Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Beautiful Worship

In the thread below, Rich hijacked my wishes for a Merry Christmas to steer the conversation onto 'beautiful worship' as the key to convicting the next generation. Uncle Jim chided that 'beautiful worship' could be something subjective, and what hits you may not hit me.

*By the way, I'm not complaining about the hijack, it dovetails nicely.

I just got off the phone with my father, which is always a treat b/c he doesn't do phone 'small talk' well.

In the course of our discussion, he mentioned that he and mom attended the 9:00 AM Mass Christmas morning at our home parish. The Mass had all the smells and bells, incense, singing and chanting, full compliment of servers, even lasted 1.5 hours.

Drove him nuts.

Not that it was too long, not that the homily was bad, not that the singing was offkey (we didn't discuss most of that), but a family in front of them seemingly have had infrequent attendence at best, and in dad's words: "The kids were old enough to know better" than what their behavior showed.

"I left Christmas Mass with the desire to go home and get a drink at 10:30 in the morning."

I wonder if the family in front of my parents left 'convicted.'

Admittedly, it is unfair to ask one liturgy to do that, but it could happen, because ultimately Mass is where we have the most profound interaction with Christ (and Adoration as an offshoot that returns us deeper into Mass.)

But, to know Jesus, one must first know about Jesus. But knowing about Jesus isn't enough to sustain a life long pilgrimage of faith.

Hmmm.... dilemma.

Much more to ponder over in this great season of Christmas.


Adoro te Devote said...

Good points.

I've experienced and have been involved in both beautiful and trashy liturgies.

Last Christmas, I'd had a great Advent and was looking forward to a wonderful, reverent Mass.

I was subjected to LifeTeen, which inspired me to write a parody of the experience:

The comments explain a little more.

Anyway, this Christmas Eve, same thing, but a different band...not as hard as LifeTeen, but still, I had to occasionally look around because I thought I saw the music we were using for the Gloria in a local mega church commercial with grunge-looking songleaders and all.

Ironically, part of my current job is as liturgical liason for the teen (not Life Teen) band in my parish. But they will be doing Chant soon...seriously. And Father is thrilled!

We suffer a lot in liturgies, and while "upbeat" music is fine, it's a different story when the crucifix is rattled off the wall over the altar, the gold chalice shatters as if dipped in Nitrous Oxide, and the entire building moves from the foundation into the center of the closest highway thanks to the vibrations from the drums and distortion on the electric guitars.

Beauty has its place. Locally, we have a ministry for teens and young adults; they give 2 years of their life to travel in an evangelical (Catholic) outreach, and their Masses are marked by the rock-n-roll I have just described. While the music does tend to be more liturically correct than LifeTeen bring-the-house-down performances, a friend long involved with them told me, "They outgrow it. They get pulled in by the music...but then they grow up before their 2 years are up. And they never go back."

Raunchy music might be a hook, but it doesn't sustain.

I have seen it work with some of these kids, so I'm sucking it up for now. But beauty and transcendance is what the spirtually maturing really seek; not the head-banging crash-to-the-ground temporary insanity caused by protestant riffs in band form used in Catholic worship. my real feelings show here?

Alexander said...

This post is directed at no one. Just making some commetns.

The right kind of worship - that is using the superior forms and prayers at Mass can help to convey Catholic doctrine and the sense of the sacred better than not using them or using inferior ones.

For example; using incense instead of none or having the priest face ad orientem instead of facing the people. Things like this can help increase reverence and form a better protection of Catholic doctrine against misinterpretation and error.

However good teaching on what the traditional forms mean also helps. I talked to a lady once who had no idea why incense was used. Once I explained it to her I think she understood it better. The same could be said for myself. I never understood why using certain methods at Mass (such as receiving on the tongue and kneeling, using Latin, etc.) or even in everyday life (like wearing a Saint’s medal for example) was important or did any good. Once I realized the deeper meaning and significance of these things it was very easy to see why they should be used.

I will take receiving communion kneeling as an example to go into further detail with (I go to Traditional Latin Masses by the way.. if anyone wants to see how a Mass should be done head on over to Sacred Heart Church in Cincy or Our Lady of the Rosary in Dayton when they do the High Masses). You are receiving Christ and as we all know externals signs, gestures and even body positioning helps to convey the sacred to not only our minds and hearts but also all present and even to God since great Saints and even Christ Himself assumed different bodily positions in certain instances to show their love, respect and humility towards God – and of course its even demanded by God in some instances in Scripture.

Receiving the Eucharist kneeling is superior because it helps to put the minds and hearts of the laity into a better level of holiness and sense of the sacred about what is goign on at Mass and therefore helps to better convey Catholic doctrine on the Real Presence and gives to Christ better reverence and humility over standing.

That is but one example of forums we can use at Mass – even the New Mass – which can help the sense of the sacred and as a result it will help against abuses, misinterpretations, and help plunge the minds and hearts of the faithful into the Mystery of Christ and his Sacrifice at Calvary.

Hidden One said...

As to Fr.'s dilemma - it was Archbishop Fulton Sheen who said something like "Our Blessed Lord said: 'If you do my will, you will know my doctrine.' He never said, "If you know my doctrine you will do my will."