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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Here We Go Again...

I've decided to reiterate my previous point and strip all the theatrics so that you can clearly see the actual point being made. Sometimes theatrics are entertaining, but if it's overdone, it obscures the importance of the real message.  


If you are invited to someone's home and you're told that you'll be eating steak, you expect a nice steak with all the trimmings.  Even if the trimmings aren't perfect, you expect them.  What you get is pureed steak in a plastic cup. It tastes like steak, and you partake in it, but when you leave, you say to yourself or others with you, "Well, it was still steak, right?  What's the difference how it's served?"   

Same thing: 

When you go to Mass, you expect a proper Mass, celebrated according to the GIRM, with all the proper elements, nothing added, nothing removed. A proper Mass.  Because that's your RIGHT as a Catholic, is to experience the Sacraments with the proper and reverent preparation.  

But if you're leaving Mass and you're saying to people, "But, Christ was still present, right?  The Sacrament was valid, right?  It's still Jesus...", well, then something is wrong.  

As our professor pointed out, NEVER in the 2,000+ year history of the Catholic Church have statements like that EVER been made.  That should make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.  

If you're making those comments either after your own experience or in a response to a legitimate complaint of someone else who maybe realized the music had heretical lyrics, well...then what you've just had is the spiritual equivalent of a pureed porterhouse steak.  

In making those comments, you're recognizing a deprivation.  Something was supposed to be there...but isn't. 

Is the essence there?  Sure. the case of the dinner, did you really get the entire experience of the steak and what it's really about?  No. 

In the Mass that you leave trying to justify whether Christ was really present or not...what you're saying is that somehow, you've been deprived of what the Mass is and you didn't get to experience the entire reality of the Paschal Mystery. Even if what you did receive was truly the Body, Blood, Soul, Divinity of Christ.   Somehow, you were deprived of some of the grace that SHOULD have been available to you because someone didn't do their job to properly dispose you and everyone else there to be sure you all really understood what this great Mystery is all about.  

Was it valid?  Sure. But were you able to fully experience all the available graces, or was a GIRM-breaking Mass celebrated that deprived you of the full experience?  Pureed steak. 

Don't settle for pureed steak.  

That's all I'm sayin'.  

Oh, and if you're a priest..the Mass doesn't belong to you. It belongs to the Church. Don't serve your children pureed steak when you can provide them with a perfectly grilled porterhouse and all the things that make that porterhouse stand out that much more.  

And everyone...pray for priests, especially those who might not have been properly formed.  Be reverent towards them remembering who they represent, but remember you have the right in charity to make your needs known.  Just don't be a jerk about it. 


Paul in the GNW said...

Great Post and exactly right on! I am so thankful that my parish Priest adheres rigidly to the GIRM - the music is good, but not Chant or to the highest liturgy geek standards. The homilies are pretty basic. We don't do a lot of extras. But all the elements are there.

I almost wish I didn't know the GIRM because then I wouldn't be so annoyed when I travel and find myself in a mass where the GIRM is either unheard of or ignored.

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

Paul: I almost feel the same way sometimes, I wish I didn't know the GIRM, so I wouldn't want to be hanging someone's neck, haha

I'm glad new parish I go to sticks to the GIRM

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Good post! All the good steak sauce in the world will also not make a core product (the steak) better than it is.

Liturgy matters.

Maggie said...

I will never look at steak the same way again.

Scarlett said...

Paul and Joe: I wouldn't assume that you'd be fine with everything you see if you didn't know the GIRM. I hadn't heard of it until a few years ago, but my reaction to some of the things I saw at Mass was still, "Huh?" I could just tell when things weren't right. (Not perfectly, of course, but you just KNOW.) Which led me to google to find out what the heck was going on, which led to the Catholic blogosphere, which of course led to learning how what's supposed to happen is different from what does happen, etc.

Bobby said...


This is a sad state of churches today. It is no longer about studying God's Word, it is no longer about the Bible, but instead "church" is turned into a life enhancement centre, with the clergy being shrinks designed to teach you how to enhance your life, not study God's Word.

Heretics such as Joel Osteen, Brian McLaren, and Erwin McManus are the lead parties in this push by churches, and the music push has been pushed initially by California churches but now pushed by major secular music publishers, Oregon Catholic Press, and GIA Music.

What they call "church" is emergent, and Emergent churches remind me of serving high-fructose corn syrup when what you need really is a nice grilled Alaskan salmon. I watch what I buy at the grocery more often than ever to avoid high-fructose corn syrup.

