth

          I used to walk ten miles to school….up hill…in the snow…..humour…..

      • Gladys H. Mariani

        Who said anthing about the Latin Mass? The message is CRYSTAL CLEAR: Dr. Lu is talking about reverence: about practices that raise hearts and minds to God instesd of directing attention to the SELF or to other selves; about a liturgy that does not turn the priest into a main entertainer and the gathered people into an audience to be entertained. All of this is achievable in a NO Mass if Bishops and Pastors became obedient to the TRUE teaching of Vatican Council 2.

        • Excellent post. So how long have you been working with high energy laser beams?

        • TERRY

          I belong to a Parish in Augusta Maine. On the Saturdays I read i get there at 3 in the afternoon. Invariably – no larger than 3:15 or so, there are people young or old in small clatches, just talking, and it’s pretty much the same up until Mass time. I’ve spoken to the pastor but he doesn’t think it’s a problem.

          When I go to the Latin Mass in Lewiston I get there at 7 a.m. The Church is dimly lit and quiet. Those who are there move quietly. Every time they pass before the Altar they stop and bow. When the Mass starts I stand up and look back (I sit up front) and invariably the church is about half full, but I have not heard them arriving. Except for the occasional cry from a child the people arriving for Mass have been quiet.

          Be still and know that I am God

          One lovely spring day I got there extra early, around 6:45 and as I walked in (there was noone around) I heard music. I paused and realized that the organist was practicing, and the way he was playing he must have believed that no one else was listening but God.

          Imagine – a gentle breeze, a warm early morning spring sun, a lovely 100 year old Church built by French-Canadian immigrants, and the organist playing his heart out – gently.

          A lovely memory, for which I am always grateful.

          • MarcAlcan

            Envy is a sin but I tell you what, I envy you that experience.

        • Aldo Elmnight

          The true teaching of VII is to have a Mass in Latin, ad orientem, without altar girls, without extraordinary ministers of communion and with Gregorian Chant.
          The 1962 latin liturgy is the closest thing we have today to what is called for in the VII documents.

          • Atilla The Possum

            You are correct! So correct it make me cheer! Thank you!
            In the UK forty odd years ago, there was a debate about whether you could tell the difference between butter and margarine. The margarine marketers tried to tell the public that not only could you not tell the difference in taste but that margarine was better for you than butter!
            One scientist said that margarine one atom away from being officially plastic – why? There are so many chemicals, artificial colours and flavours and those artery-clogging hydrogenated fats in margarine. It is wrapped up and packaged similar to butter and is often sold in the fridges next to butter.
            Butter (as if stating the bloomin’ obvious) is made from cream, is churned, salt is added (or not) and no chemicals are added. So, what you spread on your spuds or bread originates from the grass chewed by the cow in the field. Yes, there is fat in butter but it is natural and not stuffed up with hydrogen gas!
            This comes to mind when people fail to tell the difference between ”the Spirit of Vatican II” and, well, Vatican II.
            ”The Spirit of Vatican II” is the insipid margarine of the Church being force fed and shoved down our throats and told that ”it’s good for us” when it actually isn’t!
            Vatican II is butter. Pure, natural, and from God’s good earth.

        • buckeye pastor

          Bravo for Gladys Mariani and GG. (Or is that “bravi”? I didn’t study in Rome, so my Italian is pretty primitive.) Many of us priests really try to encourage and exemplify reverence during the Novus Ordo Mass. Some of the brethren, sad to say, do see themselves as the “main entertainer.” Please know that 1. the pastor of a parish is not all-powerful, even when it comes to decisions about the liturgy (although I’ve been known at times to stamp my foot and tell musicians, etc. “NO!) However, you can’t do that too often or you won’t have musicians, etc. at liturgy. In small country places, the organist can almost be irreplaceable; and 2. It doesn’t help anyone’s cause when Catholics who prefer the extraordinary form intimate that they are the only true Church, and all us English-liturgizing folks are second-rate slobs.

          • Atilla The Possum

            My word! A priest from the Church of Nice… yikes!

            • Not quite..

              • Atilla The Possum

                Hmmm. I couldn’t make out if buckeye pastor or cotton-eye joe was being ironic or what. What do you think?
                Thinking back to his post, If those artistically temperamental musicians take the huff because their dated caterwauling is an assault on the good PP’s ears, tough! He’s well rid. Perhaps someone might step up from the pew and belt out some quality church music.

                • I think he’s being realistic. I’ve seen these sorts of Parish politics at work. Authority must be used in discretion or its effect is diluted.

            • TERRY

              Please try to be nice. It is Lent, after all.

          • TERRY

            Might I suggest putting into the weekly bulletin a word from the Pastor asking that out of respect for others and most importantly out of reverence for the reason they are there, that parishioners stay silent once they have entered the Church?

      • There’s two aspects to this, one from the Altar and one from the pews.
        I don’t attend a TLM, although I have and I’ve also attended an Anglican Ordinariate Mass. There’s a Byzantine Rite Parish nearby, and for ten years, I’ve been meaning to attend it for the experience, but just haven’t.
        The TLM was quiet and disorienting for a newbie, but I get what people seek there-it is majestic. The Parish that has the AO Mass takes the time to explain every aspect of its rubrics-the language is again majestic, although I had to look up “vouchsafe”. In variably, the attendees are respectful-but keep in mind, there’s autoselection going on here, with the serious and the converts.

        FROM THE PEWS:

        I don’t much care what people are wearing as long as it is presentable-one can have MODEST, neat, clean, pressed clothes and not be in a suit. Don’t be a walking impure thought-I don’t need to see the contours of your buttocks, especially if you are a 20 something female “built for speed”. Ladies-keep in mind that without provocation men have a sexual thought every few seconds-we need no help. Likewise boys, don’t distract he ladies with the parts of the body that incite their libido.

        I understand your only jacket might be the Pittsburgh Steelers one, but are your only jeans slashed and frayed? I’m a big guy and I’m wearing cotton, not wool in July. I’ve seen military personnel show up in desert camo and boots, (nearby army base) and still be respectful. I see one fellow show up frequently in police blues, complete with duty belt and tools of the trade. He’s respectful.

        On the other hand, some folks show up in suits and won’t SHUT UP during Mass. There are those of us who bring an adequate supply of our distractions, thank you. I hate hearing a cell phone go off-especially if the ring tone is some pop song whose lyrics should never be heard, let alone in God’s house.

        There’s those that bless themselves cursorily, if at all. They curtsy, not genuflect-and I’m not talking about the 90 year olds whose knees have one bend a day in them-if that. I do care that I’m not having to listen about Evelyn’s gall bladder surgery in Church. If I see somebody at the shrine after Mass, I expect that they be allowed to make their supplications in peace.

        FROM THE ALTAR:

        Here’s where small things matter. I used to attend another Parish and it was “schlocky”. I don’t mind felt banners, if the Mass is for kids and they’ve been commissioned to prepare something for Mass. Garish ten foot high refugees from Jackson Pollock or Andy Warhol exhibits need not apply. I can always tell the “tone from the top”. Does the bulletin clearly show Mass and Confession times? It’s great that you have 26 committees meeting-but Mass and Confession are primary. That other Parish changed drastically when the old pastor (who took great pains to call God “Allah” after 9/11 and lecture people on vengeance). When the new Pastor came in, the “professional Catholics” were discharged and he did that work his predecessor delegated-no alienated-to paid laity. No fire and brimstone, no whips cracked-just by the book Masses.

        I now attend an NO Parish. The Priests are orthodox and thoughtful. I’m thrilled I don’t have to put up with the abuses so often described here.

        • Objectivetruth

          Good post, DE.

          The “view from the pew” is interesting.

          From my vantage point on Sunday, I look left and I see the bald woman dieing of breast cancer. I look right and see the guy who lost his job and consequently his son will have to drop out of college, there isn’t any more money. I look to my ten O’Clock and see the anguish on the woman’s face that yes, her worse fears have been realized, that her husband’s been nailin’ a coworker…….

          I’ve got to think none of these wounded, damaged people could care less if the Monsignor processed in in a pink bunny suit and said the mass in Tagalog. They’re there to dump all this incredible sorrow and pain on top of the altar where their God can feel their pain and commiserate, because He Himself is about to be slaughtered like a butchered lamb on top of that altar. Oh yes….He knows their pain! This brings them great comfort, and they can consume Him totally, and they can’t perceive of a greater love.

          • GG

            I look around and I see a person with cancer. I, also, see that person has no silence so they can pray because all the busybodies are talking about sports or their plans for the day. I see a widow and I see one suffering and she is forced to glad hand like a politician. I see a troubled teen and I see an army of pleasers mount the altar like clerks in a store who turn communion into a commodity.

            You excuse poor reverence and schlock. I desire a higher standard that all the faithful have a right to.

            • Atilla The Possum

              I so agree.
              Last Summer, I had a cancer scare. I couldn’t hear myself think before Mass that particular weekend or indeed any weekend, whether at the Vigil Mass or Sunday Morning. I was on the verge of a meltdown (I have Asperger’s Syndrome) and tried desperately to find some breathing space to pull myself together whilst I could hear Mass at the same time, out of sight and without attracting any attention… only to find that what was once a good space to do so was turned into a storage place for stacked up chairs! Plus, there was the ordeal of the Sign of Peace – just because I was less than enthusiastic for one parishioner’s handshake, they have sought to avoid me ever since!

              • Atilla The Possum

                Further to this post, this is precisely why I love the Latin Mass. This was at my actual parish church because I had little choice that weekend. That’s why, when such things as the Mass is discussed, I say my piece.

                • GG

                  Thank you for sharing. Your view is a minority one. As a culture we place strange values ahead of Church teaching and logic.

                  • Atilla The Possum

                    Yep. It’s called Common Sense and Manners Deficiency.
                    There is a cure for this … it takes courage to administer the medicine to remedy this ailment.

              • GG

                Oh, I feel for you. We have become not only too casual but too callous. I often wonder about some poor parent who lost a child and seeks to call out to God in prayer and is surrounded by gabbers. There is often no respect for others or for God.

                • Atilla The Possum

                  How right you are! No decorum, no consideration for other people’s feelings … it’s depressing.
                  That’s why, at every opportunity, I catch the tram or the bus to where the Latin Mass is being celebrated.
                  There are people I meet when I take my dog for a walk who are going through their personal purgatory with bereavement, sickness, worry and I assure them of my prayers (my dog is my God-given help when it comes to social situations because many people like giving her lots of love and talk to me as well). So, during Mass, they come to mind.
                  On the morning of a Holy Day of Obligation (one of the few that hasn’t been moved to the nearest Sunday), I decided to go to the s Our Lady’s altar to light a couple of candles … and right behind me, as I tried to pray, there was a full blown loud conversation about something that clearly shouldn’t be talked about in God’s House taking place! I was so upset by this that I found myself apologizing to Our Lady half way through my Hail Mary!
                  When I was growing up, I was told it was right and proper to respect your elders – unfortunately, the ones who are being inconsiderate, loud and suffering from an acute case of inappropriate verbal diarrhoea are the old ladies!
                  I remember talking to my PP about it and he sighed and said ‘well, they might not have seen anyone from one day to the next. I then asked why can’t the Parish Centre be open for tea and biscuits straight after Mass, so that they could sit there in comfort and not distract others?
                  You could have heard the breeze whip up the tumbleweed…

                  • GG

                    The line about people not having a chance to speak is an old one and disingenuous. People, of any ages, may speak outside the church at anytime. The poor soul suffering deserves her time to pray in silence without mindless chatter.
                    That is simply common sense and placing others before self. Astonishing we have to point out the obvious.

                    • Atilla The Possum

                      Absolutely right on! Unfortunately, a disease that has been spreading faster than ebola is common sense deficiency; it came into the world just as rickets is being eradicated as a disease of a certain vitamin deficiency…
                      Here are some examples of the symptoms:
                      On boxes of fish fingers, there is a caution for allergy sufferers that the contents contain … FISH!
                      On the side of those take away coffee cups from your local megabucks café chain, there is the caution on the lid: BE CAREFUL! CONTENTS ARE EXTREMELY HOT!
                      I hope you get my drift…
                      So, what are the chances of getting into parishioner’s heads that Christ is present in the tabernacle and we must conduct ourselves respectfully in His Presence?
                      Yep, common sense has left the building…

            • Objectivetruth

              Read my post above, carefully. Show me where I’m excusing poor reverence and schlock? You have totally missed my point. My point is I know many people (including myself) who Have much pain and sorrow in life are there to be with Jesus.

              And I AGREE, the NO mass needs to be cleaned up. but I’m there to be with Jesus, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity.

              Or perhaps you’re too concerned with analyzing the details of the mass, and are missing the wonder and awe of simply being in Christ’s Prescence?

              • GG

                You ignore the points I made and the points the author made. No one is denying that an irreverent mass is valid. That is not the point no matter how you try to make it the point.

                • Objectivetruth

                  GG…..we agree…..get it?

              • Jenny Tomsic Bioche

                I read your posts Objective, and you are correct about the essence of the Sacrifice. Because we so revere our Lord, it is our duty to set the scene for His Sacrifice. A bunny suit would be an abomination, and if a cancer patient didn’t see that abomination I would be praying for her/his misunderstanding of that over the illness.

                • GG

                  No one is arguing about sacrifice. What we argue is about reverence and consideration for others.

                  • Jenny Tomsic Bioche

                    The Sacrifice of the Mass and Reverence can’t be separated, anymore than silence and a library can’t.

              • MarcAlcan

                Or perhaps you’re too concerned with analyzing and criticizing the details of the mass, and are missing the wonder and awe of simply being in Christ’s Prescence?

                And you are reminded that you are in Christ presence when the priest is clowning about in a pink bunny suit?
                You are reminded that you are in Christ’s presence when the Mass is more like a stage show and market place?

            • Liberty

              Sacred Silence is a wonderful, necessary thing. I’m all for it at mass. Yet modern parents and their apologists seem to think their kids should be able to make all the rude noise in the world.

              • GG

                I was not even thinking of kids. I was thinking of adults including many seniors.

          • MarcAlcan

            I’ve got to think none of these wounded, damaged people could care less if the Monsignor processed in in a pink bunny suit and said the mass in Tagalog.

            So basically your post boils down to this:
            I don’t care if we are irreverent and disrespectful because I am hurting and that is all that matters. All I care about is that I am hurting and who cares whether we give God the proper worship He deserves. So essentially, the Mas is all about Me, Me, Me.
            What you don’t seem to realize that it is precisely a re-orientation back to Christ and less on myself that is salvific – that will take care of this cancer, this joblessness, this brokenness.

        • Deb

          I attend a NO Parish just like yours. It’s very reverant (I even bet you’ve listened to my priest on the radio and loved him). I still don’t like the fact that Mrs. Lu doesn’t have the humility to admit that her first article criticized the people sitting in the pews and not the hierarchy who are actually in charge.

          I said it before, I lived in a small town in the south with one Mass. We got what we got in terms of music, but I also recieved the King of Kings. If she wants to criticize people in like situations, or lump us all into the “defends schlock” group, have at it. I want nothing to do with the smug superiority I see here.

          • The problem with the people that responded negatively is that they never bothered with the substance of her arguments, but became indignant with her for having those concerns. When you refer to her concerns as “smug superiority”, you have engaged not only in harsh judgment, but one that’s very personal, as opposed to her descriptions which described her experiences without name.

            • Deb

              That’s the point, DE, the substance of her article was hidden behind the scorn towards those in the pews. The article read holier than thou. It just did. She could have made all the points she made without ridiculing those in the pews. And in this piece, she just doubled down. If we cannot see the difference in what I am saying here, I’m afraid Crisis and its commenters might be in a bit of an echo chamber.

