Sunday, February 07, 2010

Just calm down.

Looking for abuse... everywhere.
These blog posts of ours, complaining, complaining, complaining, can foment suspicion and a lack of confidence - rather than building up the Body of Christ. 
For instance - a few weeks ago I complained that my pastor messed up the liturgy by adding an explanatory prayer of his own making before the Eucharistic prayer.  A well informed friend, who was once a cop - and remains so in some sense - offered that it was perfectly in keeping with the GIRM that Father insert something like that.  Fine.  So be careful when enforcing  "say the black, do the red".  Hopefully, lesson learned.
A week later I complained that he neglected a couple of words in his added prayer regarding the Eucharist - he was saying, "Soul and Divinity" while neglecting "Body and Blood".  Readers said I should let him know, I stated it probably wouldn't be well received.  Long story short - on his own, the priest has restored his full prayer, using the correct, "Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity".  I'm now thinking it was merely an oversight on his part that he neglected it in the first place.  He's a good priest...  I'm thinking the problem was mine.
See how that goes though?  We study the GIRM, we read Fr. X, we compare Masses - EF vs. OF, Latin/English, altar girls, women in the sanctuary... the list goes on.  We pick apart the priest's homilies, his performance, his decorum, does he lift the host high or hold it low?  Is the priest gay?  Does he wear clerics?  Does he live in the rectory or his own house?  Does he ignore single people and focus upon families?  Does he favor the richer parishioners?  Does he drive an expensive car?  Take too many vacations?  Does he not appreciate the fact you have a degree in theology?  Or that you met Mel Gibson?  What really annoys us about this guy?  What annoys you about the lector?  The cantor?  The ushers?  The woman in front of you?  Think about it. 
Is that devotion?  Is that prayer?  Is that active participation?  Is that necessary?
(Remind me of this post the next time I bitch.)


  1. How timely. Last night at Mass the little lady in front of us along with her daughter and granddaughter were having their own little private cobbled together Mass.

    They were actually using pre-Vat II missals, genuflected when a bow was called for, and as for the sign of peace - no way. They left some poor girl in front of them with her hand dangling in mid-air.

    So what's my point? None really - except it was rather amusing and obviously very distracting if you were sitting right behind them.

    See - I'm so lacking in holiness that things like this draw my attention, even during Mass.

  2. Terry: Lest you imagaine that you are the only person preoccupied with the minutiae of "church issues",as you refer to them, let me assure you that you are not alone.

    I go to Mass everyday at my parish in Baltimore. Everyday there is a mother with children too many for counting. Throughout the Mass we are delivered yelps, cries and noise without surcease. In my mind, I am thinking, MY Mother would NEVER have allowed children below a certain age even into church. My parents took turn at Mass, leaving children at home, should be left at home... So. I offer several off putting glances. No surcease. I say to myself: can't she stay home, as a sacrifice. Is it necessary to inflict this misery on us. Isn't there such a thing a church decorum anymore? I have this thing about silence. I am similarly assaulted in public libraries. Please don't get me started on my litany of complaints in that department. Apaprently, I need to go to confession. See, even when we are in church, we can sin. Something, huh?

  3. I guess I am not very educated or experienced in these matters. I adore our parish priest. I adore a former interim parish priest who is a retreat center director and my spiritual director/confessor. I adore the priest who celebrates the Latin Mass although I do not go, but I have gone to him for confession, and he is excellent. I adore the Spanish mass priest, to whom I taught enough English that he can now celebrate the Mass in either language. To me, they are all blessings and a marvelous gift from God. I now feel doubly blessed to be surrounded by priests and all of them good.

  4. No need for education or experience, Elizabeth. A propensity for sin will do just fine.

  5. Was this about distractions at Mass? I didn't realize that.

  6. Terry: LOL. I don't know. You wrote it. I was focusing on the complaining part, as in, my own.

  7. Before the internet I was blissfully unaware of all the things you mentioned, Terry. I was quite happy to stand for the consecration, see Father in his civvies, etc. Then I got "edumacated" and turned into the Kommunion Kop. Yes, it's good to know right from wrong but mostly at my parish it's shades of gray.

    I cannot read Traddy blogs because I am just so bloody grateful that we even have a priest in my neck of the woods.

