Saturday, June 13, 2009

Msgr. DeGrocco and Msgr. McNamara do a tag team on Reverence at Mass in The Long Island Catholic. My comments are in red and emphasis in bold, following the Fr. Z. protocol.

DeGrocco: Coffee cups, water bottles,bathrooms and ritual behavior

"If it seems our liturgical celebrations are lacking a sense of the holy and transcendent, the problem is not with the rite itself; it is with the way we are enacting the rite. [I agree but some traditionalist Catholics disagree - they say some of the changes in the Rite itself are the problem] Of course, there is no excuse for a poorly enacted ritual on the part of the liturgical ministers [seen it], and any one or a combination of a careless presider [seen it], a poor leader of song [heard it] banal or unsingable music [is there any other type of Church music?], ill-trained altar servers [seen it], or a reader’s incomprehensible proclamation of the Word of God [heard it, including mistakes that changed the entire meaning of a sentence which is why I always read the missalette] will have deleterious effects on the sense of reverence and transcendence that should be part of liturgical celebrations. But even when all those aspects of the ritual are done well [generally the case at the parish I now attend], there is still something more required, and that is the proper ritual behavior of the assembly, of each and every person present who makes up the Body of Christ gathered together to enter into mystery."

"Perhaps an inability to “get something out of Mass” results from a lack of proper behavior that would allow us to fully enter into it in the first place. When we bring Starbucks coffee cups and vitamin water bottles into church we make going into Mass the same as going anywhere else. By behaving the same way in church as we do elsewhere in terms of our bodily posture, our conversational volume, and even in the way we dress, are we expressing a subtle message about our fear of letting that time and that space truly be something different where we will encounter the holy? Do we deliberately try to tone down or tame the transcendent because we are afraid of it: because we are afraid we might really be transformed, afraid that a real demand might be made on us in terms of changing our life to live in greater conformity with Christ?" [YES! oh wait, those were rhetorical questions]

Ding, McNamara enters the ring: The proper focus of worship is Jesus Christ

"In a recent article in Time magazine on using Twitter at Sunday worship, the writer said, “If worship is about creating community, Twitter is an undeniably useful tool.”Twitter may be a useful tool, but worship is not about creating community." [This should be stamped on Catholic foreheads, perhaps on Ash Wed.] The creation of community is the result of our worship of God. We have become so preoccupied with ourselves in our culture that we are turned inward in a blinding prison. If we cannot see beyond ourselves, we cannot worship God. If we do not appreciate that our true home is in heaven, we will expect this life to be all there is, and we will be disappointed. One of the most critical obstacles to faith today is our preoccupation with ourselves and our lack of appreciation and anticipation of life with God forever.The irreverent and all too prevalent talking in Church is a further symptom of this, as is the complaint that I don’t get anything out of going to Church.

Here are other snips from this article which is really good so it should be read entirely:

"The proper focus of worship is not community or feeling good. Worship is not entertainment."

"The proper focus of worship for us as Christians is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the center of our community, and Jesus is the center of our worship."

"The centrality of Christ also has implications for the priest at Mass. ..... If he inserts his personality too much into the Mass, he becomes a distraction. This is also true when telling jokes and bantering about baseball scores is a regular shtick. "

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