Quench Not the Spirit!

The spirituality of the Church, while centered upon the eucharist, must not be reduced to going to Mass (Divine Liturgy) and thinking it is all one needs for a healthy spiritual life. But that is what lies behind a comment by Elizabeth Scalia in an article appearing in First Things:

 I wonder if a corollary exists between Catholics surrendering silence and sacred sensibility, for the sake of socialization, and their exodus from her masses. Our noisy, cynical days have placed silence, consideration, and fixed-focus at a premium; they now seem like rare and remarkable, almost otherworldly respites. If people cannot find a little of that at mass—if they cannot identify something large and “less ordinary” within a celebration at which Christ himself is in attendance–they will seek out a facsimile where they can find it.

The Divine Liturgy is a time for praise. If one follows the Byzantine tradition, it can be quite noisy indeed. It is through such noise, in the songs of the faithful, that there is a sense of community. The fact that it is a time of public worship, of liturgy, means that there is going to be such “socialization.” There are other times and places for silence. Looking for it outside of the Liturgical framework is not looking for a “facsimile” of anything. It is taking the grace of the eucharist into one’s life and allowing it to be the foundation for one’s non-liturgical spiritual practices. These practices can be seen in those engaging hesychastic prayers, where silence is indeed a major part of the emphasis, to those reciting the rosary, where such silence is not necessary. These practices help one’s spirituality grow, not because they are replacing the Liturgy, but rather, because the Liturgical celebration is to be the foundation of one’s spiritual life.  What we see in Scalia’s suggestion is not the Liturgy as the foundation of one’s spirituality, but its reduction. It becomes the sole source of spirituality. This is not a Catholic sentiment. The Church has a vast number of spiritual traditions, even able to learn from non-Christians in the development of new, authentic forms of spirituality (one need only look at monasticism to see how this is so!). It is best not to quench the Spirit. We need to realize that one can, and indeed will, have spiritual experiences out of the Divine Liturgy. It is not bad, it is rather, the authentic fruit of the Divine Liturgy itself!

  • Brian Martin

    Henry,
    The “noise” of praise during the liturgy, the songs etc. that you mention do not seem to be, at least in my reading of the article, what she is talking about. Rather, she seems to be talking about people in the pews chatting about the football game, or politics, or whose uncle has what illness, or who went to Hawaii on vacation. All of which seem superfluous to what is about to take place.
    Reverential, praise filled “noise” is not, in my mind at least, the same as irreverent, heedless noise.

    • http://roadgoeseveron.wordpress.com Henry Karlson

      Brian

      She is talking about more than that — note how she discusses Yoga (right before this quote) to make her point. The issue is not just silence, the issue is how she sees spirituality — with a reductionism that sees any exploration for spirituality outside of the Mass comes from a defect in the liturgical celebration (and apparently, a defect in the person because they are seeking a facsimile). This is not true. And if one is looking for silence, for a spirituality of silence, the best place is not the Mass (Liturgy), but in one’s prayer life (especially out of the Liturgical celebration, though of course fueled by it).

      • http://roadgoeseveron.wordpress.com Henry Karlson

        To go further, just think of how this could have been said during the time of Pseudo-Dionysius who was bringing apophatic theology and spirituality into the Christian tradition via Proclus. Think about how it would have reduced the Christians’ tradition of this adaptation of Platonic theology had not been accomplished because critics said “Platonism is wrong and such spirituality must therefore be wrong”?

  • Brian Martin

    Henry,
    The “noise” of praise during the liturgy, the songs etc. that you mention do not seem to be, at least in my reading of the article, what she is talking about. Rather, she seems to be talking about people in the pews chatting about the football game, or politics, or whose uncle has what illness, or who went to Hawaii on vacation. All of which seem superfluous to what is about to take place.
    Reverential, praise filled “noise” is not, in my mind at least, the same as irreverent, heedless noise.

