It’s a Rule

You can’t make everybody happy.

It’s a rule.

I’m not sure where this rule is codified. Maybe in the back pages of the textbook for the school of hard knocks.

But it’s true. You can not make everybody happy. So, in my humble opinion, you should not try. It appears that Pope Francis is of a similar opinion, at least about the not trying part.

He has, from the moment when the announcement “Habemus Papem!” sounded and he walked out onto that balcony, been indisputably and absolutely himself.

That is an incredible accomplishment for someone who sits on a throne that is placed above the grave of Peter. Every move the Pope makes, from the things he wears, to the gestures he makes, are supposedly choreographed by centuries of other Popes who did it this way first. However, Pope Francis seems to have understood from the beginning just how much power the Papacy holds, including and especially the power to communicate by word and action.

He knew that he didn’t have to do these things. He could choose. And chose he has.

By the choices he’s made, he has focused on a Papacy of the Word, accompanied by a visual simplicity that symbolizes his message of concern for the least of these. This is a heartfelt pain for those who are what education professionals call “visual learners.” In Catholicism, we tend to call them “traditionalists.” But I think they are, for the most part, simply visual learners gone to Church.

These people groove on the same lace that I think looks like my great-grandmother’s doilies. They feel lifted up to heaven by the incense that sets off my asthma and raises worries of fire hazards. They love the sound of Latin and find awe and grandeur in pre-Vatican II liturgy, all of which I see as unnecessary barriers between the people and Jesus.

Some folk like pcs; some folk like macs. We are individuals who, due to His superior democracy, can come to God through whatever path opens in front of us. The same God who honors one person’s incense and Gregorian chant, will rock along with another person’s rap. What He wants is our love and obedience. How we get there is all good to Him.

There is neither Greek nor Jew, neither slave nor free, male nor female. For you all are one in Christ Jesus.

There is also neither lace nor non-lace, neither red shoe nor black shoe, neither miter nor non-miter. For we are all Catholic, united under the one Vicar of Christ, who is our Holy Father, Pope Francis.

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  • Dave

    I do like the Latin Mass with the “smells and bells”. The sense that you are taking part in something ‘otherworldly’ (which Mass is) is palpable. In that respect, I think, there is something to be said for the Latin Mass, and an alternate perspective to considering it a ‘barrier’. In contrast, at many typical parishes nowadays, many of the people seem not to know why they are even there. Of course, I’m glad they ARE there – it isn’t even their fault…it’s a lack of catechesis.

    Those who choose to go to the Latin Mass tend to be very reverent and orthodox. The priests who preach at the Latin Masses tend to give excellent homilies, whereas it’s hit and miss with your typical parish. I think there’s a lot more to why people attend the Latin Mass than just being ‘visual learners.’

    All that said, I’d prefer a Mass in English that had the smells, bells, and reverence of the Latin Mass. BTW, there is a High Mass and a Low Mass. I don’t believe the Low Mass would have the incense. The bottom line is that I prefer reverence and excellent homilies, wherever I can find them.

    I do think that we need to be clear that rock or rap are not appropriate musical forms for the Mass. The Vatican has made that clear. I personally love rock music, and consider rap not to be music at all, but that’s just my opinion.

    • hamiltonr

      I wasn’t thinking of rap and rock as part of the mass, but rather as a means by which the Holy Spirit can reach out to people and bring them into relationship with Christ.

      • Dave

        Yeah, I didn’t think you were saying that…but, I thought that someone else might read it and think that’s what you were saying.

    • josmart

      A bit of a tangent yet related to the article – - -

      I too don’t think that those who celebrate through the Latin Mass are there just for the visuals. I don’t attend Latin Mass, but the few times I have had an opportunity, I am in awe of the liturgy and the reverence towards receiving the Eucharist. I think it’s about unity, respect and humility in the presence of God; somethings that are seemingly absent or disregarded (mostly unknowingly) because of the many variations in the Novus Ordo.

      The mass I attend is not TLM, but IT feels less about a worship and more about the visuals. Some examples include people seemingly “laying” their hands along side of the priests; choirs with members singing as if their competing in a contest rather than leading the congregation; holding hands during the reciting of the Lord’s prayer; applause for the choir after the recessional; and meet and greet during the ‘sign of the peace.’ It may all seem minor, but its through these variations that abuses flourish and misinterpretations are learned.

