Quote of the day

“I must honestly tell you that our Christmas Eve liturgy was so slap-dash, so irreverent and untrained and featured music so poorly chosen and executed that it was joyless, perfunctory and at times just so awful as to feel more like torture than celebration.

Even my husband, who never has a bad word to say, called it ‘unendurable.’ The observation was made within our group that ‘that mass is exactly why people can’t be bothered coming to mass and young men do not think of becoming priests.’  Certainly for those Catholics who only show up for Christmas and Easter, there was nothing there to entice their return any time soon. It is said that in monastic houses, if the community can be taught to really learn the chant that is the prayer of the church, the rest falls into place.

I suggest that if we could get our ordinary liturgy back into shape it would be a step toward saving the church.”

— Elizabeth Scalia, scribbling on this wall.

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10 responses to “Quote of the day”

  1. Here is what I said on that wall…

    This is most unfortunate and poor liturgy is at the heart of so many troubles. Unendurable sounds awful. Elizabeth, I find myself curious about the state of liturgy in general at your parish… Good, bad, mediocre? I realize – and with great gratitude, that I am blessed to worship in one parish and work in another, both places of excellent liturgical practice. I was grateful to be in my worship parish on Christmas Eve and to consider how many seeds might be sown among those present for that one service only.

    Of course the real work comes when the conversation about what makes good liturgy takes place.

  2. We are fortunate in our parish that the Christmas Masses were lovely. The non-holiday “ordinary” Masses are also celebrated with dignity and reverence. Of course it takes leadership from the pastor, but I wonder, in places where liturgy isn’t so good, how willing people are to do their part to make them good? Are those who have musical talent willing to join choir or play the organ for Mass? Are the artistic ones there to “hang the greens” etc.? Do the lectors and readers go over their readings ahead of time, so that they are confident and have the pronunciations right?

  3. Guys…

    At the America Facebook page, you’ll see a tab at the top in blue with options: “America Magazine + Others” or “Just America Magazine.” Click on “America Magazine + Others” and it will take you to the wall posting by Elizabeth and a number of other people (including, surprisingly, Anne Rice!)

    Dcn. G.

  4. I was just going to remark that none of what the correspondent describes prevented Christ from being truly present in the four-fold way He is in the liturgy. Besides, it only highlights how great is our need, our poverty, which, at least at times, can be papered over.

  5. As an aside, Christmas Midnight Mass in my parish (actually starting at 11:00pm — long story) was the first time in six months I wore a Dalmatic at the parish level and the first time we did full incensing (Gospel, Offertory and People) in over a year. Everything went well. The full adult choir had the music and was accompanied by our twenty-year old Music Director playing our century old pipe organ.

    All in all, quite a liturgy!

    [Wow, Norb. I wear a dalmatic at every mass, and we do full incensing every Sunday at the 11:30 mass — our “high” mass, which includes the choir and a full contingent of a dozen or so altar servers, several carrying torches! Dcn. G.]

  6. I am surprised that they managed to endure something that was unendurable. While I sometimes find the liturgy to be less then spectacular, I find that if I concentrate on the true importance of the concentration, the rest kind of fades fades away and becomes beautiful and sacred anyway.

    I have also noticed in these kind of tirades that the author always seem to think that their dislikes and values are universal and everyone must agree with them. Someone must have like the liturgy as it was or it would not have been planned that way.

    I am sorry that Elizabeth had to concentrate on the liturgy, and not on the spiritual aspect. Perhaps next time she can offer up her misery to Christ and thus participate in His life.


    Mike L

  7. I am happy to report that we had the most awesome Christmas Eve and Christmas Day liturgies at my newly-merged parish. Our new pastor had the Vigil Mass, and our in-residence priest had the first Mass in the morning, and both were breathtaking. We combined two beautiful, 20′ trees from my old parish with the lovely Nativity from the other parish, which were wonderful to see. The music was also terrific. The organist from our old parish and the cantor and choir from the other former parish combined beautifully. The liturgy was reverent, and both homilies made us think of the wonder of Our Lord’s birth and rejoice. The servers were a mix of children from both former parishes, and were very well trained in their duties.

    I think the leadership of a parish has a trickle-down effect on everything. We are absolutely blessed by our pastor, a former Franciscan, who is going to a great deal of trouble to bring the best and most authentic traditions from both parishes to the new parish. BTW, my former parish was one of the more liberal in the area, and the other was extremely traditional and conservative, but under the direction of our excellent pastor, we have blended beautifully. We have some wrinkles to work out, but I am confident it all will be resolved. Although all of us were deeply saddened by the loss of our former parishes, my husband and I have no wish to go back to the way things were – we are happy with our new parish and there is nowhere else we would rather be.

  8. Mike L, your comment is spot on and it made my day to read it.
    it is so easy to fall into the rut and whine, thanks!

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