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).

Monday, June 22, 2015

Mass Extinction Level Event or M.E.L.E.

Does your parish Mass resemble a circus?
Does your pastor use that affected dramatic voice to impress you with his conviction and awesome speaking skills? (Click HERE for a recent critique). 
Does the congregation say aloud the words of consecration?
Is there a drum kit in or near the sanctuary?
If so, you've probably witnessed a Mass Extinction Level Event. (The acronym does come close to another word.)

M.E.L.E. or Mass Extinction Level Event is a term repurposed to identify liturgical abuse that obliterates a sense of the sacred or a sense of liturgical decorum.

Lamentations seasoned with cheeky quips.

The M.E.L.E. involves one or more of the following transgressions:
  1. changing the text of the Mass in a manner not authorized by the rubrics. cf Sacrosanctum Concilium 22Welcome to the era of the liturgical-meddler.
  2. lay homilists. A big no-no that some priests seem hellbent on promoting.
  3. mini homilies prior to the Penitential Act (which are typically tedious and awkward and only succeed in drawing attention away from the Lord's mercy to the celebrant's personality) that introduce the character of a specific Mass. The character of the Mass is defined just fine by the Introit and other proper chants of the day. Oh—wait! You mean to say your parish—like practically every other parish—omits the Propers? How unsurprising. Welcome to the era of the celebrity-celebrant.
  4. communion in the hand. Why not pop that wafer in your mouth like a handful of peanuts and chase it down with some of that fruit juice in the fancy cup? Just say 'no' to communion in the hand. Eastern-rite Catholics and non-Catholic eastern orthodox Christians might have a word to say about the reception of Holy Communion.
  5. liturgical dancers during the Offertory. One would think that anything that turns the Mass into a sideshow or nightclub act would be avoided, but no... females (and males) clad in sheer fabric prancing around like vestal virgins (or satyrs, in the case of males) says Woodstock, or bacchanalia.
  6. congregants dressed in beachwear. cf Bishop Tobin: click HERE. Now that it's summer here in the northern hemisphere, the seasonal faux pas have returned.
  7. the homilist meandering through the congregation like a talk show host instead of preaching from the pulpit/ambo. (For those who are regular readers, my apologies for repeating this objection to a particularly annoying activity.)
  8. homiletic comedy shows. Lame attempts at humour which turn the sanctuary into a nightclub. Send errant and irreverent priests to an FSSP seminary for a little re-formation. Homiletic Directory (2015). Homilies should not exceed 8 minutes.
  9. priestly narcissism, e.g., priests who do this (click HERE) or a former Bishop of Victoria (BC) who encouraged this (HERE).
  10. pop tunes and saccharine devotional texts (instead of sacred music) = muzak that exacerbates the mall-like quality of the modernist "worship space".
  11. Modernist "worship spaces". The church as mall: "Attention parishioners... sacrilege in aisle three!"
  12. politically correct, awkward paraphrases of Holy Scripture (e.g. NRSV-CE) that assume, for example, women and men aren't capable of understanding that 'man' may refer to all human beings.
  13. applause (before, during and after Mass in the church). cf Pope Benedict XVI.
  14. taking photos with smart phones. Please—a sense of decorum!
  15. Humming, ringing, beeping, chiming, chirping,... cell phones. Nothing kills the mood like hearing a Beiber or Miley Cyrus ringtone. At the very least, why not choose a ringtone such as Victimae Paschali Laudes or Dies Irae or the Hallelujah chorus from Handel's Messiah? (Definitely NOT Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen!)
  16. Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (EMsHC) and celebrants using hand sanitizer (prior to distribution of Holy Communion) that transfers to the Host. This happens routinely at many of our local parishes. One can easily taste the sanitizer on the Host!
  17. EMsHC who swig the Precious Blood from the chalice while strolling to the credence table. Some EMsHC drink the Precious Blood as if they are pounding back a shot of tequila.
  18. electric guitars, drum kits and other instruments commonly associated with the night club or dance hall. Contrary to the errant minded thinking of pop-Mass musicians, Mass does not need to "groove" or be "dancy" (as one parishioner once demanded of our choir).
  19. women "priests". Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.
  20. candy wrapper crickets. Suffering from a cough? Fine—suck on a mint. If you're having trouble with the wrapper, enlist the help of a friend. Two or more "wrapperers" turns into a chorus of wrapper crickets. Welcome to the liturgical forest.
  21. tobacco or marijuana breath and cheap cologne. Glad the dude found his way to Mass last Sunday,... but seriously?! Rinse and pop a breath mint or two!
  22. Mass ended with the following or a similar tagline—"Have a nice day!"
  23. frequent introductions to songs/hymns and other annoying encouragements and announcements from chatty music directors or commentators during the Mass.
  24. feedback from the sound system. Hire a trained audio consultant and fix the levels so that no one can mess with them once they are properly set.
  25. parents who allow their children to run around like the church is a playground. It's great to see parents bringing their children to Mass. Perhaps some parents should consider chatting with other parents who manage to form in their children proper manners. Hyper kid(s) = hyper parent(s)? Just sayin'.
  26. mile-wide vibrato. Singers: turn off the vibrato and sing on pitch. There's a good lad(y). Liturgical music is not opera nor a competition. Any practice which obscures or supersedes the text should be abandoned for a respectful, clear presentation that draws attention not to the presentation but to the text. Similarly, bad pitch can really distract the attention of worshippers. Vibrato will severely inhibit blend (which will draw attention away from the text) when it is wide and/or fast.
  27. pianists who play the piano as if playing Whac-A-Mole. Some pianists prove by their hammer-fisted technique that pianos shouldn't be used in the Mass. They successfully demonstrate that the piano is truly a percussion instrument capable of inflicting headaches when that job should be left up to the homilist or cheap incense.
  28. Cheap incense.
  29. Cheap perfume and/or oodles of hairspray. Commonly abused by the nose-blinded.
  30. Sweaty or greasy hands. Reason #4 why the Sign of Peace should, if offered, only consist of a reverent bow or spoken gesture.
  31. Chatterboxes who love the sound of their own voices and who, even when politely hushed, provide running commentary throughout the entire Mass.
  32. Priests who have no idea how to properly purify their fingers and the sacred vessels after Holy Communion. Some use hand sanitizer (!) instead of having a server pour water over their fingers into the chalice.
  33. EMsHC who provide a "blessing" to those not receiving Holy Communion by touching the head or shoulder of a non-communicant, possibly transferring particles of the sacred Host on to a recipient's clothing, hair or forehead. A blessing is offered to everyone at the end of Mass. Anything else is an abuse that obscures the meaning of Holy Communion. A teachable moment!—Children need not feel deprived if not offered a "blessing" when accompanying a parent to Holy Communion if they are helped to understand the meaning of the event. Parents have a responsibility to form their children in the Faith. Children can wait until they are old enough and properly catechized to receive Holy Communion. As for adults—go to confession, correct your irregular situation or, barring the possibility of correcting an irregular situation, don't expose yourself as an obstinate sinner by coming forward arms crossed to receive a "blessing". One could argue that to come forward under such circumstances only says you want your irregular situation blessed, not a blessing for hope and strength. Since you rule out change by clinging to a sinful lifestyle, for example, you cannot be asking for help to change. A false sense of mercy has crept into the Church's liturgical practice regarding communion. Looking ahead to a defining moment, the Synod Fathers cannot allow the divorced-and-remarried (i.e., those who have not received a decree of nullity regarding a former union) to receive Holy Communion because twenty centuries of Apostolic teaching received from Christ Himself prevents the Church from blessing sinful behaviour.

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