Which Worship Aids?

I noticed that thread on PrayTell (where my friend Charles gave a good poke) about the option to “spiritually commune” with a liturgy of one’s (traditionalist) choice online. I have a few takes on this.

First, it’s not a big deal.

Two, watching video can be a very spiritual experience. I have experienced many moving moments in film: Vision and Babette’s Feast come to mind. I can safely say that I felt a connection to God through these, and I certainly experienced a spiritual communion. Part of that was facilitated by the people with whom I viewed these films.

Three, I’m sure that some will comment on the innate passivity of watching something from a distance, to borrow the Bette Midler term.

Four, I can relate. When I was finishing grad school and feeling increasingly and particularly alienated at my home parish (that celebrated two Easter Vigils, one in Spanish and one in English) and “of necessity” were trimming both back to less than the prescribed minimum I went elsewhere. I went to a monastery. No baptisms. No stomach ache.

Shaking the dust from one’s feet is a radical step. And since it was clear I was going to be leaving my parish, home, and diocese soon enough, it didn’t seem to matter where I celebrated Easter Vigil. I fasted from everything but water for the whole Triduum–except for a small salad Friday night. I was certainly bitter, but I realized that it was my issue. Maybe the prayer and fasting helped. Some kinds of ailments, you know …

My wife will occasionally watch Mass on EWTN. But when she is too ill to be at church, she does insist on a full liturgy of the Word, a homily recap, and all the prayers. She also reads and reflects on the Scriptures in the daily Lectionary. She does it daily, and I’m way behind her on that practice.

I think a person can make a choice to absent themselves from their parish and worship at home. I do think that some personal spiritual effort is needed. Readings. Liturgy of the Hours. Intercessory prayer. Some way to engage the Church’s texts in liturgy other than watching it unfold on a small screen.

I can imagine an alienated Catholic watching the TLM in a small room and other family members attending the parish. That would seem to be a problematic rupture in the domestic Church.

Rifts often involve mutual blame. Taking one’s spiritual needs and staying home while well fit and liturgy is available–count me as a skeptic on that one. I’ve done it, but it didn’t seem to be the best path in my personal wilderness.

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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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