We have Curt Jester to thank for these shapshots of Catholic liturgy. A friend and fellow convert called me last week just about at his wits’ end with the music in his parish. Three ancient crones with one guitar squawking out the latest goofy song as a recessional, “We can make a difference…we can make a difference in the world.”
“I can’t stand it anymore” said my friend. “The music is awful. Just awful. Combine that with the fact that we have a very sweet and intelligent African priest, but we just can’t understand him. His accent is too strong, and because of the priest shortage he’s only here for a few months, and he won’t change anything. My wife and son don’t want to go to Mass at all because its so awful, and its so bad I have to admit they’re even tempted to go to the local Protestant mega church. We’ve tried real hard to say, ‘Yes, its the Mass and we’re there for Jesus not the music, but I come out of Mass angry and surely that’s not the way. Why do they choose such awful crap?”
I had to remind him that unfortunately a good number of the people in the pew actually do like that stuff. Yes, dear traditionalists, it’s true. While many Catholics roll their eyes and endure the most execrable musical and liturgical travesties, many other Catholics do actually like the stuff.
The thing is, I’m not so trad that I’m against rock music. We had a pretty decent Catholic rock band do a concert at school today. I’m not even totally against rock music at Mass. At the giant youth rally at March for Life a decent rock band played ‘We can make a difference’ and with 25,000 kids singing it before the March for Life it was great.
But for most masses on a regular basis all the trendy silly stuff just doesn’t work. I don’t say this just because I dislike that kind of music, but because it just isn’t worship. Nine times out of ten the music and the words are all about me feeling good, not me worshiping God. It’s not a matter of taste. It’s a matter of what worship is, and what the liturgy is supposed to do.
What’s to be done? The only hope is that a new generation of priests and people will learn that Mass is not about entertainment, and they will leave all the puppets and clowns and go go dancers and sentimental music shows and concerts and try Catholic worship for a change.