              • Mrs. Lu made one error in this article, describing her detractors “critics” as if they were informed, good faith actors.

                Scorn? You’ve used the term “smug superiority”-as if you are a mind reader. A desire for an Altar rail and a modicum of reverence is “smug superiority”?

                No, here’s “smug superiority”.

                “I am too busy raising up the next generation of Catholics.” (As if Mrs. Lu is not?)

                Then there’s these other gems from you in the comments of the original article.

                “I cannot believe how ridiculous you, ForChristAlone, and DE-173 are. You are bullies.”
                Translation: I can’t stand these men who won’t surrender to my relentless nagging. I’m not used to justifying my wishes.

                “To assert that “clearly doesn’t even occur to them that Christ is present in the tabernacle” is pretty close to malicious calumny too.”
                Malice is a condition of the mind-how can you possible impute malice?

                “Wow. I can’t believe I’m seeing this on a Catholic site, written by someone with the handle For Christ Alone.”
                Seeing “this”? What is “this”?

                Echo Chamber?

                Fellow traveler “Alexia” wrote:

                “Who’s the author to judge?”

                “Exactly!!!!! Finally someone who agrees with me.”

                Ironic.

                Sorry, but some of us were raised to be group-think and badgering and nagging resistant. Your husband and your kids might think your visceral indignation demands immediate subservience, we do not.

                • Deb

                  The last paragraph of yours is an excellent example of your generous and charitable comments. You read directly to the heart of my family. My husband and children are miserable because of my “visceral indignation”. No judging or smugness here! Nope, not at all

                  • Like I said, I’m not afraid to call balls and strikes-or wild pitches. Now apologize for hitting the patrons behind third base.

                    You are the one complaining about “judging”, while engaged in summary condemnation.

                    I note that it took you fifteen minutes to respond to this, despite your ponderous responsibility for the upbringing of the “next generation of Catholics”.

                    I stand by my last comment. I have great sympathy for the man. I’ve adequately detailed your relentless hypocrisy and badgering here with your OWN WORDS.

              • Tony

                Touchy, touchy. I’ve read both articles over again. Dr. Lu was pulling her punches at all times. Neither article had anything to do with her own holiness or her Catholicity. She is criticizing very bad taste an the harm that it does. Defend the bad music on its merits. Defend the bad liturgical choices on their merits.

                Meanwhile — plenty of people are made sick or disheartened by the bad stuff; and others just wander away.

                • John200

                  Tony,
                  This one is a buffoon. Called herself “Nora” earlier, now “Deb” (could learn self-presentation from a debutante), soon to become Madame Zystyplyk or “Guest” or whoever.

                  Absolutely obsessed about judgment and unwilling to learn what it means. Oh, well…

                  • MarcAlcan

                    Now you are being unkind. The article may have come across to Deb or Norah as being holier than thou but there is nothing in her response that earned “buffoon”. Your post is in fact making her look right.

                    • John200

                      Dear MarcAlcan,
                      I remain convinced that Nora/Deb is
                      “Absolutely obsessed about judgment and unwilling to learn what it means.” and not right at all.

                      If you think I can make Nora/Deb look right, then:
                      1) You overestimate my powers
                      2) You miss part of my point, namely, that she is clowning around with you, me, and the other faithful Catholics. This is a game to her. The name change is a powerful clue which, in my judgment, gives away her game.

                      We have seen this many, many times. Mockery, shifting from
                      identity to identity, spicing it all with buffoonery (yes, the word
                      fits), fits the pattern. The Nora/Debs do this all the time at
                      CrisisMag.

                      To return to your conclusion, clowning around with us, buffoonery, etc. does not make her look right.

                      I see Nora/Deb as
                      “Absolutely obsessed about judgment and unwilling to learn what it means.” and not right at all.

              • MarcAlcan

                article read holier than thou.

                I did not get that sense in the least bit. There was nothing holier than thou in either tone or content.
                I attend an ordinary parish and wish I had even a bit of what the author described.
                If worship is just about receiving the King of Kings then opting for home communion would be enough and so would just plonking the ciborium in the centre and allowing everyone to help themselves. But we have rubrics precisely because it cannot all be boiled to down to receiving the King of Kings.

              • accelerator

                Re-reading the first piece, all I can really see as offensive is calling some Catholics “schlocky.” And let’s face it…Some just are. And if you don’t think so, you probably are too.

      • vincent

        “I have a great appreciation for the Latin Mass,I’d have to drive my family of five 40 miles each way on Sunday to it.”
        Surely, I hope you realize that’s the point, to make it as difficult as possible so you give up.

        • Jude

          I think most of the people at our TLM parish drive about that distance each Sunday and Holy Day. Some also do it during the week for daily noon Mass or the homeschool group. Under the current bishop there will not be another TLM parish in the diocese. He wants to keep us all in one place, which is a run-down, industrial neighborhood, not easy for many more people to reach.

          • Romulus

            Same in my diocese. We are in quarantine, lest we infect the rest.

      • Liberty

        AMEN.

      • Romulus

        For me it’s only 10 minutes away, but I know LOTS of families that travel 40 miles or more each way, every week for the TLM. Some travel over 100 miles. It is a question of priorities.

      • Harry Flynn

        Great! So you are willing to become an agent of change in your parish!

      • Erika Allen

        My parents drove us an hour and a half to the Mass while we were in Texas. As an adult, I drove to Mass 3 hours away when I was in the Marines, and now, thankfully, I am only 45 minutes away. My parents making that sacrifice for me is one of the things that I believe is what kept me Catholic, when I was in the Marines(the most spiritually trying period of my life). Their dedication to the Traditional Mass is the BEST thing they have ever done for me. It is hard, but it is worth it.

    • Paddy

      Until Catholics, en masse, enter into the public square..pegida style…we are doomed on this planet. The bishops lose bowel control at the thought Catholics would take to the streets to save Western Civilization. Shows what side they’re on, doesn’t it?

  • chrisinva

    Crisis often carries articles that refer to Dostoevsky’s Idiot – “Beauty will save the world.”

    And what could be more beautiful (on earth) than the Mass?

    Beauty should not be a sidebar to the Liturgy. And it should certainly not be its enemy (“Folk Mass 10:00 a.m. bring your banjo!”).

    It is not only traditionalist who have the right to a beautiful liturgy; all Catholics have a right to it – and that means that the Church has the duty to offer it.

    Indeed, the world has a right to it, because the Mass is **the** beauty (and good, and truth” that will indeed save the world.

  • Scott W.

    Most of the objections to the originsl were made in bad faith as evidenced by the strawmen, ad hominems, mischaracterizations, and meaningless and arbitrary objections to “tone”. The only thing missing was someone crying “Racist!” But, as I put it, indignation is often the compliment that falseness pays to the truthful. Or as Han Solo would say, “Must have hit it pretty close to the mark to get her all riled up like that. “

    • GG

      Amen.

      • Matthew

        By your logic, the criticisms are on target. I agree.

        • GG

          There is that relativism again. You are predictable.

    • fredx2

      “If you aren’t taking flak, you aren’t over the target”

    • Matthew

      You seem a little indignant.

  • DXM

    Why the Church largely abandoned the traditional Latin Mass in favor of the clap happy, chit chat Mass is a mystery to me. The traditional Latin Mass is the single most beautiful thing in the world. It is also objectively superior to the new Mass as a form of prayer. I am convinced that God allowed the new Mass to absorb all the malign liturgical influences that have assailed the liturgy in the last 50 years and thereby preserve in tact the traditional Latin Mass.

  • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

    This is the essential difference between reverent and irreverent liturgy:

    “The act of Faith must then be a SINGLE act not a series of logical (and conditional) acceptances. If a contemporary of Jesus heard him and then said “I believe what he says but I can’t guarantee that I’ll
    believe what he says tomorrow…” then he is not a believer because he has not made the full and single act of faith.”
    -Monsignor Gilbey

    In the Mass of the Ages I find my faith where I left it. Incarnate. In churches steeped in modernist heresies, I find……something else.

  • HartPonder

    We want to strive to always give God our best in Sacrifice as required by our faith.

    Malachi 1:8 we read, “And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, is it not evil?”

    As a Church, always give God our best!

    That’s why I support and express appreciation to those faithful Priests who really make an effort to follow the rubrics with all reverence and I give my best by dressing in a way that befits God’s house of worship and adhering to all appropriate responses while in attendance.

    Luke 16:10 shows how important fidelity to God’s requirements are by paying attention to even the “vary little things”:

    “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.”

  • littleeif

    Thank you Dr. Liu. It’s incredible you should have to defend the Mass as you have, but alas … you do!

  • Schlocky in ohio

    An article to respond to critics? Defensive drivel. You also haven’t responded to critics. The criticism, with NO mass, would be appropriate it was limited to the lack of reverence, jeans and inappropriate attire. It was not appropriate to criticize the hearts of men, women and children attending the mass. Not in your parish, or anyone’s.

    • ForChristAlone

      you’re being judgmental

      • Nora

        Ha

      • Matthew

        Do you have a macro for “you’re being judgmental?” If you don’t know how to make a macro, talk to GG. He made one for “look in the mirror.”

        • ForChristAlone

          Now you’re being judgmental. That is wrong.

        • GG

          How old are you?

    • Nora

      Hear hear.

    • ColdStanding

      If people won’t be self-critical, as in if they simply won’t do the necessary work of self-criticism which they are obliged to do, it behooves others to step in and do remind them of their duty.

      Our hearts are in very great need of correction. Each and everyone of us every where. Period. Catholics, taken as a whole, are sickeningly self-satisfied.

    • Matthew

      “Drivel.” I agree. I check out Crisis hoping to find a well-reasoned, well-written article from a Catholic point of view. Such articles are hard to come by. I’m ready to give up on Crisis, though I do admit to a certain amount of guilty pleasure in seeing all of these people so riled up by the mere suggestion that Rachel’s article was in poor taste and condescending. Should I go to confession? I think I might have to if ForChristAlone tells me that I’m being judgmental (again).

      • ForChristAlone

        Your conscience ought to be formed by the teachings of the Church (see the CC for this). Then decide whether you should avail yourself of the Sacrament.
        As to what you’ve written, I would hope you’d explain more about why you persist in coming here when you’re disappointed in finding articles that are well-reasoned and well-written. A bit perplexing.

      • GG

        You are just upset because people point out irreverence and schlock are bad. The riled ones are the immature who cannot tolerate that there are actual Catholics who want to be Catholic.

  • Deacon Les

    Brava! I fully support every syllable of every word you wrote in both posts. For a good mother like you, Cardinal Mindszenty said it best:

    The most important person… on earth is a Mother. She cannot
    claim the honor of having built Notre Dame Cathedral. She need not. She has
    built something more magnificent than any cathedral – A dwelling for an
    immortal soul, the tiny perfection of her baby’s body. The angels have not been
    blessed with such a grace. They cannot share in God’s creative miracle to bring
    new souls to heaven. Only a human mother can. Mothers are closer to God the
    creator than any other creature. God joins forces with mothers in performing
    this act of creation… What on God’s good earth is more glorious than this: to
    be a mother?

  • jacobum

    Well said. The difference in the Liturgies can be summed up in one word “Reverence”. The optics are completely different. The N.O. is a Meal at a Table while the Latin Mass is a Sacrifice to God on an Altar. The dynamics, effects and results are completely different and intentionally designed to be so. The N.O. was created out of whole cloth by man for man. The Latin Mass is Christ centered created by Him at the Last Supper with minor organic changes since then. The former is of a communal Protestant design while the latter re-presents a holy sacrifice and Calvary. It necessarily defines, commands and is imbued with “Reverence”. By it’s very nature it conveys the sacred, mystical, and holy. The entire Latin Mass liturgy conveys holiness and lifts us up to worship and glorify God. “Meals” generally lack reverence while “Holy Sacrifices” demand it.

    • fredx2

      “The N.O. is a Meal at a Table while the Latin Mass is a Sacrifice to God on an Altar.’

      That pretty much says it. One is “Let’s come together” and the other is “Let’s worship God”. There is a world of difference between those two things.

      • Buzz

        I would have to disagree. Come to Sunday Mass in my city in Poland, and you will see that the Novus Ordo is definitely ‘Let’s worship God.’ The word of God and the action of the priest on the altar are the center of everything.

        “Catholic” and “American” are not the same thing. Just because the Mass in the US has degenerated into something resembling a Fourth of July picnic, that is no reason to say that the Novus Ordo itself is not reverent and can’t be reverent. There are too many Catholic countries – and even individual parishes in the US – where the NO is done beautifully for your argument to hold.

        The US Catholic Church is in disarray for a wide variety of reasons (including the forced destruction of Catholic ethnic neighborhoods in the cities, among other things: the planned suburbs of the 1950s were not designed to be ‘enclaves’ of Catholicism or anything as ‘un-American’ as traditionally Catholic ethnic groups). But that does not mean that the shambles Americans have made of the Novus Ordo means that the Novus Ordo is not or cannot true worship of God.

        I welcome you to Sunday Mass anywhere in Poland. You will see that what you think is a problem with the Novus Ordo is just a problem with American society and American Catholicism.

        • “including the forced destruction of Catholic ethnic neighborhoods in the cities, among other things: the planned suburbs of the 1950s were not designed to be ‘enclaves’ of Catholicism or anything as ‘un-American’ as traditionally Catholic ethnic groups”

          So how are you familiar with the Model Cities program?

        • WSquared

          Agreed. At the National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, all Novus Ordo Masses celebrated in the lower church are all ad orientem.

    • Ann Hessenius

      jacobum…Thank you for a fantastic, accurate post that really gets to the heart of the matter. Kudos!…Keep posting. 🙂

  • ForChristAlone

    Thank you, Dr Lu for your willingness to take time out of your undoubtedly busy schedule to give yet another explanation of what should be obvious to practicing Catholics. Please excuse those who found exception to what you wrote. Being a convert to Catholicism, it might be difficult for you to understand the liturgical nonsense that began in the late 60’s and from there on for the next 35 years. The laity are not really to blame; they were the victims of a clergy that abdicated their leadership role in the Church. Which leads me to my next point.

    You state: “I don’t have an especially strong appreciation of the ins and outs of parish life. I don’t really understand who organizes what, or how the wheels keep turning. In short, I would be supremely ineffective as an “agent for change” at the parish level.”

    This, whether you know it or not, is what I believe to be the basis for our current liturgical malaise. In far too many parishes, pastors relinquished leadership roles because of the confusion about the “priesthood of the laity.” They deferred to “the crowd” which far too often consisted of religious sisters who vacated their convents and were looking for jobs at parishes to support their new lifestyle and other women whom I refer to as “church widows” – those women whose marriages were empty and who threw themselves into church activities to fill the void. With this development, men took a back seat or lost interest in church altogether. I do think, however, that things are beginning to turn around and pastors are beginning resume their rightful roles once again – perhaps coincidental with fathers returning to their rightful leadership role in the family after this long winter of radical feminization of the culture.

    • Buzz

      No doubt you are right. But also consider that – thanks to the breakdown in vocations in the past 50 years in the US – many priests have dramatically more responsibilities than their counterparts had in the 1950s and before, when a parish might have several priests serving the same number of parishioners. Now some priests have three parishes to administer with one assistant in each parish. Just not enough priests to go around.

      And so the priest is blessedly relieved when Mrs Good-Intentions shows up and declares that she would be willing to be ‘Minister’ of this or that. These people often are utterly incompetent, have all the good intentions in the world, but no pastoral skills or training.

