Category Archives: Church Culture

WHAT IS GOING ON? THE US CHURCH APPEARS TO HAVE FRACTURED FROM WITHIN

The Catholic Church in the USA has divided itself into 3 social classes.

The Catholic Church in the USA has divided itself into 3 social classes.

From my single parish perspective, the Catholic Church in the USA appears to have divided itself into three social classes, all of which are opposed to each other:  1) The Traditional Latin Rite Mass party (ultra-conservative and outwardly pious); 2) The Mainstream Novus Ordo Mass party (moderate, obedient and humble); 3) The Folk Novus Ordo Mass party (casual, believe what you want, it’s about me).

Specifically, I have noticed, in a single United States parish, that there are at least these three different cultures which are identified by the clothing people wear and the music they use.  I have also noticed, between the Extraordinary form and Novus Ordo form of the Mass,  a break in the integrity of the roles of the ministerial priesthood (of the ordained Priest alone) and common priesthood of the baptized Faithful in worship:

1) Traditional Latin Mass goers: Standard for men is coat and tie; ladies wear long dresses and white or black veils; children are similarly dressed. The well-dressed, by their attire and implied stance, bring judgment on everyone else who do not comply with this standard. Also, there is a break in the integrity of the Vatican II “participatio actuosa” mandate in that the people are not allowed to vocally pray, for example, the Our Father. If a person does, the person is violating the sacred right of the priest alone. Also, if you do not kneel at the altar rail and receive Holy Communion on the tongue, you don’t (at least, it will greatly offend if you don’t follow the TLM rule). The faithful are barred, by the communion rail, from entering the Sanctuary.

2) Mainstream Novus Ordo Mass: Clothing standard is modest, business casual attire; only lectors and EMs are required to wear semi-formal attire; music is based on the organ. Again, those wearing semi-formal attire in the pews bring judgment on those who do not, or they set themselves apart. Here, the Faithful are expected to actively engage in some of the prayers or chants which, in the Traditional Latin Rite, they must not. If one does not pray the Our Father vocally, for example, the person is not participating as a member of the “common priesthood of the Faithful.” The faithful are instructed NOT to kneel at the altar (as the norm) and they should receive Holy Communion on the tongue, while standing, but are instructed that they may receive on the hand as well. The Faithful are invited into the Sanctuary. “All are welcome”

3) Contemporary Novus Ordo Mass: Most wear casual attire (or even a lower standard like shorts and flip flops or tee shirts); the music is usually folk guitar and fairly bland (in my opinion). This Mass, while following the Novus Ordo, looks and feels like an Evangelical gathering. There is no judgment going on here. “Everyone is equal” is sort of the mindset.

WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?  WHO ARE WE?  WHAT ARE WE DOING?  WHAT ARE OUR VALUES?  WHAT IS OUR RELIGIOUS CULTURE?!  I am saddened by the class system which we seem to have allowed to grow unchecked and also by what seems to be a loss of integrity and movement away from the direction which the Holy Spirit set for us during Vatican II ecumenical council.  What are we doing?

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