Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

You’re Doing It Wrong

September 17th, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

Anyone who reads with some regularity will notice that one of the “worst” parishes/clusters in the Diocese of Rochester is the Our Lady of Lourdes/St. Anne cluster, which is being led by Sr. Joan “I am what I am” Sobala, SSJ. It seems that this community is the perfect example of how not to do things. Even leaving the politicking (read “heresy”) aside for the moment, does it seem normal that two healthy parishes in decent areas suddenly, under a new administration, lose several hundred parishioners who miarculously show up at other parishes such as St. Boniface, Blessed Sacrament, Our Lady of Victory, the Latin Mass, and St. Cecilia? I should think not.

I present for your consideration this excerpt from the most recent OLoL/SA bulletin. Click to enlarge it.

“This Sunday at Lourdes (10:30 am) we begin a monthly Youth Mass, with music for children, homily directed at their young lives. Generally, this will be the 3rd Sunday of the month, but not always.”

What exactly is this “music for children” that Sr. Joan mentions? The music at Lourdes is already childish to begin with, what with hymns frequently focusing on diversity and community, not God, the Blessed Sacrament, the Blessed Mother, or any other overtly-Catholic theme. Are children really so mentally-stunted in Sr. Sobala’s eyes that they can’t pick up a hymnal and sing “Go Make of All Disciples”? And what, pray-tell, will the musical accompaniment be for their “young lives”? I have a feeling that the use of the organ will be minimal, at best. Children don’t like being talked down to. They may seem to enjoy the pandering at the moment, but there’s nothing that makes them latch onto the Church and cherish it. There’s no depth to the dumbed-down Catholicism that Sr. Joan and her ilk spoon-feed these young folks. I shudder to think what kind of “teachings” will find their way into these Youth Masses. “Jesus loves everyone, no matter what you do, so don’t worry if you fall into sin – it doesn’t matter.”

The Directory for Masses With Children (1973) says the following regarding what is suitable, musically, for a Youth Mass:

4. Singing and Music

30. Singing must be given great importance in all celebrations, but it is to be especially encouraged in every way for Masses celebrated with children, in view of their special affinity for music. [26] The culture of various peoples and the capabilities of the children present should be taken into account.

If possible, the acclamations should be sung by the children rather than recited, especially the acclamations that form part of the Eucharistic prayer.

31. To facilitate the children’s participation in singing the Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei, it is permissible to use with the melodies appropriate vernacular texts, accepted by competent authority, even if these do not correspond exactly to the liturgical texts. [27]

32. The use of “musical instruments can add a great deal” in Masses with children, especially if they are played by the children themselves. [28] The playing of instruments will help sustain the singing or to encourage the reflection of the children; sometimes in their own fashion instruments express festive joy and the praise of God.

Care should always be taken, however, that the musical accompaniment does not overpower the singing or become a distraction rather than a help to the children. Music should correspond to the purpose intended for the different periods at which it is played during the Mass.

With these precautions and with due and special discretion, recorded music may also be used in Masses with children, in accord with norms established by the conferences of bishops.

The thing which I find very unsettling about these norms are that they aren’t specific. When you read them in light of the Church’s liturgical Tradition, it’s clear what the bishops want in a Youth Mass. However, read through the foggy lens of dissent, this document can be absolutely destroyed, while making it look like everything is in perfect accordance with liturgical correctness. Sr. Joan and her supporters (Nancy DeRycke and hers, too) fail to grasp that they may be able to interpret the letter of these documents how they wish, but they cannot alter the spirit of these documents. Bishops would not enable lay preachers to present their actions as normal to young kids just being formed in the faith. They need to learn the role of priest, deacon, server, lector, all valid liturgical roles. They must not think that being a lay-preacher is a licit liturgical role. It’s not.

In my conluding point, I’d like to ask a question. Does the following quote sound like something a lay woman should say, or does it sound like something an ordained man should say?

“Someone in our travel group wondered if I was gathering homily material. Yes, I said.”

And these people claim they’re not trying to diminish the role of priest? These people claim they’re not hostile? Sr. Joan Sobala is the poster-girl poster-person for dissent in the Church. I sincerely pray that her influence will not infect future generations. Then again, how can it, when half the young families of the cluster left, and there are no priestly prospects for the two parishes? Dissent self-destructs. Just sit back and watch them wither away to insignificance while Truth and Tradition are restored to prominence.

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5 Responses to “You’re Doing It Wrong”

  1. Nerina says:

    I know what I am about to say may be unpopular with some, but here goes:

    I agree, Gen. Those directives are far too vague. And you can see them implemented in their vague glory at my church every 1st Sunday of the month when we have the “children’s liturgy.” We’ve had everything from bongos to kazoos (played by the children, of course) to hand bells. The melodies used are treacly and banal. The children in the choir certainly love to sing them (because they’ve been at practice), but I assure you no other kids are singing in the church. What is really frustrating is to watch adults (especially grandparent types) applaud the efforts. It never fails. Add video recorders and cameras into the mix and you get the idea. Here’s a link to the “Joyful Noise” website:

    NB: I am not criticizing the effort to include children in the Mass. But children can appreciate sacred music without the trappings described above and without being patronized. My kids really, really dislike the children’s Mass (in fact, we won’t go to it anymore), because they feel shortchanged. The readings are simplified to the point of irrelevance, the second reading is omitted completely and the music is…well, awful. Again, I am not criticizing the effort, but don’t set the expectations so low for kids. Stop feeding them 70s folk music (and please stop calling that “contemporary”), introduce them to simple chant and teach them about reverence and mystery. Don’t deprive yet another generation of our rich, liturgical patrimony.

    I realize what I have written sounds harsh to some ears. No one wants to look at the faces of children who are clearly “singing their hearts out” and criticize them. I don’t. But when their actions are more of a distraction and fail to serve the liturgy, then reform is needed. Children are catered to almost 24/7 in our culture. It won’t hurt to have the focus somewhere else during Mass. It is a great time for kids to learn that the world doesn’t revolve around them, or even adults, but around Christ.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Are priests forced to retire immediately aftr turning age 70? Here, our good nun is going to work well past her 70th birthday and there will be no directive for her to retire. If this pans out, this is just another injustice performed in the DOR.

  3. John F. Kennedy says:

    Please don’t associate the following words together any more, “poster girl” and ” Sr. Joan”. It brings awful images to mind!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Well said, Nerina!!!

  5. Bernie says:

    I don’t see any reason for a special Liturgy for children. Just more silly nonsense. The Liturgy is serious business, not entertainment. It’s a bad idea we put into kids’ heads that they need to have fun in order to get anything out of Mass.

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