Saturday, July 03, 2004

Liturgical sanity and ad orientem
I got a huge laugh from Fr. Tharp's personal words of anniversary congratulations to me in our earlier phone conversation today. He said: "Congratulations for making it five years without killing anybody." However, I am not sure I will make it five years and a day. Allow me to explain.

I had one of the most disappointing celebrations of the Holy Mass this evening in recent memory. This weekend finds me with the Spanish Mass rotation. Crowds both at the Saturday evening English and the Saturday evening Spanish Masses have been getting smaller (perhaps a summer phenomenon). Tonight there were about 60 people present. The Spanish Mass is almost always a circus (in my cultural estimation) and quite disappointing for me. Tonight it was even more so. Almost no one sang. I had three little girls serving Mass (I am no fan of altar girls) while at least two young men who never serve sat in the pews . I sat down after the opening prayer and no one moved to come forward to read. From my chair I announced that we needed a reader. And this is where disappointment turned to fury: NO ONE MOVED! People sat there and looked at each other, a few made slight "no" motions of the head, and I sat there looking out at the people. I was just about to stand up and announce that the Mass was canceled, when a nice lady finally stood up way in the back of the church and came forward to read. I am glad she finally jumped in, but I was furious for the remainder of the Mass, as I am even now.

I'm sorry if you disagree with me, but if this nonsense keeps up, I am not going to feel in ANY WAY obliged to offer Mass in these people's tongue so they can sit there and not sing, refuse to enlist their sons for service as altar boys, and refuse to serve as lector EVEN AFTER THE PRIEST ASKS FOR HELP. Am I the only one who finds it ridiculous that I am expected to provide such service to people who show almost no tangible interest in what is being offered (but who would certainly act offended and raise a stink were such service to end)? I mean, I think the mere fact that I, a gringo, am at least trying to sing these Spanish songs ought to shame everyone else in the congregation to at least give it some effort.

Though not a total solution, could I at least enjoy a bit more liturgical sanity by adopting an "ad orientem" liturgical posture? At least by facing liturgical east I wouldn't have to look out at the bored faces, motionless mouths, and the many who say "I will not serve." No, this isn't a recent opinion of mine; just another manifestation or confirmation of the folly of what passes as liturgy these days. I have long held in esteem much of what would be considered "traditional" liturgics. And I am not primarily intending to enter into a "New Mass" vs. "Old Mass" argument here. I refer simply to some of the postures and the order that is normally associated with the Tridentine Rite, but which may also be used in the "New Mass." Don't be surprised if you enter my church and hear English or Spanish but see my back. Heck, don't be surprised if you hear Latin!

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