So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Tale of Two (Maui) Parishes • 2012 August

I've just returned from that much needed vacation in that tropical paradise of Maui.

The comments below, in point form, relate my experiences during liturgies at two very different parishes on the Valley Island. I've left off the names of the parishes, though I can imagine that anyone from Maui might easily figure things out.

The first parish I attended, and which I've attended on previous visits, is a comedy of errors without the happy resolution. Everything about the place reeks of what is wrong with so many contemporary parishes. There was one lonely altar server at the later morning Sunday Liturgy. I can imagine, given the weak to virtually non-existent sense of the sacred, that the same parish is unlikely to produce any vocations to the priesthood.

By contrast, my sense of hope for authentic renewal in keeping with the Benedictine vision was somewhat restored at parish number two.

Parish #1 • Kihei • Sunday Morning Week One

  1. Inviting, friendly. 
  2. Well organized choir. 
  3. Excellent cantoring of psalm. 
  1. Gushy; forced familiarity, e.g., a touchy feely “meet and greet your neighbour before mass starts” pre-activity.
  2. Schlocky adult contemporary songs that didn't even come close to the Proper texts.
  3. Heterodox song texts forcing us to "Sing In God's Voice".
  4. Empty headed “charismatic” praise and worship music.
  5. Tacky furnishings and banal stained glass; Caspar-the-Friendly-Ghost processional “crucifix”.
  6. “Spirit of Vatican 2” approach to “active participation”, i.e., doing lots of stuff “at” Mass instead of presenting the music (e.g., Propers) “of” the Mass and fostering a proper interior disposition or orientation of receptivity to God's grace.
  7. Despite effusive invitations bordering on demands by the “leader of song”, 9-out-of-10 people in the pew did not join in to sing tacky responses and trite songs. Pay attention you aged hippy song leaders with a 1970s agenda!
  8. Very little opportunity to reflect in silence: a constant barrage of “charismatic” hoopla and convoluted (and therefore unnecessary) instrumental activity. 
  9. Non-prescribed improvisation of Mass texts by the priest.
  10. Tabernacle hidden to the extreme right side of the sanctuary in a side chapel behind iron bars (the Lord is made a prisoner once again).
  11. Very noisy at conclusion of Mass making it very difficult to pray after Mass. Choir “jam session” after Mass added to the din.
  12. Priest made light of the person of Christ; tongue-in-cheek homily comments distracted from the Gospel message.
  13. Priest spoke the people’s responses along with the congregation, thus obscuring the distinction between ordained and laity.
  14. Amphitheater style congregational seating (semi-circular); bland interior. 
  15. Focus is clearly on the congregation rather than God.
  16. Gift shop in narthex: plenty of kitschy crap, not to mention the marketplace atmosphere.
Parish #2 • Kahalui • Sunday 6pm Week Two
  1. Inviting, reverent. 
  2. Respectful, helpful ushers. 
  3. Posted notices directed at parents to keep children from running about creating a distraction while also pointing to the sacred character of the Liturgy. 
  4. Solid preaching: erudite, practical, reverent.
  5. Organized, dedicated choir that projects authentic sense of serving the congregation and the Liturgy. 
  6. A mix of music styles: chant, polyphonic settings (bona fide harmony!), traditional Hawaiian hymnody and songs with ukulele and organ accompaniment (A curious blend, not exactly to my taste, but not as weird nor disconcerting as one might think - except for the cheesy song lyrics). 
  7. Beautiful, edifying stained glass. 
  8. Well appointed sanctuary with traditional Hawaiian elements honouring the Blessed Sacrament. 
  9. Cruciform floor plan.
  10. Clear sense of the sacred among the faithful. 
  11. Priest who chants well.
  12. Tabernacle located behind the altar.
  1. Large video display screens with bulletin information and Mass responses and song texts (changing throughout Mass) posted at both sides of the sanctuary. 
  2. A cheesy song or two (forcing us to "Sing In God's Voice"), i.e., trite texts that strayed far from the Proper texts. 
  3. After the final blessing, the church was practically empty before the last hymn was complete. (And it was a brief song, at that.)

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