Saturday, March 17, 2007

Emphasis on personality

One of my parishioners asked me what this might mean, it is from the summary I put out on Sacramentum Caritatis.
“The pope cautions priests not to substitute themselves for Jesus. He exhorts them to celebrate the Mass with humility, “avoiding anything that might give the impression of an inordinate emphasis on his own personality.””

I think he might mean something like this:


This is a Mass celebrated by the Archbishop of Los Angeles, Cardinal Mahoney. Mahoney notoriously seems to break every liturgical law the Church has made, he seems to want to make the Church in the image of his own ego, not just by using glass vessels when the Church says these are outlawed, but the whole thrust of the liturgy seems to be horizontal, celebrating the community and celebrating himself. The Holy Father’s emphasis is “I must decrease, he must increase”. It applies to the celebrant and to the community as well, everything should point to Christ.

One of the worst examples I found on a quick search of You Tube was this Halloween Mass, where parishioners were encouraged to come in Halloween costumes, notice the woman Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion with devil horns.


The whole reason for the Church having rules about the celebration of the Mass is to ensure that it doesn't become Father's, the Community's or even His Eminence's little show.

24 comments:

Bill said...

I am glad that one of your parishioners had to ask, rather than knowing from personal experience.

Ttony said...

In the same way as we can talk about "Cafeteria Catholicsm", could we use these two clips to start talking about "Phoenix Nights Catholicsm", on the grounds that they portray a cariacatured simulacrum of the real thing?

(Plus, there's nothing a liberal hates more than being made fun of!)

Hebdomadary said...

You seem to utter the phrase "The American" concerning Cardinal Mahoney with disdain and contempt...and as an American, I thank you. Cardinal Mahoney is a disgrace, a wrecker of the Catholic Faith, and has been appearing in his own "little show" in Los Angeles for far too long. LA could be one of the great Diocese of the world, a place of unrivaled media prominance and publicity, but thanks to his undoing it is as much an ecclesial wasteland as an urban one. St. Augustine says that wicked men are sent to try us, see the lessons for tenebrae of Holy Thursday, so we must pray for his conversion to Roman Catholicism, because he is clearly expessing heresy and is in material schism. I'm one of the 1% he's content to allow to wander in the wilderness, surrounded by wolves and other predators with a capital "P." In his own words, "I have to think of the 99% who want a celebratory mass which includes them." Were I a Cardinal Archbishop, I don't think I would be so cavalier as to arbitrarily excize 1% of the church's faithful, and treat them as if they don't even exist. As far as I am concerned, this man is the embodiment of AntiChrist.

You understand I'm using your remark in making a rhetorical point (not actually offended or anything!), but as an American (with a decided love for England - particularly), you remind me that there are some particular Americans that even I can't stand, and Roger Mahoney is one of them.

Let us pray for the Universal Indult

Mary said...

So that is what a liturgical dinosaur is, an insecure priest stuck in the baby-boom era.

Anonymous said...

These are two of the funniest clips I've seen in my life. When are you going to put on your devil's horns, Fr Ray?

Fr Ray Blake said...

"You seem to utter the phrase "The American" concerning Cardinal Mahoney with disdain and contempt"

My profound apologies to you and all Americans, the truth is I couldn't remember which city he was from and was too lazy to look it up. But I am glad there is the Atlantic Ocean between him and me.

I put a post on about the American, Archbishop Raymond Burke or the the American Abbey, Clear Creek. The States seems to have the very best of much, but also Orange County and Los Angeles. Having looked it up, for you, I have changed it.

The Fitzpatricks said...

What an illustration of "personality"! Its even funnier than the dancing South Americans. Happy St Patricks day, Father

fleur said...

At the expense of annoying some of your American readers, I feel I must say that Masses like these would not be found in this country. However, I have heard of Masses in Ireland that have terrible American music sung by demonstrative 'choirs'. Many Masses in Britain might be slipshod and the music banal but most are celebrated reverently and nowhere would you find a priest willing to turn one into a carnival. Our Cardinal and Bishops are models of dignity in comparison with Cardinal Mahoney and his fellow Bishops in Los Angeles. Captious English Catholics should start counting their blessings instead of constantly sniping. I have never seen Masses like those on the YouTube videos nor do I want to. But they certainly put things into perspective here.

All the Pickerings said...

