30 January 2022

Ad Orientem Not Allowed?

Mr Holdsworth points out the evils of 'playing' with the Mass.

I used to think that the best way to draw people into the faith was by making it as trendy and contemporary as possible in its liturgical expression. What I’ve come to realize since then, is that, except in really rare cases, this approach, in the balance of things, has the opposite effect.

And it isn’t hard to understand why. The most obvious criticism I could make about it is that it excludes large portions of faithful Catholics and that’s because popular contemporary culture isn’t real culture – it’s consumerist culture.

All the fixtures of what we think of as culture, like food, language, and music, are actually just byproducts of what happens when people are bound together by something radically communal – which is often worship – which is why the word cult appears in the word culture.

But pop culture is something that is packaged together for its marketability and then consumed individualistically. It’s antithetical to what culture is and it doesn’t bring people together, it separates them in their own unique identity based on the products that they happen to prefer and consume. It’s fundamentally individualistic. That doesn’t produce inclusivity except by accident so when we draw inspiration from pop consumer culture for the way we worship as a community, it’s always going to exclude someone who doesn’t find whatever pop culture persuasion that has been chosen, attractive. Even if you pick the most popular music or personal style of communication, there will always be some people who are repelled by that and, as a result, think that what they’re rejecting is the Catholic Faith, when in fact, it’s just one particular attempt at shoehorning some trend or preference into the Catholic faith. They’re rejecting a current of fashion and mistaking it for the faith.

If they’re going to reject the faith and they reject it for what it actually is, then that’s their culpability before God. But if they reject the faith because I substituted Gregorian chant with 80’s style power ballads, then it’s I who am culpable for that rejection. And that’s a scary thought.

And for us Catholics, the one thing we have in common and the one thing that draws us together is the Catholic faith as it has been preserved and handed down from each generation going all the way back to Christ himself.

That’s the thing we have in common that draws us together but when that is substituted for some personal preference of the priest or the music leaders, then you will inevitably and unjustly exclude people from their own faith.

You will compromise the only thing that we can all say we are here to partake in and turn it into something that only a portion are there to partake in. So the very last thing that we can say about that approach is that it’s in the name of inclusivity or in making it more attractive.

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