Yes, YES, Yes!–it is useful in “gaining more protestants into accepting the Catholic Church as the One True Church by giving them a familiar ground to work with.”
My husband and I were evangelical Protestants for the first 47 years of our lives. He came from the Assemblies of God (Pentecostal) and I grew up in the Conference Baptists (Swedish Baptist).
We started attending Mass at the Catholic church down the street from us because our daughters were members of an elite synchronized skating team in Chicago, and practices were held on Sunday mornings from 5:30 A.M. until 1:00P.M. Obviously, we couldn’t attend Protestant churches (in the early 2000s, very few Protestant churches were holding Sat. evening worship services).
So we decided one evening to attend Mass so that we could obey Jesus and continue to “assemble together with other believers.”
We didn’t know much about Catholicism. We had read the Jack T. Chick tracts and figured that they were somewhat exaggerated. In our own childhood churches, we had been taught that the Catholic Church had taken over the “real” church around 300 A.D., and had persecuted the “real” believers, and then had added a lot of pagan practices and goddess worship (Mary) to the “real” Christian gospel.
We knew from doing quite a bit of pro-life work that many Catholics really did believe in Jesus. So we decided that going to Mass was better than not going to church at all.
The Catholic church in our neighborhood was build in 1972, and is quite modern in appearance.
VERY LITTLE of the Mass was Protestant-feeling.
I will repeat that, and please keep in mind that my husband and I know an awful lot about Protestant worship services because we were born and raised Protestant–VERY LITTLE of that Mass resembled ANYTHING that we had ever seen in the Protestant churches.
To us, it seemed like the most ancient, staid, traditional church service (that’s what we called it back then) that we had ever attended in our lives. The only familiar thing in the whole Mass were the Bible readings and the Lord’s Prayer. We felt like we had stepped back in time.
When people say that the Mass is “protestantized,” I wonder what the heck kind of Protestant they’re talking about?! Probably Lutheran or some other mainline denomination, but honestly, most Protestants in the U.S. at this time in history are evangelical, fundamental, Pentecostal, or non-denominational. There are not a lot of mainline Protestants left, and many of those denoms are going “evangelical” in their worship services to try to capture back a few more members.
But at least the Masses we attended were in English.
And at least we could understand the simple folk hymns, which we really liked and still do. In spite of all the claims that the OCP hymns are “Protestant,” we had never heard any of these songs in our lives–and I’ve played piano in Protestant churches all my life and worked under many Protestant song leaders and choir directors, and have many songbooks of Protestant music in my house.
But they at least weren’t chant or something strange-sounding to our Protestant ears. They were just nice modern hymns that we loved and still do.
And it was wonderful that there wasn’t a gallery of statues staring down at us, and images of a sad-faced Jesus with with a bleeding heart, or a Mary with eyes rolled towards heaven with a heart full of arrows. Yes, NOW that I’m Catholic, I love these things. But when we were Protestant, those kinds of things creeped us out.
What we DID see in the neighborhood church was a manger scene, which we didn’t know at the time was “the Holy Family,” which was the name of the parish. That’s the sole “statuary” in the nave.
That didn’t look scary at all to us. We knew all about manger scenes. We believed in them.
And there was no incense or icons or anything weird. There were candles, but the church was well-lit, not dark and spooky-looking. And the people were friendly–they actually said “hi” to us. They didn’t ignore us–I suppose you could say that friendliness and a welcoming attitude are “Protestant.” Well, then we need more of that kind of “Protestant” influence in the Catholic church, because it felt darn nice to be greeted and welcomed. I don’t know what we would have done had we attended one of the Traditional Masses where it’s a grave violation of the rules to speak to someone.
And the missalettes were totally a mystery to us at first, but they were helpful. When I hear people talk about getting rid of missalettes, I cringe. What would Protestants do? For many, it’s their first chance to read about Catholic teachings and theology from a source other than Jack T. Chick.
BTW, I’ve never seen missallettes in any Protestant church.
And the homily was friendly and Biblically-based. We didn’t expect that at all. That’s what we were used to in the Protestant churches–Bible preaching. So again, if Bible preaching is Protestantism in the Mass, well bring it on!
I honestly think that if we had attended a Latin Mass, or any kind of extremely traditional Mass, we would have been scared to death and run out the door and never come back. We would have left the Mass convinced that Catholics were as pagan as voodoo adherents and Wiccans, and we probably would have written Jack T. Chick a letter and said, “Brother, you are right on!”
A few years after we converted to Catholicism, our older daughter converted, too. Our younger daughter and her husband would like to convert, but they are caught up in the time crunch of college and internships.
And amazingly, my husband’s parents, who were terribly upset that we converted to Catholicism, have lately become more interested in Catholicism. A few weeks ago, they attended Mass with us, and my father in law said, “That was a very nice service. I really liked it.”
Yes, yes, a million times yes, the more modern things in the Mass help Protestants to feel less alienated and more like they’re “home.” I know Catholics don’t like these things, but friends, isn’t it worth it to save souls?
St. Paul said that he is all things to all men in order that he might win some.
My mother and father in law’s souls are worth more than all of tradition. After all, Jesus Christ, our Lord, DIED for my father and mother in law. JESUS thought they were worth suffering and dying over. So IMO, we Catholics can sit through “modern” music, modern architecture, and a little hand-clapping once in a while in order to see Protestants like me and my family come home to the Catholic Church.