    • http://roadgoeseveron.wordpress.com Henry Karlson

      Brian

      She is talking about more than that — note how she discusses Yoga (right before this quote) to make her point. The issue is not just silence, the issue is how she sees spirituality — with a reductionism that sees any exploration for spirituality outside of the Mass comes from a defect in the liturgical celebration (and apparently, a defect in the person because they are seeking a facsimile). This is not true. And if one is looking for silence, for a spirituality of silence, the best place is not the Mass (Liturgy), but in one’s prayer life (especially out of the Liturgical celebration, though of course fueled by it).

      • http://roadgoeseveron.wordpress.com Henry Karlson

        To go further, just think of how this could have been said during the time of Pseudo-Dionysius who was bringing apophatic theology and spirituality into the Christian tradition via Proclus. Think about how it would have reduced the Christians’ tradition of this adaptation of Platonic theology had not been accomplished because critics said “Platonism is wrong and such spirituality must therefore be wrong”?

  • Matt Bowman

    I find chant and silence to be two sides of the same coin, especially in Eastern liturgies and in the best of the Western tradition. I contrast both of those, to the noise that Elizabeth wants less of in Mass. I suspect she would too.

    • http://roadgoeseveron.wordpress.com Henry Karlson

      Look once again to her discussion with Yoga. Look to my point here, at what I am responding to in relation to her post. The point is that spirituality outside of the Liturgy — even the exploration of Yoga — is not necessarily connected to the lack of silence in liturgy (nor even, of itself, bad).

    • Matt Bowman

      I take the point that Christians are to pray, and not just in the liturgy, or in some forms not primarily in the liturgy. And I take the point that the continual exhuberant chant of Eastern liturgies is not silence. But the noise Elizabeth is complaining about is not in contrast to silent prayer, it is in contrast to that same reverence and otherworldliness found in Eastern liturgies as it is in the best of Western tradition. She would not have this complaint if she was attending one of those liturgies, or what the west used to call a high Mass. She isn’t calling for silence or hesychastic prayer per se to the exclusion of the sort of liturgy we find in the East. It’s just that in the modern American west the closest we get to that reverence is getting everyone to shut up. She is calling for reverence, not one particular form of it.

      • http://roadgoeseveron.wordpress.com Henry Karlson

        Note, once again, how she said that people go to Yoga as a facsimile for Mass. That again shows the issue. Yoga should not be seen as a contrast to Mass, just as contemplative prayer is not. Whatever one thinks of Yoga, to think people go to it because of something at Mass shows a misunderstanding of the spiritual pursuits.

  • Matt Bowman

    I find chant and silence to be two sides of the same coin, especially in Eastern liturgies and in the best of the Western tradition. I contrast both of those, to the noise that Elizabeth wants less of in Mass. I suspect she would too.

    • http://roadgoeseveron.wordpress.com Henry Karlson

      Look once again to her discussion with Yoga. Look to my point here, at what I am responding to in relation to her post. The point is that spirituality outside of the Liturgy — even the exploration of Yoga — is not necessarily connected to the lack of silence in liturgy (nor even, of itself, bad).

    • Matt Bowman

      I take the point that Christians are to pray, and not just in the liturgy, or in some forms not primarily in the liturgy. And I take the point that the continual exhuberant chant of Eastern liturgies is not silence. But the noise Elizabeth is complaining about is not in contrast to silent prayer, it is in contrast to that same reverence and otherworldliness found in Eastern liturgies as it is in the best of Western tradition. She would not have this complaint if she was attending one of those liturgies, or what the west used to call a high Mass. She isn’t calling for silence or hesychastic prayer per se to the exclusion of the sort of liturgy we find in the East. It’s just that in the modern American west the closest we get to that reverence is getting everyone to shut up. She is calling for reverence, not one particular form of it.

      • http://roadgoeseveron.wordpress.com Henry Karlson

        Note, once again, how she said that people go to Yoga as a facsimile for Mass. That again shows the issue. Yoga should not be seen as a contrast to Mass, just as contemplative prayer is not. Whatever one thinks of Yoga, to think people go to it because of something at Mass shows a misunderstanding of the spiritual pursuits.

