Roving Medievalist weighs in on the lessons learned from awful liturgy. He quotes Tolkien on the subject. Check it out.
This quote not only makes the main point, but it reminds us that awful liturgy, venal priests, silly music and human frailty have always been with us. I sometimes get the impression from the extreme traditionalists that before the second Vatican Council every mass was a sublime exerience that took one to the very doorstep of heaven because of the aesthetic wonder of it all.
Tolkien’s quote reminds us that things have always been messy–right back to the feeding of the five thousand. Ask a Catholic old timer what it was like in one of the big Catholic parishes in the old days and he’s likely to tell you it was a sacrament mill with the crowds kneeling in bored ignorance, their only concern was to see if Father Slapdash would set a new land speed record for saying Mass.
Roving Medievalist also makes the point that the vast majority of parishes are not goofy New Age outposts with fire ceremonies and liturgical dance. Instead they are struggling middle of the road churches with pastors and people who are all too human. I have not had much experience of the American Church, but in my seven years working for the St Barnabas Society in England I visited a different parish every weekend. I can only think of two where the abuses were extreme. All the rest were populated with priests who most often said Mass in a simple, unadorned and ordinary way, and people who were trying to be good Catholics in a confused and atheistic world.