Friday, May 24, 2013

A week ago, I attended a lecture offered by a "dynamic Catholic evangelist," sponsored by the local K of C. I entered late and almost turned right around, because the crowd was so aged. It was my birthday, and I'm beginning to see a need to be more choosy with how I spend my time.

Against my better judgment, I stayed because I genuinely desired to hear what the write-up in the paper said would be discussed. Sometimes the write-up doesn't match what the speaker says. This was one of those times. It came across as a bit of a Catholic pep-rally but nothing like Fr. James Martin.

Right before the break, the speaker said that church attendance is down. And that churches are turning to gimmicks in an attempt to attract people. In a disparaging way, he described the introduction of popular music, hand-clapping and friendly fellowship. This prompted me to counter with what I've come to see as a major gimmick: the return of traditional Catholic liturgies and practices.

I described my observation of the Pontifical Mass celebrated last November. As I talked, it occurred on me that some of these K of C members had also likely been at the mass. So after removing my foot from my mouth, I acknowledged that. My criticism wasn't towards them so much. I know they've always been what they are. But the liturgy was a spectacle, a show, a titillation for the laity. My point was - and I stated this clearly - that something doesn't have to be new to be a gimmick. A gimmick can be made of something very old.

Now, my comments elicited from a man in front a put-down, "You don't understand the Latin Mass!" For that, a man next to him punched him in the arm and told him to shut up. Afterwards, the man who had done the punching talked with me at length about the sad state of Catholic religious education. Present company excluded, I'm sure.

But that's my new take. With Corpus Christi coming up. And I've never liked beer.

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