It’s becoming clear to me that one thing that hurts my parish is what I would call the “stripping down” of the Mass. Not liturgical abuses or irrgularites per se, but an absolute minimalist/utilitarian approach to celebrating the Mass. As quick and easy as possible.
In my parish, we now only see incense at Requiem Masses, and sometimes not even then. Our pastor refuses to bring back sanctus bells. The priestly vestments look like cheap bedsheets, even though there are nice vestments ready for use hanging in the sacristy. The “sacred vessels” look like cast-off glassware from Wal*Mart. The leather-bound evangeliary has been replaced by a cheap binder with Xeroxed sheets.
The homilies are short and without content. The music has really been dumbed-down. People now listen rather than sing a long. The last Rite of Sprinkling I recall was over three years ago. Literally every bit of the Mass has been stripped down.
Yet if one mention their concerns to the pastor, he gets horribly defensive – as did the priest he replaced. I left Mass last Sunday morning and even though I was one of the last out of the building, it took only 40 minutes. I felt rather sad. Rather hollow. I thought about saying a few prayers and lighting a votive, but I couldn’t bring myself to flip a switch to light a “votive light” in place of an actual candle (yes we have the permits and insurance for real candles.)
If anyone asks me why the Church is struggling so terribly in the USA, I’ll reflect back not on the homosexual rapes of teens by priests or the pedophilia, but on that hollow feeling I felt last Sunday morning at 8:40 am…