I remember the parish getting a new associate pastor when I was in the parish school, 7th or 8th grade. He met with classes to prepare school Masses. These were liturgies with themes. September I remember was “Love.” October was “Peace.” Typical, I guess for the younger brothers and sisters of what passed for the counterculture in mainstream America. I don’t remember if we suggested readings or prayers. Music, probably. It was the very early 70s, so there was that. I recall five or six of my class being enthusiastic about contributing ideas to these in class time.
Fast forward decades to today: lawyers, nurses, and even the Supreme Court, mostly Catholic these days, all get their special theme Masses. You wonder why the traditionalist-leaning folks are getting twisted about this one. A few samples:
… preposterous idea … the rancid mush of this idea …
And some sense:
When we immediately shut these kinds of ideas down, it is exactly what (evil) wants from us, to exclude youth, to make no effort to bring youth into the fold, to assume everyone is where we are in our understanding of the faith and if they aren’t then we ignore them and move on … Never scoff at these ideas, it is exactly what (evil) wants us to do.
Woven into the traditional observances of the Church are celebrations of Mass for all sorts of particular and special intentions. Intention-gathering is part of any parish’s routine. Votive Masses continue, and Masses for Various Needs and Occasions when the clergy read past their ordo or the USCCB website or the missalette.
The real question for Catholics is this: how special is a special intention? The difference among believers is not solemnity or appropriateness, but a difference of opinion on important things. What’s vital for some people–like devotion to the Blessed Virgin or playing basketball–can be irrelevant to others. Among courteous folk, people don’t usually diss what is important to others. When they do, it leads to things like marital break-up, business partnerships fracturing, and non-invites to nice parties.
As for the sensible comment at the CMAA forum, at least one person recognizes that liturgy is not always the end. Sometimes it can be a means to making connections of less-churched people to God. And that’s the Gospel point of it.