      I had no end of trouble with a ‘Minister of Mourning’ (or something) in a California parish. I was trying to arrange a funeral Mass for a relative who is one of those people who is a ‘saint’ out in public (and makes sure everyone knows it) but makes life hell for his family behind closed doors. It was a VERY delicate pastoral situation, given that many of the people who would be at the funeral were not Catholic, were anti-Catholic, or were his children who had left the Church in part because of his abuse and hypocrisy. We needed a truly CATHOLIC funeral Mass. What I was getting was insistence that ‘we’ (not the family; the people in the parish who bought the whole public persona) were ‘just trying to honor X’ and that ‘we’ have to ‘celebrate the life of the man we knew’. When I pointed out that the family situation required pastoral sensitivity, I was ignored and told that ‘the people coming to the Mass do not matter. All that matters is that “we” honor X. That is what “we” are trying to do.’

      I had to go through layers of laity to get access to the priest – who was angry and hostile toward me, having heard that I had upset his ‘very nice’ Minister of Mourning who takes a lot of work off his hands. At core, he is a good priest. As soon as I could get a word in edgewise and say, ‘Some people are not the same among their family as they are in public,’ I could see that he understood why I was insisting that this funeral required pastoral sensitivity and not the ‘Tupperware party’ ‘celebration of life’ approach (complete with eulogy) that the ‘Minister of Mourning’ was intent on shoving down our throats.

      Eventually we got a dignified Catholic funeral Mass – no eulogy, just a solid homily on mercy which was much needed by the family and much appreciated. But I had to fight tooth and nail to get a private meeting with the priest to explain the pastoral situation.

      There just wasn’t enough ‘priest’ to go around in that parish, and he had two other parishes to manage. So with a sigh of relief he left various things to well-meaning people who are like the blind leading the blind. Clearly the Minister of Mourning had no pastoral training to deal with grieving families or families who were more relieved than grieving, or who had real abuse issues and might have walked out of the church and the Church had there been the kind of eulogy she was proposing – the hypocrisy would have sickened most people in the family. But it was her territory; no one in the parish knew enough about what a funeral Mass is supposed to be to realize that it’s NOT supposed to ‘celebrate and honor’ the creature and virtually canonize the dead person.

      The priest went along with it because it meant that funerals were handled, simply. Though he did say, ‘Thank God!’ when I told him we would NOT be having a eulogy.

      So sometimes it just comes down to the priest having way too much to do to be able to handle all these lay people – he has to leave it up to them. Other times, good priests come into parishes that have been in the hands of the ‘parish committee’ for so long and they are treated with such contempt – as an obstacle to the work of the ‘committee’ and the ‘lay ministers’ – that trying to turn the parish around is like one man trying to fight back the communist revolution armed with a broomstick.

      • ForChristAlone

        I hear what you’re saying. I also know of many, many parishes with more than one priest. While the one is celebrating Sunday Mass, the other stays in the rectory when it’s time to distribute communion – either sleeping or reading the Sunday funnies. It’s a disgrace to allow little Miss Twinkletoes EM to do what the priest is charged to do.

        • Another positive for my Parish. Two priests and like clockwork the non-celebrant shows up to assist, more often than not.

          • LarryCicero

            I went to Mass in Hungary once- mostly poor people but dressed respectfully. I can’t help but remember the woman in the pew in front of us with a cheap worn out purse, and feeling guilty that we had so much more, but I assume it was her only one. One priest and no EMs. The people in a hurry to get out of the parking lot in the U.S. would have been really irritated at how long it took to get out of Mass . I didn’t understand a word, but there was reverence. That was clear.

          • ForChristAlone

            one mark of a healthy parish

      • Atilla The Possum

        If it is any consolation, in history: hot porridge was thrown on top of enemies trying to lay siege at a castle in Scotland … and were beaten. In 1989, one man stood in front of the tanks in Tianmen Square in Beijing … with two full plastic carrier bags!
        As Walter said in The Muppets: Sure, it’s impossible – but we gotta try! 😉

  • Pam H

    I “parish-shopped” because at the two parishes closest to my house the congregation chatted so much DURING THE CONSECRATION that I couldn’t hear the priest. I didn’t want my children growing up thinking that was normal.

    • Paddy

      In the NYC archdiocese, the push from so-called “Catholic” leftists in most parishes discourages prayer and undermines Hope.

      • Atilla The Possum

        Blame HE Cardinal Showboat Dolan for that…

  • hombre111

    I would not call the Latin Mass “high liturgy.” High liturgy is when a church is full of people who go away from Mass with a renewed sense of Christ’s presence and love. This can happen in a Latin Mass for people whose sense of spirituality depends on that kind of experience. I laugh, because this is basically an argument between Anglos. If you want to attend a really high liturgy, go to a Spanish Mass with a great guitar choir and other musical instruments, and listen to the people lift the roof of the church with their singing. Celebrated such a Mass the other day in a church where people had to stand against the walls. By their dress, they were really poor. No elites there. But their eyes were full of love and devotion.

    • GG

      Again, I love how the liberal elite always have a ready narrative to fit each situation.

      • hombre111

        I don’t consider this a question of liberal vs. conservative, but a question of spiritual taste raised by some to a level of metaphysical importance. If your truth is only true within a certain narrow circumstance, it is not much of a truth. I prefer a truth that includes to a truth that excludes. For every story you can tell about the glories of a Latin Mass done well to the delight of a someone from the gutteral Germanic spectrum of language, I can tell three stories of a Spanish Mass done with joy, reverence, and enthusiasm.

        • ForChristAlone

          That’s just the point: NO ONE IS TALKING ABOUT A PREFERENCE FOR LATIN MASSES!

          It about schlock, stupid!

          • n

            @ForChrist Alone – you’re talking to hombre111. The best response to him is to wait for his generation to pass. Won’t be long. His generation INVENTED the schlock Mass. They don’t get it. But they are shuffling off the stage into oblivion at a steady pace and the younger generation can get back to truth that EXCLUDES – excludes ugliness, excludes banality, excludes emotional appeals instead of rationality, excludes digressions to obscure and obfuscate, excludes lies…

            • ForChristAlone

              You’re right….I will pray for patience….a gift of the Holy Spirit

            • Atilla The Possum

              And the schlock-sters won’t go down quietly … they know they’re drinking at the Last Chance Saloon and the poison is running dry.
              Like rats in a corner, their best form of defence is attack and when rats are dying, they don’t do it quietly either.

          • hombre111

            Oh, then it is about the opinion of the refined elite who make themselves the judge and jury about proper taste in things liturgical. My question is simpler than that. Did it bring you closer to God?

            Makes me think about the many times I have attended rather than celebrated Mass since my semi-retirement. I found myself in the middle of the restless hoypaloi: families with kids, the whole noisy reality of worship in the pews. The priest is suddenly far away, a voice over the loud speaker. His sermon is quite good, but long, and attention spans are stretching. The kid in the pew in front of me has turned around to give me a long stare. A mother is handing another kid a tissue. Two teenagers are giggling under their breaths. Sermon is over. People stand for the creed to a chorus of suddenly offended babies. Offertory and collection time. Kids rush up to drop dollar bills into the kids collection basket and I am not the only one charmed at their sweetness. One kid doesn’t seem to have a dollar, so I pass her a buck and she hurries forward, with a nod of thanks from her mother. The music is pretty good, by a trained choir, singing music in parts. But I am not in the mood to sing; I just close my eyes and focus on God’s presence in the midst of his people and let the music carry my spirit.

            The Eucharist begins. People on their knees, but the restlessness does not go away because there are kids all around. The Consecration creates a moment of breathless silence. When the words begin again, so does the background noise. People going back and forth to the restroom. The Our Father, people stand, and more disturbed kids yowl. Communion. The music carries the mood of love an devotion. The lines move forward, people receive, return to their pews, while others leave by the nearest door. I take my turn, return, and let the music, which is a pretty good rendition of OCP music, lift me up. There is a marked difference between the reverence shown in the pews near the altar compared to those people in the back. But everyone knows we are nearing the end of Mass and their attention spans are waning. Final hymn, Some people long gone, others filing out, some in a hurry, others taking time to go to the coffee hour.

            No, FCA, this is not the Mass of the Properly Schooled in Refined Tastes, but simply the Mass of the ordinary folks on their way home to their ordinary lives, some of them discussing the sermon in the car. A spiritual triumph? Hardly. But they will mostly be back next week.

            • Veritas

              My high school students will be back tomorrow as well because they’ve been declared a protected species by education liberals who don’t want their teachers to challenge them to become strong minded educated thinkers. These public school students are weak minded and ripe for becoming victims of state, political, or even corporate tyranny. Yes, we make public school all about self-esteem and dare not push them too hard. Pushing them wouldn’t do anything today because the kids know they will zoom from K through 12 without having any real depth of knowledge.
              I sense in your attitude about happy feelings versus spiritual stimulation the same soft bigotry of low expectations of the education establishment. Back in ’70 or so, we had a parish priest who said Mass dressed as a clown. Later, he committed suicide after being charged with numerous counts of sexual abuse.
              Let’s not talk about making Mass a circus with birthday songs and clowns for the sake of those who might later appreciate a fuller appreciation of the beauty of silence and sacred music.

              • hombre111

                About every third true-blooded conservative attended that clown Mas. A true urban legend that will live on with the huge crocodile that lived inside a sewer in Buffalo, emerging only to devour neighborhood dogs, cats, and stoned out teenagers.

                That said, the problem is not so much those education liberals as it is parents. Example. I am chaplain to a struggling Legion of Mary praesidium, and its leader is a celibate homosexual man who once performed on Broadway and then had a conversion experience and became Catholic. For whatever reason, he moved to my red state and supports himself by working as a substitute teacher in my traditionally arch-conservative town which routinely votes for anything Republican. During a class with sixth graders, a student asked him about some Hollywood star and her sexual exploits and he said he thought a person should behave responsibly and contain sexual activity within marriage. Then came the huge reaction from parents, who bombarded the school administration with complaints because he had no right to impose his idea of morality on their kids. He almost lost his job.

                It was the parents, sir, most of them good Baptists, and a terrified administration.

                • Veritas

                  I did in fact attend Mass where the priest dressed in a clown costume. He later was arrested and killed himself. This is not a legendary event.

                  Regarding education, I don’t care for partisan labeling. The fact of the matter is that the liberals of both parties have harmed public education with wrong headed ideas that allow children to opt out of engaging in learning. Conservatives of both parties have allowed this to happen and to watch it remain.

                  I have 32 years of personal observations in both Catholic and public schooling to know what I am talking about. People immediately assume Catholic and public cannot do the same things; I disagree because I now see MIDDLE CLASS NON-MINORITY students going down the drain with the poor and the marginalized children. They’ve made it so that “if we can’t equalize the races and the incomes, we will bring down the mighty.”

                  And I’ll be darned if I can figure out how to get spacing between my paragraphs on this venue.

                  • hombre111

                    Actually, a pretty good post, although I am sure my two sisters who taught for many years in public schools and then retired would disagree with much of what you say. In this state, near the bottom of everything fiscally measurable, it is quite complicated, but dumping it all on liberals (TEA party liberals? Is there such a thing?) of both parties is a stretch.

                    So, you attended the clown Mass. Consider yourself the lucky witness to a monumental event that deserves a T-shirt. Since then, every conservative worth his ochra claims to have been at that Mass. Maybe you could start to issue certificates of attendance, so many dollars a copy, with your notarized signature as the bona fides. And the T-shirt thing could earn you a bundle! 🙂

                    But seriously, in my diocese, there was this priest who showed up from Hollywood dragging a huge white organ on a trailer. He had actually played that organ in Disney productions, before he became a priest.

                    Long story short, he started to abuse the altar boys. Parents complained to priests they knew, who contacted the bishop, who did nothing. Finally, an outraged dad saved the day. According to the story, he called up the priest. (Remember, I live in red-neck country where little boys cut their teeth on the barrel of the family .45). Anyway, this father says, “I am loading my 30.06. You have thirty minutes.” And the last anybody ever saw of that rascal was a station wagon hurtling down the road, pulling a trailer with a white organ waving in the wind.

                    • Veritas

                      Your sisters know that most normal children will learn if you don’t make excuses for him. I learned this as a Catholic school teacher, even though my K-12 schooling was public. I learned quickly about instilling discipline in the kids and not coddling them. Unfortunately, I also learned in my formative younger years about being, as one good liberal priest and friend said to us, too “task oriented.” Only the aging process has made me more nurturing with the kids. They seem to like my high expectations with no nonsense. They want that. But I have to “un-do” 8 years of unlearning or benign neglect by the system. There are no excuses for the condition these poor souls find themselves in–none.

                      When the system says to the kids, “if you don’t learn the material or pass the class, we will promote you,” do you really think after 8 years of conditioning this way they’re really going to believe us when we tell them to bear down, study harder, and do all the things they must do in order to master content?

                      I blame the politicians and all non-teaching “experts” who have made it easier for students and teachers to be mediocre. What I love about the Church is its Christ like both/and nature. I like the high standards and get tough approach for all of us to be the best we can; but at the same time, we are being tough on ourselves and others, we do it out of love. This love for my students and all people comes across as “mean” or strict or even uncaring. After my students have done work they never believed they could ever do, I feel a lot of love in return.

                      That is my image of God. Tough but so loving. I looked up to men who were men–tough on me because they cared. This is why I think about teaching, and even attending Mass with a sense of reverence for the Almighty and respect for my fellow parishioners. We can all be better. We don’t have to settle for less.

                      Now, I must teach 9th graders who don’t know how to work with numbers, how to find the correlation coefficient.

                      Pray for us.

                    • hombre111

                      I think my sisters, one of whom was teacher of the year, would agree with you. But again, so much of it comes down to parents who have a bigger impact than any “system. ” My sisters talk about “high maintenance” parents who made their lives misery, about parents who never attended parent-teacher conferences, about parents who never responded to a note sent home from school, about parents who had no reading resources in their homes, and about parents who insisted that their kid pass on to the next grade when the teacher said he should stay behind, and parents whose kids are always right when it came to a disagreement with a teacher, and parents who wanted their kids to be taught by younger, “more fun” teachers.

                      Teachers bear part of the blame, of course. My one sister was a public school reading expert who get get non-English speaking first grade students into the middle of the group by the second semester. A group of young teachers came in for that grade, most of them with experience teaching in parochial schools. They had all the answers, and excluded my sister from their circle. Seeing the writing on the wall, she went up to the fifth grade and discovered it was her job to get kids ready for middle school. For several years, she had no trouble, because she was dealing with kids she had taught, and they knew their stuff. But then she began to get the “product” of those young teachers and she began to get lots of kids who could not handle basic math and who were functionally illiterate. Again, when she would suggest a kid stay behind, the parents would intervene and the kid would go on to be a bored trouble-maker in somebody else’s class.

                • Atilla The Possum

                  Face it. Your time of mediocrity and schlock is almost up. You’ve had your turn and it’s been a failure. Time for something fresh and God centred.

                  • hombre111

                    Face it. The dream created by Ronald Reagan and the even more conservative Repubs of this generation has already reached its reductio ad absurdum. You haven’t fulfilled any of your promises to the blue collar world, but the rich you worship are doing great.

            • ForChristAlone

              Mass is a place where we leave our ordinariness aside because it is there that we remember that God calls us to share his Divine life. Once we realize this, the possibilities of awe are made present to us

              • hombre111

                Mass is the place where we bring our ordinariness to the Lord Jesus who became one of us, and we become one with him in his divinity.

