This blog contains the random thoughts that enter into my mind. Most of these will be of a serious nature that I will then proceed to mangle until unrecognizable. But I may yet discover truth in something...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Challenge to all Catholics: Expressions of Faith

I'm a member of the Diocese of Arlington, and thanks be to God, it has diversity. Unfortunately, this is a pendulum that swings two ways. It has enough diversity to allow the Tridentine Latin Mass in all parishes where requested (Motu Proprio comes to mind), unlike in other dioceses that still think it's outlawed (you can tell that some people don't actually follow what the Holy Father has proclaimed). It also has enough diversity [read with a lisp] to allow for nutty liturgies and guitar Masses. I was one of three men on the front page of the Arlington Catholic Herald in late June, 2007, in an article talking about the music appreciation of the Diocese. I was singing Gregorian Chant.

There was one line in a two page article that references Gregorian Chant in an off-handed way. Sacred Polyphony was either blended into that same sentence, or was the second sentence of that two sentence paragraph, also mentioned rather off-handedly. It gave major preference to all the other forms of "sacred music" (Broadway, 70's tunes, Creole folk songs, etc.).

So this brings me to the buildup to my question: As Catholics, we are united in Faith. We have one Creed that we recite every Sunday. If we are united in Faith, why don't we express our Faith in a unified way?

Speaking of music, why don't Catholics sing at Mass? I don't mean the members of the choir. Anyone who is in the choir sings every Sunday. (All of you can stop reading, if you like.) To the people who "can't sing" or just don't sing, what is preventing you from opening your mouth to give praise to God in the ways proscribed by the Church? Joining in the hymns and chants of the season is a great way to do so. Responding where necessary (depending, of course, upon the Liturgy you attend) is also recommended for participation, although not strictly necessary. What is required for participation is simply an attitude of actually wanting to attend Mass. Showing up is a good start. Showing up and paying attention is participation is the loosest sense of the word. Showing up, paying attention, and responding and/or as applicable is even better. Showing up in your Sunday best is showing your best side to God (which is yet another good step). Showing up in your Sunday best, sitting towards (or at) the front of the Church, being attentive, being good, maintaining a prayerful and respectful demeanor all the way through Mass is probably the best that we can do on this earth. It's hard, but hey, heaven isn't free.

Time to break some things down. I won't go into all of them today.

To those of you that come to Sunday Mass in less-than your best, what's up? Is God not worth it? If you can't afford good clothes, that's something else. Your best may be only one level above your worst. But if it's your best, it's your best.

Alternately, the people who come in Gucchi shoes, Ralph Lauren designed shorts and shirts, Oakley sunglasses riding on the tops of their heads should not attend Mass like that. Sure, it may be their "best", if by "best" you mean "most expensive", but I certainly don't. I'll never wear an UnderArmor outfit to Mass that isn't respectfully covered by something else, and that's pretty darn expensive. I wear suits to Sunday Mass, and at least nice-looking clothes to weekday Masses.

As a Confession, I will say that my dress code for weekday Masses is seriously relaxed from Sundays (I won't talk about Christmas and Easter). I'm still working on following the example that I set out as ideal. But my clothes are at least modest, and not too distracting -- at least, not to my knowledge. Of course, considering the Politically Correct Mumbo-Jumbo that infects today's society, I'll never really know for certain, unless the priest tells me.

Ideally, your "Sunday best" should be your "Mass best". If you put the best foot forward to give God the glory due to Him by appearing at Mass in a tasteful, non-distracting manner, you'll have overcome one major obstacle on your way to the perfection to which God calls all of us, and that not a single person on earth has achieved.

God Bless!

1 comment:

healthily sanguine said...

Nice post! Sometimes we (Christendom types) forget, but there are a lot of commonsense, practical aspects of living the faith that a lot of people just don't do, like dressing properly for mass and singing appropriate music. I was at home with my dad and siblings, and one of them suggested we sing O Come O Come Emmanuel, and I was surprised that most of them weren't that familiar to it: I just figured everyone knows that tune like the back of their hand, the way I do. It's that way with a lot of things--we have to help our brothers, not only spiritually but also with material and day-to-day, tangible, audible realities that help us to live out our Faith.