I have sometimes thought that I wouldn’t mind so much some of the standard fare of modern hymns in the Mass if a selection of older hymns were also used. I never understood while there has to be some dividing line where anything before the sixties has to be censored. A sort of hymn age discrimination. Not that everything older is worthwhile, but surely you would think they could find something older than themselves to select. Last Sunday this thesis met its test. My wife and I were in Norfolk, Va and attended Mass there. This Church had six Masses on Sunday and the one we attended was packed. There was a strange juxtaposition of the old and the new. A modern style cruciform church with a a Byzantine style cross with a raised corpus in the sanctuary. Before the Mass started they requested that everyone turn of their cell phones before "the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass" started and then announced who the presider was. While using the term presider I guess is technically correct, I prefer celebrant if your going to announce it all. Better yet would be "The part of Jesus Christ today we be sacramentally played by Father such-and-such." – to fully give that In Persona Chirsti flavor. Then the "theme for today’s Mass" was given – which use to be called the entrance antiphon.
The choir though was wonderful and the best I have heard live in a Catholic Church. Because it was a more modern church so there was no choir loft and as I have said before unlike children, choirs should be heard and not seen. But at least they were wearing choir robes and during the consecration the whole choir kneeled which is something I rarely see happen. The entrance hymn was something circa 1800 that I hadn’t heard before, but that I would love to hear again.
A Latin hymn was used later and there sung version of the Our Father was quite beautiful. My main parish church usually chants the Our Father, but this version sung in different parts was a joy to listen too. The last two hymns used were standard fare in many Catholic churches and they were kind of a let down after the previous ones, but the organ along with their singing made them much more than passable.
The celebrant was a Fr. Moss who is a Navy Chaplain. I am still trying to figure out if I liked his homily or not. Hands down Fr. Moss is the funniest homilist I have ever heard. Mostly the homily felt more like a stand-up routine than a homily and he regularly had people in the pews laughing throughout. There were some obvious themes he had used before such as talking about his "twisted evil demon-spawn sister" since just the mention of her had people laughing. As an amateur comedian I quite admired his ability and timing. While the homily was played for laughs he also did teach a good deal about blessings and the blessing at the end of Mass and I must admit that much of what he said stuck with me afterwards. I truly doubt if I would like hearing every homily in this mode, but maybe in the case of Fr. Moss he could pull it off. Humor can be a good tool when used correctly in a homily, but too much of it can certainly distract from the dignity of the Mass.
That actually sounds a lot like my parish, except we have a choir loft. I think it’s a bit closer to what the Vatican was intending when the Novus Ordo was issued.
Golfer’s mass at 9, Yuk-yuks at 10:30, Teen mass at 12(They’re the last to get out of bed). Sounds wonderful.
Talk about choirs, I was in at a mass in New Brunswick last summer. The choir was in the loft but there was no question that the mass belonged to the choir leader with the microphone. She had intros and segues and explanations so that it was clear to everyone that it was her mass. Poor Father was new and seemed like more of an appendage with all the EMHC’s running around beside him and behind him. It didn’t help him that he gave a homily with the flavor of vanilla pudding.
I have to be fair, that choir leader was a great singer, lovely voice and well trained. Who knows, she may have just taken over because nobody else would lead.
Still, the whole thing made my skin itch.
I tend to agree with you. Humour is generally OK but in small doses. One blessing is that he confined it to the homily. In some places, the Missal seems to have been tampered with and a rubric added mandating a post-communion joke.
We had the same experience while visiting a parish in TX over the holidays. It was so odd to me to hear a homily that was basically a series of one-liners. Not that anything heretical was said but I had a hard time following the teaching because the delivery. When the expected laughs weren’t to his liking, Father commented a couple of times on what a hard audience this was & how everyone must be asleep. Please! I like a good laugh as much as the next person but this just isn’t the place for Jay Leno.
Depending on its object, laughter during the homily can be good in small doses. I find that especially true when we are nudged to laugh at our own foolishness at times. We should always take the Lord weriously, but often we take OURSELVES too seriously.
Our homiletic comedy is generally a one-liner here or there, except for missions. Visiting priests sometimes come with just enough of a comedy routine to make us nervous! Of course, what do you do when you’re publicly nervous? You laugh! That leads me to wonder whether the comedy is sometimes a device to ease self-consciousness.
Next time you are in the Norfolk area, try the TLM at St. Benedict’s. Funny bits in the homilies, but blistering in terms of the consequence of sin. Father Willis is an excellent speaker and celebrant.
I second the motion about the TLM at St. Benedict’s in Chesapeake. Also, next time you’re in the Norfolk area, look me up.
It seems to me that one of the hazards of the versus populum posture (“towards the people”) is that the priest feels he must be an entertainer of sorts. It puts an incredible amount of pressure on a person when he has to maintain facial composure at every moment–for an hour!–in a public setting.
Turn the altars around. Give the priest a moment’s piece. The sanctuary is not a musical theatre stage where someone should have to perform.
This is my motto: Turn the altars around, and everything else will fall into place.
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