How To Empty Your Church


Well, Newman does have one or two good points: singing hymns in their entirety, avoiding kitsch, liturgical movement (he calls it gesture, not dance, but it’s a good thought), giving one homily, not twenty-three.

But there are some gems:

The tabernacle MUST be on the rear wall of the chancel and on the central axis of the church. Putting the LORD anywhere else turns everything else on an angle, and no ideological justification will change the way in which this simple fact destabilizes the liturgy.

And this guy claims to have “swum the Tiber?” He’s clearly not been in St Peter’s. However, he does have the attitude down pat.

Most churches look like someone’s Italian or Irish grandmother has just finished sprucing up the place. Is it any wonder we have such trouble convincing our men that religion is not women’s work? The sanctuary is the home of the Son of Man; let’s make it look like a place in which most men would be comfortable spending a little time.

So what do we need? Deer heads? Gun racks? Leather and chains from the tortuary? Men are predisposed to apathy over religion in every major religion and just about every minor one. I’m happy enough getting a balance of them in the choir; I can’t imagine men being attracted to the traditional church trappings of vestments, candlesticks, and other baroque finery.

Emphasize coming early and stigmatize leaving early. Being casual about being on time renders the entire activity casual. Ditto for clothing. Same for the eucharistic fast.

I can’t disagree, but if Newman has any effective ideas to get these points across, I’d love to hear them. Other than having the ushers (male only, I’m sure) pinning big red E’s on early leavers, of course.

Say Mass as though the people were not present.

Nice. Mutter, whisper, decline homily preparation, and ignore any medical trauma that intrudes on the mystery. Reinforce the clerical subculture of elitism and priviliege. Not to mention narcissism. Hey, it emptied the parishes before the Council; it might do the same again today.

Take Cardinal Mahoney’s (sic) …

People do seem to take a perverse pride in misspelling the LA cardinal’s name.

… pastoral letter on the celebration of parochial liturgy and throw it on the fire. Watch it burn. Now go take a hot shower.

Actually, I think he means a cold shower. But whatever turns you on, I guess.

Friends, if you want to improve parish liturgy, I have much better suggestions for you. Clerical narcissism is not the way to go.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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