    I wonder if all these scrutinizers are also scrupulous?? St. Therese, pray for us.

  8. I don't think my comments made much sense but, Terry, I think you know where I am coming from and the comments are for you so I am not going to tidy them up.

    PS...was it clear I agree with you?

  9. Angela M: Scrupulous?
    Yeah, I'd say so...not being a licensed psychologist, I say this as an observation, not a diagnosis.
    The extremes "feed off" one another; the more blatant the "creativity"(read: abuses) the more reactionary the absolute intolerance...
    Hopefully, we will be moving into a more sane time in the Church. Not tomorrow, not next week, but eventually.

  10. [Terry, your comboxes have been too tame lately. Allow me...]

    Maria, was that satire?

    My mother and father TOOK US TO MASS AS A FAMILY.

    To suggest they "split it up" would have been utterly offensive.
    We aren't Episcopalian. We have kids - lots of them. And we worship together. Families are supposed to go to Mass that way - AS A FAMILY. Many Popes have spoken on this issue; the CCC has spoken on this issue, and the BEST quote I ever heard regarding it was "NOTHING those children are doing at Mass is as offensive to God as YOUR behavior towards them."
    That poor woman is heroically trying to raise a large brood (what? these days?!) but she's not scrimping - she's trying to raise people for whom the Church is a true home, from childhood. Maria, you are a grown woman. You can switch pews if it bothers you so much. St. Faustina was chastised by her Guardian Angel for MOMENTARILY removing her eyes from the altar during Mass once. I can't imagine what a guardian angel thinks when a grown person is cutting nasty looks at a struggling young mother and her children. How about you offer up your inconvenience and inability to focus in reparation for the murders of the 50,000,000 Americans who, since 1973, have been murdered before they ever got a chance to cry?

    SACRIFICE FOR YOU by staying home from Mass?! I cannot FATHOM the sacrifice she is making for this world by getting a brood up early and taking them to Mass every. single. day.

    You're lucky it's not me and my kid you're cutting eyes at. I don't ignore that. I will gladly give directions to the nearest UMC, UCC, or Episcopal church, where there are no kids, and you can enjoy the deathly silence.

    I believe in good behavior at Mass. My 3 year old sits through Mass with very few problems. Always has. But if I had a handful of kids, I can't promise what would happen. Kids are kids. They don't have an off switch or a filter for their big mouths.


    -Jesus Christ

  11. Terry, I'm an English major so not only do I notice if the priest deviates from the program, but I also notice use of language in homilies. One priest used passive voice throughout, then told us we should choose good over evil. Isn't he supposed to be a good example for us?

  12. Cathy, why shouldn't people expect children to behave in public? It's disrespectful to expect the general public to deal with the result of failed parenting.

    Part of a parents job is to teach their children how to behave in different situations. I would hold someone going to Mass everyday to a higher standard; if you take your kids to God's house every day, they should learn how to behave there.

  13. Nan,

    At no time did I say children should not behave, either at Mass or anywhere else. In fact, I said:

    I believe in good behavior at Mass.

    But the tone of that comment was anti-child ("too numerous to count")
    and didn't mention "bad" behavior. It mentioned normal things children do sometimes, like crying.

    I am *sick* of young mothers being attacked at Mass by other parishioners instead of being offered a helping hand. I am *sick* of the suggestion that children just "stay home" until they're "old enough to behave."

    When my daughter was a babe in arms, the witch old lady in front of me turned around and shot me a look as Mary cooed. Once.
    It's hard enough when you're a young mother and feeling self-conscious, wondering if you're doing things right, hoping no one is offended by your child. Add to that a bitter old woman giving a nasty look and, well, you'd better believe I said something.

    Never had trouble with her again though. (The lady, that is.)

    And to compare having children in Mass to having them in a library or a restaurant (where the Lord God Almighty never commanded you to be) is apples to oranges. Not that my daughter doesn't know how to behave in those places. You'd better believe she does. Because i've taught her that since infancy.

  14. "These blog posts of ours, complaining, complaining, complaining, can foment suspicion and a lack of confidence - rather than building up the Body of Christ".