                • ForChristAlone

                  We bring our ordinariness for the purpose of its being transformed. The liturgical circus you advocate intends to leave it at the level of ordinary. People yearn for much more. Your vision and version of God is too niggardly; your vision and version of who man is is too limited. Your liturgical circus revels in itself and goes nowhere. It expects man to be the source and summit of his own salvation. It is pelagian.

                  • hombre111

                    Sigh. Another non-existent strawman puffed up and mowed down by the fearless ForChristAlone. I don’t know any priest who advocates a circus or who is a Pelagian. We follow the instructions found in the Roman Missal and try to pray as prayerfully as possible, each one operating out of his own strengths and weaknesses. We understand that we can do nothing for our salvation without the help of God’s Grace.

                    I accept the fact that the liturgy of the Mass needs a major tuneup. But what we have is what we have, now improved by the sometimes difficult to proclaim Latinized version foisted on us by Rome. And in the pews lurks that handful hunched over their small versions of the Roman Missal, on the hunt for any mistakes the priest might make. They might use their time better in prayer.

                    • ForChristAlone

                      “I don’t know any priest who advocates a circus or who is a Pelagian. We follow the instructions found in the Roman Missal and try to pray as prayerfully as possible”

                      Have you been subjected to “balloon Masses?” I defy you to find me 5% of priests who, when they say Mass, follow the instructions of the Roman Missal. They treat instructions as suggestions.

                    • hombre111

                      Never heard of a balloon Mass. You seem to keep strange company. Can’t vouch for other priests, but I try to keep to the Roman Missal, even though I grumble about it because it was jammed down our throats and occasionally, in some prayers, the Latinization doesn’t even make sense.. I have discovered that I have to focus completely on reading the text, or my mind will go down well-worn paths and I will be repeating the words of the earlier version. But if a priest saying the Mass in the exact prescribed way is what is critically important, maybe we should just all gather around a video screen where everything is done letter perfect. Really, why do we need a flesh and blood priest at all? I have a plan. Those Catholics who can, gather in a football stadium to hear a priest say a perfect Mass. Then the semis role in to pick up hosts and carry them off to the people of different parishes who have been watching on television all over the state.

                    • Atilla The Possum

                      You’ve never been to a balloon Mass? You’ve not lived but sure, I’m lucky to be alive after one I attended eight years ago … once!
                      There were still balloons adhered to the ceiling of my local parish after one of them … they remained there with their pathetic ribbons dangling down like melted chewing gum! When the helium eventually spent itself, they plopped down … and not before time.
                      As in good broadcasting, one MUST STICK to the script/running order or else the timing/subject matter/guidelines issues are in disarray and mislead and encroach on the next programme.
                      If you were focussing on the Mass, why are you making assumptions that those who are following the Roman Missals are like prompters at the theatre? How do you know this?
                      And you call people who wish for their priests to stick to the script and not abuse the liturgy judgemental!
                      Grow up!

        • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

          It’s all about feelings. It’s all just a McDonald’s Happy Meal to you, isn’t it?

          • hombre111

            You seem to have trouble with feelings. Any stories from an unhappy childhood? Or are you a closet rationalist who considers feelings irrelevant?

            • GG

              Feelings must be ruled by intellect. Not lived out as a child.

              • hombre111

                I don’t remember saying that childish feelings rule.

      • Atilla The Possum

        He thinks he’s Ernest Hemmingway … but reads like a reject from Mills & Boon.

    • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

      “Does the God of a hundred billion galaxies really care about Latin Mass,
      except to smile gently at this sign of our limited perspective on the
      truly awesome?” You are not a Christian. You are a Deist. Your God is completely impersonal. And you fill this void with your own personality.

      • hombre111

        Your God is too small.

        • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

          Too small for your ego, apparently.

  • matthew

    Rachel Lu completely misses the point of the criticism arising from her article. The criticism is not that she prefers the Latin Mass; rather, the criticism is that her article
    was arrogant, condescending, and holier-than-thou. She traveled down to Texas and was fortunate enough to participate in the Paschal banquet while on vacation a thousand miles
    from home. Rather than reveling in the miracle of the Mass, she traveled back to Minnesota to degrade the “schlocky” people who invited her to share at the Lord’s table.
    To her, those people are stupid, un-Catholic hicks who have no reverence for Jesus Christ—and she says that even her little children can see it. She writes of the “liturgical wisdom” of her young children who affirmed her home parish as the “Jesus place” and saw the Texas parish as a place where a woman in a purple dress hands out a mere “wafer.”

    At least she admits to using her children to make her own point. However, even then, they do not make her point. She writes: “Nevertheless, mine are at present too young even to be aware that there are other sorts of Masses than the ones they have experienced at our home parish of St Agnes. . . That being the case, I thought their reactions were revealing, with my toddler confusing a modern Mass for a ‘party,’ while my five-year-old mistook the sharing of peace for the end of the Mass . . . .” Dr. Lu’s conclusions demonstrates the sort of critical thinking skills that a doctorate might get someone nowadays. Dr. Lu has no understanding that, if her children experienced only the NO Mass for their entire lives, they might also be confused when exposed to the TLM for the first time. They might be completely bored because they don’t know thelanguage. They might mistakenly think that the people are unfriendly, sad, or even angry. They might mistake the Mass for a mere funeral. They would likely be happy to go back to the familiar Mass that they and their parents love, and they might even refer to their home parish as the “Jesus place.”

    Dr. Lu doesn’t respond to the real criticism. Doing so would require humility, self-examination, and critical thinking.

    • Martha

      I don’t believe she’s upset by the schlocky liturgy for herself; she’s upset by it for God. That is not what He deserves. She recognized it as a true Mass, that is why she went. However, she (and her children) immediately recognized its shortcomings and the very human nature of it, as opposed to the Divine nature of the TLM.

      God deserves more than schlocky liturgies, and children’s spiritual formations deserve more than schlocky liturgies.

    • GG

      You are using totally subjective feelings, rather than objective standards. Dr. Lu writes as an educated adult. Your post comes off as a rant by a seventh grader.

      • matthew

        GG – you’re confusing the terms “subjective” and “objective” again.

        • GG

          No, I am correcting your prejudice.

    • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

      This is the silliest rant on this site today. You have only demonstrated that you cannot understand what you read.

      • Matthew

        Another brilliant ph.d.?

    • Tony

      In neither article does Dr. Lu say that she and her family attend the Latin Mass. She says that her children are accustomed to the liturgical use of Latin. So are the people in our parish, because our worthy pastor ensures that there will be Latin prayers and blessings during Advent, Lent, Christmastide, and Eastertide, and the Latin hymns of Thomas Aquinas for Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

      In neither article does Dr. Lu pretend to read the hearts of other people. She does judge bad taste. Her point in referring to her children’s reactions is that they were natural, given the sort of thing that the people were doing. That is, the children were intuiting a MEANING from the action. That is not analogous to someone else’s children, or her own children, being bored as they knelt while the canon was being recited sotto voce by the priest in the sanctuary. The latter has to do with not knowing what is happening, or not knowing that anything is happening; the former has to do with seeing what is happening (they are not mistaken about that), and attributing to it the natural interpretation.

      In neither article does Dr. Lu say that bad taste makes people morally bad. But she does say that bad taste is a hindrance to us. We are embodied souls, and there’s no way around that; we become spiritually what we do with our bodies.

      If you wish to defend a certain kind of music or architecture, or utterly informal liturgy, or felt banners with slogans, do so on their own merits. All you are doing here is what you wrongly accuse Dr. Lu of doing. Argue the specifics. You like the execrable “Gather Us In”? Defend it, then. You like it that people have no sense of the sanctuary, because the architecture fairly rules it out? Defend it. Keep your observation about your opponent’s personality out of it.

      • GG

        You are over his head. I commend you for your patience.

    • Atilla The Possum

      Feeeliiiings …. nothing more than feeeeelliinnngs…..
      Woa! Woa! Woa! Feeeeliiings!

  • W Meyer

    And we should remember that Rite and ritual are related words. We should not cast off tradition as being of no importance.

    We parish-shopped. Not in the sense of visiting several in a short interval and picking and choosing on superficial qualities. No, we spent some time (years) in our first parish here, then moved to one closer to our new home, where we also spent years. We tried different Mass times, as they were very different celebrations. But finally, we moved to our current parish. All of these celebrate in the OF, but at our current parish, we have three priests who are very reverent and traditional in their celebration of the liturgy. And they all give excellent (and uncomfortable) homilies.

    Almost everyone in weekly attendance is prepared to say “we are all sinners”. So why is it that so many object to strong homilies? Do we not need instruction and reminders?

  • Something basic to be considered about the Ordinary Form: there is a GIRM. It is NOT being observed throughout the vast majority of the USA and Europe based on my personal experience. The GIRM provides the minimum standard of protocol for celebration of the sacred liturgy. And, BTW, we ought to preface “liturgy” with “sacred” because that’s what it is. PE Benedict XVI’s book, “The Spirit of the Liturgy” is an essential read for anyone serious about really understanding what we are about in worshiping God in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the sacraments.

    The Congregation of Divine Worship has issued numerous publications regarding how the sacred liturgy is to be celebrated, and the use of chant and other forms that uphold the sacredness of the ritual. It seems that these have been confined to the dust bin in most dioceses.

    St. Agnes should be the norm for the celebration of the sacred liturgy, not the exception, as is St. John Cantius in Chicago. And there is no excuse for dioceses not to be recruiting musicians who are willing to learn through the CMAA how to fulfill their responsibilities in the sacred liturgy.

    I, for one, am glad that Mrs. Lu and her family are growing in their faith through attending Mass at St. Agnes, and that the children are sensitive to the actions and gestures proper to the worship of God. The sacred liturgy belongs to the Church, not to the individual parish or “liturgical minister”, or priest.

  • NickD

    A well written defense. Kudos

  • Bill Guentner

    Yea, I may be considered a “liturgy snob” also. A great theologian of our times, Von Balthasar, whom St. JP II raised to the level of a priest [not bishop] cardinal wrote the following; “Surely excluded is everything which directs the community away from attention to God and his coming and turns its gaze back upon itself… Everything in the celebration which does not guide the hearts and thoughts toward the One being celebrated is evil: and all the more so the quality of festivities is separated from its objective and itself becomes the center…There are communities which, perhaps unconsciously, celebrate themselves more than God; this is true of the liturgies of traditional as of progressively structured, of old, well-established as of freely formed parishes such as the young people love…the question is always raised as to whether it brings about a living opening an conversion of the heart or the self-enjoyment of one’s own vitality”
    We must remember one very important thing about the liturgy–that it is the celebration and thanksgiving to God the Father for sacrificing His Son for our salvation. Therefore, everything is the Liturgy must be directed to Him.

    • ColdStanding

      Isn’t he the guy who suggested that there Hell is real but that there wasn’t anybody in it? I think that would automatically disqualify him from receiving the any claim to be being a great theologian of this or any age.

      • Bill Guentner

        Wrong. The title of his little book is “Dare We Hope” A beautifully written book. However, Balthasar NEVER states that no one is in hell. That would be heresy. Further, if St. John Paul II considered him a great theologian, that is good enough for me. If we were to examine the work of some of the greatest theologians and bishops of the Church throughout the ages, few would be dogmatically pure. Men like Augustine and Origen would be stigmatized as heretics. Theologians are constantly speculating on dogma. So let’s not condemn Balthasar for ONE of his moments of speculation.

        • ColdStanding

          Seriously! Do you not know that the words “suggested”, which I used, is not synonymous with “stated”.

          It isn’t just ONE of his moments that is the problem.

  • taad

    We’re going through your same issue as we speak. New “leadership” has brought about a dog hanging around daily Mass, and prior to and after weekend Masses it walks around the pews, sanctuary, etc. looking to get food from people. There is no more elevation of the Sacred Host at the “Behold the Lamb of God.” Mandatory standing from the Great Amen until everyone has received the Eucharist. Then very little time for private prayer with Our Lord. We were told we were mistakenly taught that Communion was about Jesus and me. It is not. We are told it’s all about community. The music has become as you describe, childish and more Protestant. So we have moved away from a parish we have been going to for 25 years. Overnight it changed. It is as Pope Benedict stated concerning the rapid implementation of the Novus Ordo Mass. It was done without taking in consideration the long held beliefs and ways of the people. It was just forced upon us, without care for us. Boom, this is it. This is what Father wanted. Sort of shocking how fast things can happen. So in order for our children to be better formed and to have peace for our souls and to able to pray, we changed parishes. It is tough because it has divided family ties. I was on Parish Council, and came to the conclusion, any attempt to talk to Father about Liturgy was pointless. His mind was made up. I fear we may have to eventually drive long distances, or start going to the Byzantine Rite Catholic Church. It seems as though no cares or is pastoral to those who have deeply held desires for reverent liturgy without all this added stuff. Our Lady told the Fatima Children at Fatima, “The Rosary you will always have.” Lucia was puzzled by this statement and asks why not the Mass? The answer seems to be on the horizon. At least we can still pray the Rosary, and they can not take that away from us.

    • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

      The situation you describe is worst in rural areas, where the Catholics tend to be more faithful and traditional. It doesn’t matter. They have no voice. You either tolerate whatever nonsense your pastor wants to force upon you, or, as you say, get ready to drive great distances. This is something Catholics in big cities don’t realize, when they claim that there is a Mass available for “every taste,” and that traditional Catholics should just “lighten up” and realize how good we have it!

    • ForChristAlone

      Don’t leave w/o informing “Father” and the bishop why you are going. I am certain the bishop would be might interested in the fact that you’re considering joining the Eastern rite.

      • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

        Ha! Do NOT tell the RC bishop such a thing! He will immediately contact the Byzantine bishop in an attempt to block the change of rites. I am in a region where fully 50% of those who attend Byzantine Divine Liturgy are refugees from the Novus Ordo, and this happens only because the pastors know of our distress and are willing to administer baptism and chrismation to children, and to receive new parishioners without an official change of rites. (in almost all cases with the approval of the Byzantine bishops, who extend to us this much-needed lifeboat).

        • ForChristAlone

          good point….don’t tell the bishop (or else write an anonymous letter so he gets the drift of what’s happening to his diocese)

    • Tony

      You must be living in Nanada, the Nanny Tyranny of the North? We experience the same stuff in our summer diocese in Nova Scotia. But you shouldn’t say that the music has become more “Protestant.” The Wesleys and Bach and Handel would not recognize it.

    • Atilla The Possum

      Sadly, yet another example of a Catholic parish turning into a branch of The Church of Nice and losing the faithful by the shedload because of the insanity that is The Church of Nice.
      Sooner rather than later, taand, the CON parish (wow! An apt acronym) will be reduced to an empty shell, be de-consecrated and demolished to the whingeing and grinding of teeth by the regulars …. but not, mark you, the priest. He’ll blame everyone else but himself when the Bishop et. al start asking questions.
      I know this from bitter experience where I live in England.

  • Disputes about current celebrations of the Liturgy of the Mass often lead me to think back to the Last Supper, and the Cross. The externals of those events do not bring to mind a cathedral with stained-glass windows, participants in Sunday Best, pipe organ, Gregorian chant, solemn liturgical rites reverently followed, and so on. But the internals of those events – the interior work of the Supper, and the Cross – the meaning of those events – do. The meaning of the Supper, the meaning of the Sacrifice of the Cross, is blinding with divine glory.

    Full, conscious and active participants in the Mass have some sense of that divine glory – a glory that calls for a human and personal return of worship, in the celebration. But not all in the pews are participants; some are spectators – as not all at the Cross were participants; many were spectators. I have heard of some who came as spectators, and left as participants – as in a sense did the Roman guard, and the “good thief” on the cross beside Jesus.

