dimanche, mai 03, 2009

A Painful Lack of Reverence

I have the feeling that this is going to be a long post. But stick with me, there is a moral to the story.


Believe it or not, that last line took me about five minutes to write. Why? Well today I attended my nephew's first communion. It should have been a beautiful occasion, and I'm sure it was to a majority of people who were there, although many of them shouldn't have been anywhere near a church. Some people should just stay away. Yeah, I said it.

If you don't read this blog very often, or it's your first time here, I returned to the Catholic Church about a year and a half ago. However, I returned via the traditional Latin mass or TLM. The Catholic Church before it was radically dismantled in 1962. I never quite liked growing up in the new and improved Catholic church, and it's very painful for me to say that. All that time I didn't even know why I didn't like it, but I didn't. But when I returned to the Catholicism of my ancestors, I experienced and continue to experience the true joy and reverence of God.

Without making this too long, here are the bullet points of what I observed today that has been stuck under my skin:

- the sheer volume of gabbing prior to mass - and even during mass
- When I sat down at my pew, I kneeled down to pray, which I do before every mass. To my surprise, I got looks from people.
- I was also hoping to be able to go to confession before mass. That's also customary in the TLM as needed. As I looked around for an usher, I saw one man, leaning on the wall at the back of the church, reading. So I inquired, "is confession available before mass?". He looked at me like I was from another plant. He started leafing through the bulletin, and said "I'm not sure we even offer that anymore". !!!!!! I should have asked him if someone would make it available to me.
- As I sat at the pew, waiting for the service to start, I could very audibly hear people saying very casually, "oh my God!!!" Who takes the Lord's name in vain, in his own house????
- All throughout the service, people talked. And audibly. The two ladies in front of my Dad and I were having a straight up conversation.
- There is kneeling in the Catholic church. I'd say half of the people were kneeling at the appropriate times.
- At communion time, the chatty lady in front of us said to the girl next to her, "no I'm not going up, I'm Protestant". Now, there is nothing wrong with being Protestant, but the way she said it was in a way that dismissed the little girl's going up for Communion.

Half the time, I was looking to my father in disbelief. I could hardly believe the behavior I was seeing. No reverence, no respect, no nothing.

And as long as I'm ranting, I'll make it much worse.

Altar girls. Lay people distributing communion. And my ex-sister in law later saying, "I went to communion for the first time today".


But in all of this, I had one very beautiful shining moment.

The service was attended by a Monsignor who was (I think they said), the oldest in the diocese. After mass, I went to find him. There are many good priests, but I have an affinity for the faithful Old Timers. When I found him, I introduced myself, and he took my hand as I talked with him. There is a very specific look of someone who is at least, let's say, 98 years old. This is a man who has lived a long time, and has probably witnessed many events on the human spectrucm. I asked him if he would please bless my Rosary. I can't recall his exact words, but he was a very pleasant and kind person...he said something to the effect of, "why, I would love to."

As he blessed it, I could focus on nothing but the glow of the pearls in his small hands. At that moment, I heard nothing else in the room. It all fell away. And he blessed it in latin...

He handed it back to me and said, "I broke mine the other evening". And I replied, "you must have been praying very hard."

Through all of that today, it made me realize one thing. In all of the chaos around us, you have to stay faithful to what you know to be true and right.

And... you have to create moments of grace, they won't simply find you.

Libellés :


Blogger Beer, Bicycles and the VRWC said...

You are only able to control your own behavior.

I might add that the persons who said "OMG" have no idea they are taking the LORD's name in vain. It has become such a normal figure of speech that no one thinks about it. That isn't to condone, but rather explain it.

3:12 AM, mai 04, 2009  
Blogger Amy said...

I think that's exactly it, Deekaman.

We're lucky in that our parish is pretty darned reverent, but we have attended and are tinkering with the idea of going to TLM at St. Stanislaus.

9:27 AM, mai 04, 2009  
Blogger Andrew K said...

Your ending/moral of the story is amazingly true.

10:05 AM, mai 04, 2009  
Blogger TosaGuy said...

I grew up Catholic in a small town. Your post is the same as my experience when I first went to church in Milwaukee.

3:06 PM, mai 04, 2009  
Blogger Phelony Jones said...

Amy... would love to see you all at the TLM some Sunday!

Thanks everyone for your comments, I guess it's amazing to think of how much the bar has moved.

10:24 PM, mai 04, 2009  
Blogger Vir Speluncae Catholicus said...

That was really a good posting. At least you were able to find one small island of Catholicism in a sea of indifference and laziness.

6:41 AM, mai 16, 2009  
Blogger Clifton B said...

Wow, I cannot tell you how many times I am completely distracted during mass because or the circus atmosphere. Sadly it starts from the alter itself. All this joking, clapping and other forms of silliness and don't get me started on all those vapid new hymns!

Where I live they only offer TLM at 7:30 am M-F. Sadly because of work I have only been able to attend once or twice. I am always amazed how well attended it is, even at that inconvenient time.

It takes a lot of training but you can find those moments of grace within the malstrom of irrevence. As a photographer, I concentrate on the tradional artwork to find my reverence and shut out the distractions.

PS it is so nice to know I am not alone when it comes to ranting about circus atmosphere.

12:47 PM, mai 26, 2009  
Blogger Phelony Jones said...

Hello Clifton, am thrilled to have you visiting my blog!

I find it very difficult to attend a regular Catholic mass now. There is a break inside of me where I am both lamenting and appalled by what I see at the new mass. It's truly a blessing to have a TLM available... I can't imagine not being able to have the encounter with mystery at holy mass.

The choice is so clear for me now... this stirring of the heart... being fed by the spirit of God, and pushed upward and onward in his support is such a stark contrast to being annoyed for 50 minutes.

I grew up wishing that I could have seen the old mass... only wish I'd found it sooner :)

9:33 PM, mai 26, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...


1. "Gather" hymnal and almost everything in it. http://class-factotum.blogspot.com/2009/06/more-reasons-to-hate-gather-hymnal.html
2. Clapping during Mass
3. Handholding
4. "Any birthdays today?"
5. Kneelers removed from church (I'm talking to you, St Pius in Tosa)
6. People wearing clothes that they would use for sleeping or painting their house to Mass.

8:28 AM, juillet 10, 2009  

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