    I was trying to point out my own failings,my own sin of complaining, Cathy. If you'll notice at the end of the post I said: "Apaprently, I need to go to confession. See, even when we are in church, we can sin". Next time, I think I'll keep it in the confessional.

    That said, I do remember my Mother and Father took turns going to Mass,i.e., Dad would take myself and my brothers while my Mom stayed home with the little ones. Then my Mother would go to church while my Dad babysat my infant brother and sister. They maintained this routine because babies, being babies, well, it is their busines to cry. I was not suggesting that anyone should divorce. I am sorry that you have such a hard time. We should all try to be more understanding. I am sorry if I upset you.

  15. Cathy: I am not anti-child. I come from such a large Irsih family, i do not know if I could count everybody if I tried. As for silence. I do think our culture is intolerant of silence in all sort of places. Our souls do need silence.

  16. Austringer9:45 PM


    My parents did the same: until we were old enough that we could be expected to be quiet and to behave reasonably enough, we were left at home with Mom or Dad.

  17. Maria,
    Sorry I misunderstood, and I *do* believe in and love silence, more than most. The sound of a TV in the background drives me nuts. Music in a restaurant drives me nuts. People chatting on cell phones drives me nuts. (I am working on this, I swear.)
    I totally agree that behavior in Mass should be cultivated at a young age.
    Our rules are thus:

    No talking
    No stomping or running anywhere in the church building, including downstairs
    No eating
    No toys
    Hands folded during prayer and walking to communion rail (where she is instructed to cross her arms until First Communion)
    And my big pet peeve:
    No leaving the pew

    I don't really have a hard time, but I see mothers who do. They're just trying, and I don't know what kind of suffering they're going through that day, what kind of cross they're bearing. I have been known to move to the other side of our (huge) church if I can't concentrate. It's happened more than once.

    But I worship at Mass with my husband. Our parish is a good 20 minute drive from our house. 11AM mass gets out 10 minutes before 1230 starts. We couldn't go separately if we wanted.

    For the record, one of my earliest memories is being spanked on the steps of Blessed Sacrament in Atlanta - I must have been 3. My parents did not tolerate "bad" behavior. Anywhere.

    But understand that there are old ladies who can't wait for your 2 week old baby to coo so they can shoot you a look. I left Mass crying more than once in those early days.

  18. Austringer: Maybe I am showing my age. It is just how things were done. Maybe it is different now...

  19. Cathy: I am so sorry. This makes me wonder. Maybe I should volunteer to set up babysitting at my Church.I am sure it can't be easy. Oh, Lord. Spanking on the steps. Yikes. I know Cath, aybe you could slip some bourbon in the bottles. JUST kidding!!!!! You know, I think I will now offer this Mother a hand. See, the Good God brings good out everything, even sin--ahem, my own.

  20. Terry et. al.: Just as an aside, they tell me to "Just Calm Down" rather regularly here...
    Must be my (hidden) red-headed Irish...
    yeah, I was once a red head; now I'm very grey...but, nonetheless...
    "Just Calm Down" is a very good adage...unless you happen to be of a phlegmatic temperament...then you do need to not Calm Down:<)!
    And "berserk" is my word verification...LOL!!

  21. Maria,

    I'm sorry, too.
    I should not have jumped the gun like that.

    There was once a young woman with four or five kiddos in the back of church (outside the main doors) when I had Mary back there, a couple of years ago. She was about 11 months pregnant, and was heroically trying to keep little Maria (age, maybe 1.5) and the others in hand. Two ladies said something to her and I saw her burst into tears, sobbing, trying to explain to her kids that, yes, mommy was okay, but please, please, kids, behave. Stop running, Michael. Don't hit your sister, Thomas. To her eternal credit, she didn't flee the scene. She actually stayed til the end of Mass. (In the back, but still.)
    One of her little boys said something about "Daddy" and she said (wiping her nose), "You know Daddy got deployed, honey."

    It broke my heart, and I never forgot her, though I never saw her again.

    Hey, Maria, as an aside, my grandfather was a daily communicant at St. Alphonsus (?) in Baltimore, many moons ago.

    Father, haha "Berserk" -
    I'm a sanguine myself, in case couldn't tell...

  22. I was raised in a hard-core Presbyterian Church where children were seen and NOT little peeop and they were carried out..or you had an usher graciously show you the door..and we definitely had our share of witchly little old ladies ( and gentlemen, for that matter..).