      • Julian Barkin

        Henry, I think you have missed her point with the Yoga comparison. She was implying that people have got their proirities crossed with regard to sacredness and community. When we go to Church, it isn’t going to a party or a social gathering. It is going to the House of the Lord, where he is contained within the Blessed Sacrament and the greatest form of Prayer available in this finite existence is carried out. It is sadly ironic that people treat the Church as a social club and disregard where they are, when they will go to their yoga studios and display reverence and silence for the Yoga studio and their instructor that is absent from when those people go to Mass(even possibly listening to portions of the Hindu religiion that is part of Yoga, when the instructor isn’t cognescent of keeping the focus on the exercise.)

        Can there be canoncially apporved practices of “spirituality” outside of the Mass for a Catholic? Yes. Such examples are Eucharistic Adoration, the Rosary, the Liturgy of the Hours (of which I think the Anchoress herself practices from prior posts) and other spiritual and corporal works of mercy (e.g. Out of the Cold/soup kitchens). However, the Mass is still the central point of worship for a Catholic, the unbloddy sacrifice and commemoration for all time of our Lord where we partake in the Eucharist, the “source and summit of our faith.” Same goes to Fuchs below. You can have a lot of supports, but it’s still the center part of our Faith and the Mass. It’s like a tree. The Eucharist is a stump and everything else that is canonically acceptable are branches with leaves. The stump is needed to tether itself to the Lord, the nutrients in the ground, and with no stump, no branches exist. However, the energy for the tree and the stump is needed by the leaves doing photosynthesis near the sky out from the branches that are out from the stump. Still, no roots, no shoots.

        And regardless of anyone’s feelings here at VN, the Church in her wisdom would likely never change that aspect in its doctrines. Practically speaking it would further undermine her already depreciated institutional credibility in this world and like you say Fuchs or imply of the average, practicing and somewhat catechized catholic, we have that Eucharistic centerdness. If that was turned on its head, many mope people would think the church is hypocritical or a bunch of men spewing ever-chaning doctrines like other “churches”/Christian sects and abandon the faith altogether.

        Now maybe Karlson, I am not understanding your counter and your repeated replies, but it comes across as misunderstanding Scalia’s main point and almost detracting from the Mass. Please clarify if you choose to do so. I’ll admit this is a bit different that I’ve expected from you, as a lot more of your postings have been more “nurturing” theologically with your reflection series, This seems out of character vs the other mods here on VN whom some I can tell lean more left theologically/politically or are more outspoken in opinion than you.

        • http://roadgoeseveron.wordpress.com Henry Karlson

          Her point reduces everything to the liturgy, and only one way of experiencing the liturgy. This is erroneous. Want to see something? Visit a Coptic Church sometime. OR an Ethiopian one. Or just look to what happened in the Latin liturgical celebrations for centuries, when the people were doing their own thing while the priests were by themselves doing their prayers. There were all kinds of chaos in comparison to today’s services in the West.

          Her point with Yoga goes with a false idea about the Mass itself.

  • Peter Paul Fuchs

    Henry,

    You are brave. I am not sure everyone understands culturally what is behind your observations. I do. It is a huge change in Catholic opinion making on all sorts of matters. The constant trope now is that everything flows from the Eucharistic. OK, there is a whole lot to base that on in Catholic theology, no dispute. But in fact Catholic theology is so multifarious that there would be a lot to base diverse foci on, apart from Eucharist!!! No one needs to suggest that Catholics change their beliefs one bit to make the general observation. Namely, that focussing so unremittingly on liturgical matters of Eucharist in current Catholic culture is something that does not jibe with most Catholic cultures that have existed in the West in diverse countries. Read that carefully, reactionary apologists, for it is historically supportable.

