Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Posts Tagged ‘Liturgy Science Theater 3000’

Passion Mime Cancelled, Due to Lack of Interest

March 30th, 2012, Promulgated by Gen

Many will remember the controversy in Lents past regarding the Passion Mime performed at St. Ambrose. Many will also recall the vehemence with which it was defended by certain individuals. While I don’t want to open old wounds, we simply can’t ignore this development, as announced in the Peace of Christ bulletin (see Romish Graffiti’s post here).

As Scott points out, the most interesting part of the announcement (lament?) in the bulletin is that “enough students didn’t sign up.” Now, doesn’t it seem strange to you that an event that some heralded as a great way to catechize our youth, a popular alternative to traditional methods, should wither away this year because, in an entire school, there were not enough kids willing to participate? Could it be, just maybe, that the kids realize how inappropriate it is to parade into a sanctuary to the rockin’ tunes of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” while wearing face-paint and performing Our Lord’s Passion via pantomime? To mime the Passion of Christ is like sculpting the Pieta out of “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!,” or performing Mozart’s Requiem with a kazoo ensemble. It’s tasteless and nauseating.

Children know when they’re being pandered to, when their superiors appeal to them through condescension rather than through rationality. Kids, as much as some may deny it, yearn to be treated like adults. Insinuating that they can only really grasp the significance of the Passion by putting on a performance which seems to reflect more of Red Skelton than St. John would fall into the “condescending” category. How can we expect our youth to embrace the Faith when they’re presented with triviality? Short answer: we can’t. It won’t happen, so long as they think that it’s okay to play around (maybe with good intentions) in the sanctuary. Granted, I’m sure the Passion Mime is more reverent than many Masses offered in our Diocese. It’s not done maliciously, either. That doesn’t mean it’s okay, though.

So, kudos to the kids of Siena, who have spoken with their feet . . . presumably because mimes don’t use words . . .


The Heart of an Immense Darkness…

January 31st, 2011, Promulgated by Ink

I, too, was present at this “Mass,” and I’m going to be giving my commentary on it.  Hurrah for Catholic Schools Week?

Today was the beginning of Catholic Schools Week, therefore Aquinas deemed it necessary to have a “mass” with the entire school, as well as all of Nazareth Elementary. As it can be imagined, this went about as well as the last one, if a bit worse.

Father Bob Werth said the mass. I didn’t realize how much this would change the entire mass until he opened his mouth. In the opening prayer it was mentioned somewhere about that we shall be solemn “for the next hour or hour and a half.” I thought they were joking, but the mass started at 9:30 and ended at eleven. Long masses are wonderful when they’re, say, Latin mass, but the Father Werth Long Mass is painful.

Father started the FWLM by encouraging us to do the “big sign of the cross,” whereupon he scooped his hands in various ways that vaguely resembled the sign of the cross but seemed more like he was warding off an impending attacker who stood five feet away from him, and somehow his feet were glued to the floor.

I thought it looked like he was slowly and dramatically swatting flies.  It looked really dumb.

The Opening Hymn was, “Shine, Jesus, Shine.” during this hymn, the Nazareth dancers (the same ones from last time, only there were more of them and their dresses contained less fabric.*)paraded around the congregation in the center of the gym, waving their arms in some sort of weird ritualistic dance. This time, they looked less like zombies and more like they were offering up the corn harvest.

*I don’t know why it’s so hard for the little Nazareth dancers to wear sleeves. I understand that ladies no longer wish to wear hats to church, and, as painful as it is, I think it’s not something that can really be controlled anymore. But please, ladies, cover your shoulders when you go to mass. If I could have, i would have given all those girls the Paper Sheets of Shame, like they do in Italian churches.

Nah, the dresses definitely had more fabric.  Lots of fluffy organza-esque stuff, and they were longer this time.  The colours were still awful, though, and they still didn’t fit the liturgical season (light ballerina pink, anyone?), and the dresses were still not appropriate for Mass.  Dance recital, yes.  Mass, not at ALL.  I am agreed on the Paper Sheets of Shame point though.  Those were funny. ^_^

Dear Nazareth teachers: Mass is not a performance.  I love your little children dearly and find them irresistably adorable, of course!  But the Sacrifice of the Mass–the LITURGY! is not a place for them to parade through the area which sould be designated as a “sanctuary” and do their little arm-waving gestures.  And the drum is just unnecessary.  If you have any problems with this, take it up with me.

Father then opened the mass and commented on the situation in Egypt, and somehow the phrase, “it’s not all about the money” sneaked into his speech about three times. It was hard for me to see how it was related because it was hard for me to listen to him at all.