There's a place for kids dancing to pop tunes -- it's at the dance studio and not at church. I do not attend church to watch teen girls dance to the latest pop tunes. Ten years ago, I commented at a music awards show when a future Hall of Fame professional race car driver (IMHOF, c/o 2005) dresses better than the singers on stage, what has happened to class among artists.

Many Protestant clergy and apologetics sites dislike these "gospel songs" such as "Soon and Very Soon" as much as Catholics -- one major denomination's new hymnal contains plenty of Haugen, Haas, and Oregon Catholic Press material along with the modern rock. They are supportive of the older sacred masterpieces -- not the popular material of the past 150 years. When you're trained in classical music, the modern pop drivel sung in churches today anger you too much that you want to throw a chair to start the TD Ameritrade Lightning Round. (Are you ready, ski daddy?)

Adoro said...

Paul ~ Even before I knew about the GIRM, when I was coming back to the Church, I knew when the liturgy was bad, although I didn't know why. I remember standing there wondering when we were supposed to kneel, because...we weren't kneeling. A few were, and something told me to follow them. They were elderly, and I figured that the elderly of most cultures tends to be the ones to preserve it. (Baby boomer culture largely excluded. *sigh*)

We tend to know instincitvely when something is wrong, going back to that promise to Isaiah of the law to be written on our hearts. We KNOW what is proper to the worship of God, and when that's not happening we start to rationalize what is wrong so as not to make a stir: "That was STILL Jesus present in the Eucharist..."

Um, yeah. But He. Is. Pissed.

I haven't studied the GIRM in depth...yet. I've looked it up, I've used it. But unlike the 609, 168, and 169 codes of MN State Statutes, I can't quote it chapter and verse yet. And actually, I'm happy with that because if I could, I'd probably be happier. But still in denial.

Funny how that works.

So study on, brother, and use that knowledge as God intended. Although THAT particular piece of discernment is between you, God, and those who are in error.


BTW: My own parish is pretty good, our priests are holy, incredible, orthodox, well formed; we have 3 daily masses, we have confessions either before or after each and twice on Saturday, any time by appointment. The homilies are wonderful and they regularly bring up contraception, abortion, persecution, etc. Their homilies are solid. Maybe sometimes bland and general, but not froofroo.

Our music tends to suck, though, and I'll admit I have a very hard time entering into prayer when that prayer is consistently interrupted by bad music, the wrong Psalm being used just because the MD liked Haugen's flimsy paraphrased version of the alternative better, etc.

But let's just say that's soggy overripe corn that shouldn't have been cooked and scrape it off the plate, ok? A steak that has a refused side is still a great steak especially when everything else still enhances it and keeps it what it is. I can deal with ONE bad side that might actually have good intentions. (Although I'm not sure the person who is picking the corn knows what the corn is about, either).

Whew! Long comment!

Adoro said...

Cathy ~ It does matter. That's why we HAVE the GIRM!

Maggie ~ Then you'll have to talk to my professor. He's the one who brought up the steak analogy! And dang if I'm not craving filet mignon!

Scarlett ~ Exactly. We know when things are just...wrong. Like I mentioned to Paul. You saw it, too.

Adoro said...

Bobby ~ Thank you for your comment and perspective.

I'm guessing you aren't Catholic, based on your take on this, and so I especially welcome your perspective. May I ask you your denomination so I (and we all) can have a better understanding?

It seems to be a trend throughout Christianity to throw the baby out with the bath water. To cater to the culture.

We have a huge Megachurch down the road from us that boasts over 11,000 families, they have rock concerts for services, lots of activities, etc. Don't get me wrong..there are some very solid Christians there who are in love with the Lord, but, like any church community, there is the core group of people in love with Christ...and everyone else. The people who come for entertainment, and if they're not being entertained, they go elsewhere.

I've also noted the phenomena of self-help that you note. It seems to exist everywhere. Everyone is looking to something new and innovative. No one is looking to God. No one is looking to Jesus.

And dang it, we need to KNOW that Christ died for our sins! We need to HEAR IT! We need to be told that if we reject Our Lord, we lose our salvation and condemn ourselves to eternal punishment.

Yes, we need to know positive things as well, but stuff that recognizes sin, how to overcome it, and become HOLY. We need to learn how to better order ourselves to God instead of giving in to the world all the time.

We've had several teens from our parish go to the local megachurch with their friends, and they've had a good time there. Good music, food, company, the whole bit. They were a bit awed by the production of it.

But the came back, and they told the Youth Minister that although it was fun and they'd go again with their friends, it was too heavy on entertainment and light on substance. They got bored very quickly. They craved the Sacraments, that deep, deep spiritual connection with God they could only obtain through the Mass, Confession, etc. Of course Youth Ministry everywhere needs externals to help the kids relate ,but when it comes down to it, EVERYONE is looking for the transcendent.