    For me a cooing baby is one thing...its when parents treat church like a picnic and bring food and toys to entertain and PLAY with their children rather than listen to the my church growing up young children could bring a small toy or dolly to sit on their lap but that's about it. And NO FOOD OR BEVERAGES... if the baby needed a bottle you stepped outside...I think it was primarily because we has lovely purple velvet cushions on our wooden pews. And its just not little ones..just this morning there were three teenage girls sitting in front of me doing the pushing/shoving/picking at each other thing while their parents blissfully ignored them...

    Most modern churches do have cry/scream rooms..if your baby is delightfully burbly (or louder) that is what the room is for. Meltdowns and temper tantrums should also be dealt with promptly..

    I'm not part of the Liturgy me the Mass is the Mass, and I consider myself blessed that if I arrange my day accordingly that for the most part I CAN attend Mass daily..there are many places here in the wildlands of Utah that are not so blessed, adn darn lucky if they get a priest visit once a MONTH..

    When I used to do music for Mass (guitar Mass yippee :) I would get the occasional snarky comment about the music. I would calmly tell them practice was such and such a time and day and that we would welcome their talents and participation....that pretty much ended that.

    (Please no snarky comments about guitar Masses..that is the instrument I know..for those so inclined I will provide my addy so you can send me monthly funds for piano lessons.. :)

    Peace.. Sara

  23. Speaking of unruly children in church:
    I was one such child; my Mother threatened me time and again; I think all I did was turn around and look at everybody. Sunday, me Mommy had had it for whatever reason...she told me in no uncertain terms that when we got home (my Dad was a Dr. on call that day so he wasn't with us) I was gonna get it.
    And I did.
    With a belt, I believe.
    And now I'm in church 7 days a wk;
    a priest, no less.
    So, just realize, Mommys,...your sons may grow up to be cowboys (I mean priests)...even if they're devils in Church :<)!


    Padre: LOL. Oh Padre. Now, I am really laughing beause,as you learn little by little about my crazy Irish family, you are now introduced to another chapter. My Father had to be one of the funniest people I have ever known. He was a land develper and just a tad wired. He smoked like a chimney but never, ever had a drink. Perc and all. His favorite expression, when he was ANYTHING but calm, was, yep "calm down". See, you were the one who anxious, not him.

    Cath: You are so right. The point is we never know what kind of cross someone is carrying and that is why we have to be careful. St. Alphonsus is a very old Church in the city of Baltimore and one of the few where the Latin Mass is still said on a regular basis. We had an AVALANCHE of snow. And more coming.

    Sara: modern life is complicated. Mass included. At lease Sr. Gramick and Fr. Nugent haven't shown up at the Cathedral. We can thank God for small favors...

    Now will everybody please just CALLLLLLM DOWN??? LOL

  25. Padre and Cath---The belt. You are the BEST Catholics. ROFLMAO ROFLMAO ROFLMAO!!!!!

  26. Padre: I was an angel. I went to daily Mass for several years as a child and wanted to be a nun and then and then. Well, it took me a while to converts. Bad behavior at Mass as a child augurs well for adult faithfulness. Good behavior? It might send you to hell..

  27. What was this post about again? LOL.

    Terry, remind ME to read this post when I start playing scupulous priest cop. Thanks. Who can say what is in the heart? I think we can only say we definitely see a pattern of uncomformity if we see the same uncomformity Mass after Mass, week after week. To do so, and here's the rub for church shoppers, requires that you attend the same parish for most,if not all, of your Masses. To just stroll in one day and start hurling accusations of non-comformity based upon one slip up is a little bold. I can say it's a different story if the entire Mass if "off".

    I attend the 10 a.m. service regularly at my parish. This is what is known as "the family service". Yesterday, was the closing Mass of "Catholic Schools Week" and our parish hosted the closing Massm so many of the school kids were there. (as always I wonder where some of these folks are the rest of the year but I digress). I sat in a row with a single mom with 5 kids under 9 (maybe she has a hubby but he was not there) and two families with babies in carriers. As this was also the day we collected for the local Life Care Center what can you say? We are supposed to give thanks to God for life, right? We are supposed to encourage and help families, right?

