…12After the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing. 13When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14Then he said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”… 1 Kings 19:13-15
The other night after benediction, there was mass. They rang the Altar bell , and After mass, actually said the prayer to St Michael. People left the church quietly. Outside was loud..but inside.. maintained the sacred space
My Old Parish (of 12 years) had the bell for a while.. then decided to get rid of the thing – wasn’t rang once. A relic of a time when there was a liturgical structure, now useless as people are desperately trying to make church “relevant”.
I would pray the St Michael Prayer after mass…(there is real power and protection in it..). Trying desperately, despite the people chatting it up. Saying Pre mass prayers are a joke honestly there, as its social hour these days. Its not uncommon for people to be walking about the church, to get close to someone else. Then if you are on a good day, you’ll hear someone with “baby got back”.. or something else obnoxious as their ring tone.. Usually as their phone goes off half way through the Psalm or consecration.
Eventually they got rid of the bell. The Parish has been steadily declining in North St Louis county.. though people cant see it. They went from 3 Masses to 2, and there were 9 parishes in the area closed withing the past 10 years. the 3 masses were packed. The two Masses hardly meet capacity.
Yet there is nice little clique. Lots of people who are “important’.. doing God knows what, but making sure you are signed up for this that and the other.. and they themselves not bothering to even show up. There is a whole bunch of organizing, and no results. Meanwhile there are numerous evangelical “church plants” popping up all over the place.. Or.. People have just moved to another parish close.. or moved away. But I don’t see empty houses.. just different people in them.
Despite having a rather Charismatic Pastor (and.. Im not criticizing him at all, He is a wonderful priest, but somewhat has his hands tied), the parish isnt growing, even despite another parish merging with it. There were other things too..No Consecration bells (one lady claimed they went out with Vatican II… (thats verbatim)), and.. my pet peave… The Obnoxious Ambo is as big if not bigger then the Altar… because “word and sacrifice are the same” (which.. they are but arent.. I digress)
I try to be more progressive in my take on Worship. People are people.. and need that interaction. But I think this says something about the stupid things we Catholics do, that can make or break our understanding of Sacred Space. Instead of challenging the Evangelical perspective based off of Doctrine.. we try to “beat them at their own game”, and come up ridiculously short.
People now a days have no idea who is present in the Tabernacle. Nor do they care really. We’ve bought into the idea we can talk to God Anywhere.. that “we don’t need no stinking church”, thanks to the massive Televangelism Evangelical empire. Church has become business, and its all about how many butts you can put in the pew. There isn’t a noticeable effort at the Gospel, at least not the one the Man from Galilee spoke.
But even from the Start, we first had the temple, and then we had Jesus go into the Temple. Even after the Ascension.. The Apostles still went to synagogue.. and they still showed Proper Reverence.
Paul even goes into detail about men removing their Head Covers… Women keeping them (as signs of humility), and so forth.
When we worship.. we are “caught up in the sky with him” (1 Thessalonians 4:17), which means in short.. He doesnt come down to us.. but we mystically go up to him. We have left where we are and when we are mystically.
I think we need to bring back these traditions, but with a modern understanding and perspective, and attitude. These sacramentals and traditions remind us of what we are doing and for who. Most importantly that points us to who we are.
I don’t mean this to be a rant or suggesting one period of time or style of Liturgy is superior over another. Simply pointing out… Something has changed.. and its not the Language.. or the flow of mass, nor is it the music. It all comes back to understanding, we are there for Him, and we are privileged to be in his presence. Nothing more, nothing less.