Monday, November 21, 2016

Another Sunday, Another (unbearable) Mass

So...this was the most painful Mass I've been to in a long time.

When we came in, I was surprised to see the folk group poised to wield their guitars and that abominable tambourine. They played last week, and the schedule generally includes them every other week. I was immediately on the lookout for the bishop…and in fact, he was there.

Our bishop has a very nice voice, and he is able to sing the priest parts of the Mass splendidly. He did so on this occasion: he intoned some of the prayers, and he chanted the preface. But each time he does the appropriate chants, the contrast with the ridiculous country twang of the folk group is highlighted, and it almost makes me weep. (The off-key violins don't help.) It's especially unbearable when the bishop has chanted the preface, and then we have the guitars’ strum-strum-strumming of the “Holy holy holy” at the end. The bishop also intones the doxology (and so does our pastor, sometimes); and if the folk group hesitated for just one second, the people would spontaneously sing the proper Amen. But no, the folk group jumps right in with a quick guitar strum, followed by a triple Amen. I think they do it on purpose to prevent the people from doing the spontaneous thing.

Then there were the servers. One of the regular adult male acolytes was the "MC", and was vested nicely in cassock and surplice. And all but one of the altar servers were boys, though they were all wearing the stupid 7-dwarf hooded flour bags rather than cassock and surplice. There was one girl altar server; at least she had her hair neatly contained in one single braid, and she's pretty reverent. But still.

There was incense. Hurray! But then we were witness to a deacon-less bishop incensing the altar. It just seemed so odd. In the EF, of course, our pastor would have served as deacon. But in a concelebrated novus ordo Mass, he just becomes an ornamental cleric on the opposite side of the sanctuary from the bishop. In that role, he is unable to assist the bishop as a deacon would. He did read the Gospel, though, and the servers processed with candles and incense from the bishop's chair to the ambo.

So there was a lot of a leaning in the right direction, but there were enough oddities to make it apparent that no one had a clue as to why we might be doing those more traditional things. Since no one has a clue, it all becomes just a hodge-podge – a little of the old, a little of the new, and mix them altogether for liturgical stew. And that does not make for good liturgy, of course.

Why can't the folk group – who are excellent musicians – see/hear that their music does not match the bishop's intoning? Why doesn't the bishop correct this nonsense?!  He spoke at a recent diocesan chant conference, and said publicly that guitars were not appropriate at Mass; so why does he not change this practice at his cathedral, the mother church of the diocese!?!  

Apparently, the folk group will be playing their guitars and tambourine (yes, there was tambouring-playing today, even in the presence of the bishop!) next week, too. We are going to the Saturday evening Mass. I will not have the first Sunday of Advent ruined for me by attending Sunday morning Mass with the folk group.

I seldom post links here, but if you “resonate” with my complaints, and if you know the tune and some of the words of “My Favorite Things” from “The Sound of Music”, you’ll probably enjoy this post.

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