      I am a programmer at a Catholic radio station in my archdiocese and know full well the many types of genres of music n which artist express their love for Christ and the faith, but I also know that just because it makes me feel good, it does not mean that it belongs in the mass. I listen to non-liturgical yet reverent types of music outside of mass but would not want to hear it or promote it during the worship at mass. I say this not as a reflection of the rap versus rock mentions in this particle thread, but as an example of adhering to the authenticity of the liturgy of the mass. The invitation to come to mass is for everyone, not everything. If I am welcome into someone’s home, it does not mean I was also given permission to change the decor or replace the furniture to suit my needs.

      I understand and appreciate the direction of your article in admiring an all inclusive Pope, but I don’t think that your description of those who follow TLM is correct or charitable. I think the concerns about Vatican II changes to the mass are legitimate and are apparent in the critiques starting with that of incorrect mass celebrations. It’s much more than defending the superficial, rather it’s about defending an authentic foundation to our Church’s liturgy. A foundation that is less likely to be open to Self interpretation.

    • FW Ken

      Dave -
      You would probably like Mass at my parish: NO in English, with music from the classical tradition, and incense on feasts. Sadly, at 73, Father isn’t the preacher he was, although he remains orthodox and miles ahead of others.
      Nevertheless, it’s worth remembering that when the Extraordinary Form was the Ordinary Form, Masses were often rushed and the congregation not particularly attentive, like today. At least that’s what I’m told. I wasn’t there. The TLM today attracts a particular crowd – lay and clergy – who would be disposed to reverence and care in worship.

      • Dave

        “The TLM today attracts a particular crowd – lay and clergy – who would be disposed to reverence and care in worship.”

        Yes, I totally agree. That’s part of what I was trying to say. It’s not about the Mass being in Latin (at least not for me) that makes it somehow intrinsically better, but about the historical circumstances which attract a certain subset. I do think that the EF is, on average, much more reverent now than the OF, for that reason and some others.

  • Dave

    BTW, I think for the most part, the traditionalists that are upset were upset because of Pope Francis going against the rubrics of the Holy Thursday Mass without first changing the rubrics. I think they are right in the opinion that the rubrics should have been changed first, but I am inclined to give him a break since he had been Pope for all of two weeks at that point.

    Other than that, most traditionalists, I think, are just concerned that the new Pope would curtail the freedom that Pope Benedict XVI gave for saying the traditional Mass. In that respect, I think they are worrying over nothing. Pope Francis certainly doesn’t share Pope Benedict XVI’s preference for the Latin Mass and many of the old traditions, but I don’t think Francis will curtail it. As you’ve pointed out, his focus is in a different area.

  • kmk1916

    That’s true, you can’t make everyone happy, but we can all strive for charity. So, for example, talking about Father dressed in grandma’s lace and legitimate forms of the Eucharistic celebration as a barrier between Jesus and His people would not hopefully be something the kids would hear from the front of the van on the way home from Mass.
    I think the Lord’s calling me to get off these blogs and just listen to what the HOly Father has to say instead of the commentary. : )
    —non-”trad,” but tired of the comments on both sides.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    There have been others who did it this way first. Piux X comes to mind. So does Celestine V, who actually *built a hermitage* inside the papal apartments.

  • FW Ken

    I can tell you, he’s making me pretty happy.

    It’s easy with the press fawning all over him to overlook the facts that he has explicitly sent forward the reform of the LCRW and affirmed Anglicanorum Coetibus as well as Summorum Pontificum. It’s true, these are not his emphases. He’s more interested that the Church engage the world rather than withdraw from it. He’s clearly interested in dismantling the remnants of the Vatican that resemble a Renaissance court and calling us to simplicity and holiness.
    Papa Francis stands on the shoulders of great popes – saints, it will turn out – who have led the Church through the 20th century and into the 21st. St. Pius X, Ven. Pius XII, Bl. John XXIII, Ven. Paul VI, JPI, Bl. JPII are all in the canonization process. I think Benedict will be also when the time comes. Whether this pope joins those Servants of God, Blesseds and Saints, who knows.