Like many parishes, the Mass is celebrated at my parish in a very hurried, non-reverent manner. It been that way for more than 30 years. Some scheduled Masses are better than others due largely to the different groups of entrenched “liturgical laity”, some celebrants are better than others. Last Sunday I had to go to the evening Mass (typically one of the less reverent) so I braced myself for the worst.
It was a beautiful Mass. Totally unexpected. I had to make a real effort not to cry. Why can’t it be more like that on a regular basis? Why the apathy, excuses and denial when one asks the pastor in a overtly tactful manner about such things?
The Mass was objectively better at presenting the representation of the Sacrifice of God the Son to His Father than most Masses at my parish. I don’t care what anyone else says, but how well the Mass is presented to the faithful is of critical importance. It’s not a matter of “the Mass was valid, that’s all that matters.” That is a horrible excuse. That is denial. That is apathy.
Absent was the rude guitarist who tunes his guitar and banjo during the Mass. Instead we had an excellent cantor and a good pianist. Absent was the lector who changes around words in the readings to be more “feminist-friendly.” Absent was the deacon who routinely butchers the Gospel reading and breaks the flow of the Mass by seemingly not knowing what’s coming next. Absent were poorly trained altar servers (those on duty knew their onions.) Absent was the presider who acted if he was late for a plane.
While the Mass was glorious (thanks be to God), I also felt a little sad afterwards. If I (or anyone) asked my pastor about why can’t we do things more often like this, we’ll get nothing but apathy, excuses, denial and possibly even anger. Don’t get me wrong. This sort of status quo behavior existed long before he came on board.
This isn’t simply a matter of “taste” or preferences. There is objectively good and bad. A guitarist who tunes his guitar during Mass is objectively bad, yet the pastor won’t do anything about it. Allowing a deacon to horrible mangle the Gospel reading each week is objectively wrong when there presider is capable of reading it himself. Allowing a reader to play with the words of the Bible is also objectively wrong.
When do the excuses and denial end? Or is this really as good as it gets? Yes, I am aware of the excuse of “Mass is celebrated on the hoods of Jeeps in combat.” But that’s the best they could do under the circumstances. Nothing wrong with that. But last Sunday’s Mass showed me in a concrete way just how much better Mass can be at my parish.
Is this all just part of our fallen nature? Has evil invaded my parish. Last Sunday’s Mass really opened my eyes.