So said my friend in seminary after this morning's Mass. He was referring to a different parish than the one we were at of course, unfortunately the parish nearest to my home. Stark words, but I think they're true. Allow me to explain:
Beforehand on this blog, I have spoken of my experiences at a parish nearest me that have been, frankly, downright horrendous. Though the Mass is (barely, in my unprofessional opinion) valid, the parish itself is literally crawling with error - from the ad-libbed "Behold the Lamb of God" after the consecration, to the priest's homilies that are rife with veiled attacks on the Church, to the makeshift and random structuring of the Mass that features everything from children showing off arts and crafts to halting the Mass in order to focus on a particular painting or writing he found, to getting the entire congregation to raise their hands in blessing a newly-baptized child, this parish has all the worst that the "spirit of Vatican II" movement has to offer.
Hence why my seminarian friend told me the above quote today. Though I vowed to never go again, I have found myself going to this parish a couple of times either due to exhaustion from the week and not wanting to drive the near-hour trek into town to go to my home parish, a beautiful cathedral, or because I had to go to the Saturday evening Mass after a day's hard work and had no energy to drive into town.
My friend told me that he knew it was miserable to have to drive all the way into town after a long day's work, but that it was necessary if I wanted to keep my faith. I think he has a point. The times I have gone to this particularly awful parish, I have left simultaneously embarassed, shocked, dismayed, frustrated, and angry. This is not because I am trying my best to be a judgmental prude taking notes on everyone's mistakes and errors - no, it is because I love the faith, and I hate seeing the faith I spent so many years learning about and studying and immersing myself in being gutted by all kinds of bizarre dissidence, strange New Age-infected spiritualities, and all the rest. I did not become Catholic to fight the Church and attack my own professed religion.
But you can see, with all these reactions of mine, how damaging it is for someone to go to a parish like this - especially, when one is new in the Church and still a bit dreamy about it all. When one looks at the rich beauty of the Church over the past two millenia, to walk into a parish like this one is to literally take a wrecking ball to one's edifice of faith. I have been told, in fact, that considering the effects of visiting a parish like this, it is actually a sin.
Parishes like this, I hope, are on their way out. In the meantime, someone smack me if I ever visit that parish again.
God bless my friend too for admonishing me and placing me back on the straight and narrow.