In my little over a decade and a half as a Catholic I have seen steady improvement regarding the liturgy within my diocese. Attending Mass at multiple parishes all over town I have watched this unfold.
I have definite Liturgy Police tendencies. Part of this is as a convert I became familiar with the GIRM and what the rubrics were. Plus having listened to so much Catholic radio I have heard a lot of questions and answers regarding the liturgy. So knowing what is suppose to happen reminds me of the verse in Ecclesiastes he who increases knowledge increases sorrow. So I have struggled with these Liturgy Police tendencies which could really take away from worshiping God at Mass. Rantings of angry traditionalists on this though has provided a warning sign to me to not go down this route. A route I could easily fall in to.
When I was a brand new Catholic I often found liturgical abuses across the range. At the time there was pretty much only one parish I could go to where I would not come across these abuses. Looking back I think I transferred most of my anger concerning this into various parodies on this blog over the years. Although my wife had to suffer through many of my rants about liturgical abuses. Thankfully I did not descend into constant angry letter writing. The only case where I did write a letter involved a very serious abuse and the parish pretty much ignored it.
So mostly I am coming to grips with now mostly minor liturgical abuses and of course banal music. I no longer come out of Mass angry. The fact that I less likely to experience serious liturgical abuses has been a good thing for me. I don’t want to turn into the Liturgical Hulk “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”
There are some parishes now that have been transformed and mostly the reason for this is that the previous pastor retired. Reform of the reform via attrition has made a serious effect. Parishes that caused me to cringe now offer beautiful masses said reverently. A return of the Pipe Organ and some of the richness from the Church’s treasure of hymns. A return of a little bit of Latin. I’ve also seen a increased return to using a Paten. In these parishes the quality of homilies is also on the increase.
I was reminded of all of this at Mass yesterday at a parish where the music was once dreadful and the homilies contained information that was simply false. Instead now they seemed to have discovered that they had a Pipe Organ and that they could use it. The homily from a young priest was lyrical and moving. At times when he mentioned Jesus he would point to the Tabernacle. It instantly reminded me of the Pastor of the Church I came into, the late and beloved Fr. Leon, who had the same habit.
Sure some parishes time seems to have stood still trapped in the sixties, but even these parishes with so-called “vibrant” music are mostly free of liturgical abuses, with no serious abuses. Since I fortify myself with several homily podcasts, the totally forgettable homilies delivered in these parishes doesn’t bother me as much. Not that I don’t wish the homilies were better for everyone.
So while I am still hypercritical attending Mass, it is mostly as an observer and does not destroy my interior life (what there is of it). Knowing that I can easily turn to the dark side of angry liturgical traditionalism, it gives me some peace to turn away from it.