I recently experienced a growing trend in Catholic parishes, and wrote about it for this week’s column, “All Things New”:
I have seen the writing on the wall. And I’m not impressed.
A couple of Sundays ago, I found myself at a sparkling, sprawling parish in central Florida, in a church nave surrounded by stained glass and leafy palms and cheerful greetings between families. About three dozen children were receiving their First Communion. The place was buzzing with energy and activity. It was packed with, I’d guess, close to a thousand people (including a couple dozen in the adjoining crying rooms).
But what struck me most of all was something I’d never seen in a Catholic church before. Once mass began, a big blank wall was transformed into a flat, giant hymnal, where someone projected the verses to the hymns. No need to go searching through the missal for the page numbers, or the song numbers. Just look up, and to one side, and follow along with the words on the wall.
I posted something about this on my Facebook page the day it happened, and was surprised to learn that this practice is increasingly common in Catholic parishes. A lot of places are doing it. And people seem generally to like it. The defenders say that it gets people to lift their heads out of the hymnals and sing. It focuses attention. It raises eyes, and voices. It pulls the congregation together.
Okay. But I have to say this: the experience, no matter what its intent, left me cold.
I continue my little rant at the link.