Monday, July 16, 2012
When You'd Rather Go Anywhere Than "That Parish"
Obviously, such fantasies are not the case very often if at all, and sometimes we need to go to a different parish than the one we are used to. Such is life. But what about when the parish we go to is the last one we would ever want to? A quandary indeed.
I think many of us can feel like that sometimes - when the church we have no other option than to go to is almost nothing less than the most "spirit of Vatican II" saturated parish you could ever imagine. It's all there; or perhaps, it is better to say that it isn't really all there. No crucifixes, the Tabernacle kept off in a corner, ad-libbing, crayon art, no kneelers, two billion "Eucharistic Ministers" (properly known as Extraordinary Ministers), and a partridge in a pear tree.
Unfortunately, I had to go to one of these kinds of parishes (I don't mention the name out of charity) this weekend, and it was a total nightmare. The Mass began with a lay person wandering up and down the aisles asking people to introduce themselves (Jesus, sacramentally present, remains largely ignored in the corner somewhere), followed by no Sign of the Cross but rather a little children's hoedown song that went "Come on children, gonna tell ya 'bout Jesus". Eventually, after much chatting, the priest kind of, sort of, got around to the Mass proceedings. But what followed was even worse - talk in the homily about the Church's oppression of women, refusal to listen to the laity, veiled comparisons between LCWR issues and Old Testament prophets, "intellectual oppression" (no idea what this means at all), and to top it all off, an ad-libbed consecration of the Precious Blood: "And do this in mrmrm...in my memory". Oh, and no "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world..."; no, this is replaced by some "Bread broken so that we might be whole" type of routine.
And when a parishioner says, in response to where you normally go to Mass, that "Ah, that's fine if you like the churchy thing", you know you're in trouble. Frankly, I don't enjoy sitting through Mass wondering if it is even licit and valid. My focus should be on what's going on - the Paschal Mystery. I'm not trying to be uber-picky about everything; I just think the faithful, including myself (however sinful and unfaithful I am), have a right to go to a valid, reverent Mass.
But this is precisely the point I wish to make for any readers struggling to drag themselves to a parish that is so infected with modernism, haphazard ad-libbing, crypto-protestantism, new age thought, and all the rest - if the Mass is valid, then it doesn't matter at the base of it all. I know, it shouldn't be that bad - but still, nonetheless, if the Mass is valid, then go into that Mass for the same reason and with the same burning heart that you would go at any other more orthodox parish. Why?
Because of Him:
Of course, the easier solution would be to go to the parish closest to you that is orthodox, that has a valid, licit, and reverent Mass, that can boast of holy clergy and dedicated laity, that hasn't been utterly decimated by being "open to the openness of the spirit of Vatican II", which, frankly, is anything but being open to the Holy Spirit, in my opinion.
But if you do have to go to "that parish", the one you'd rather avoid, the one you hate going to - if you have to go, go for Jesus. He is, after all, the reason you go in the first place - not for the beauty, not for the smells and bells, but for Christ and Christ alone. And until the wierdness from all the misinterpretating and twisting around of Vatican II dies down, it might just be a cross we faithful have to bear for the time being.