Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Mass appeal

I went to Mass on last Saturday in my mother's parish church, a beautiful Tudor structure, where she was especially remembered on the first anniversary of her death.
Pedantic historical note: prior to Vatican II in the 60's, Masses were always said in the morning. But since liturgical days start on the evening beforehand (like Christmas Eve still does for us), the Sunday Mass, which remains obligatory, was allowed on the eve of Sunday to permit more people to find a service to attend. Now you will find Sunday Masses from Saturday afternoon to late Sunday night. 

It was a normal parish service, the church mostly filled with local people, a lot of grey hairs but a noticeable contingent of young families with children. The music was what you might expect as the soundtrack to an afternoon soap opera, testosterone-lowering but well sung. Aside from the priest and deacon, the whole thing was done by women. The sound of high heels clanging across the sanctuary floor was constant. What psychological effect does it have to see two older men in robes surrounded by eight women and girls? Given my sensitivities, they seemed more prisoners than presiders; it is a dead end for males.

The scripture readings were chocabloc with love talk this week. The priest, with his remnant Brooklyn accent, gave a clear and practical homily about what Christian love really meant: not a gushy feeling of warmth and benevolence but a readiness to be of service. He's a very Jesus guy, the pastor. Jesus, Jesus, all the time. He ignored the theology of the Gospel of John by misinterpreting "love one another" as "love everybody", which that Gospel clearly does not mean. It is a work which uses the word love but which is otherwise very dualistic and exclusive about who is Us and who is Them. The children of God are not the whole human race, but only the community of Jesus. It's repeated endlessly but Christian like to ignore that nowadays. Anyway, he played out the realistic circles and degrees of intimacy and enmity that we all live with and how to negotiate them with active, not emotional, love. Not bad at all, Father Joe.

The deacon read the intercessions. Here things crashed. These prayers have no fixed text in the modern rite and may be cooked up from scratch. Scratch abounds. Although gramatically well written, they contained the usual thinly-veiled positions on social issues, moral exhortations, etc. The one that irked me most was something about those who serve the poor and the sick and those who teach should know that they are "building the Kingdom of God on earth."


I ain't no sola scriptura guy, but I have done a search and in no place whatever in the New Testament is the verb to build  οἰκοδομέω  and the phrase Kingdom of God   ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ  ever used together. The Kingdom of God is many things but it is definitely not something that humans build.
That utopian crapola, though, makes the phrase very common among contemporary groovy Christians, who want to identify their pet social projects with Jesus. My eyes rolled.

The Eucharistic Prayer he used was one I never heard before. No idea where it came from. Definitely some modern composition.

On leaving the building, all the women were given roses for Mothers' Day, including my 22 year old unmarried niece who is, I hope, not a mother. Non-discrimination ruled.

As I was pulling out of the parking lot, the recorded bells began to play one of the very many very bad Catholic hymns from olden times. The feminization of the Church is not a recent event, just worse now that feminism infects it all and men are on the run. The hymn is called "On This Day O Beautiful Mother" and even as a boy I thought it was embarrassing to have to sing this cooing love song to Jesus' Mommy. Being the intellectual/aesthetic type that I am,  Bhakti style religion has always put me off.  For the theo-musical masochists among you, I leave this link and depart.

Peace out.

PS Next day I visited the cemetary, where her ashes, my Dad's and my sister's are buried, all of whose remains I put in the ground with my own hands. There is one more spot left in the plot and one empty corner of the tombstone for another name one day: mine.




Anonymous said...

This kind of reminded me of my own sundays of the past. I hope you had some kind of peace in visiting your mother's Parish. I hope the habit-dyke infestation did not get in the way of good memories.


DrAndroSF said...

Thanks. The liturgical stuff is epiphenomenal. I was doing my filial duty, and that was important.

Anonymous said...

I wish I were more sagacious. More wise and erudite. That will probably come but, it is wasted on the old and youth is wasted on the young. Flat bellies are, too. As charming as they are at that age. I want to say things. Perhaps it is because I like these little moments and I do not want to discourage them from too much of the wrong thing said or too much of nothing said at all. There are so few times when I feel like I understand someone and they understand me, even if that is not happening at all.


DrAndroSF said...

Navigating the human connection is a tricky business.

Terry Nelson said...
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