    Those who come to the Mass seeking to be full, conscious and active participants can do so in a cathedral or in a kitchen of a migrant farm labor camp. They know the glory of the hour; by grace it is in them. But spectators – if seekers – can become witnesses, when the glory is made at least in part, visible. Such effect alone would justify celebrating the Mass with all the external reverence that could be summoned: the Mass rightly celebrated can touch spectators and make participants, and witnesses.

    • GG

      People going to an American suburban parish are not going to a migrant camp. They should act like they are going to an important event. The post modern mind likes reductionism because it allows us to do as little as possible and claim it is the most we can do.

      • “They should act like they are going to an important event.” More important, I think, is the question of how to help move them from being casual spectators to being fully conscious and active participants in worship of and in communion with God. When that happens, they will be in the most important event. The Church is sent to make disciples – we need to be doing that.

  • Bill G

    It’s worth noting that even your detractors (and accusers) seem to implicitly concede your point as most of what they have to say in response is ad hominem. No one is angrily responding to the effect that there is no discernible difference in liturgical quality between Giovanni Palestrina and The Saint Louis Jesuits.

    • GG

      True, they are just attempting to rationalize away irreverent behavior.

    • Matthew

      Her point appears to be that she is a better Catholic than others and that she is smarter than others.

      • GG

        No, that is your position. Why does the truth bother you so much?

      • Bill G

        Hi Matthew, I didn’t catch that part of her essay. Would you reply again and include some quotes where she states this point?

      • JDunneSC

        Exactly — she holds herself above others, based on the liturgy she has worked double-overtime to seek out because it satisfies her personal needs and feeds her ego. There is nothing of God in anything she writes. It’s all about herself and what is good for her, what makes her feel good, what makes her look good to others, etc. It’s all ego-stroking nonsense devoid of anything truly good and truly holy. Christ came to show us that her way is not His way. She’s just a modern day Pharisee who worships the liturgy and her own ego out of pride and narcissism.

        • Atilla The Possum

          Oh, for the love of All That Is Holy,Troll! Wind your neck in, learn some manners, humility and most of all…. do some research about the Catholic Church and the Mass and put away your Janet and John, Horrid Henry and Peppa Pig books for one cotton, picking minute and learn something more grown up and mature!

        • Tony

          Interesting. “O Lord, I thank you that you have made me utterly unlike this Pharisee over there. I thank you that you have given me so great a tolerance for bad taste, unlike that aesthete over there. I thank you that you have not made me narcissistic. I thank you that you have not made me an egotist.”

          Argue the points on their merits. Dr. Lu is not the monster you say she is, but the POINT of the article is not that, in any case. If you want to defend what she says is counterproductive, if not downright disobedient, defend it on its merits.

  • crimsoncat

    What if it’s your last Mass? Casually attired? Inane chitchat? Meaningless dialogue and pop music. And you’ve missed the whole point of being at Mass.

    • Nick_Palmer3

      Dan Schutte…

      • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

        Oremus!

  • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

    Please notice how, in this great age of the “laity,” ushered in by Vatican II, the opinion of the laity only matters when it corresponds to that of the “reformers.”

    • GG

      Interesting point. Stop judging me, while I judge you. Ironic.

  • KJL

    Thank you for this article. You say it with so much eloquence and beauty.

    A few points: When asked why God needs our best anything (vestments, chalices, architecture…) I simply reply, God doesn’t, we do. Offering our best, dressing our best, seeing beauty are important for us as we worship. God does not lack anything, so the offering the best raises our awareness and worship.

    As to “church shopping”, we recently moved on from our parish of many years, from where we had relationships, had all but 1 of our children baptized. But it was time to care for the souls of these children we were raising. The last straw was such that our children were asking why that was allowed. That is scandal, and I needed to be able to answer that question. So we now drive a little further, have to get there earlier to find a seat, but it is worth it. I tried for years to be a positive for change. Was on the liturgy committee, parish council, etc. But my soul was tired of bad liturgy, and my kids needed better.

    The new parish isn’t in the Extraordinary form, just a NO, often with schlocky music. But there is no goofiness from the priest, the homilies are rock solid, the sacraments are faithfully taught and I can be happy knowing I am not trying to form my children in spite of what they see at Mass. The Mass is once again a source of consolation and healing.

    • Nick_Palmer3

      I recently visited a good friend in Ecuador. I attended several Masses — daily and Sunday — in a small town. Definitely Third World, the proliferation of iPhones notwithstanding.

      All Masses: full. Very poor people: clean and well dressed. The Church: far more ornate and beautiful than my own parish at home. And the Church: probably the most expensive, well-maintained building in town.

      • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

        I have seen the same thing many times. Isn’t it ironic? It is only in the affluent West that people preach about the “wasted money” spent adoring the House of God. Just try to renovate (i.e. wreck) the church in a poor, third-world village, and you will have a riot on your hands.

    • Athelstane

      But it was time to care for the souls of these children we were raising.

      Exactly.

  • Kevin Aldrich

    Yesterday I attended a school mass at my parish for the first through fifth graders. The teachers made sure the students genuflected before entering the pew. The students sang (especially the student choir in the choir loft). A little girl intoned the responsorial psalm with the refrain, “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” The pastor tried to explain the gospel reading to them in a way they could understand. They devoutly received communion or got a blessing. And the teacher had them kneel for a minute after Mass in thanksgiving.

    Liturgy purists might find things to criticize, but I saw the pastor and teachers engaged in the hard and long work of teaching children the faith.

    • GG

      It is not about purity, but being faithful to what the Church asks of us.

  • John

    Thank you for showing me that Crisis magazine is a waste of time. Your articles are terrible.

    • Nora

      I agree. That crisis magazine allows such garbage to be posted on here is unbelievable.

    • JP

      What exactly is wrong with this article (essay); it was only a response to her critics. Was it her prose that offends you? Or the content?

    • Crisiseditor

      So in the last couple days you’ve been on this site you’ve read the thousands of articles posted here? So the hundreds of authors on this site are equally terrible? How old are you? You have the judgement and temperament of a 10-year-old. Go home to Mommy where you belong. This site is for adults.

      • Matthew

        This site is for adults? After reading many of the articles and comments, I think that getting children involved might be a substantial improvement.

        • John200

          Well, you are here, trying to become involved. That’s a start.

          Judging by your comments, you could grow into a useful interlocutor. So keep trying to engage the big people.

          But don’t try to embarrass them with snark. We have heard it all before, ad nauseam and ad infinitum. You come across like a little yappy dog.

          As the editor suggested, look to the archives. There is a full education waiting for you…

        • Athelstane

          Well, that’s s thoughtful contribution to the discussion.

    • ForChristAlone

      Spare us. No one really cares.

    • who are you to judge-so quickly?

    • ForChristAlone

      The fact that you think this and yet are here speaks volumes about you.

  • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

    When I moved to the Diocese of Steubenville in 1993, I thought I had arrived in the very vestibule of heaven. The Novus Ordo at the major parish was celebrated with great reverence. The music was beautiful, and there was frequent use of Latin hymns, which the parishioners were able to sing without music or text in front of them (almost unheard of today). The communion rail was used, and there were no Eucharistic ministers. And it all lasted less than six months. New bishop, new attitude, new Mass… with a VENGEANCE. The communion rail was banned, Eucharistic ministers began to proliferate, Latin was gone, and… well, you know the rest of the story. I spent a few years driving to Pittsburgh for a Latin Mass, and then switched rites altogether. As the Ruthenian Rite Catholics says, “There is safety in numbers.” SMALL numbers. Nobody cares enough to try to “update” them. For me, it is not a question of preferring the Traditional Latin Mass to the Novus Ordo. There simply is no such thing as a “Novus Ordo Mass”, but 10,000 versions of the Novus Ordo. And the whims of he local ordinary transform the Mass into whatever he wishes. For that reason alone, the old Mass is better (in a practical sense only).

    • Tamsin

      Before the Reformation in England, there were so many avenues outside the Mass for laity to actively and creatively express devotion in their parish, from Processions to Guilds to Cycles… all good ways for people to burn off creative energy that nowadays is often directed to power struggles over the Novus Ordo liturgy.

    • Guest

      The Parish where I am registered was also great in the early 90’s. It is now more theater than Mass. The Communion Rail has been moved to the front row, the statues relegated to a Statue Room. People complain if the Mass is more than 45 minutes or because their boy or girl could not be seen on the Altar. I have found a more traditional parish where there are no EM, we kneel for Communion, say the Rosary, The Angelus and there is Latin in Ordinary Form (Chant, Music, etc.), the Priests speak the Truth! Above all there is Reverence that does not seem to exist in many Churches today. Regardless of the form used…there must be a sense of Reverence for God!!

    • ForChristAlone

      “10,000 versions of the Novus Ordo”

      exactly the problem…priests feel that the Mass belongs to them; it does not. It belongs to the Church. They are not free to change one iota of the Mass. I would guess that less than 1% of Masses prayed adhere to what the Missal says. I am frankly sick of priests ad libbing their way through the Mass. I might just find an Anglican ordinariate church.

      • Richard

        Why don’t you? I attended the Latin Mass for 20 years. I remember very well that many women paid no attention – preferring to say a rosary instead of listening to the mass. I remember no one going to communion – quite often as the priest would have to turn around to see. So you can denigrate the new mass as much as you like but I suspect that the vast majority of Catholics are very pleased with the new mass. If people now feel they are part of a community – well great!

        • GG

          If you asked the majority of people at mass today simple and basic questions about the faith most would get it wrong. Your complaints about the old ladies hold true today. What has changed is that the Latin mass today has Catholics who really participate with heart and mind. You think the ordinary form can say the same? We mouth words without thinking or caring. It is the reverse today of what you claim. Instead of saying a rosary, which is more authentic then the inauthentic participation we have today, we get happy clappy glad handing.

        • ForChristAlone

          Correction: I do NOT denigrate the NO. I despise it when priests take the Mass and make it their own invention by departing from the Missal. Say the Black and do the Red. Nothing more; nothing less.

          Oh, by the way, the Mass is efficacious even if some old lady is praying the rosary. You should know that.

          • GG

            They always bring up the old lady saying the rosary. Of course, the folks at that time could explain right and wrong better than the happy clappy emotionalistic ones today can.

            Just check out the confession lines as proof.

        • Atilla The Possum

          Good grief, Richard! Has your TARDIS malfunctioned or what? Men had rosaries, too, as well as the women. And children.
          Why on earth do you upbraid and even mention in the same sentence The Holy Rosary as a means of a cynical put-down? May God forgive you!
          Perhaps your Church of Nice sensibilities (LOL) fail to acknowledge that the Rosary is just as important (not more so) as the Mass!
          The Devil HATES the Mass and the Holy Rosary. Remember that!

  • Ruth Rocker

    My husband and I have always parish shopped, but not because of “personal taste” or something like that. He was a member of the US Air Force for 23 years which meant we moved A LOT! So we were really never in any one place long enough to establish deep relationships with anyone in any particular parish.

    Once he retired from active duty, we attended a church near our house. The people were friendly, the seats (not pews) were relatively comfy and the building was pretty. The best thing about it was the crucifix at the front of the church. It was HUGE and beautiful. Hand-carved corpus from Italy truly gave one the sense of the sacrifice Jesus made for us. Unfortunately, the longer we were there, the more uncomfortable we became. The music went from okay to truly terrible, with brass and drums so loud you couldn’t hear yourself think. I always look at the information about the music. I don’t recall a single song (I hesitate to say hymn) that was published before 1970s and it sounded like a Baptist church I attended for a wedding some time ago.

    Father’s homilies were always quite sweet. He comes down from the dias (no altar, just a table) and walks close to the front row to talk. He is a very personable guy, but his sermons were mostly fluffy, happy talk.

    What eventually drove us out was all the extraneous stuff that went on inside of the Mass that had no place there. Celebrations of soccer wins by the school team were lauded, people married for significant lengths of time were acknowledged, scout troops were called out for special recognition for community work, things like that. While these are all good and praiseworthy things, they have no business being part of the sacred liturgy!! And the final straw was when they had the administrative assistant (!) for the church give the homily. This was with the priest and a deacon sitting on the dias listening to her!!! My husband (a cradle Catholic) nearly had an apoplectic fit!

    As a convert, like the good Dr., I have the advantage of coming in from the outside with a different viewpoint of the church than someone raised in the faith. I believe the quality and reverence with which the Mass is celebrated has a direct effect on the behavior of the parishioners. If the Mass is a casual cocktail party, then the folks in the “audience” will respond accordingly. If the Mass is a sacred, reverent affair, that, too, will get an appropriate response from those attending. Lowering the standards for behavior and dress during this most reverent and sacred event does no service to God and is truly giving less than our best to our worship.

    And at what point was freedom of speech and opinion barred in this country? Oh, yeah, I know. It was when the current idiot-in-chief took office and started dismantling the Constitution. With the full consent, apparently, of the American Bishops.

    • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

      Oh, Lord! This brings back so many painful memories!

  • ColdStanding

    Uh oh, looks like everyone needs a little tonic to refresh themselves.

    No better way to get one back on track as to what we are supposed to be doing as Catholics than the 1st chapter of the immortal classic by Dom Scupoli, The Spiritual Combat

    https://archive.org/stream/spiritualcombat02scupgoog#page/n18/mode/2up

    • ColdStanding

      Turns out it is a cracking good read further on. Here is an especially important point, starting at “For when the understanding…”

      https://archive.org/stream/spiritualcombat02scupgoog#page/n40/mode/2up

      This interspersion of “affections” between the object and the understanding is the key means by which the devil brings about our fall. It is not exactly correct to say it is a fault, but nevertheless, the fault, lets say vulnerability, lays in our senses for there is a time lag between the sensing and the apprehension. Our common enemy inserts the affection along the gap or time lag and distorts the signal. As we a slothful and inattentive, mind Our Lord tells us to watch and wait, it is seldom realized this is happening.

  • tony

    Dr. Lu,
    This is just to express my appreciation: not only I like your article, I also forward them to my e-mail list.
    Thank you and God bless you and your family.
    Tony

  • ForChristAlone

    We used to have a priest (now deceased) who, feeling badly for the kids not old enough to receive Holy Communion, would invite all the little urchins up to what used to be referred to as the “sanctuary because it was a holy place to receive their consolation prize – A COOKIE. Actually a vanilla wafer cookie that simulated the host. Everyone was so pleased because then all were able to leave Mass having each received their “cookie” designed especially for them! YIKES!!!! It this kind of BS that Rachel is referring to – worse than schlock!

    • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

      My daughter made her first Holy Communion at a Traditional Latin Mass (St. Ignatius, Pittsburgh). However, the first communicants of the Novus Ordo, that was letting out just as we were filing in, were all given a little loaf of bread as they left Church, so they could continue to “share communion” with everybody in their family all day long!

      • Objectivetruth

        Curiously, handing out the bread after mass is a beautiful tradition (small “t”) of the Coptic Church of Egypt. It is intended for those that are not Coptic and could not receive communion.

        • BHG

          AGREED. Also a Byzantine tradition.

        • Romulus

          The antidoron is not Eucharist. Traditionally it s given only to those fasting, and only within the church. It’s not traditional to treat it as take-out for “sharing”.

          • Objectivetruth

            Didn’t say it was Eucharist…..

