Sunday, August 17, 2008

How not to end your vacation

I'll post on the very good, if also very full, vacation later. Somewhere in all our gear is the camera, but I know not where.

My wife and I chatted briefly this morning how nice it was to again sleep in our own bed, and I realized as well how nice it would be to go back to our parish this morning and not play the game of church roulette that travel can often become (think "Risen Christ 'Crucifix'" and you'll get an idea). That thought was heartening as we drove to Mass.

As we knelt to pray our choir director took to the microphone to mention two announcements that had not made the bulletin this week. The first passed quietly, letting choir members know their practices would start again soon with the end of the summer approaching. The second started even better - "We are starting a new group for the 11AM Mass". My head raced at the thought they might be starting a schola, or at least a group intended to target more traditional musical forms. "We will be singing the same songs as we do now", he continued. My face dropped. "But we will be doing them in a Praise and Worship style." I burped. "We'll be adding instruments including guitar, drums and bongos." The taste of last night's dinner invaded my mouth.

Yup, that's right, I was the victim of liturgical music whiplash. The parish under our new pastor had slowly been righting the liturgical ship, re-introducing things such as incense and candle bearers and even appropriate periods of silence. Everything was pointing to a recovery of the tradition so easily discarded in the silly season which worshiped only the "right now". And now this. In a small way I can now understand the betrayal those who love tradition felt when it was ripped away from them by people who "knew better". I simply, frankly, do not understand why now, when so much of the Church is re-discovering tradition and discovering it is what the younger generation wants rather than this thin and transparent attempt at pandering - that only now do I find myself faced with people who want to go in exactly the opposite direction.

What am I going to do about it? I don't know. As neither a cleric nor a trained musician my opinion will hold little weight and I am constantly harassed by worries that complaining may hamper any future vocation to which God may be calling me and might even cause difficulties in my work with the RCIA team.

Speaking of the RCIA team, I shudder at the mere thought of the impact this decision will have on their formation. Praise and Worship music, and by extension any Mass in which they are used, tends to be wafer-thin on catechetical value and submitting our inquirers, catechumen and candidates to that experience (since the 11AM Mass is the one they attend prior to the Breaking Open the Word sessions) frightens me beyond belief. Thinking back on it I wonder very much if I could have made it through my own RCIA experience if the only Mass I saw was full of P&W - it simply does not show forth a Church fully convinced and deeply invested in the truths it professes. And as a catechist I simply do not know if I am possessed of the spiritual strength to maintain myself appropriately when I have to attend with our candidates and catechumen. How am I to explain to them the Mass of the ages when I have to simultaneously explain that what they are seeing is in fact at significant deviation to it? This, as they say, has disaster written all over it.

St. Robert Bellarmine, St. Charles Borromeo, St. Cecilia and Mary, Mother of God, ora pro nobis!