    So, when one of the single mom's kids accidentally kicked me (it was an accident) I offered it up. When single Mom had to struggle to get two of her kids out when they started screaming as one, I prayed for her. Father covered for her by making a joke about Super Bowl festivities starting early (he was in his homily). At the "Sign of Peace" I smiled and truly wished her and her kids peace as I extended my hand. I can only imagine how touch it is (well I could see it) for her to manage to even get the kids to Mass. I've seen her before and she's always struggling.

    I welcome the kids. If we don't welcome them now, will they still be around later? I get to go home and have the peace of my home with my cats. One hour is not too much for anyone to ask of me to share their kids lives with me!

    I'll never forget the time I was at a Mass and a hyper kid yelled out during the Elevation "It's Jesus!" Amen. That kid has more faith than many.

  28. Cath: We would all do well to "offer it up". My Mother's favorite expression. We offer you all of our prayeres, works, joys and sufferings of the day...We said this prayer in the car everyone morning on our way to school. My Mother led us in prayer. Woe to him who did not participate. Have you seen the relatively new blog called "Offer it Up" by Kubicki SJ? He and some others are trying to renew the "Apostleship of Prayer". Good read.

  29. Kids at Mass - well, some kids have different temperaments. Some kids need a whole lot of help to concentrate on Mass. My oldest (7 yrs.) is that sort. He still can break out in a full blown fit no matter the location. I am sure it is partly because I am not the parent I should be, but I am also sure that it has to do with temperament. Oh, and we dare to go to daily Mass. Wow, some people (Including my mother in law for the 1st few years) are horrified that we would ruin the precious silence of Daily Mass with children. Now, there are a few more families that are courageous enough to bring their little ones. We take them out when thing get out of control, because the people there are doing the work of the liturgy and it can be impaired. However, I think many believe Mass is a private devotion that other people happen to do with them. Mass is not private prayer, it is not there to provide a prayer 'experience' for the 'congregation.' It is a public work that we engage in to worship and adore our Lord. It is something we do, not something we experience passively. I learned this when I attended a Byzantine Mass several times. This Mass has no pauses for silence, the whole thing is work. The reason we follow the rubrics is that it is the most proper way to worship, not because doing otherwise damages OUR prayer environment. Children can and should be allowed to perform the liturgy to the best of their abilities. Yesterday, my 3 yr. old was singing the Gloria! They can participate; when they impede others ability to perform the liturgy, then take them out. Otherwise, we get enough grief just for having 3 kids and one due next month, and form Catholics, even those that attend daily Mass.
    One last thought - the stats on kids that attend Mass with dad versus just Mom and latter participation in the life of the Church during college are pretty staggering. So, yes, go as a family and expect the Mass to be work.

  30. CathyofAlex,

    Ah, the ole pew-kicker. He goes to my church, too!

    May God continue to bless your family, and may your children grow to be good and faithful servants of the church. Congrats on the little one, too! I'm due April 29th.
    P.S. Ignore society. They're insane. I'm so sick of people saying "Ohhhh, it's a boy, so now you have one of each and you can be done!"
    (I only have two kids, folks.)
    And yes, I know what causes "that", yes, we have a television, and no, I'm not "done."

  31. Maria,

    "Offer it up" is my mother's favorite phrase in history, bar none.

    Stuffy nose? Offer it up.

    Broken femur? Offer it up.

    Being eaten by sharks? Offer it up.

  32. Cath:ROFLMAO.My Mother had NO mercy. That is so wonderful that you are pregnant!!!! How many months? Names??

  33. I haven't entered into this discussion but I actually love kids at Mass - no matter how they behave - I pray for them even more when they are noisy. I beg the Infant Jesus to never let anyone harm them and to always keep them close. In an old translation, Jesus says, "suffer the little children to come to me..."

  34. Terry: I must seem like an awful beast, huh?

  35. Austringer10:09 PM

    Well, Jesus may have suffered the little children to come to him, but not all priests are quite so willing to suffer. My priest has expressed (privately -- I'm sure he would never say anything publicly) his frustrations on this subject. I am fairly sympathetic: I am sure it could be very difficult to deliver a homily, staying focused on the words and the overall message, if there is loud crying or other distractions.

