So. I've been visiting churches around the Archdiocese for one full year now. I've put off posting because I wasn't sure what exactly I wanted to talk about. I think I'm going to go with thoughts on a variety of topics.
In some ways, the journey has been enlightening and in some ways frightening. Enlightening in some ways because every parish is so different, yet there are threads common to all of them, which is how it should be. Frightening because of homilies that border on heresy and parishoners who seem to think that Mass is another social occasion. Some of the art is pretty frightening too. One of the reasons I started to visit churches, is because I didn't really believe the more traditional blogs (and their commenters) about how bad and irreverent the average Sunday Mass is. I think the biggest problem is the lack of the consistency between parishes. One parish is reverent, while another parish has puppets. They all should be reverent. I'll give you that the music (and perhaps art) can and maybe should be more tailored to the needs of the individual parish. However, it should still be recognizable as Catholic. I mean I'm Catholic, I want to do Catholic worship, not Protestant or what ever worship. Isn't that one of the points of being Catholic; to act like it? (And to go to Heaven....)
On my social network (Plurk), we are currently discussing children at Mass. I'm all for it. I'm all against the Children's Liturgy. The Catholic Church has managed, since around 33 AD to at least until the 1980s (not sure when it started) to survive and handle children in the Mass. I'm not sure what this big push is for the Children's Liturgy. In the 70+ homilies I've heard, only one was even remotely difficult in that my college education was needed. Most of them are irrelevant to me (sorry to say) and most likely irrelevant to children. The readings aren't all that difficult to understand either. (I'm still trying to figure out the Letter of St. Paul to the Galoshes) Do I get to have a special liturgy that is relevant for me too? Children need to be taught how to behave in Mass and sending them out for 1/2 of it doesn't accomplish this. Think of it as training for future careers; I can't tell you how many boring and irrelevant meetings I've sat through. Frankly, I think it is really creepy and somewhat sad to go into a Mass and be the youngest person there, sometimes by 10-15 years. It is sad. The crying children don't bother me for the most part, as well, it's what kids do. However, if they don't settle down in 5 minutes, maybe take them out to the back instead of waiting to see if they will eventually calm down. Of course, perhaps if they are going to scream during the Consecration, maybe you should take them out before ;). I also understand Mass can be a bit, well, boring, especially for the little ones. I have no problem with bringing something to keep them occupied, but I really feel it should be religiously themed. They make Catholic coloring books, plush Jesus and Mary, and all sorts of religious themed toys and books. I have been informed there are even plushie saints and a plush Mass Kit.
My next big issue is with clothing. Now, I'm not fashionista and have no idea what is in style (I love tie-dye.) However, I do know that if you can't bow or genuflect because your clothing is so tight and/or short, perhaps you should reconsider your clothing choice. I'm also a big subscriber to Jesus is my homey, so I don't really go for that uber dressed up look for Mass. (Although I did manage to dig up a long skirt and mantilla for St. Francis de Sales....when in Rome...) However, my shirt has a collar and sleeves and I have started wearing long pants consistently. I realize St. Louis is hot in the summer, but I have yet to encounter a parish that doesn't have air conditioning. Now some of them have had air conditioning on life support, but they still had it. I realize the walk to the car from the door might be a little hot in clothes, but you know think of it as a reminder of how unpleasant Hell will be, should you land up there. Besides, suffering is good for us. Sister said so. Also, parents, really think hard about what your lovely daughter is wearing to Mass. I went to one Mass where some 40 year old man was oogling a 15 year old's arse (in a short skirt) for the entire Eucharistic Prayer. And guys, I really don't want to know what color boxers you are wearing...and try to find something without stains or holes...
I have decided I like more classically built and more decorated churches. There's nothing really wrong with modern churches or sparsely decorated churches, per se, I just don't like them. They don't feel like a Catholic Church and they don't help me get in the right frame of mind for worship. At some churches, I had a hard time determining if I was actually in a Catholic Church. I like more decorated churches because sometimes my mind wanders, and looking at the statues and windows helps at least keep me focused towards God instead of something else.
I am now more convinced that Fr. Z is right and we are losing our Catholic Identity. From the
Have I found a parish yet? Yes and no. There have been a few parishes that I wouldn't mind joining and would be happy at; unfortunately they seem to be out in the middle of nowhere and well, I'm just not a country girl. There haven't been any parishes I would run screaming from. There were parishes I felt I would fit better in than others.
I'm really enjoying seeing how varied the Catholic Church truly is. I'm looking forward to seeing the different rites in the Catholic Church.
Until next Sunday!