The committee

In the Catholic blogosphere, few bureaucratic institutions are more maligned than the liturgy committee.

I am a member of one.

But folks, I am here to tell you that there is something worse than the liturgy committee. 

The Parish Pastoral Council. They have asked the liturgy committee, and other committees in the parish to make suggestions on how to have a shorter mass (50 minutes) rather than an hour, due to the ‘unanimous suggestions pouring in.’ If they are receiving such suggestions, is this not a good opportunity for catechesis on the importance of the mass? A time for shepherding perhaps?

It makes me sick. 

Now our parish isn’t an overly traditional one (there aren’t many in the area), and while there are a lot of things I would like to change, the person in charge of the music and liturgy at our parish strives for excellence; she takes pride in her work and no one could question her commitment. We have nice masses, but we don’t have missa cantatas. The typical mass at our parish lasts but an hour.

An hour.

50 minutes…

You have got to be kidding me. Is this a church, or a social club?

—We like the welcoming atmosphere and community, but could we have a little less mass?—

—Can you not watch one hour with me?—

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6 Comments on “The committee”

  1. Steve Says:

    First off, I must disagree with your tag “selfish lamenting.” Lamenting — in a “Book of Lamentations” sense — I get, but don’t tar your thoughts as “selfish.” You have too many kindred spirits out there to get tagged as selfish. Me, I’m having to deal with the knowledge that folks in my parish are leaving right after receiving communion and (take my customary deep breath here…) THE USHERS HOLD THE DOOR FOR THEM AND HAND THEM A BULLETIN AS THEY LEAVE!!!. Arrgh. I’m with you. There are many with you. What do we do, though? Speaking for myself, I’m still trying to figure out the balance between “judge not” and “admonish the sinner,” all the while acknowledging my own shortcomings and sinfulness. I often just think back to some advice I received in a more secular setting — “Mind your business and do your work.” Perhaps the best we can do is lead by example. I just pray for the grace to be a good example — if I’m quiet and keep working, perhaps they’ll not notice the times when I fall short.

    Pax et bonum!

    Steve


  2. “THE USHERS HOLD THE DOOR FOR THEM AND HAND THEM A BULLETIN AS THEY LEAVE!!!”

    A rather different spin on the office of Porter.

    We could return to the early Byzantine practice of securing the doors before the Liturgy of the Eucharist and not reopening them until the end of the Liturgy. “The Doors! The Doors!”

  3. arscatholica Says:

    Thanks for the commiseration Steve. Last night I was struggling with the temptation to write a pretty harsh letter to the parish council. In fact, the representative to the parish pastoral council from our liturgy committee is soliciting feedback from all the liturgy committee members.

    It truly is hard to know when to hold one’s tongue, or keyboard in this case, and discerning when quiet action is best as compared to righteous anger is a skill at which I am not yet fully adept, nor might I ever be. I agree with you that it is best to lead by example, and yet, how can one keep quiet?

    It is times like these when the sin of despair threatens most to darken the flame of hope. I must note at least one positive aspect – whether leaning towards the traditional or towards the modern, at least all members of the liturgy committee seem in agreement that this shortening of the mass is a ridiculous request.

    And J.R. – I love the byzantine inspired idea of barring the doors! 🙂

  4. HVACengi Says:

    I have to agree with you, it is insane to think that the Mass needs to be 10 minutes shorter. And the chosen time seems to be an interesting choice. It almost sounds like some people what to get home in time for a TV show or event that starts at the top of the hour. Does that 10 minutes really mess up people’s breakfast plans that badly?

    I’m reminded of a time that I was lectoring at Mass, and the priest arrived shortly before Mass started. He was deeply apologetic (understandable) but also rather angry with himself. When I jokingly told him that Mass wasn’t going to start without him, he told me that he hated starting Mass late because everyone still expected to be out at 10:00 (9:00 Mass), and that he would have to shorten his homily. Mind you, this priest preaches very well; His homilies are well thought out, involving, they convey a message, they are bound to the readings (plural, but an issue for discussion another day), and heartfelt. The thought that he would feel the need to cut any portion of that message just to fit the timing both surprised and saddened me.

    Now, this priest’s conundrum bothering me was probably tied to how out of place it felt. At my parish, hardly anyone leaves Mass prior to the end of the closing song. This includes longer Masses. We have one visiting priest who takes Mass to 1hr 15min on a regular basis and is excellent from the pulpit. He is warmly welcomed every time, and many seem to really appreciate his words. And we sing [i]a lot[/i], which generally adds time itself. So when he was worried about an extra 5 minutes of mass, it just didn’t fit.

    On the other side of the coin, I’ve also attended Mass a few times in a small town in Wisconsin where the priest was so fast that we were out in under 45 minutes every time (I think 35 was the fastest I experienced there). He would be reading a prayer, but already be moving things around to jump to the next portion of the Mass. It was not very fulfilling, but as an 8 year old on vacation it was kind of fun. As I grew older, I realized just how unfulfilling it felt rushing through the elements of the Mass. Oddly enough, the same priest did a Funeral Mass for the relative that we visited in town, and he was very reflective, supportive, comforting, and understanding. But he was still fast.

    The idea of actually shortening or removing parts of the mass to reduce its impact on your life by 1/6th of 1/168th (for most people) strikes me as insignificant gain to the parishners, not to mention disproportionate to the spiritual gain. A former pastor used to ask “You can’t give 1 hour a week to God?” If the argument is over 10 minutes here, in the only structured portion of Faith for so many, what does that tell us about the unstructured portion? If you cut out faith building to save time, you will build less faith, plain and simple. Church isn’t like baseball, where the value of shortening game times can be measured by the increase in ticket sales. The length of the Mass by itself is not really the important issue to be concerned about with mass, but rather the content and the effect it has on the participant’s faith, spirituality, and soul. And a Parish Pastoral Council should know and value that.

  5. Dave Says:

    Not much more can be said without redundancy of other comments…I am exponentially with your take here.
    I shake my head visibly at the early exiters, hoping some shame will strike them. I just dont see how they live with themselves or their consciences, doing that. Burning the edge of Hypocracy in my book.
    -Dave

  6. Argent Says:

    Is your pastor in support of the shorter Mass?

    Do you have Eucharistic Adoration? It may not seem related but when Eucharistic Adoration is expanded, there is a perceptible change of attitude toward the Mass.

    Morbid humor here….at the Ite Missa: The Mass has been shortened. Go in peace to serve yourself.


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