First off, let it be noted that I can recite and sing Mass commons and several common prayers in Latin, I sang for several years with the St. Ann Choir, and love the Extraordinary Form liturgy, which I attend at least several times a year. And I LOVE Benedict XVI. So, I’m not entirely a damn dirty hippy. Yet –
I’m not all that outraged by most goofy liturgical practices that don’t take place on the altar, or the variety of outfits people see fit to wear to Mass. Could be I’m weak-minded, or perhaps I’m just a Californian. Insofar as those are different and all. I just mostly go with the flow, to wit:
– Holding hands during the Our Father. It’s goofy, but all but one parish in this area does it at every Mass. I just go with it, for two reasons: my mother, may she rest in peace, really liked holding hands, and made a comment once about it being an important way for old people to get some physical contact; and it’s just not a big enough deal to make a little scene over. It’s well-intentioned nonsense. So shoot me.
– Standing during the Domine, non sum dignus. Why they do this is around here is, in the words of General Monger: “an X-file, wrapped in a cover-up and deep-fried in a paranoid conspiracy” Well, maybe not as bad as all that, but evidently our bishop, a couple of bishops ago, decreed that we were to stand during this prayer for reasons uncertain. In the intervening decade, evidently enough people have either moved in from elsewhere or decided they like kneeling for this prayer to make it a mixed standing/kneeling deal at most Masses. Me, I figure I cannot honor the current bishop’s authority by ignoring that authority as exercised by his predecessors – so I stand. I’d rather kneel, of course.
– I’ve addressed my policy on singing lame songs here. To sum up: if it’s not blatantly heretical (Sing a New Church, I’m talkin’ to YOU) I’ll sing it as an act of mortification. Yes, even Carey Landry and the St. Louis Some of Whom Are No Longer Jesuits. I even go out of my way to put a little spirit into Eagle’s Wings, as it was one of my mother’s favorite songs. But I’d rather be singing chant or polyphony.
– Communion in the hand? Fine, just be respectful. Same goes for communion under both species. The Church says it’s OK, so I’m not even bothered – as long as it’s respectful. Would I prefer kneeling and communion on the tongue? Yes, but I will not make a scene.
– I wish there were a lot fewer lay Eucharistic ministers, only because many of them seem a little too cavalier – mostly in the host in a pic in the pocket thing. Who ever allowed that? Now were getting into grit my teeth territory.
Oddly, though, proper attire seems to get more agitated blood flowing than more strictly liturgical issues. I’m here to take my beating:
– Shorts on men. I’ve done this. Did I mention I’m from Southern California? At a Sunday Mass anywhere near the beach, about half the men and more than half the boys will be in shorts. Flip-flops. Aloha shirts. T-shirts, even.
Before throwing up, please note that if you decided you were going to purchase a million dollar yacht or a Ferrari in Orange County, chances are you’d be buying it from a guy in shorts, deck shoes and an aloha shirt. Same goes for closing a movie deal in Hollywood. Shorts and funky shirts just don’t carry the same aura of disrespect in what elsewhere is seen as formal settings. Guys might dress in cargo shorts, a flower print short sleeve shirt and sandals, go to Mass, hang out with friends and then go to a nice expensive dinner – all in same clothes. If you live someplace where it’s sunny and nice about 340 days a year, this might seem normal to you, too. Heck, I only wore shoes for school and church until I was about 13 – they seemed excessive.
Also, I try to ride my bike to work, so, during the summer at least, I’ll wear shorts, a t-shirt and sneakers to weekday morning Mass so that I can jump on my bike and take off afterwords.
The real one I’m thinking about maybe changing is Adoration. My wife and I have a Saturday 11:00 p.m. two-hour gig. The chapel is made of concrete and glass, and so is poorly insulated. In the summer, it’s hot; in the winter, it’s cold. (This is Northern California, which has something more like seasons than down South.) Therefore, I’ll often wear shorts and sandals in the summer. At that hour of the day, there a few to scandalize (not that they’d be). Plus, I, like Moses, can go unshod upon sacred ground.
I’m going to Hell, aren’t I?
– To make one thing perfectly clear before I start: Men have an absolute duty to maintain custody of the eyes. It should not matter if women walked around naked – it’s our job as men to control our eyes. No excuses. Yet, while I have no reaction to women and girls dressing comfortably for the climate just like men do – in the equivalent of shorts and aloha shirts, say, Capris and short-sleeved blouses, for example – sometimes it seems they plan to head straight out for cocktails after mass, or maybe to a gig as a torch singer or Pilates instructor. Showing a little navel for the Lord from inside skin-tight stretch pants seems, I dunno, odd. Men don’t show up in muscle shirts and Speedos; the same general rule should apply to the corresponding get-ups for women.
So, women showing up for Mass in pants, in (not ridiculously tight or short) shorts, in t-shirts, in sandals – A-OK in my book.
I’m probably the wrongest wronger who ever wronged a wrong. Right?