    This current mono-focus has produced weird conundrums in realms not immediately obvious. As I have said before, one of the good things about Catholic cultures in the past is that they were often very wide ranging and free flowing. Now, by highlighting above all that which separates them from the rest of the Christian world– belief in a transubstantiated Eucharist — they have perforce made themselves isolated in every way. It has ramifications everywhere. Even sex. One of the interlocutors here, Brian Martin, has displayed this incredibly cultic, isolated reasoning, while claiming to be working psychological therapy. In fact he took digby to task for not coughing up on cue studies about sex in some dispute they were having. Without getting into the meat of that dispute, the obvious thing is to observe that the increasingly cultic hyper-eucharistized Catholic view has created a practical inability to accept the general state of understanding in society on all sorts of issues. As Brian Martin would surely know if he is an honest worker in the psycho- therapeutic field, you don’t need studies to show that lack of sexual activity by overriding restriction, especially during the sexual prime of life is harmful. Precisely because it is an accepted and established fact. The entire responsible psychotherapeutic field accepts that fact simply and utterly. No studies are needed. But only in the cultic realms of Catholic “psychology” would this even be a question. Martin is being quite dishonest therefore. This all comes precisely from the increasingly cultic view which is over-centralized on Eucharist. And again, no one wants Catholic believers to change their views necessarily; just to have some way of dealing with the larger society which is not intrinsically cultic.

    The extent of the extent of this more cultic view is even manifest in politics in Santorum’s appearance in Steubenville tonight. He never mentioned the real reason he chose that place as for his small victory party. It is only because it is a center of the most reactionary Catholicism that he was there. No one can be happy that someone who has gotten as far as he has thinks people are so stupid that they will not understand that simple fact.

    • Brian Martin

      Peter Paul,
      you are right to criticize my comments re: digby…as I have noted in that thread, I was basing my comments on a much more limited definition of sexual activity than was digby, and as such was wrong in my assertions. It was not an attempt to be dishonest on my part. I am nothing if not willing to re-evaluate statements I make and learn from others. I think perhaps your assign a harsher judgement to my mortivations, and also perhaps have the inpression that I am coming from a much more conservative point of view than I hold, but that is likely more to do with my failing to communicate well than any fault of yours. Judge it as you will. In terms of the present discussion, I agree that there is much more to Catholic Spirituality than the Eucharist. And Henry, if indeed there is some attempt to inflate the stature of the yoga class to a pseudo-mass of sorts, then I agree with you. Iread it as I stated above, and as dominic below did, but given my recent track record, I am very willing to say that I may be wrong. Peter Paul, I suspect at some point I offended you as well as digby, and I extend my apology to you as well.

  • Peter Paul Fuchs

    Henry,

    You are brave. I am not sure everyone understands culturally what is behind your observations. I do. It is a huge change in Catholic opinion making on all sorts of matters. The constant trope now is that everything flows from the Eucharistic. OK, there is a whole lot to base that on in Catholic theology, no dispute. But in fact Catholic theology is so multifarious that there would be a lot to base diverse foci on, apart from Eucharist!!! No one needs to suggest that Catholics change their beliefs one bit to make the general observation. Namely, that focussing so unremittingly on liturgical matters of Eucharist in current Catholic culture is something that does not jibe with most Catholic cultures that have existed in the West in diverse countries. Read that carefully, reactionary apologists, for it is historically supportable.

    This current mono-focus has produced weird conundrums in realms not immediately obvious. As I have said before, one of the good things about Catholic cultures in the past is that they were often very wide ranging and free flowing. Now, by highlighting above all that which separates them from the rest of the Christian world– belief in a transubstantiated Eucharist — they have perforce made themselves isolated in every way. It has ramifications everywhere. Even sex. One of the interlocutors here, Brian Martin, has displayed this incredibly cultic, isolated reasoning, while claiming to be working psychological therapy. In fact he took digby to task for not coughing up on cue studies about sex in some dispute they were having. Without getting into the meat of that dispute, the obvious thing is to observe that the increasingly cultic hyper-eucharistized Catholic view has created a practical inability to accept the general state of understanding in society on all sorts of issues. As Brian Martin would surely know if he is an honest worker in the psycho- therapeutic field, you don’t need studies to show that lack of sexual activity by overriding restriction, especially during the sexual prime of life is harmful. Precisely because it is an accepted and established fact. The entire responsible psychotherapeutic field accepts that fact simply and utterly. No studies are needed. But only in the cultic realms of Catholic “psychology” would this even be a question. Martin is being quite dishonest therefore. This all comes precisely from the increasingly cultic view which is over-centralized on Eucharist. And again, no one wants Catholic believers to change their views necessarily; just to have some way of dealing with the larger society which is not intrinsically cultic.

