Why I’m Embarrassed to Invite
Non-Catholics to Mass
It's not that there is something different about the Roman Catholic parish in my whereabouts of Southern California. I know. I've been to the perimeters of the Archdiocese. The casual conduct of parishioners and lax liturgical norms are the same everywhere.
A clownish Pope sets the tone for the people
Moreover, any clear-thinking Jew would soon think better of keeping company with us at the sight of an entire congregation raising their arms Third Reich style. This was a pose practiced by parishioners in my church for the longest time whereby collegial benedictions were slung from the pews towards their target, the weekly custodian of the “Divine Mercy” Icon.
For my part, I wouldn't ask someone to count on my blessing to do them measurable good. But, like all liturgical fads they finally chug out of steam and a new fetish rolls down the Hallelujah Trail.
The Divine Mercy cult firmly entrenched and embraced by the progressivist Church
Then, our Polish pontiff, John Paul II busied himself with the beatification of the self-proclaimed seer.
This is the same pope who meddled with Our Lady's Rosary. It was without leave.
Our side-altar shrine to the Blessed Virgin Mary goes neglected of any parochial devotions whatsoever while the Novus cult of Divine Mercy enjoys zealotry second only to World Cup Soccer. Personally, I have reservations about someone claiming, on their own authority, to have had countless visitations from God who, she related, esteemed her as a favored intimate of His and worthy of His dizzying praise. If you read some "quotes" from Jesus ( per Sr. Faustina ) you may cringe.
I like to keep a little distance between myself and that peculiar and even dangerous Catholic vice that suspends prudence in the face of a hot, new private revelation. Maybe some are true and maybe some are not. What I do know is they are that which is not necessary. Lourdes & Fatima are two of very few about which one can set aside uncertainty.
But, I wander. Let us address the challenge of inviting those of other creeds to Catholic Mass, that is, if it is still thinkable given a Magisterium who have all but denied the apostolic nature of the Church.
Disturbing Sunday experiences
There is a terrible paradox at work in the contemporary Roman Catholic Church. It is a grave sin to willfully miss one's Sunday obligation.
Men in shorts, women barely dressed, cassually approach for Communion
There is no Sunday I do not witness one, and typically more, of the following irreverences at Mass:
- In warm weather, women dressed in short-shorts or skirts so brief one can only pray their posture is better than their sense of propriety. That, and the fervent hope no dropped object must be picked up.
- Men wearing sloppy T-Shirts with logos both secular and profane The best bet to see a man at church in a suit and tie is when he has arrived late & misinformed about occasions of parish pageantry more formal than The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
- Children whose parents bring snacks, beverages, toys, coloring books and the crayons that come with them lest conduct proper to occasion needs be taught.
- Adults with bottled water, slurped throughout the Mass, lest they perish before the final blessing.
- The certainty that at least one cell-phone will blast aloud in spite of the opening request to turn them off. Until you've had to listen to the Finale of the William Tell Overture at the Elevation you have missed the fullest experience of the New Church.
- Young people and adults alike texting at length during Mass.
- The Touchy-Feely-Fest parishioners lavish upon one another after the Consecration. This is less accurately known as The Greeting. It can be easily mistaken for worshipers enjoying parity with the devotion due God.
- The drumroll-rimshot by our merry organist on the occasion of a lame joke by the priest.
- The swarm of cackling hen parties after Mass in front of the altar area.
- If you have in mind 'Thanksgivings for After Mass' you can just tuck that prayer book away.
- Enthusiastic applause during and after the Mass in tribute to some person or persons other than God, but always, always for the choir & musicians who have set us on our way home with tunes so sticky & sweet it takes until mid-day to shake them from your head. But, on the scale of sheer spiritual disorientation, nothing exceeds their playing 'Happy Birthday' to some embarrassed honoree.
- Then, there's the announcement that "All are invited to receive communion. If you do not wish to receive communion, please place your hand over your heart for a blessing".
Who is "All"? Why would one "not wish" to receive? Explanations are not forthcoming.
Everyone is invited to Communion - and comes up to receive
A new Mass posture: applause for guests
There are other things less common but sights not soon forgotten: the woman throwing her head back to administer nose-drops in the pew ahead of me pops to mind. Oh... well, that and the guy sipping a bottle of Chocolate Ensure and the fellow wearing a baseball cap who was eating a banana during Mass... lest they perish.
And who can forget the flyers posted along the alcoved walls, wherein the saints and stained-glass beam down, promoting a church fund-raising festival (Hawaiian Style) with the graphics of swaying hula girls in coconut-shell bras? The one flyer taped on the confessional door could be excused as a simple lapse in good judgment.
A rainbow poster given prime place behind the altar
Yet, surely, it's just a matter of time before our congregation will be amazed by altar adornments of gaily colored rainbow banners that we might celebrate those with an inclination towards a particular vice. Funny how the Catholic Church does not celebrate those disposed to other sins. It seems prejudiced. Shouldn't contracepting couples, the illicitly divorced & Pro-Choice folks be given banners, too... maybe a parade? You know, as long as they promise to launch a journey of self-discernment.
But, there is little motivation offered for reflection on an otherwise unexamined life. The Four Last Things have not been heard from since about the time priests turned their backs on the Tabernacle. One priest in the recent past of this parish dismissed the idea of a biblical Hell: "No, it's probably like a form of solitary confinement from God."
Yes sirree, no fires of Gehenna in his future. One is left to conclude there are blunders in the bible. This priest is hardly the only loose canonist free to bounce about the Barque of Peter.
Be glad that, should America's civil liberties ever be lost, unharnessed self-expression can always be found in the Church.
No finer template for a new democracy could be authored – so no matter the cultural squalor & spiritual disarray of such uncommon freedom. Nowhere will you find more happy slobs than under the roof of a modern Roman Catholic Church. I will not embarrass her further by bringing in spectators to the Roman Circus within.
The Nazis-salute blessing
at the end of a stadium Mass