  • Atilla The Possum

    Hearty congratulations for an excellent article, Dr. Lu. Take it from me – are as far from being a ”Liturgy Snob” as from here to eternity.
    The REAL ”Liturgy Snobs” are those who have taken issue with your previous article with their childish views. Yes, that’s what I said: childish.
    I don’t mince my words. I write/speak as I find.
    Unfortunately, the real ”Liturgy Snobs” are to be found in every parish. They are the reason why I, myself, go ‘parish shopping’. They can’t stand anyone who isn’t with ”the programme” i.e. the Church of Nice’s version of Vatican II as distorted by those with an agenda.
    Heck, I was even told NOT to genuflect by one of them! Naturally, I continue to do so and I couldn’t care less. It’s between me and God, not them. Who do these people think they are?
    Almighty God DESERVES the very best of everything we can give Him and that includes a beautiful, dignified, regal church that’s so beautiful we anticipate heaven – not something that resembles a cross between a greasy spoon, a nursery, second rate muzak and a 1970’s concrete nightmare!
    I have seen more children and teenagers, young men and women at the Latin Mass than at the NO.
    Pope John Paul II called them ”The Church of Today, the Hope of Tomorrow” …
    They know what’s what and the interfering busybodies of the Church of Nice should stop being offended and start thinking about God instead of their ”feelings”.

  • Frank Thomas Dunn

    I am also a convert. I have no interest in liturgy that resembles kindergarten play time. I sing in the parish choir and cannot understand that my high school choir knew more about sacred music than most Catholics. I must admit that it is very strange to witness a church with such powerful and majestic traditions voluntarily walking away from much of the formality of worship that I find so compelling. Part of what lead me to conversion was reading Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger´s ¨Truth and Tolerance¨ and Benedict XVI´s first encyclical “God is Love¨ as well as David Klinghoffer´s ¨Shattered Tablets¨ and Thomas Cahills ¨Gifts of the Jews¨. Cahill (and a Jewish writer in Asia Times called “Spengler” helped me understand the uniqueness of Jewish teaching that was man’s first glimpse of being and mind and matter. After my conversion to the traditional Roman Catholic faith I read Ratzinger/Benedict´s ¨¨The Spirit of the Liturgy¨ as well as many of the books by Scott Hahn and the Catholicism series by Father Robert Barron. I share your impatience with people who want to dumb down the mass. The Jews who have “dumbed-down” their liturgy have eventually lost their faith and become secular Jews. What an oxymoron that is!! We need to elevate our minds to the beauty of creation and God who is the creator of all we see and all we don’t see, clear down through quantum mechanics. The mass should be an exercise in our best efforts to show awe and respect for God, not look at Him and Jesus as a warm and furry “spagetti monster in the sky” as some of the new pop-atheists would like us to believe.

    Old Gringo in Mexico

  • RG

    THE “CATHOLIC CHURCH”. WE ARE A CHURCH TRULY IN CRISIS. WE NEED TO PRAY FOR GOD’S MERCY IN RESTORING OUR CHURCH.

  • Michelle

    WONDERFULLY done, Dr. Lu. Thank you for all that you post and clarify.

    I am a daughter of two wonderful parents that, though they did the best they could, didn’t quite care to raise us (myself and my 3 brothers) going to Mass very often. We were CEOs for a while (Christmas & Easter only), but it wasn’t until that point in my early high school years that my mother’s cousin invited me to a retreat, and my life was forever changed. I hungered for Mass, but as I look back at it, it was a hunger for being a part of it…wanting to play my flute in Mass, wanting to meet new people, wanting to fit in to this new thing. I had a relationship with God, but it was a VERY selfish relationship.

    As time wore on, my relationship did continue to grow, but only in the sense of feeling I was a part of something that made me feel good. After I graduated from college, I began helping out with the Youth Group and began teaching Faith Formation, only to realize I didn’t know very much. At that particular parish, the liturgy was so irreverent and distasteful…the priest would often invite EVERYBODY, including non-Catholics and those children not yet finished in their preparation to receive First Communion, and would often tell me that mortal sins that I committed weren’t really bad. I had NO idea at the time how damaging this was to me and all the other parishioners…UNTIL I began attending Mass in North Carolina. It was a Novus Ordo Mass, but it was orthodox and reverent, and there was an abundance of classes (Catholic Scripture Study, Adult Faith Formation, etc.). As I learned more about God and our beautiful Church, the more in love I was with Him!!
    SO, being on both sides I can say this…every day I get ordinary…at home, at work, with family and friends, at the grocery store, in the gym, etc. Mass should be EXTRAordinary. God deserves our utmost attention, our reverence, our patience, our LOVE…just ONE hour out of a whole week.

    • ForChristAlone

      Well said, indeed.

  • St. Thomas Aquinas

    It’d be nice to find a Latin Mass that is actually respectful. I have searched but, have yet to find one that pronounces Latin correctly. Even at my local NO Mass, when little bits of Latin are integrated into the Mass, it is mispronounced! How hard is it to realize that “ae” in Latin is pounced “aye” and c is always hard?

    • Athelstane

      The Church generally uses ecclesiastical Latin, not classical.

      But yes, Latin fluency not being what it once was, it remains a work in progress in some places.

    • somebody somewhere

      The c is never hard in ecclesiastical Latin. Church Latin is pronounced as Italian.

      • St. Thomas Aquinas

        Ecclesiastical Latin is almost pain inducing to the ears; it
        is just not right! People should speak Latin the way Jesus said it. When he
        said “Tu dicis,” he no doubt said it classically and not ecclesiastically.

  • An Orthodox Christian

    It is sad to see the continued crisis in the Latin Church.
    The Liturgy is the heart of Christian praxis, of Christian life. The Liturgy, Hymnology, the Prayers….this is the spring which a Christian draws water from.

    • ForChristAlone

      This is why some Latin Rites Catholics have joined Eastern Rite Catholic Churches. You make a good point.

  • John Flaherty

    I thought your previous commentary was quite erudite, but I’d like to add my own bit of thought to this response. Your notes about “parish shopping” strike a particular chord with me.
    As it happens, I’m a so-called “cradle Catholic”, having grown up with the Catholic faith as it has been practiced since 1974. I can’t say I paid terribly great attention to Mass as a little kid, even as a soloist in a children’s choir. I likely began paying more attention when I started serving Mass, somewhere around age 10. Even then, I didn’t precisely pay great heed to particulars, outside of thinking that Fr was saying something about “On this day(ee), we told him pay caught-a moondee”, when he reached the Agnus Dei. ..I obviously had never heard Latin, nor had any idea that any language beyond English (or Sioux or Pawnee) existed!
    Even without any particular knowledge of the more particular matters of Mass though, I had a vague inkling by the time I turned 17 that Mass as I saw it by then had become..less of something..than before. I couldn’t explain why, but something didn’t seem quite right. Sadly, I began moving through my teens about the same time that our local bishop agreed to allow girls to serve Mass; we wound up altering the lyrics to music that I’d learned somewhere around my 16th year or so due to “gender neutrality” concerns.

    Through college, I never did honestly find a parish that seemed worthwhile precisely, though I did attend Mass at a church on Saturday night that had us gathered around the altar. I admit that I occasionally felt a bit guilty about going to Mass in casual attire, but I excused myself by noticing that it was Saturday night, I was tired, and I was coming from work.
    After college though, I went in to the Air Force and began REALLY noticing that something wasn’t really working the way it should. During my first tour of duty, I was stationed overseas, so I went to the base chapel for Mass. Beings Japan isn’t known for it’s intense Catholic faith, I didn’t get too concerned about laxity; I figured we were doing well for being overseas and being wholly unable to plan for anything for anything length of time.
    When I returned to the ‘States though, the crud finally hit the fan, so to speak.

    Even though I tried some 6 different parishes, including the base chapel again, I never did find a Mass that I felt suitable and worthy. ..Except for the Mass provided by a group positing itself as a “traditional Mass”. After attending Mass there for almost a month, I finally, reluctantly, ceased doing so, having determined the group to be quasi-schismatic, though I didn’t even know of the existence of THAT term then either, nor did I know what “Tridentine” meant, outside of it having something to do with the Council of Trent.

    Ultimately, I felt compelled to admit that we definitely DO have a problem with Mass.

    I have been quite blessed these past several years to have found a parish that focuses on offering Mass “correctly”, or according to preferred rubrics. I had considered switching to the FSSP parish a mile south, but frankly, having been down the “church-shopping” road before, I decided enough was enough.

    I will admit though, should I wind up moving to another city, I’ll definitely place a priority on finding an FSSP Mass. I simply don’t have the energy to go through the rigors of another hit-or-miss NO search.

    Suffice to say, your answers to people who criticize being “too high-churchey” resonate well with me.

  • Philip Lishman

    As with all technologies, Mass works best when it’s operated correctly.

  • a French Chef

    I’ll go back to read your other writings. I like your style, direct and clear. Thank you.

  • AcceptingReality

    Rachel, your articles, always make such perfect sense to me. In this one I especially like the paragraph or two about bad liturgy. The statement, “…they prefer to downgrade ceremony into something that doesn’t require them to face up to the real, serious significance of what is taking place.” rings absolutely true! Thank you!

  • beentheredonethat

    “Further, as an adult convert, I don’t have an especially strong appreciation of the ins and outs of parish life. I don’t really understand who organizes what, or how the wheels keep turning. ”

    I’m a cradle Catholic & I only understand it up to a certain point. What you need to do is get involved with your parish &/or diocese outside of Mass. This is the man-made part of the Church that involves much politics. You must have some experience of that at U of ST.

  • beentheredonethat

    I think if any priest is not following the rubrics of the Mass based on GIRM (General Instructions of the Roman Missal) then we the laity can do 1 or 2 things: attend Mass at another parish or get to know the priest & then charitably & rationally (That means you have to know the whys & hows of each part of the Mass.) offer your opinions based on GIRM. If that doesn’t work & depending how much “stomach” you have, then take it up a notch & visit the bishop.

  • Geoff Kiernan West Australia

    Most of us seem to forget that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not about us. It’s about the immolation of Christ to the Father in reparation and atonement for sin… It is the re-enactment of the events of Good Friday. The Priest consecrates the bread and wine into the Body Blood Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ and then in his capacity as the ‘other Christ’ offers Him to the Father

    • Objectivetruth

      “Most of us seem to forget that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not about us.”

      Amen…..amen……amen……

  • anna lisa

    I like how they say the mass on EWTN–in English and Latin. There is no lack of reverence. The only Latin mass I’ve been to was bewildering. It was the funeral mass of my dear friend. For years she would drive a couple of hours away to a mass that was not sanctioned by the Bishop. (She stopped going to the NO, as kind of a protest for the Church’s silence on abortion)

    I was really curious to attend my first Latin mass, but wasn’t prepared for how lost I would get, as I’ve been going to mass my whole life. I couldn’t figure out what was going on! I guess it was kind of a let down. After all the hype, I just expected it to be more reverent than the NO masses. The worst thing of all though was the priest. He was so haughty I laughed a little. If you looked at him closely you could see that he really was quite young, but he was ponderous, like a much older man, and imperious in all of his satin and lace like a prince. He lectured us like bad school children, because he knew many of us were out of our element.

    Anyhow, it left a bad taste in my mouth, and I have zero desire to relive it. I was surprised because I love all things classical, and I love the Faith.

    I experienced this before I ever read blogs and comboxes about other peoples’ experiences. When I read the impressions of others who felt the same way, (or the weirdos who act like they are God’s royal gift to the world) I was SO relieved that it wasn’t just me that got the crazy vibe from some so-called traditional Catholics. (I feel like they shouldn’t be able to claim that title.) Now even the pope is showing how annoyed he gets with some of them, and I feel even more relieved, that my gut instinct didn’t fail me.

    I know that like anything else there are great, solid Catholics that love the Latin Mass for all the good reasons there are to love it–I just haven’t met them yet.

    • Romulus

      Does it not bother you that you felt lost at the place Catholics for over 1,000 years have called home? does it not cause you to wonder if you might be missing something?

      What makes you imagine the priest you mention was wearing satin and lace to honor himself and not God?

      Priests are fallen human beings like the rest of us, and do not become plaster saints when they enter the sanctuary. If you fixate on the personality of the priest at Mass — any Mass — and do not strive to look through him to Jesus Christ the High Priest, you’re doing it wrong.

      Flannery O’Connor: “It is easy for any child to pick out the faults in the sermon on his way
      home from Church every Sunday. It is impossible for him to find out
      the hidden love that makes a man, in spite of his intellectual
      limitations, his neuroticism, his own lack of strength, give up his life
      to the service of God’s people, however bumblingly he may go about it.”

      • anna lisa

        Romulus–you’re taking it all wrong.

        “Can’t we all just get along?”
        –Rodney King 🙂

        I really don’t keep up with the ins and outs of the Trad wars but I’ve seen others who say that the “new traditionalists” are not being entirely honest about their version of the history of the mass. I stay away from those arguments though. (Especially the really wacked out empty seat/throne people).

        I love the mass, and am grateful for it. It is truly the high point of my day. I have a friend from Nagasaki who says her Catholic family suffered without ANY priest for hundreds of years. –Kind of puts things in perspective, eh?

        The Flannery O. quote is spot on. Am I allowed to be a little annoyed over how the priest spoke to us at the ONLY Latin mass I’ve ever been to?–He wasn’t exactly an ambassador of good will. I suppose if I wasn’t laughing (and was a much better person) I’d be a little worried for his soul–he MUST be the exception and not the rule–but I’m constantly picking up on that same tone of imperiousness from Trads in com boxes all over the place. I see a pattern. I don’t think Jesus would approve. I really don’t. It also seems a little squeamishly close to what ailed the Pharisees.–Can’t you see it??

        I don’t like any form of disrespect at mass, I love bells and smells and refined priests, I love European cathedrals and the whole nine yards. I just don’t like sniffy, nose-in-the-air “I’m better than you are” Catholics. It seems like they are way more interested in the way they dress and attend mass than in how they wait upon Jesus in the distressing disguise of the poor.

        What do you think of the EWTN masses?–Not all in Latin, but partially so, much easier to follow and certainly not lacking in any reverence whatsoever!

        • Romulus

          Please consider that the Mass was not designed with your ability to follow in mind. The priest is not speaking to you. Jesus comes whether you have a clue or not. Indeed, rationalism is dangerous to faith. Modern day Catholics need to accept that God is almost entirely mystery, that therefore any divine encounter lacking a huge helping of mystery is probably inauthentic.

          I know there are some (increasingly rare) trad outposts that operate like private clubs. In your charity, please consider that these people are traumatized after decades of marginalization, insult, and neglect. Maybe you can learn to see Jesus in that too.

          • anna lisa

            But Romulus–I *do* follow the mass–and I am so very, very grateful. Anytime my brain circuits start frying over the unfathomable glory of God, I look at a crucifix, or read the gospels, and then am able to marvel at a level that I can *almost* wrap my poor head around. Yes–even that contemplation is lacking, but I can’t think of anything more comforting.

            I’m sorry those groups of Catholics feel traumatized. I don’t understand why, but I *do* know what it feels like to be traumatized. This is how I came out of that painful place:
            Gratitude.
            Gratitude for everything I *do* have: A God who has the hairs on my head counted. A church where I can feel safe, and that has a light burning next to the tabernacle, a husband that loves me more than anything in this world, eight beautiful children who struggle to be good, (and tell me that they love me all the time.) Even if I had none of those earthly blessings, I know that nothing can separate me from the love of God–and for that, there is ALWAYS reason for *gratitude* and celebration–come hell (ISIS! and we think *we* have problems?) or high water.
            pax

  • Utah Rose

    My parish priests are trying to have the congregation a little more reverent, but still a lot of talking before Mass and way too much running around the church for handshakes for the sign of peace. I wonder if this sign is mandatory, because it’s omitted in the Masses on EWTN! One neighboring parish has a sign Silence on the outer doors of the Church. I wonder if this would help and remind people to be more reverent.