    The extent of the extent of this more cultic view is even manifest in politics in Santorum’s appearance in Steubenville tonight. He never mentioned the real reason he chose that place as for his small victory party. It is only because it is a center of the most reactionary Catholicism that he was there. No one can be happy that someone who has gotten as far as he has thinks people are so stupid that they will not understand that simple fact.

    • Brian Martin

      Peter Paul,
      you are right to criticize my comments re: digby…as I have noted in that thread, I was basing my comments on a much more limited definition of sexual activity than was digby, and as such was wrong in my assertions. It was not an attempt to be dishonest on my part. I am nothing if not willing to re-evaluate statements I make and learn from others. I think perhaps your assign a harsher judgement to my mortivations, and also perhaps have the inpression that I am coming from a much more conservative point of view than I hold, but that is likely more to do with my failing to communicate well than any fault of yours. Judge it as you will. In terms of the present discussion, I agree that there is much more to Catholic Spirituality than the Eucharist. And Henry, if indeed there is some attempt to inflate the stature of the yoga class to a pseudo-mass of sorts, then I agree with you. Iread it as I stated above, and as dominic below did, but given my recent track record, I am very willing to say that I may be wrong. Peter Paul, I suspect at some point I offended you as well as digby, and I extend my apology to you as well.

      • Peter Paul Fuchs

        This is a blog fellas. The whole point — if there is a point- is to have some sort of discussion in bright colors and push some buttons so that maybe some of the usually crust that obscures so much gets jostled free. I appreciate your goodwill, but I would be just as happy if everyone saved their apologies for those near and dear, who if human nature is any guide, are the ones who usually need the apologizing to. I would rather have some detailed grappling with ideas, even if I disagree with them. That’s why I always appreciate tmuldoon’s answer, even though, boy I couldn’t disagree with more. Why do people who love sports get to have all the fun. They run into each other and push each other around, and their are no “I’m sorry’s”. Mutatis mutandis.

        In this case the relevant detail is this: For most of the RC church’s history Catholic schools taught student physical mortification. Self-beating, hair-shirts, etc. Now they are not to be seen anywhere, but in rather rarefied and ADULT environments. What happened, pray tell? The world changed, society changed, psychology came into existence, etc. Now if a Catholic school tried to teach students to whip themselves they would be closed down and jailed asap for child abuse. Tell me, please, psychologically, how celibacy is any different from that?? I am not saying some people are not happier being celibate. But that when we are talking of the young it seems that the RC Church’s ideas on it are ripe for going the same way as the hairshirt. The only reason it has not happened already is because the process of aging produces the some of the same effect in terms of diminished desire, or having enough of it in some ways. Thus there are a lot of middle-aged and older guys who suddenly discover “chastity” around 45, and then want to impose it on the young, even though they never lived it. this kind of convenience from catholic journalists to clerics is revolting.
        We are sexual beings in greater and lesser degree. All the effort put into “chastity” should be put into teaching people how to handle sex responsibly and maturely. What a massive failure the Catholic church is in this regard, and what a bad influence and a huge one, on society.

  • dominic1955

    I don’t think that this was the point of her article, at least not the way I read it. It seems that her point is that Catholics do not see the Mass, or the church building in general with the sense of reverence and respect that they once did. Basically, they can’t shut their trap while they are there. This isn’t even just true among the NO parishes, even at my own TLM parish the people use the vestibule as a “gathering space” to run their mouths right after Mass. I think its a wider cultural thing, we have, in general, lost that sense of reverence for sacred space. When I was growing up, my NO parish was silent-you could hear a pin drop before Mass unless they were praying the rosary.

