Thursday, July 8, 2010

An Apology to Mark Shea. Revised (Why Liturgical Abuse Matters)

Retraction: My apologies to Mark Shea on this post. I misread his quotation from a reader of his where he used two indentations in the quote making it appear as if he was replying to the reader, when in actuality it was the reader's indentations that were left in the quote, and Mark Shea later responded to the reader halfway down the page. My mistake and my apologies to Mark. So I revised the post to retract my misrepresentation of him. 
Matthew J. Bellisario

I wonder if a fellow Catholic would give the Pope a slice of stale pizza and a flat RC Cola if the Holy Father visited their house tomorrow? It seems so based on the attitude many Catholics have for the Mass. I ran across a post put up today by the Catholic "apologist" Mark Shea. Some unfortunate person sought liturgical advice from Mark regarding liturgical music. Mark makes a few comments on what he feels to be going over the line in such matters. For the most part the post was quite a bore, but one portion that his reader wrote caught my attention, and it really shows the ineptitude that we have stirring in the Catholic world today.

"As in everything Liturgical these day, it seems one must try to be as generous as possible, assume the best intentions, and allow for simple incoherence by people who are not thinking too clearly. So bad music, intentions that don’t intend anything, priests ad libs that don’t actually make any sense – these, and other like them I can live with, and have for decades." A Catholic Reader-
See entire post here.

So here is the basic attitude many Catholics have for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. People who have no idea what they are doing regarding the liturgy is no problem for them. Bad music and priests ad libbing during the liturgy, no problem either! They can live with it, and so should you! After all, he has for decades folks, whats your problem? Should we have a problem with abuses that Holy Mother Church has been opposing for years, like bad music and ad-libbing priests?

In case we have forgotten, the problem is that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is present at each and every  Mass! That is why we should not just "live with it." In case Catholics are wondering, it is almighty God to whom we are giving due worship to in the Mass. It is not a social function where anything goes as long as I get the Eucharist, which is the constant attitude many Catholics have today. If the general churchgoer on Sunday never says anything about these abuses then the abuses will not stop. And if one is content to "live with it", that he means he really could care less about it. This lackadaisical mentality is why the liturgical abuses have been going on for decades. Its because people like "the reader" can "live with it." If the priest makes up his own words, no problem. I mean after all, its only the Mass right? Its only the most sacred act of worship that has ever occurred on the planet. Christ is being crucified before our very eyes, offering Himself, the pure sacrifice to the Father for us miserable sinners, why not tolerate bad music and ad-libbing! If the music, words or the actions of the priest  don't even come close to the liturgical context of the Holy Sacrifice, just deal with it! Why be a stickler on such things? I think you get my point. I am not saying that we should jump out of our pews every time something happens. But I am saying that we should do our best to oppose such actions in the liturgy as best and as charitable as we can. We should not just "live with it."

I know, I'll be labeled a Rad Trad by many for expressing my concern about how we give honor and worship to God in the liturgy. I would however rather be a "rad-Trad" than one who can just live with ad-libbing priests, bad music, and people running the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass who have no clue as to what is happening! Unfortunately its no problem for many Catholics today.

Pope Urban VII said he following in 1634. Perhaps those with this "I can live with it" mentality should think about his words.

"If there is anything divine among man's possessions which might excite the envy of the citizens of heaven (could they ever be swayed by such a passion), this is undoubtedly the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, by means of which men, having before their eyes, and taking into their hands the very Creator of heaven and earth, experience, while still on earth, a certain anticipation of heaven.

How keenly, then, must mortals strive to preserve and protect this inestimable privilege with all due worship and reverence, and be ever on their guard lest their negligence offend the angels who vie with them in eager adoration!" 


scotju said...

RC!? Everybody knows that Coke is the real thing! All kidding aside, I agree with you that the songs we sing suck. We have a nearly 2,000 year backlog of good songs, anthems, and hymns, yet we sing these stupid things that came out of VII, or worst yet, Prot hymns like "How Great Thou Art". I heard better msic in the Anglican Church I attended before I turned Catholic!

Mark P. Shea said...

Thanks. Well done.

And, by the way, to avoid confusion in the future about my views on the liturgy, my extreme disinclination to pontificate on same (precisely because I don't set myself up as any kind of expert), and my determination to be grateful rather than critical for any Mass Holy Mother Church offers me, please see this where I wrote:

2) I was raised completely outside the Christian tradition, having darkened the door of a church perhaps a dozen times in my formative years and only becoming Christian in the context of a small non-denominational sect in college. I came from a "tradition" whose liturgy consisted of three fast songs, three medium songs, three slow songs, a time of praise and worship typically involving tongues and prophecy, an hour-long homily/favorite Bible passages mélange, a time of prayer and personal ministry, and the sacrament of coffee and donuts. It was a real, albeit deeply impoverished liturgy ("liturgical" in that it was a ritual that never varied from week to week).

When I became Catholic, I did so knowing that I came from a world that was radically impoverished liturgically, and so I did not take it upon myself to waltz into the Church and start holding forth on How She Could Improve the Mass to Suit Me. What did I know? Some wet-behind-the-ears convert from a non-denominational storefront church presuming to hold forth on the Divine Mysteries? Who needs it? Best for me to keep my trap shut and say "thanks" for the Awesome Gift. I've held to that policy ever since. I don't know from nothing about the fine details of liturgy, but I do know it's my business to be grateful for the Mass, not bitter and hyper-critical about it. I have this weird notion that "Eucharist" means I should be thankful. And this policy was only reinforced by the spectacle of watching not a few converts of the Matatics variety sashay into the Church, look around, find it's not perfect enough for them, and proceed to walk out the opposite door because She doesn't suit their discriminating tastes or theological theories.

Me: I'll take any Mass Mother Church gives me and be grateful for it. Ordinary Form, Extraordinary Form, I don't care. And I don't care if enthusiasts for either look down on me for my indiscriminate gratitude for the Mass. They are not my judges, nor even my bishop. They are just some Catholic I don't know and who don't know me who have deluded themselves into thinking somebody died and made them the arbiters of what constitutes Truly True Catholic Faith. And they exist at the Progressive Dissent and Reactionary Dissent poles of the Church, looking down with revulsion on Catholics who gape and grin and thank God for whatever Mass He sends our way.

For related reasons, I therefore welcome as "Catholic" any theology the Church has not condemned, even though it may not be my cup of tea, because it's the Church's business, not mine, to decide who is and isn't "really" Catholic. I apply this even to Progressives and Reactionaries who sling the label "neo-Catholic" at those who commit the grave sin of being grateful for the Council, the papacy of John Paul II, and the Ordinary Form.

Are there problems with the liturgy? Sure. I'm from Seattle, Land of Liturgical Abuse. I could tell you about some lulus I've seen. But when the liturgy is not abused -- and, indeed, even when it is -- I try to focus on gratitude to the God Who overcomes our human idiocies through the Great Gift.

Mark P. Shea said...

Thanks. Well done.

And, by the way, to avoid confusion in the future about my views on the liturgy, my extreme disinclination to pontificate on same (precisely because I don't set myself up as any kind of expert), and my determination to be grateful rather than critical for any Mass Holy Mother Church offers me, please see this. In particular, note my reply to point 2.