    • Romulus

      The “sign of peace” is optional, like almost everything else in the Novus Ordo.

  • Pamela605

    I was really polite last time Rachel Lu wrote her story blasting the N.O. Mass. I’m done pussy footing around. Mrs. Lu you are extremely arrogant and rude and I’m shocked at your attitude. I’m still reeling from your description of Mass as trashy and filth. Please take quiet time before the Lord and ask Him for a repentant heart.

    • GG

      I think you are posting under the wrong article.

    • ForChristAlone

      you’re being judgmental here

    • JDunneSC

      She’s just another modern day Pharisee.

      • GG

        Look in the mirror.

        • JDunneSC

          The difference between us is that I really don’t care what liturgy anyone prefers or seeks out, or really for what reason. Until they write articles (for money) telling the world how much better than everyone else they are. She wrote her pieces, she made her judgements, so now she’s fair game. She doesn’t like it, she shouldn’t have written the articles, much less profited from them.

          • GG

            You reason by emotion, not logic.

            • JDunneSC

              No, I don’t.

              You don’t reason at all, however.

              • Atilla The Possum

                You wouldn’t know reason if someone tied the definition of ‘reason’ to a concrete breezeblock and threw it at your head!
                Then again it would bounce off, you’re so dense.

          • Atilla The Possum

            Hold up! Satan is missing a devil here…

          • Tony

            You aren’t even a Catholic. No Catholic could have written your first sentence. Don’t you have something better to do than be a troll?

      • Atilla The Possum

        And you are a cutting-edge, 21st Century cackpants!

        • JDunneSC

          But I’ve got you dancing to my tune, don’t I…?

          A couple of f-bombs and you prats always show your true colors.

          • Atilla The Possum

            Oh, so that’s what the noise is! By heck! I must call Environmental Health …
            Call that a tune? LOLOL! It sounds more like you mistook a penny whistle for a suppository because, matey, you’re no James Galway!
            ROFLMHO!

    • Atilla The Possum

      The Church of Nice is loud and not so clear because it’s sinking slowly and having difficulty drowning out those like yourself who doth protest too much about social justice and disappearing natterjack toads but remain unconcerned that souls are also becoming extinct…

  • ExJ

    I was raised Catholic but left the church in 1969. When I came back to God I was in an Evangelical church for a while. There was always so much noise and “fellowshipping” before, during, and after the services, I thought Evangelicals must all be extraverts and Catholics must have more introverts. I was very nostalgic for the church you could enter, and it would be full of people, and everyone would be silent and in prayer. I was so disappointed when I attended Catholic services in the 90s to find that they had become almost as noisy as the evangelical services.

    I don’t understand it. People can and do chat and visit and socialize and fellowship EVERYWHERE, so why do we have to take the one place they can be silent and inward and reverent and make it like every other place in the world? Catholic or Evangelical, I’m an outsider.

  • Howie

    As a self-professed liturgy snob like yourself, Dr. Lu, I’d like to thank you for the thoughtful responses you gave to the criticisms you received from your first piece. Somehow I missed that piece, where you may have mentioned the angst that Catholics experience with “schlocky” liturgy, as you call it. Not just “super Catholics”, but all “regular” Catholics. It’s very hard to feel open to receiving grace in the Sacrament, and to feeling forgiveness, when faced with liturgical abuses.

  • Hans

    Wonderful article. Lex orandi, lex credendi. Our relationship with God starts with the liturgy. If we get it wrong with the liturgy, everything else will follow suit. I believe the lack of catechesis that has taken place over the past 40 years is a result of the watering down of the liturgy.

  • ForChristAlone

    Final Score: Liturgy Snobs 158 – Liturgy Schlocks 0

  • Jenny Tomsic Bioche

    God bless you Dr. Lu, it is so affirming to read your clarity which cuts through the Church of Nice rhetoric. I’ve joined and would recommend to anyone here the Facebook group “SLAP-Survivors of Liturgical Abuses in Parishes”. We spar, we rejoice, we take comfort in true reverence for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

  • Anne

    I would not have called you a liturgy snob. Your points about the importance of environment and silent respect at Mass are valid. I was distressed by your condemnation (in your first article) of South Texas and the parishes where you attended Mass. Were you attending at a small parish where the working class congregation could not afford to put anything other than banners on the walls of their church? I feared that you condemned the churches of South Texas for their lack of funds.

    • ForChristAlone

      This is very judgmental.

    • Tony

      The coal miners in my home town were as poor as anybody is now, and they built a magnificent church. Funds have nothing to do with bad taste, slovenliness, irreverence, and disobedience. It doesn’t cost anything at all to sing genuine hymns a capella. Silence and reverence don’t cost anything. And you know what? It wasn’t the poor who took axes to the churches in the 70’s.

  • Andy James

    One of the themes in these discussions is the “emotionalism” and subjectivity that is supposedly infused in the minds of those of us that attend the Novus Ordo mass and prefer it over the EF. My experience has been quite the opposite. The Latin Mass folks I have (sometimes unfortunately) known over the years seem to be pining for the good old days. They have a Norman Rockwell way of looking at the Liturgy, and are caught up more in the sights and smells than they are in the life of Jesus. And I have yet to meet a Traditionalist that has a heart for Jesus and his flock like my charismatic friends. I have conversed with some older folks who remember the old mass much different than the traddies who seem to accept as a fact it was always better in the old days. They remember a mass where attendance was high, but participation and understanding of what was actually happening was very, very low. The women would say their rosary during mass while the men sat outside on the church steps and smoked. This was even more common, maybe even the norm in Europe. The priest was up on the altar doing his thing, while the congregation was along for the ride hoping some Grace would rub off on them. Yeah, there needs to be more reverence in churches these days, that is not disputed. However, I would hate to see things regress back to the “good old days”. The most reverent mass I ever attended had no latin, no chant, no gold trimmed vestments, no altar boys with brill crème…it was in fact celebrated in the desert with a communication wire spool as an altar, ammo cans as seats and the dust of the earth as our kneelers.

    • GG

      Such propaganda. The priest “doing his thing” and the old lady saying her rosary were holier than you or I put together. How long are confession lines today? How many can explain the most basic apsects of the faith?

      BTW, a mass said during wartime or in some exotic circumstances is not the norm we strive for.

      • Andy James

        Holiness has little to do with our rote rituals. Jesus wants our hearts, not our deeds. Liturgy is important, but Grace is paramount.

        • GG

          Rote rituals? Such rash judgement. The old lady understood better than you.

          • Andy James

            Lol. That is EXACTLY the kind of attitude I am referring to and have seen over and over again in Traddies. Jesus judges our hearts, not our actions. Read scripture. He didn’t care much for the Pharisees with their phylacteries and outward appearances. It was a contrite heart he wanted. I have know so many traddies that do all the “right things” but their hearts are as cold as stone.

            • GG

              What nonsense. You are attributing ill will to the poor old holy lady. That is your prejudice. Your arrogance and rash judgement because your position is not Catholic.

              • Andy James

                Lol, and you are canonizing a person from my imagination…because she ‘appears’ to be holy, thus reinforcing everything I have been saying about Traddies and proving my point that it’s all frosting and no cake.

                • GG

                  I am using reason and not prejudice as you do. Like the pharisees you are quick to condemn. The poor old lady knew more about the faith then you reveal here to us.

                  How long are the confession lines again? How many understand about the real Presence? What is the state of marriage? As we pray we believe.

                  • Andy James

                    Dude, it was a fictitious woman from a metaphor, get over it. My point is (and you keep reinforcing it) our relationship with God is more important than our posture (or music, or art, or language) in liturgy. This has been demonstrated to me over and over again in the people I have met from the “conservative” and “traditional” wings of the church. For example, there was a family in my parish that did all the “right” things. They sat quietly at mass, dressed modestly, with head coverings on the women and girls. They bowed lower than everyone else, looked straight ahead during the sign of peace, and would occasionally get up and leave when something in the mass (such as the priest leaving the sanctuary to preach) was not to their approval. Slowly their family fell apart. Oldest daughter knocked up. Older sons getting in trouble with law, smoking, booze…mother left the husband and went back to her Protestant church. Now they are all gone. I saw the same thing in the tradition-minded Legionaries of Christ. Their founder had the approval of the traddie crowd, and he was the worst abuser of all. I know many former Catholics from that order. They have all the moves, but no heart for Jesus. Like I said, all frosting and no cake.

        • Romulus

          Faith without works is dead.

          • Andy James

            Ritual and Liturgy should lead us to Jesus…not the other way around hoss.

            • Romulus

              No, you’re wrong. The Eucharist is an end — THE end — not a means. It is a protestant misunderstanding that the Mass is “for” something — to evangelize, to instruct, to edify or inspire. It is not, and you are not at Mass to get something. You are there to give — your sacrifice of praise and worship, united to the Sacrifice upon the altar.

              • Andy James

                That’s what I was saying…the Liturgy leads to Christ in the Eucharist, not the other way around. Jesus didn’t come into the world so we could have Liturgies…he came so we could have Him. My overwhelming experience is that the Traddie folks are the ones trying to “get something” out of mass. Just read the comments on this article. Unless you are full-on sedavacante, you have to agree that Jesus is present in any validly celebrated mass, whether NO or EF…but the EF folks are always crying about all the things that are missing. Not enough chant, not enough incense, not enough hairnets, not enough latin, wah, wah, wah…what a joyless bunch they are. For crying out loud, I knew a trad once who would leave mass if the priest didn’t elevate the chalice long enough!

                • Romulus

                  You still view the Eucharistic liturgy as a play about Jesus, who comes to us. What you must accept is that in the Eucharist we become mystically present at Calvary. It is a real event, not a memorial show. furthermore, it’s one with the heavenly Wedding Feast, which is precisely why it’s appropriate to spare no effort or expense, including incense.

                  You seem to think traddies attach magical significance to Latin. We do not. Its importance is in its linguistic precision and integrity, its universality, its timelessness. You can look upon it as a reminder that the priest isn’t talking to you.

                  There is nothing wrong with insisting that divine worship deserves everyone’s best. We need to honor God. That’s what makes worship authentic. We don’t do that in a stripped-down, minimalist environment designed around our own comfort.

                  I’m guessing you don’t know any traddie folks. When’s the last time you were present at a TLM?

                  Finally…Hairnets???

  • The_Monk

    By their fruits, you shall know them. The fruits of the modern liturgy tend to be fewer men worshiping weekly. Fewer priestly/religious vocations. Consolidated parishes because fewer in regular attendance generate less revenue. Fewer gradeschools and highschools. Further complications include a laity that is making a lot of bad civic choices. In our archdiocese, most of the people who self-identify as Catholic voted for “same-sex marriage”. More than half regularly vote for blatantly pro-abortion politicians.Liturgy is a heavenly banquet. You can have the happy-meal. Or you can have the full, five-course service. Choose….

  • Susan White

    Great article! Novus Ordo (new order) was established under Masonic influence in order to gradually undermine the mystery of our faith and facilitate a one world religion. We are now obviously in the throes of the natural conclusion of this abomination (warned by many pope’s).
    Several generations of catholics don’t even know the history of the Mass and they fail to realize what’s really going on here. Like impetuous children — they think it’s all about them!!

  • Proteios

    Ive noticed the people who favor a watered down liturgy are often times those who favor their perspective over God’s. They like to downplay any majesty, as if it is self-less, yet impose their humility as much as any ultra-traditionaist I have met. In short, the weaknesses are at both ends. The bulk of us in the middle of the gaussian just seek common sense reverence.

    • GG

      Some truth to your point. The critics of this essay are mostly of the type who say: God does not care about appearance all that matters is that we are there. That reduces everything to a subjectivist rationale while claiming it is all about God.

  • Michael Patrick

    When you boil it all down the focal point of the liturgy is the Blessed Sacrament. The belief in Jesus as present in the church, the knowledge of who He is and why we are taught to lift up our hearts are the tests of a persons catechetical understanding. You comport yourself by the understanding you have of who, what, where and how. The crisis is in the believe of Jesus’s presence in the Eucharist. I will dress, act and pay attention more reverently if I believe that Jesus is physically there just as the person next to me is physically there. If my priest teaches, moves and speaks to the great gift of Jesus hidden it the form of bread and wine then the people (most not all) will catch on and do the same. This why at a Church Teaches Forum a few years ago Cardinal Arinze, who at the time was the Prefect at the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (now Emeritus), admonished our beloved catholic priests to use the homily as catechism class. He mentioned that most parishioners need to be taught what we believe. You can’t defend what you do not know. Abuses in the liturgy occur where ever ignorance of the Eucharist exists. Otherwise The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass turns into a social gathering of universal salvationists!

  • lsma_his

    The First Psalm:

    1 Happy are those
    who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
    or take the path that sinners tread,
    or sit in the seat of scoffers;
    2 but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law they meditate day and night…

    So we are never to take advice from the wicked, or follow along in the behavior of sinners, or sit in counsel with scoffers. How exactly does God expect us to identify the wicked and scoffers if we are never to judge their behavior? As Chesterton said, some people’s minds are so open, their brains fall out!

  • Athanasius Pernath

    Liturgy is the language of religion. It can be a poem or it can be gibberish. Accordingly, religion becomes either a functional link with the divine or a spiritual placebo to satisfy mere human needs.

  • JDunneSC

    So “parish shopping” is okay when SHE does it, but it’s bad when anyone else does it. It’s fine for HER to judge based on exteriors, but it’s bad when anyone else does it. And so on and so on and so on…

    Whatever. She just showed me who and what she really is, and, following HER example, I can only assume that her appallingly unChristian, anti-Catholic behavior is the result of whatever atrocious liturgy it is she’s so high on.

    • GG

      Did you even read the essay?

      • JDunneSC

        Yes. Her holier-than-thou, smug, arrogant, evil-minded views are crystal clear.

        • GG

          More solipsism from the me generation.

          • JDunneSC

            Really? The “me” generation? Which generation is that? You spew mindless insults made to make you look superior, yet all you’re doing is proving my point over and over again.

            Also, upvoting your own comments is seriously douchey.

            • ForChristAlone

              Rude.

              • JDunneSC

                Yes, we know you’re gay. You don’t have to keep telling us.

                • ForChristAlone

                  you’re being rude now

            • GG

              You sound very mature and intelligent.

            • Tony

              Not a Catholic. You are not a Catholic. You are a troll. Go for a walk, do something to enjoy yourself, read a nice book …. stop being a troll.

        • ForChristAlone

          Rude at best

          • JDunneSC

            I’m sorry you’re gay. Does your wife know?

            • ForChristAlone

              You’re being rude.

              • JDunneSC

                Did it seriously take you this long to figure out “fuck you” is rude…? You’re an idiot.

                • ForChristAlone

                  more rudeness

                  • JDunneSC

                    You’re repeating yourself.

                    OTOH, I get the really creepy feeling you’re masturbating to this, so you can go ahead and play broken record all by yourself. Don’t forget to wash the keyboard.

                    • ForChristAlone

                      try not being so rude.

                    • Tony

                      Stop replying. He is a troll. He is obsessed, so he breaks out into obscenities — can’t help it. Do not feed the trolls. Ponticolae non pascendi.

                    • ForChristAlone

                      Good advice. I accept it. Time for me to move on.

    • ForChristAlone

      You’re rude (and dimwitted to boot)

      • JDunneSC

        Piss off, dick-licker.