The reading(first and only) and the responsorial psalm went passably, in that they weren’t mentally scarring. The Gospel was from Mark, and it was a good reading. The mass really sterted to go awry at the beginning of the homily.

Fr. Werth seems to be one of those types who likes to give bits of his homily at ALL times of the Mass, not just after the Gospel!  Isn’t this great.  By the way, today’s reading was the Gadarene demoniac, who was possessed by a legion of demons, but then Jesus chased the demons out of the man and into the pigs and then chased the pigs into the sea.  It was awesome. Talk about badass Bible!

Father began by discussing the importance of Catholic schools, which is a good thing, since it seems like our diocese doesn’t really seem to get that. He didn’t talk about the fact that they needed to stay open, though. He spent quite a lot of time praising Aquinas and nazareth for being such good schools and then began discussing his opinions on money. The phrase, “It’s not all about the money” was most of the next part as he said it, then muttered some point about how parents work hard to keep kids in school (which is true), uttered the phrase again, said something else that didn’t really seem related, then shouted the phrase a few more times.

Yeah, I have to say–telling us it’s not all about the money is like saying, “Don’t think of purple elephants.”  We’re students!  The better majority of us listen idly to our parents tell us just how expensive our school is and then move on with life.  (Sorry, Mom.)  The Gospel was about a guy who was POSSESSED.  He had a legion of demons inside him!  And then Jesus kicked all their butts!  How much cooler do you get??  That was the perfect opportunity to sell a totally amazing “Church Militant” homily which glorifies Jesus as a sort of superhero! (I mean, there were tons of little kids there and I think they’d find that story just really, really awesome.)

Somewhere in the homiliy Father Werth stopped talking about schools and started talking about weather. He was annoyed, he said, that people care so much about weather when it doesn’t really matter. At this point I was on the verge of hysterical laughter and had to struggle to maintain silence.

The rest of the homily was him again screaming, “It’s not all about the money” a few hundred times more for good measure and then saying some other stuff. One of these other things was him talking about how Jesus is such a crucial part of our life that he should be the answer to everything. He then began asking everyday questions and encouraging the congregation to respond with, ‘Jesus!’. It went as follows (With FW ans the priest and C as the congregation):

FW: What’s up?
C: Jesus!
FW: How’s it going?
C: Jesus!
FW: What’s the weather like?
C: Jesus!
FW: How are you?
C: Jesus!

…I’m not going to comment a lot on this.  I was trying to stay patient by this point in time.  Any sense of reverence had totally disappeared, and the homily turned the Sacrifice into a talk show. >.<

There were more casual questions that made no sense with the answer as Jesus, but I think the point is there.
He then went on to give five questions that people should be asking themselves daily. I don’t remember exactly what they were, but I can assure you that they were cheesy things such as, ‘How do I see the world differently?” and “Who is in heaven that I should be looking to?” [Both the answers were, of course, Jesus.]

Eventually, the homily ended and after some other, less significantly painful parts of mass, we arrived at the Eucharistic Prayer. During this prayer, the Father would change the words at will, both to change the meaning and to remind everyone of his homily. There were, in the end, maybe two or three sentences of the prayer that were completely unchanged, if that.

Which makes me wonder, was it a legitimate Mass?  He prolonged the words of the Consecration and did two elevations of each the Host and of the chalice–first at the Secret (and waved each the Host and the chalice all the way around the gym) and then at the words of consecration, where they are supposed to be.  The only difference was that at the first elevation, he held the host flat, and at the second, he held it up at the words of “this is my Body.”  If you make it up as you go along, you have destroyed the point of the Sacrifice!  I really, really don’t know if this Mass was legitimate.

The Communion song was, “Lean on Me, ” and I still have no idea how that is a church song. After that song was the song, “Seasons of Love,” which was apparently from the musical Rent. It made me ashamed of the Aquinas choir, because usually they’re pretty okay with at least singing fairly religious songs. Their voices were amazing, but, again, I failed to see how it was related to anything else.

After the usual dull “Post communion reflection” and prayers was the graduation of one of the Chinese exchange students, Joyce, and it went acceptably. Once that was over, however, the mass again became awful as the little dancers gathered again, dancing to the song, “I Send You Out,” which is one of those songs upon which dissertations could be written about how awful it is.

In short, the mass was terrible. None of the elements tied together, the homily made absolutely no sense, and the words were changed for all of it. I don’t feel “churched,” and I don’t think anyone else does either,

Oh yes.  Rent. Let’s do, as a song in MASS, a musical song from a musical about sleeping around.  Lovely. I have nothing against the song itself!  “Seasons of Love” is a fine song, for a Broadway show, and the choir sounds downright flat-out amazing.  But this isn’t a concert, it’s a solemn sacrifice.  Would anyone have known this?  Not at all.