    Sound is not the problem. Vocal prayer, chants, etc. are appropriate for church, for devotions, etc. etc. This “holy noise” (whether at a TLM, DL, NO, etc. it doesn’t matter) is completely appropriate. Actually, my TLM and Byzantine parishes are quite “busy” with devotions and all sorts of things and this is good. The Easterners have that sense of leaving all worldly cares behind when you enter into the DL, and this is the way it should be. Blabbering on about inane things at an elevated level in the “gathering space” or in the church proper is a problem.

    I do think when people cannot find this “holy silence” (which isn’t necessarily quiet, strictly speaking) they do look for it elsewhere. If they go to church and are confronted with an environment where they have the same secular inanities thrown at them before, during and after Mass they might sense this lack.

    • grega

      For once I have to fully agree with you dominic.
      In my opinion this noisy attitude goes beyond just mass and the accustics.
      I am not all that surprised to learn that the TLM community has that issue at times –
      quite a few seem so busy hating the majority of fellow catholics that I am not surprised that they can not easily shut up either – we definatelly have that issue in my ultra liberal parish – often one giant zoo on sunday mornings.
      Written words can be rather noisy as well – just take the supposedly Best Catholic Blog Fr.Z Mac and Coffee promo site – these people over there are in a constant outrage – no inner peace at all – a constant noisy blur of this is bad, that is terrible, this guy is a tyrant – our bishops are weak – please give me some money for the next genration Mac and while you are at it order some coffee here and if you would be so kind I have this long shopping list..and on and on. One giant outlet mall of catholic hate.

  • dominic1955

    I don’t think that this was the point of her article, at least not the way I read it. It seems that her point is that Catholics do not see the Mass, or the church building in general with the sense of reverence and respect that they once did. Basically, they can’t shut their trap while they are there. This isn’t even just true among the NO parishes, even at my own TLM parish the people use the vestibule as a “gathering space” to run their mouths right after Mass. I think its a wider cultural thing, we have, in general, lost that sense of reverence for sacred space. When I was growing up, my NO parish was silent-you could hear a pin drop before Mass unless they were praying the rosary.

    Sound is not the problem. Vocal prayer, chants, etc. are appropriate for church, for devotions, etc. etc. This “holy noise” (whether at a TLM, DL, NO, etc. it doesn’t matter) is completely appropriate. Actually, my TLM and Byzantine parishes are quite “busy” with devotions and all sorts of things and this is good. The Easterners have that sense of leaving all worldly cares behind when you enter into the DL, and this is the way it should be. Blabbering on about inane things at an elevated level in the “gathering space” or in the church proper is a problem.

    I do think when people cannot find this “holy silence” (which isn’t necessarily quiet, strictly speaking) they do look for it elsewhere. If they go to church and are confronted with an environment where they have the same secular inanities thrown at them before, during and after Mass they might sense this lack.

    • grega

      For once I have to fully agree with you dominic.
      In my opinion this noisy attitude goes beyond just mass and the accustics.
      I am not all that surprised to learn that the TLM community has that issue at times –
      quite a few seem so busy hating the majority of fellow catholics that I am not surprised that they can not easily shut up either – we definatelly have that issue in my ultra liberal parish – often one giant zoo on sunday mornings.
      Written words can be rather noisy as well – just take the supposedly Best Catholic Blog Fr.Z Mac and Coffee promo site – these people over there are in a constant outrage – no inner peace at all – a constant noisy blur of this is bad, that is terrible, this guy is a tyrant – our bishops are weak – please give me some money for the next genration Mac and while you are at it order some coffee here and if you would be so kind I have this long shopping list..and on and on. One giant outlet mall of catholic hate.

  • Brian Martin

    Peter Paul,
    The blog is here to discuss things…I tend to think there is a difference between arguing and discussing, and that is a standard I set for myself. And when I act like an ass, i need to acknowledge it…again, my standard for myself. That being said, I find little argument with what you just said. I believe there is a difference in outcome for voluntary celibacy and enforced celibacy, and would certainly not argue that when people are forced to hide who they are entirely, that it is extremely damaging. I also believe that if people are comfortable in who they are, and are choosing to live a celibate life because of their beliefs it is not unhealthy. If it is based out of fear…which, i am sure you agree it often is, that is indeed unhealthy.