        • ForChristAlone

          rudeness

  • Kris

    Rachel,
    Bravo! I would add to the discussion another point. As a person looks at the beautiful sunset, or sunrise, or into the eyes of their child or loved one, as they gather in the scent of a summer day or a breeze on a beach-if they realize that God has surrounded us with infinite beauty, than how can we surround him in our churches with less? It isn’t snobbery, it’s appreciation and love. The campy liturgy’s, or those wrought with liturgical abuses, are catering to the people who want a “have it your way” Mass that highlights them and their actions rather than the beautiful loving prayer that we enter into with our creator. There is something inspiring to something beautiful and true….thank you for your very sound arguments!

  • Sue

    Once again, I think the author, like most Catholics, is stuck at the external level of Holy Mass–the beauty of the Church, the music, the vestments, the language–things that appeal only to the senses. Granted, they CAN raise one’s mind to God, but frequently we get stuck on the surface & never get into our hearts where we unite ourselves with Jesus’ Sacrifice on the Cross! This is the main reason I prefer a quiet Mass when I can find one. A church full of reverent, prayerful Catholics who are together united with Our Lord during Holy Mass! Wow! It doesn’t get any better than that! Especially when you can spend time sharing information about the Faith in the parking lot after Mass!

    • Romulus

      Sue, all that sense-appealing stuff isn’t there to inspire you to heavenly thoughts. It’s there for God — a sacrifice of praise. The author makes much of the externals because evidently she believes in most places insufficient trouble is being taken to honor God as he deserves. People spiritually formed by the Novus Ordo have tremendous trouble letting go of the notion that their presence is essential to what’s going on. But it isn’t. Not one little bit.

      • GG

        Right, we are subjectivistic and solipsistic. That is why we deny ireverence matters.

    • JDunneSC

      It’s not most Catholics by any means, but it is most Catholic converts. They like the showy stuff, and anything that brings them personal glory or attention.

      • GG

        The converts are educated in the faith unlike the lukewarm Catholics who go through the motions and know very little.

        • JDunneSC

          Which ones — can you name them by name? Many cradle Catholics are educated as well or better than many converts. This assumption that converts are better Catholics than cradle Catholics is right up there with People Who Attend Latin Mass are better Catholics than People Who Attend the Novus Ordus.

          You reek of pride.

          • GG

            Look in the mirror, you phoney.

            • JDunneSC

              You said that already. You claimed that converts are better educated than cradle Catholics. You know this how? You’ve personally questioned ALL converts and ALL cradle Catholics?

              Careful with that pride addiction — look what happened to Lucifer…

              • ForChristAlone

                Apologize.

                • JDunneSC

                  Go fuck yourself.

                  • ForChristAlone

                    Worse than rude.

                    • JDunneSC

                      You sad little failure. I’m so sorry you have to hide your true sexuality. Must be terribly stressful for you. You poor dear.

                    • ForChristAlone

                      that’s rude.

                    • Atilla The Possum

                      Really? Save your glucose fructose syrup for someone who cares… not a lot of takers, unfortunately!
                      Well, you must be so short of friends – I mean REAL friends; not the undressed window shop taylor’s dummies you found in a dumpster in Greenwich Village or those other life-like humanoids you need a bicycle pump for – that you need to come on here and hang out your dirty excuse for underwear on the line without washing them first. *tsk!* *tsk!* ROFLMHO! You are a sad case. A sordid, spiteful, hoary excuse for a human being in dire need of a jet wash.
                      I’d wager that you are not only a frequent traveller with a lifelong ticket on the Lavender Bus but you walk like the British name for ground beef, too! Who else would bully another poster with taunts about ”true sexuality” other than someone who is there already out of the wardrobe with the key round their neck on a rainbow lanyard!
                      Get help.
                      God love you!

                  • Atilla The Possum

                    There speaks the expert on such things.

              • Atilla The Possum

                You know Satan’s cousin personally, do you? How hot is it down there? Pretty hot? Time to turn up the heat…

          • ForChristAlone

            You are being rude and offensive. Apologize.

            • JDunneSC

              Fuck off, asshole.

              • ForChristAlone

                More rudeness

                • JDunneSC

                  Awwww, mamma’s widdle baby boy needs some attention….boohoo….

                  • ForChristAlone

                    rude

                  • Atilla The Possum

                    Aw, your sad widdle post is your cry for help. Dear, dear diddums! A shortage of Milupa in the cupboard, mammy!
                    Since we are charitable during Lent, we’ll club together and buy you a mirror and bell to attach to your playpen …. then you can talk to someone who shares your sentiments.
                    And you can fill your diaper to your wittle heart’s content.

          • Atilla The Possum

            You reek of a drunkard’s long johns after a night on the beer and a dodgy kebab…

      • ForChristAlone

        Rude in the extreme. On behalf of your fellow Catholics, I apologize to all converts for this rudeness.

        • JDunneSC

          Oh, fuck you, you sad, faggy little piece of shit.

          • ForChristAlone

            you’re still being rude.

            • JDunneSC

              No fucking shit…

              • ForChristAlone

                more rudeness on your part

              • Atilla The Possum

                Aw, what a shame! You poor, sad excuse for a fatberg, you!
                Try some Syrup of Figs, Castor Oil and Senna Pods mixed together with Prunes and watch it flow from your brains into the cesspit.
                Then you will no more say what you have written in your post!

          • Atilla The Possum

            Read this and let your eyes burn, Effluent For Brains! You are no more a Christian, let alone a Catholic, than Jihadi John!
            Troll.

      • Tony

        “Oh Lord, I thank you that you have given me the gift of insight into the wicked hearts of those who have turned to You from their former confusion and even atheism. I know and you know how deeply they are to be despised.”

  • John Cox

    “. . . or huggy sharings-of-peace.” I prefer huggy than the Kiss of Peace (on the lips) [Cf. 1 Cor. 16:20] practiced in the first few centuries of the Church.

  • JDunneSC

    One suspects the out-of-town experience that led to these two pieces is completely imaginary and dreamed up so the author could spew her holier-than-thou nonsense at everyone.

    What an appalling witness she is.

    • ForChristAlone

      You are capable of being a better person. I can sense it.

      • JDunneSC

        When it comes to assholes like you? Nope.

        Christ is cheering from heaven at me telling a prissy little prig like you to fuck off. Believe me, that IS the charitable version of what you deserve.

        • Atilla The Possum

          You are a nasty, disgusting, trashy troll! You are a piece of work and not mistake.
          Who do you think you are? No, don’t tell us! We’ll need a ton of disinfectant to bathe in afterwards!
          Why not take a look in the mirror before it breaks from your ugliness, you supercilious little plonker! See what an appalling ”witness” you are! All you have witnessed in your sad little existence has been filth and not the goodness of Almighty God.
          Crawl back under the stone you came from and stay there permanently and return to being the stone age fossil you are.
          Your days of crimplene chasubles, schlocky liturgies and happy clappy dated ditties that ”pass” for hymns and treating the Mass like an end-of-the-pier show are numbered!
          Deal with it and if you can’t deal with it, bub – go fly a kite near a supremely highly powered pylon!

          • JDunneSC

            Mmhmm. Whatever.

            You’re boring.

          • JDunneSC

            Also, you should probably be very sure of the Mass a person attends before you make such ridiculous accusations, you silly little twat.

          • GG

            This topic brings out posters like this.

          • Tony

            He is not a Catholic. He is a troll. Ignore. Ponticolae non pascendi.

            • ForChristAlone

              Good advice.

  • Mike O

    In musing on the why the mass, in particular daily mass, is so important to humanity, Hilario Belloc identified four qualities, the second of which is : “That the Mass is a careful and rapid ritual. Now it is the function of all ritual (as we see in games, social arrangements and so forth) to relieve the mind by so much of responsibility and initiative and to catch you up (as it were) into itself, leading your life for you during the time it lasts. In this way you experience a singular repose, after which fallowness I am sure one is fitter for action and judgment.” The Path to Rome.

  • John

    You don’t seem to be a liturgy snob to me Mrs. Lu. I think your critics are sugar of the earth poseur Catholics whose religion is “Cutesieanity” rather than Christianity. These people are scum.

  • Singer

    Yes! The mighty and saintly Msgr Richard Schuler made St Agnes a beautiful jewel not only in Frogtown, but in the entire USA! I was a parishioner there for many years! Fr. Moriarty is doing a great job maintaining! Lucky you! Don’t take it for granted!

  • sda

    If your vocation calling is raising children, then a person seriously needs to put their formation as a priority over the “good” you can contribute to the parish.

  • Heidi keene

    I recommend this book to everyone who had taken time to comment in this string. It is very well written, articulate and theologically insightful regarding the Liturgy. I think it may clear up many of the points Mrs Lu has made that may have been ill received.
    “Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis: Sacred Liturgy, the Traditional Latin Mass, and Renewal in the Church ” by Kwasniewski, Peter
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00RR3NK9Q

  • Objectivetruth

    *sigh*………..

    After rereading this article, and doing my best to give Rachel the absolute benefit of the doubt, I’m more depressed than before…..

    “I think it’s interesting how very bad liturgy can sometimes resemble the sort of entertainment we normally expect to find in kindergartens or children’s summer camps, with tinkling music and silly hand gestures. ”

    How can any mass be described as “very bad liturgy?” Seriously, who died and made you liturgy queen? In very many ways, you’re taking a potshot at the priest saying the mass. Yea……the priest. The overworked, under appreciated, burned out, has sacrificed his very life to Jesus Christ and His Church….priest. By calling the mass he is saying “shlockey”, why not just say he’s a lazy slob that doesn’t care or meets your high silver spoon standards?

    Nah…….you shouldn’t have written these articles, Rachel. It was wrong.

    Hopefully no one calls your writing “schlockey” or “very bad writing.”

    You’ve lost a fan.

  • Beircheart

    I read this article and was intrigued.
    So much so I went back and read the “instigator.” My conclusion is
    Dr. Lu is both absolutely correct and completely misses the mark both at the
    same time. The problem is she, as a
    tree, assumes she is the forest. Everything she says is spot on for her, in her
    situation, at her education level, and her personal progress in her faith
    journey. However, to assume any of that puts her in a good position to speak
    for all of Christendom is totally in error.
    I believe that is best left to the Magisterium.

    To begin with, Dr. Lu is not the
    average pew-sitter! It goes without saying, as I say it, the
    average pew-sitters don’t get their opinion pieces regularly published in
    magazines. According to the 2000 U. S. Census, only 27% of Americans achieve
    any sort of college degree; 9% a Master’s, and scant 3% a PhD. Dr. Lu is in
    that top 3%. Any argument that asserts all which appeals to the sensibilities of
    3% (top, bottom, or middle; it doesn’t matter) of any population will be openly
    embraced by the other 97% is an argument initiated from blindness, either
    willful or neglectful.

    In the first article, she criticized a
    South Texas Mass. Ironically, this stands completely opposed to my previous
    suggestion that higher education elevates the appreciation for, though
    certainly is not prerequisite for appreciating higher forms of the Mass. To be
    blunt, this criticism is made from ignorance.
    In order to truly grasp the experience she had she would need to first
    spend time attending Mass in rural areas, or even metropolitan areas of Mexico.
    She would further need to fully appreciate the impact and close historical and
    cultural bond Texas enjoys both with Mexico and with Mexican immigrants along
    with their first, second, and third generation American descendants.

    The gripe about the exchange of peace,
    and I can only assume that is what was being referred to, made no sense at all.
    I’ve been to Mass in Mexico, France, Ireland, Texas, New York, and even Dr.
    Lu’s Minnesota. Every single one of them had the exchange of peace. The expression in each was a tad different in
    fervor because local customs and cultures are different, but beyond that…?

    Much of the remainder of any critique I
    may have would follow in the same vein. I am very happy Dr. Lu has found a rich
    and fulfilling form of Mass that helps her enter into grace with God. I agree that there is too much casual
    mentality in many churches. Even so, to simply
    rubberstamp varying celebrations of the Mass as inferior without taking into
    account the differences I point out above along with myriads of others that
    apply is myopic. While strict adherence to higher forms may well elevate the
    faith for some, it would undoubtedly ruin it for others. I personally wouldn’t
    want that on my conscience nor would I look forward to accounting for it when
    my turn (hopefully) comes to stand before God.

    In the end, I absolutely support parish
    shopping and am personally heartened that Catholic Culture is not
    one-size-fits-all but rather is broad enough to provide a home for as many
    dispositions as it can hold.

  • Geraldine M. Dion

    This is an excellent article! Thank you!

  • Patricia

    Reverence matters. We have been witness to many blessings in our own spiritual lives & that of our children once we began attending the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (& now, in the season of the Great Fast, the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great).

  • clintoncps

    “Glory to Jesus Christ!”

    The Mass — The Divine Liturgy — makes present for us, and makes us present at, The Last Supper, The Crucifixion, and The Resurrections of Jesus Christ, and allows us to participate in an extemporal way in the Heavenly Liturgy with all the angels and saints — our Holy Family.

    What sort of liturgy will elevate our minds, hearts, and spirits to that level? The Holy Spirit has had centuries to develop just that kind of liturgy, and it excludes no one — rich or poor, weak or strong, healthy or burden with sickness — who enters in with love, sincerity, and fear of the Lord. If a liturgical form produces that kind of devotion and communion between the Lord and His people — as He sacrifices His Life for us and takes It, and us, up again — then the liturgy is real: we have come home.

    “Glory forever!”

  • Ann Hessenius

    It is surprising that so many folks do not properly capitalize the Mass when writing. Very surprising.

  • icefalcon

    Great article, Dr. Lu. This is not about Latin, it is about focus.

    We recently had an unsettling experience at a 150+ year old church. We attended mass there the day before Martin Luther King Day. The parish is multi-ethnic, so we did expect some acknowledgment of Rev. King, racial unity etc. But the mass was King Centered, and I don’t mean King of the Universe. A huge portrait of MLK, and the pan-African flag, were brought up during the processional with great reverence and installed in the sanctuary. We all listened to a ten-minute recording of a speech read by MLK during the introductory rites–usually I am getting myself into the frame of mind to participate in the Eucharist, not a political rally. King was mentioned during the homily and prayers of the faithful. “We Shall Overcome” was the communion hymn, followed by a song that extolled MLK’s virtues.

    I could go on. I did write a letter to the pastor (ignored) expressing that, while some mention of MLK’s contributions to the Civil Rights cause would have been appropriate, this was the least Christ-centered mass I had ever attended. The pan-African flag was an odd touch. I thought all Christians are members of the same family irrespective of race; asking the congregation to reverence such a symbol seems divisive and counterintuitive. (Not to even mention that MLK was not a saint, nor was he Catholic, if memory serves, and his personal life was not always exemplary.)

    Even though this particular church has a lot of traditional elements and historic significance, I felt totally out of place. There was no liturgy–there was an MLK pep-rally/memorial service, and oh by the way, “here is Jesus”, as the Euch. minister said to me, as he handed me the communion wafer.

    I do think there is a time and a place during the mass to honor people who have put their lives on the line standing up for moral principles….as I mentioned above, this could be woven into the homily, or it could be one of the intentions. But the Consecration has to remain the focus.

    I suspect that a group of parishioners foisted this agenda on the pastor and he was afraid to speak up and defend the Eucharist because he did not want to be perceived as intolerant. I also believe that this is why a LOT of unfortunate liturgical elements have crept into a lot of parishes. If I belonged to that parish, I would have made more noise, but as it is I simply won’t return. I know they are hurting for maintenance funds. It would be a loss to our Catholic culture if such a storied church closes. Oh well.

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