That is really amazing, I just had to call the other residents of the Pickering flat in to watch it, we laughed and laughed, and had to watch them several times. My sister Mary choked on her St Patrick's day g&t, and John had to go and sit daown somewhere quiet, I started doing the dance from the Los Angeles Mass and he fell about. The neighbours must have wondered what we were doing.
This is also a joint comment, I imagine the Fitzgeralds had the same experience.

Anonymous said...

Do you think Cardinal Mahoney could be got as the anchor for the Eurovision Song Contest.
Both are such a wonderful pieces of cheeseyness.
I suspect the Dinosaur priest is having counselling now, poor thing!

Hebdomadary said...

Not at all, Father, not at all. No need to apologize. Believe me, there's NO need to apologize!!

You're right, we are lucky in many places, St. Louis is shaping up nicely, Archbishop Burke will be doing Traditional ordinations for the ICK there in a couple of months, and the ICK just had the first Solemn High Mass in the Cathedral Basilica since 1970, and Clear Creek is a blessing. There are increasingly spots of great grace, but we have more to apologize for than to claim for ourselves.

I have to admit, as a ten year resident of London, the annual summer onslaught of loud transatlantic tourists used to fill me with dread! I finally came to the conclusion that many of my fellow countrymen and women can be less than refined at times. In fact, when at large, they can be downright unsubtle! Thank goodness I never encountered Roger Mahoney either on the street or in a sacristy. Come to think of it I would have been much less likely to meet him in the latter than in the former! In either place, I'll bet he would have been carrying a camera.

Anonymous said...

Nothing more powerfully demonstrates the unbridgeable difference between England and Americs than these appalling American 'liturgies'. They represent a cultural division that is irreconcilable.

Nicholas said...

I am an English Catholic who has spent long periods of time in America on business. The Catholic Church in America is almost entirely an international working-class phenomenon which has only acquired a middle-class veneer in recent years. American Catholics are, rightly, extremely proud of this identity, especially the American-Irish. Cardinal Cushing of Boston, for instance, once observed that he had never met an American bishop who was not the son of a working man. I mention this because it helps to explain the awful razmataz to be found in many American churches; most of the people are at home with it. But it has a dark side. I have had the misfortune of receiving an English Catholic public school education and speak with an English accent. The result has frequently been that I have been insulted and made unwelcome by many American-Irish Catholics when I have worshipped in their churches and being a cradle Catholic myself has made no difference. Their prejudice is worse than that which still prevails in working-class society in Ireland and that is bad enough. I have a number of American Episcopalian friends who know, in their heart, that they should be Catholics but they are discouraged by the prejudice and hostility of American-Irish Catholicism and the low liturgical standards of averaqe Catholic worship after the dignity and reverence they are used to in traditional ECUSA churches. A great deal of the bad hymnody and music in English Catholic parishes is imported from America, and so is the chatty informality of the celebration of Mass. This is a sad story but I hope it helps to put the awfulness shown in these videos in context.

Anonymous said...

Nicholas has made some interesting points. Class does not have the same sharp distinctions in the US as it does in Britain, however muted they are on the surface nowadays. But it has to be said that, without the Irish, the story of the Church since Catholic Emancipation would be entirely different. The immigration after the potato famine gave it a social base it would not otherwise have had. The Church in England has, like the Church in America, depended on immigration for its survival in the last 179 years and still has a fundamental working-class sub-structure, however suburbanized. As for American bishops, even the dressy, baroque-loving Fulton Sheen, who was nothing if not self-assured, makes jokes of the torment of going to school with an odd name like 'Fulton' and mentions in 'Treasure of Clay' (1980) that - unlike the rest of his family - he realized early that he was not cut out for farm work. It's hard to think of him wearing jeans and a check shirt, driving an early combine harvester, or wielding a pitch fork.

Nicholas said...

