Saturday, January 26, 2013

Picking Nits?

As Fr. Z said: The New Evangelization also requires a sweeping of the floors.

A friend recently suggest to me that I should not be concerned so much with the overuse of EMHCs. He asked how it affected my "walk with Jesus".

My view is that of the many dozens of changes made in the wake of Vatican II, most of them, taken individually, are of little import. However, taken in their totality--as indeed they must be--they are scandalous.

Mass was, before the Council, a reverent sacrifice. The laity were indeed reverent, silent before the Mass, and prayerful (most of them, at least) during the Mass. The celebrant (not presider) and the laity faced their Lord together. The celebrant offered the prayers, and the faithful assisted, with prayers responses from the Missal, and with prayers of their own (many prayed the Rosary during the parts where the celebrant could not be heard.) We had a sermon, not the all too often feel-good homily, but a usually firm teaching, which did, on occasion, become a stern admonition against the sinful practices of those who needed to hear it.

And in my youth, I do not recall seeing the dash to the parking lot before the closing prayers.

The design and decoration of our churches was traditional and reflected the reverence to our Lord, to whatever degree the parish could afford. There were fancy churches, and plain ones such as the parish in which I grew up. We had not stained glass windows, but windows with an applied and very regular pattern, much less expensive, but still in a very traditional motif.

At no time did the church, in the interval before Mass, sound more like a parish hall than like the house of our Lord.

The Missal was given in Latin and English, and those of us who took such things seriously could easily see the relation between the two forms, and could readily follow the Latin. Admittedly, the particular priest might enunciate less well than we might hope, or the church acoustics could interfere, and in these cases, following was chancey. It was, however, never impossible.

We go to Mass to worship our Lord. At least, we are supposed to go for that purpose. It's not a communal meal, nor a picnic. Despite what is seen in many parishes, it is not about us congratulating one another on our piety and good works. It is worship, and it is our obligation, as Catholics, to be there each week.

As to the picking of nits, I find as follows:
  • We should do our best not to allow the local variations to distract us from worship.
  • We should prepare ourselves for Mass, arriving early enough to purge the distractions from our minds, and to pray well before Mass, the better to assist in the sacrifice.
  • We should, when the local variations intrude, remember to discuss them with our priests, letting them know how and why these things were disturbing.
  • We should not be accepting of practices which violate the rubrics and intention of Holy Mother Church, but should, respectfully, point out the concerns we feel about them.
  • We should educate ourselves endlessly in our faith according to the true teachings of the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church should be as well read as our Bibles and Missals.
  • We should, gently and respectfully, remind our priests (and when necessary, our bishops) that when the deviations from form reach a certain level, they are no longer minor, but become a scandal.
  • We should, we must, pray for our priests and bishops.
I suggest, too, that we pray for a conversion of heart for the liturgists and music directors who contribute the deviations to our parishes.


  1. I am praying with you and Father Z and all like-minded on these matters. Though I am still only approaching the Church in a rural area with no catechism accessible as I no longer drive to the places where it is, the resources of Scripture, the Missal (the 1962 I was given by a kind SSPXer), and the CCC, not to mention the Vatican, Catholic Encyclopedia and countless other good Catholic resources, are blessings indeed.

    1. The CCC is excellent--use it well. It will, over time, be better than a class. Use it especially through the index, as a reference volume to address questions which arise each day.

      We are lucky indeed to have so many good references online. Look at for the CCC online, and for commentaries on the Sunday readings.

      I also recommend very strongly that you get the Ignatius Study Bible NT, as the commentaries are excellent. If your location is remote, you need the benefits you can get from good commentary.

  2. Bill: Thanks for the encouragement! I was not thinking of becoming a Catholic when I moved to where I live in rural Iowa over two decades ago. Your four years of RCIA seems to indicate that some local parish-directed RCIA is required at some point for acceptance into, and faithful membership in, the Church, perhaps depending on the parish, so I continue to pray for guidance as to how that will happen. Meanwhile, I will pray to make good use of the CCC and the St. Charles Borromeo Bible Studies. I have several Catholic Bibles including the Ignatius and their Study Bible will be very helpful. I'm a retired librarian (among other things), so am glad to be able to devote many more hours to reading and prayer now.
    Larry White

  3. I am always glad if I can offer encouragement. I spent two years in RCIA; my wife also spent two, but we overlapped only one year.

    In the end, we must all answer to our Lord individually for our lives, so I think we must take responsibility for knowing our faith. We have seen that not all priests are really in accord with Rome, and how much greater, therefore is the risk that what we are told by a catechist is off the mark?

    We are protected by sensus fidei, but I do not hope for more from that than the twinge which tells me I need to check what I have been told. The CCC is your friend!