Thank you for reading this, if you made it all the way to the bottom.  If you have any issues with me personally, email me:  Otherwise, comment.  And pray for Aquinas, and for Nazareth.  Pray for deliverance from the insanity, and pray that God gets the respect He is due.  Just once… please.

Creative Liturgical Abuse

January 3rd, 2011, Promulgated by Abaccio

Every so often, I attend Mass somewhere and see a rather creative liturgical abuse.  Most of the time, the geriatric liberals that run these parishes choose tried and true methods of dissent–lay homilies, (il)liturgical prancing, improper vestments, ad-libbing the Eucharistic Prayer, and the other old stand-bys.

It is utterly confusing when I see or hear an abuse of the liturgy that I’ve never even HEARD of before.  Such was the case Sunday at St. Michael Church in Rochester.  I will preface by describing the usual situation there, first.

Whenever I assist at Mass at St. Michael, I hope beforehand that Fr. Larry Tracy is not the priest who will be saying Mass.  He’s a rather notorious abuser of the liturgy, you see.  When he speaks the words of consecration over the chalice, he replaces the phrase “so that sins may be forgiven,” with “so that there may be forgiveness and peace.”  He likes to give a pre-reading (and pre-Gospel) summary of its contents, and blather on at the outset of Mass with some explanation of the day’s feast.  He also, due to arthritis, sits when he ought to stand–when giving his homily, when distributing  Holy Communion, and (most egregiously) for the entire Eucharistic Prayer (including the consecration).  This leads to a miniature bow of the head at the moment of consecration, rather than a genuflection or even a deep bow.  In fact, it’s downright disrespectful.

The people at St. Michael are also rather infamous for creating one giant chain of hand-holding (across the main aisle, etc.) for the Our Father, and featuring an incredibly extended time period in which to offer your fellow congregants the sign of peace.

That’s not to say that everything there is bad–it is perhaps the most beautiful church in the diocese, and the music (though not chant or polyphony) is generally both sacred and astoundingly beautiful.  The music is generally the high point of the liturgy there.

Therefore, I was shocked on Sunday to hear the cantor announce, “Today’s Gloria can be found on page x in your red hymnals, “Angels We Have Heard on High.””

Now, this is just plain absurd!  There’s no possible reason anyone can come up with that justifies this.  Sure, it’s beautiful.  Certainly, it contains the word Gloria.  It’s not the Gloria anymore than “I believe I can fly”  is the Credo.

So, kudos to the folks at St. Michael.  They’ve surprised me with a whole new, fascinating abuse of the Liturgy.  I look forward to Jingle Bells instead of the Sanctus next weekend.

Just because something is objectively beautiful does not make it liturgically appropriate.

AQ/Naz Mass

September 29th, 2010, Promulgated by Ink

Mass today was… interesting, to say the least.  I think I need to be cleansed… heheh, guess I write for the right site then, hmm? =P

This post sums up what Mass was like… very, very well, in fact.  I’ll go through some of it and add my comments in purple.

After my homeroom finally discovered where we were supposed to sit, I started to look around. I glanced at a group of girls wearing sleeveless (but high-collared), short, sparkly peach dresses, and i got a sinking feeling that they would dance. And dance they did. During the opening hymn, the girls (and one boy who was wearing a blue t-shirt and black pants) they couldn’t even make him match the girls! started slowly walking through the isle of Nazareth students, their arms in front of them as if they were zombies. once they reached the front, they stood in a formation and moved oddly in something I would not consider a dance in any context. While they moved, a teacher, presumably the Nazareth music teacher, was standing at a microphone, rocking back and forth and bouncing up and down with a guitar, singing. It was acoustic–were it electric, I just might have walked out right then and there. There was also a teacher (whom I’d heard was a Spanish teacher) on drums. The entire thing looked terribly un-Catholic, and I found myself rather glad that the mass was in the gym – I didn’t want to have bad associations of the Auditorium and I would never wish that on a church. It was like Port-A-Sacred-Heart-Cathedral.

That’s just part of it.  This whole so-called “Mass” was enough for me to end up in tears shortly afterward.  I can call the experience nothing short of outright traumatizing.

Also, a note on the bishop’s homily on angels (which was really about how we should be like angels to others–not really about angels at all but about the community present): it felt weak and nonmotivational, and to be honest… after Fr. Bonsignore’s homily on angels at High Mass on Sunday, I don’t think anyone can top it.