    • Peter Paul Fuchs

      At last someone really says it. There is a difference. I was in the Church, and I knew some people who really radiated the god celibacy could be. I met them, I knew them, I experienced them. It was real, and they met all the vaunted words celibacy indicated without seemingly sweating a bit. But the point is THEY WERE RARE, Why can’t Catholics get this. The rest of the whole lot of “celibates” were psychologically deformed, and nasty in passive aggressive ways. When I see all the self-defeating actions of the Catholic church today I attribute it that mostly to that. And the worst part is that it demeans the charism of true celibacy. That charism is based in the simple fact that even sex’s greatest enthusiasts would be foolish to deny it is very entangled. There is a lot to say for not being entangled, practically and spiritually. But the rest of it, for these false celibates is just baloney, and always has been.

      • Brian Martin

        Clearly there are people who go to the “celibate life” as an attempt to escape who they are, and that clearly is not healthy in any stretch of the imagination

  • The Pachyderminator

    Henry, I can’t really speak to the historical/cultural issues Peter Paul Fuchs raises, but I’m pretty sure you’re misreading Scalia’s article. Since she seems entirely approving of what was going on at the yoga class, she can hardly mean “facsimile” in such a pejorative sense as you seem to think. Her point, as I take it, is simply that situations like a yoga class shouldn’t be a substitute for a reverent liturgy. As others have pointed out, reverence doesn’t exclude noise, but it does mean that what noise there is should be holy. In other words, people should not be yakking about everything under the sun in normal conversational tones while in the church.

  • Mike

    I get where you are coming from, but I don’t really think your criticism is responding to the article for what it is.

    I take the article to be of some sort of variant of criticism of the changes in practice that have occurred in most modern suburban parishes. The argument is really nothing new or novel. I have gone to parishes where when you enter the door the lights are dimmed and the only think you hear is organ music or gregorian chant. It creates a very different mood from walking in to hear the musicians warming up, the choir practicing, or the guy sitting in front of you talk about his favorite TV show. This is the kind of thing I think she is trying to talk about, and I also think that these are the types of ways her audience will identify her criticism.

    I would also agree that attending an eastern rite liturgy would be an incredibly educational experience for most Roman Rite Catholics. I had the good fortune of attending Easter Matins and Divine Liturgy at a Byzantine Catholic church last year. The service was very different from an Extraordinary Form Roman Rite Mass. It was loud and chaotic. The priest and the people were not piously solemn. There were no kneelers. Some people didn’t even use chairs. In a Roman Rite setting I have been critical of these issues and others. However, in a Byzantine setting it was really valuable and attractive. I actually thought that non-eastern liturgists would do well to consider incorporating some of the eastern style of worship.

    I think the larger issue is desacrilization. Most of what she is complaining about is noise that contributes to a desacrilization of the worship experience.

  • Anne

    Fwiw, it seems to me Scalia’s talking about the noisiness of the Mass the way it’s celebrated, or treated, at her parish. She says her brother actuallly skips Sunday Masses, although he attends daily Mass throughout the week, because they’re so noisy (!). I agree that what she’s saying doesn’t seem all that new; she’d prefer a quieter Mass, and she says if people aren’t going to get that quiet spiritual experience in the Mass, they’ll look for it elsewhere, say, in a Yoga class.

    I’d suggest she and her brother try another parish,since not all Catholic Masses are celebrated so noisily. The fault would seem to be in her parish, not in the Mass itself. Seeking out other Catholic forms of worship would certainly be a possibility as well. These other forms of spirituality or sacramentals have been neglected since Vatican II when the faithful were encouraged to focus primarily on the Mass. But it’s true, many quieter folk such as Scalia would benefit from re-discovering these less communal ways of prayer.