  36. I'm a little late to the game but I thought I'd over a more personal take on why I bring my 3 year old to Mass.

    I went to Daily Mass for the first time today since...forever. I was the ONLY person there under 40 and the ONLY one with a child. I felt like I stuck out BIGTIME!! I worried the older folks would not appreciate my 3 year old's whispers or the thunk of her books or sippy cup. I worried that maybe we shouldn't come to Daily Mass since it's in a rather small chapel instead of the main sanctuary.

    But then I realized why I dragged us both out on a "Snow Day". The night before I had an anxiety attack, really bad. I was having a lot of pain due to a recent surgery. I was having a hard time just getting through each day with my child and the only thing I could do was go to Mass. I hoped that God would help me get through Mass and help Maggie behave since this was a first for her to go and a first for me to go w/out my husband.

    Today, for me, I was at such a loose end that the only thing I felt like would get me through this day was to go to Mass and seek some comfort in the Lord.

    I worry a lot about my daughter's behaviour in church. We sit in the last row and try not to be too big of a distraction. We immediately remove her if she becomes one:) But children are naturally curious and busy and talkative and playful and it is nearly impossible to predict their behaviour. All the "pep talks" or bribes in the world may not change a sudden streak of enthusiasm or outburst.

    I guess what I mean is, personally, I am just trying to hold it together! Staying at home is often a worse idea than getting to Mass where my soul needs to be in order to recharge and refresh. I find it difficult to be a good Mother and a good Wife without the graces I receive from the Mass. And I hope I can make it back more often during the week and not annoy my fellow parishoners:)

    The comments here have been very civil and that is impressive:) I do see both sides and remember being the singleton who really couldn't concentrate with the kid in front of her playing with My Little Pony:) And YES, some parents need to use a little more discretion about where they sit or what they will allow in church as well. I've seen kids in there with Leggos!

    Thanks for listening and understanding:)

  37. I would hate to be a priest delivering a homily over a crying child. I really, really wish people would *remove* their crying babes instead of letting them wail over the Mass. Parents need to understand that removing cryers from Mass when they become a distraction - this is an act of charity and love and self-sacrifice.
    (No one wants to miss the homily, or the consecration, or the pretty music. BUT...sometimes ya gotta.)
    FWIW, when I say kids should be at Mass, I don't mean 4 year olds should be allowed to zoom matchbox cars up and down the pew (my mother would have killed me if I'd dared to even think about it), or eat breakfast during mass (?!), or be read to, or run up on the altar, or play in the baptismal font. (I have heard of every one of these things happening during a Mass somewhere, sometime, by various people.)
    Of course, I have also seen adults have full conversations with each other, I have seen adults drunk at Mass, a friend of mine saw a woman come in with a McD's hamburger on GOOD FRIDAY - thanks be to God she didn't unwrap and eat it right there - I've seen all sorts of reprehensible behavior from all ages.
    It's a symptom of society's problem with manners - people who chat loudly about their sex life on the el train, people who push and shove in line for concert tickets, people who blab at the symphony or the movies, parents who allow children to break and scatter saltine crackers all over the diner floor and then make no effort to CLEAN UP THEIR CHILD'S MESS, people who shove other people out of the way in their quest for some ridiculous new "must-have" Christmas toy.


    Sad state of affairs...

  38. Austringer11:48 AM

    Cathy, it's what happens when we take the "civil" out of "civilization". God help this godless culture of ours...

  39. I had not thought of this until now. Many young parents do not have the kind of family support that parents of my parents' generation did. Grandparents, Uncles, Aunts, next door neighbors --were all there for babysitting. The loss of these "natural" supports leaves young families without the kind of support that many families need. Feminism mistakenly compelled women to believe that they must work. Economies have been forever altered. The fabric of society has been torn assunder. We have been left with a fratured society in many ways. As I listen to Cath and Brenda, it seems we really do need to find as many ways as possible to support our young Mothers who are doing what God asked them to do.

    Brenda: That is SO wonderful that you went to Mass. Can I make a suggestion? Say the Rosary. If you find it difficult, you can get a CD that will walk you through the mysteries. Ask Our Lady to help you. She WILL. I promise. And join us in our chats so we can support you,OK? God Bless You.


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