Friday, November 19, 2010

Mass, Liturgy, Nostalgia, and being Catholic in America

I'm a convert to Catholicism. The fond memories of my childhood and youth include some very pleasant experiences in the mainstream Protestant church I grew up in. Emotions associated with those memories help me, I think, understand a little of what practicing Catholics went though in America, during the last half of the 20th century.

It's one thing, when an outsider comes in and wrecks your church. When it's your own priest - - - Well, it could have been worse.

Liturgy, the Bible, Catholics, and Living in America

Don't get me wrong: I like America. The country's not perfect, but it'll do for now. (Another War-on-Terror Blog (July 3, 2008)

On the other hand, I don't think America is the only country that's okay. And that's another topic.


America isn't the WASP nest it was in my youth: Which may explain some of the crazier 'red-white-and-blue-blooded Americans' you run into now and then. Change isn't easy - particularly for folks on their way down the social ladder. Yet another topic.

Despite demographic shifts, though, America is still a country with a whole lot of folks who have some sort of allegiance to a Protestant church.

Catholics living in America are - if they're serious about their faith - part of a minority.

Which gets me to this excerpt from the professors' post:
"...In fact--I'm just going to come right out and say it--there does seem to be a real overreaction to Protestantism in Catholic circles. Quote chapter and verse from the Bible in some Catholic circles and you might get a weird look: are you really a Catholic? Yet Pope Benedict is calling for precisely that: memorization of Scripture in Catechesis (cf. Verbum Domini 74).

"There seems to be a creeping suspicion in some Catholic circles that liturgy is for Catholics, the Bible is for Protestants. The only problem is: that not what the Pope himself is saying!..."
"Catholic Bloggers Ignoring the Pope's 'Fundamental Priority'?"
The Sacred Page (November 12, 2010)
I've discussed part of the weird side of 'Biblical' Christianity earlier today. (November 19, 2010)

Those two paragraphs from The Sacred Page reminded me of how strongly many 'cradle Catholics' seem to feel about Catholic liturgy. Or at least, about the way Mass was celebrated in 'the Good Old Days.'

Like I said, I'm a convert. I have no memories, fond or otherwise, of going to Mass as a child. Vatican II happened well before my conversion: and indirectly helped it along. It has to do with Humanae Vitae, and that's yet again another topic.

Mind you, I'm talking about the real Vatican II: not the sort of silly Cromwellism1 that gripped so many apparently over-enthusiastic and under-informed priests in America. Weird redecorating of the sanctuary and hiding the Host seemed high on the priorities of that 'in the spirit of Vatican II' nonsense.

It must have been terribly upsetting to folks who like the rich heritage of the Church.

I wasn't too crazy about the aftereffects, myself. I like places of worship that don't resemble sensory-deprivation chambers.

Now, that's a church.

I think I even understand - and sympathize a little - with some Catholics living in America who apparently decided that the Pope had gone crazy, the Vatican was in enemy hands, and that they alone were the one, real, Catholic Church. Note: "Understand" doesn't mean "agree with." The sympathy? Give me a running start, and I can sympathize - a little - with quite a lot of folks.

But that doesn't mean that I'd leave the church because I didn't like the decor in my parish.

There was more going on, of course, than vandalizing sanctuaries. From the sixties on, some really, really, weird ideas cropped up among the more 'with-it' nominal Catholics. (November 18, 2010)

As for quoting the Bible - sensibly? Well, I grew up as a Protestant - but I still cringe, sometimes, when I hear words like "Biblical." Though not, perhaps, for quite the same reason as a 'cradle Catholic' would. (November 19, 2010)

Somewhat-related posts:Views from another set of bloggers:
1"Cromwellism" doesn't seem to be a word - yet - but I think it should be. The neologism harks back to Oliver Cromwell, an English patriot of sorts. If he'd done his thing today, he'd probably be facing genocide charges. My opinion.

As it was, the Lord Protector's 'improvements' weren't universally appreciated in England: with the result that his body was dug up, hung, and beheaded - postmortem.

I'll admit to a bias here: I'm half-Irish, and converted to Catholicism, and don't appreciate what was done to my forebears. That's as far as it goes, though. Forgiveness, and all that. Which isn't my idea: it's standing orders from my Lord. (September 11, 2010, for starters)


Brigid said...

I'd still like to have a few words with Cromwell about using churches as stables and a few other little things he did to Ireland. Especially a little speech of his that boiled down to 'the only good Irishman is a dead one.'

Forgive? Yeah, I guess. It's a little easier for me since I didn't experience and of that personally, but that sure doesn't mean I like the guy. At all.

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...



I've found it useful to remember that we're commanded to love others. Liking someone or not is optional. It helps when emotions are lined up with our will, of course.

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