Sunday, November 09, 2008
ANOTHER ABORTED ATTEMPT TO ATTEND MASS
Began with a large American flag carried by a veteran in uniform in the entrance procession. Progressed to a mini-homily from the sanctuary about the military, about the various military hats that were displayed in the sanctuary, and about how this particular military man was still able to fit into his uniform even though he has been out of the military for a few years. The priest also added that he had lots of clothes in his closet that had shrunk so that he could no longer fit into them which drew the courtesy laugh from the congregation. Finally after we all (well, nearly all) applauded the military, Mass was resumed. (And they wonder why we lose our belief in the Real Presence!)
Don't get me wrong. I respect and honor soldiers who fight for freedom. I just don't think they should be competing with Jesus for attention at Mass.
Then came the homily. It rambled for about 15 or 20 minutes about St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome, about other basilicas in Rome, about where the word basilica came from, about how many mispronunciations you can twist the word into, about some church that has a chair that the Blessed Virgin supposedly sat in and how the priest attempted to sit in the chair but was told not to do so by a guard (this accompanied by a "hoochie coochie" demonstration of trying to sit in a chair where you don't belong). Then the priest announced that he still had 20 minutes of homily left so he started reading the announcements in the bulletin. The sighs behind me indicated that I was not the only one who had about had it with his cutsey homily. Next he introduced the woman who represented Lighthouse Ministries who came to the podium wearing a black mantilla, and commenced to continue with the homily, or whatever her presentation represented in the priest's mind.
At several points during this performance, my husband and I had exchanged glances. Nothing needed to be said. We read each other perfectly. This was beyond the pale. When the woman stepped up to the podium, I looked at my husband. My husband looked at me. "Ready?" he asked. "Yes", I responded, and we walked out.
I'm not sure what sort of Catholic group has founded or joined Lighthouse Ministries. I do know about Protestant groups that use the name. One of them had a church by the interstate going to Columbus. They didn't sport a cross. They sported a lighthouse--full size--to advertise their church. Then there was the sign in front of a Protestant church sporting a Lighthouse a few months ago on our way to Mass.
Sometimes I run into Lighthouse Ministries on the web. Like here, for instance. It's ecumenical. I don't know much of what they are about. They seem to be associated with Pentecostalism. One thing I do know is that they don't appear to be very Catholic in concept. A lighthouse is a poor replacement for a crucifix. Somehow this substitution brings the Lightbearer to mind. Spirituality in this particular parish is deteriorating rapidly, as my previous complaints about Opus Angelorum and the Medj. visionary attest.
In any case, there was an announcement in the bulletin about the October head count. Mass attendance has now sunk to a new low. In 1970 68% of registered Catholics attended Mass. It is now down to 24% as of the October count. I don't wonder why.
I haven't actually attended Mass yet this weekend, which means that I'm going to have to try again to make it happen. I'm not even telling my husband that I'm going to try again. He has some stuff to do that will mean he will be leaving around 10 and returning God alone knows when. After he leaves, I'll try again to find a Mass. He made it quite clear last night that he is about finished with going to church.
It was unfortunate that I had watched Mass on EWTN yesterday afternoon. It's something I rarely do. Unfortunate because Mass on EWTN is dignified. The priest doesn't tell jokes. The congregation doesn't use non-religious props to turn the Mass into some celebration of humanity. The contrast was overwhelming.