Extra-Liturgical Chatter

I read Andrew Mountain’s brief reflection here on PrayTell. It’s somewhat personally relevant, as the mid-morning Mass at my new parish exemplifies this quality.

After reading friend Charles’ comment, I noticed the CMAA echo chamber is in full reverb over it. Sort of like how these discussions are envisioned: take thirty seconds to rant about what’s wrong with other people.

Mr Mountain explains a personal revelation when he served as a liturgist in a chatty community:

I started to recognize why I didn’t feel a connection to that congregation. It was because I chose not to. Because it didn’t fit my own preferences, I was willing to remain a stranger, or at best a guest, within the community. Although at first I thought of their forward and social approach to liturgy as silly, I began to realize that by walling myself off from the community, I was the silly one.

As that realization slowly dawned on me, I began to focus less on what I did or didn’t get out of the liturgy, and more on what everyone else got out of it.

It is a laudable stance for a minister to recognize her or his own preferences and how they color attitude.

On a practical level, if chatter before and after Mass precludes some kinds of prayer, it would be my responsibility to give it a chance during Mass (when its most important for the Sunday assembly). Or at other times.

A few of my parishioners have asked what we should do about this. I’m disinclined to two extreme stances: that we should encourage it at the other four weekend Masses or that it’s time to clamp down on the 9:45 Mass.

Remember, this is the Catholic church. There’s always more than one way to holiness.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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12 Responses to Extra-Liturgical Chatter

  1. charlesincenca says:

    You’re getting to be quite the guerilla strategist when arguing, Todd. Skulk into the opposition’s tent like a camel, ascribe what you find there back to the personal opinion of the original comment, demean the commentator in the process via guilt by association, and most importantly, ignore the content of the comment and dismiss it out of hand by re-packaging it as “dogma” or “dictum.” Nice.

    • Todd says:

      I prefer to see it as a misunderstanding between two persons with positive intent. I think it was you who misunderstood me. I’m certainly willing to concede I didn’t comment on your main point; I offered two observations on “Why?” that didn’t involve ascribing ill motives to the clergy and religious of your diocese.

  2. charlesincenca says:

    I’m not sure anymore about mutual positive intent, Todd. Your commentary and bluster is more tangential than an atomic explosion, and you still throw in the kitchen sink, too. Notice that you cannot resist mixing and mischaracterizing my intent by citing a wholly unrelated topic from yet another different post, one that is demonstrably false. You are prosecutor, judge and executioner in virtually every counter-argument you throw on and off the wall. I’m reminded of Judge Roy Bean. I think it’s high time for a hiatus in our web and personal dialogue. I don’t do “my way or the highway.”

  3. AL says:

    A reaction to a reaction to a reaction to a reaction.
    I enjoy the substantive liturgical musings on this blog but the personal anti-trad crusade is really getting tiring.

    • Todd says:

      Fair enough, if I were posting a daily criticism of traditional Catholicism. But I’m not. I have pointed out that one traditional-leaning site disagrees with chatter before Mass, and I stand in agreement with that. What I disagree with is the characterization of the writer as having “lost his mind” and the deteriorating conversation that accompanies it. While I may be critical of some aspects of traditionalism I see as unproductive, I certainly don’t think traditionalist Catholics have lost their minds. Nor would I write it in jest.

      Germane to the discussion, Charles posted the link to PrayTell at CMAA’s forum, and the response was not surprising. Neither was it charitable or thoughtful or supportive of the organization’s stated goal: sacred music done with reverence and quality.

      If criticism of behavior has devolved into a “crusade,” I’d say some pretty thin skin is in evidence. I would ask you, AL, is it right for a person to characterize Mr Mountain as having “lost his mind”? Am I a crusader, or just d***ed bothersome on a point you yourself agreed with?

      I do note that one CMAA commenter shared, “I wonder if the comments on his post above evince a lack of charity which does the cause of sacred Sacred Music little good.” Agreed.

  4. charlesincenca says:

    Let it be for the public record and then put this all to bed: not once in all the kerfuffle Todd has raised has he actually engaged any of the commentary I offered at PTB. He has tactically snipped someone else’s commentary from a thread in another forum that HE DECLARES to be germane in order to suit his own personal echo chamber vendetta against CMAA, which bears no responsibility for my opinions nor of anyone commenting on its forums, and repeatedly let it be inferred that myself and other commenters lack charity. Furthermore, Todd conflates his puff pastry by selectively snipping commentary from other, completely unrelated topics in yet a third forum, in order to disguise his contempt and own intolerance so that he can claim higher ground and castigate myself and others to “look in (our own) mirror(s.)” That’s it as I see it. What I don’t get is why he gets his knickers in a twist when he simultaneously states he is in accord with the preferences in behaviors I expressed in the original topic thread? It smacks simply of Gershwin, “anything you can do, I can do better.” Well, I’m going to yield to the Mark Twain of the 21st century Liturgy Wars and disappear from his concerns. A shame, really.

    • charlesincenca says:

      Sorry, I meant Berlin, Irving.

    • Todd says:

      To be fair, I thought your first commentary was unfair:

      “Are you kidding me?
      Upon re-reading this piece, what was self-evident is a mouse wheel of anthropomorphic narcissism. The Jesus Christ under the appearance of one’s neighbor (Mt.26) is immediate at our front door or on the street.
      At worship, both neighbors subsume themselves in order to increase their right focus upon Holy God, Three in One. That ethos didn’t surface at all in the equation of this piece.”

      Some of the liturgy is indeed human-centered. Isn’t it inescapable? The question is: does it descend to narcissism? I don’t know the parish, so I’m constrained to think people get the chat out of their system and focus on God once worship begins. If a parish has a full-time liturgist, my bias is that the pastor and personnel are aware enough to make it happen.

      I didn’t think Mr Mountain had to defend his parish’s liturgical practice. He had a conversion experience. That’s more what this was about: God touching him where he didn’t expect it.

      I thought the CMAA thread missed it entirely, though I did like MBW’s commentary. Otherwise, many comments there were illustrative rather than complimentary to the organization. Should I have called out Charles W instead of the organization as a whole? I don’t see the more wild of the membership getting policed for accusations made of others. What am I missing?

      As for your set of questions Christian answered, honestly I didn’t feel like replying. I was more taken with the tale rather than the specifics. Mainly because I could see myself as Mr Mountain twenty to thirty years ago, and I wonder what’s changed in me.

  5. Jim McCrea says:

    In this day and age, which is preferable: a chattiness before/after a mostly full mass, or a quiet mostly empty mass?

    Both possibilities exist in most parishes. Take you pick. Celebration or contemplation … and maybe change off regularly.

    • Liam says:

      Well, there’s also the possibility of a mostly full Mass where people participate fully but there’s little chattiness in the church before Mass and not too much afterwards.

  6. charlesincenca says:

    “honestly I didn’t feel like”
    Thank you.

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