We're all seeking God, and we can't find Him in something that wasn't first designed to honor Him from the very beginning.

Now, I love Praise and Worship music and I sing along in my car, in the shower, in my livingroom, ett. Don't we all?

But...when it comes to worship, all we need is to be directed to God, and we don't need a popular drum beat invented by a grunge band from Seattle to find Him.

God speaks most clearly in profound silence. We ALL need to learn to accept that fact.

Bobby, I am so heartened to know that Protestant clergy and apologetics sites hate the same music we do. It so shows good taste and an inclination for truth!

Based on what you're saying, are you a classicly trained musician? (I am...flute...very proper to classical music...)

Good music fosters prayer. Even if it's not liturgical, it's beautiful, it's a gift from God and ordered TO God in its purity of sound and rhythm.

We all deserve that. God deserves that.

OK, sorry for another very long response!

Vianney33 said...

Great topic and discussion from all!
In my parish what we get it whipped cream and the people are quite happy with it because they don't realize that the Catholic church down the road serves porterhouse steak with most of the trimmings. I constantly hear comments about how great the masses are, how great the music is and how wonderful Father's homilies are. I can barely sit through these Masses without hurling. I am sick of whipped cream! The truth of the matter is that the steak is available but our permissive parents (priests) think us children would prefer the sweet taste of sugar and air. It pains me to know that my fellow parishoners are being malnourished and don't realize it. I just know that if they would experience a real Mass that they would be awe struck as I am each time I attend a true banquet that serves us all we need. I wish we could ban Cool-Whip from our churches.

Bobby said...


For security reasons I can't talk denomination (sigh). But I've been at the forefront of controversy for exposing megachurch attitudes in leadership and have been chastised.

Link to the John MacArthur article:

I have been trained in voice by my long-time voice teacher (most of the past seven years), although it's been sporadic because of work for both of us (we're singles in the lower 30's; we cut back after my father's death a bit) in the past three years. She's stressed out, and we care for each other in ways you wouldn't expect. She's doing her doctorate currently. One year I even took my cat to the lesson to see her cat!

A certain Charlotte-area singer (who is a friend of my teacher; I knew her in my early singing years) and I had interesting exchanges about church music.

And you have the point right on music. Do I want to wear earplugs for a loud rock service to be bombarded for 45 minutes?

They're louder than a Saturday night short track (where noise regulations are in place). Even in college, when I went to a baptism service for a college friend, a suited Bobby looked out of place in front of college students who were casual, and I had to run back to my car to get earplugs for their service! There's no doctrine or theology in "Breathe" (Marie Barnett), or in any of the Chris Tomlin junk that angers me. At a Foursquare in Nashville for a friend's wedding, the congregation stood for Tomlin but not Händel. I was the only one who stood for the later, and it was discussed. That night, I went to the Schermerhorn for the Chamber Orchestra.

We don't need a grunge beat in church. When my voice teacher participates in Haydn's "The Creation", there's more virtue in that than there is from a hard rock band kids think is virtuous in church. Which is more sacred?

Many of these self-help centres (Lakewood, Saddleback, Granger, Mosaic, Newspring, Cornerstone) supported the President, Congress, and their push towards things against the Bible ("marriage", baby murder, et al). Like the Administration of Obama and Pelosi, everything is full of symbolism, light on substance.

Many of these megachurches do not even preach sin, the penalty, heaven, or hell. They do not want people to know the Bible that they will abuse it with the latest paraphrases. I'm tired of megachurches that teach nothing except self-help. Wonder about the church shooting in Illinois in February . . .

Adoro said...

Vianney33 ~ exactly! I like cool whip just fine in its proper place; in the parish hall on a piece of pie while socializing. Not while trying to worship God!

Bobby ~ Thanks for the link, fascinating and right on! On my part, about the ear's not even for a rock concert as I don't go to Lifeteen Masses, but just the standard bad music faire. Sad that they're even in my purse!

A lot of the megachurches, as you point out, are just giving into secularism and relativism, forgetting what a Christian is really about. Thankfully in our Catholic parishes, at least the ones I attend, the priests stick to what we've always believed about abortion, etc., and they continue to focus on those things.

One more thing on the megachurches that some of us have noted: they have a lot of people, but they've also got a revolving door. People come in but they don't stay. They continue shopping. And if a charismatic pastor with a large following leaves for any reason, it's possible the entire church will fold. And then what? Then where will people go? Who's going to pick up the pieces when their guru is gone?

It's a very dangerous trend.