Heterodoxy

Let’s put all the fussy traddies on one side for the moment and allow them to argue about the buttoned maniple. Instead let us consider the ordinary Catholic who simply wants the Novus Ordo celebrated in a modest and reverent manner. He wants to avoid all the extreme abuses one hears about, and simply wishes to worship God through a liturgy that does not call attention to itself either for being extremely traddy or trendy.

I was asked for my opinion about such a situation. I would still say that the best thing to do is to go to your local parish and stick with it. However, if the local parish really is replete with terrible abuses then find a parish you can live with and stick with that. The problem with this solution is that one man’s ‘terrible abuse’ is another man’s mild annoyance. At what point do you pull out from a parish? When the priest forgets to bow at the correct place to a thurifer or when Sister Sandals puts on her leotard and does a liturgical Native American rain dance during the offertory? When a middle aged woman warbles ‘Eagle’s Wings’ or when Father Flamboyant defends the gay lifestyle?

Will you transfer parishes when the priest annoys you with political views you disagree with? Will you transfer over music choices? Over heterodox homilies? If so, who decides if it is heterodox? Will you move parishes if the priest does not give you all the things you and your pressure group desire? Will you shift because Father does a good hip hop sermon or because he does not?

What I’m digging at here, dear readers, is not an attack on traddies or on trendies, but (in case it hasn’t sunk in yet) the prevailing American Catholic opinion that in religion (as in all else) the consumer knows best. This mentality is a downward spiral, for the more people shop around for the priest and the liturgy they like best the more the priests will start asking themselves what they have to do to ‘keep the people’. This can only end with both the priest and the people losing their bearings completely and succumbing to the consumer culture religion-wise.

I realize what annoys my readers is my insistence that this attitude prevails amongst both traddies and trendies. Both sides think they are right and people from both sides are usually nice, sincere, well meaning Catholics who ‘only want what is best for their children.’ What the more traditionally minded out there don’t seem to get is that the very reason many Catholics have fled traditional churches for AmChurch Catholicism is exactly the same: “We want what is best for our children.”

So I am dismayed, but not surprised to find that in our location a large number of people have deserted the two parishes where the worship and preaching is traditional. When I ask why they did so they say things like, “There was nothing there for our children.” or “Our kids like more informal worship.” or “We left after Father brought in all that gloomy music” or “We like Father so and so’s preaching. He really relates to the kids.” or “I’m just an ordinary guy. I don’t go in for all that formal stuff. I like the Mass to be more ordinary.”

So my solution and plea is, “Choose your parish if you must, but then stick with it. You might learn something.”

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