Thank you for posting my comment, Father. I discovered much that was odd about American Catholicism during my long postings in the States, especially in the context of mid-c20 America. We all associate the United States with individualism, it helped to build the nation. In the Eisenhower years America backed away from individualism in favour of an 'other directedness' that was more at ease in a corporate environment in which expected roles were clear and impersonal. There is considerable anecdotal evidence that mid-century American Catholics thrived in organizations like the army, the FBI, and IBM, owing to their familiarity with the definitively hierarchical organization of the Church itself. Many intellectuals were aghast at the supposed regimentation of Catholics in America because they recognized the philistanism and limitations of their background. These even affected the Church itself. Highly qualified young priests were deliberately given dismal assignments by the less educated upon ordination, to teach them not to be ambitious for status. This had less to do with humility and ambition than fear and it partly explains the vehement reaction of many after Vatican II which was given added force by this injustice. Much of the appalling reaction of the late-Sixties generally is attributable to this fatal trait and is partly responsible for the strange paths taken by the Church in America since. There was much to admire in American Catholicism, but I came to understand what the Vatican inentified as 'Americanism' in the late-c19 and its re-emergence since. These comments might seem strange in the light of the bizarre video clips you posted but I do believe that they are associated by way of explanation.

Jack said...

My mum worked in Woolworths, my dad was a painter and decorator. My Dad lapsed in the 70s my Mum in the 80s, it seems a pattern of working class men and women.
I blame lay participation, it excluded the working classes.

Angela said...

I notice that the Fitzpatricks have compared these videos with the Eucharistic Adoration in Brazil which you posted recently to mixed response. There is one difference between them. In the first post there was love of the Blessed Sacrament, however uncoventionally expressed. In the Hallowe'en Mass, I wonder if the Blessed Sacrament featured at all in the mind of the celebrant and some of his sadly misled people. The priest's comments, in my opinion, bordered on blasphemy. They combined a curious mix of immaturity and self-satisfaction which I did not detect in the Brazilian devotion.

convert said...

One of many features that attracted me to the Catholic Church when I was received many years ago was the strong working-class base in this country. For me, as a middle-class Anglican, it was the Church of the people and that gave it inherent credibility. The Young Christian Workers were an impressive organization in those days and they knew the Church's teaching, doctrinal and social, through and through. Their watchword was 'Think, judge, act.' The Catholic Church was able to include people that the Anglican Church found hard, usually impossible, to attract. I know exactly what Jack means. Lay participation often implies that the pushiest get to the top; but there is a dilemma here that I am unable to solve and I would like to know other people's reactions. The Church's strong educational thrust in the nineteenth century was to educate Catholics so that they could take an equal place in society with their Protestant contemporaries. The teaching Orders achieved magnificent results and this led to the foundations of a Catholic middle class. Tragically, what Jack says about the way lay involement was promoted is true. The working class was pushed out in decisive areas where they should have been included. I remember a progressive Dominican once saying to me when I lamented the radical character of some of the liturgical changes, especially in church music: 'The Catholic Church is no longer a bourgeois Church.' He meant that it would truly become the Church of the working man. This has not happened, partly because of the results of Catholic education. Instead, it has become a petit-bourgeois Church and there is nothing more uncomfortable for working people than that. In losing them we have lost a great deal of credibility and strength. I realise that I may have over-simplified and generalised and I hope I do not seem to be pompous or patronising, but Jack had out his finger on a point.

Edna said...

One or two points about this travesty of worship. I did notice that some of the people received Holy Communion devoutly, one even genuflected before doing so, brave woman. Secondly, it was interesting to notice that by the end of the priest's charade dressed as a bear most of the congregation had left, some in disgust I presume. But what broke the ice of my disapproval was seeing that absurd woman dressed as a witch conducting the dreadful music at the end, after having first read a lesson. It made me laugh till I cried. What a crone! You have provoked some fascinating comments.

Anonymous said...

I noticed the celebrant's invitation to goblins and ghouls to join in saying the Lord's prayer. I didn't realise that this was a Mass said for the Latin Mass Society.

bruce said...

Angela,
You are right, there is a gulf of difference between what is at the heart of these actions. However, all three are outside the tradition and all three stem from a sense of we have the right to make up our own rites. All damage the unity of the Church and all show contempt for the properly regulated worship of the Church and an ascertion of the ego of an individual over the magisterium.

rik said...

These baby boomers sure have done a lot of damage to the Church. I hope that priest will soon retire to the Woodstock Memorial Home.

Anonymous said...

There are some very interesting comments on America in response to these clips, especially those by Nicholas. He ought to write an article on his experiences. But I notice that Hebdomadery has gone uncharcteristically silent on a subject that must touch him profoundly. I wonder why?

eamon said...

Interesting though they are, I don't like their prejudiced anti-American-Irish tone. They sound like the language of the oppressor.