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).

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Holy or Hollow Week?

Is your Holy Week... weak? Will the liturgies in your parish be hollow examples of congregational and priestly narcissism?

Did Holy Week begin with a whimper or a wallop? Was Palm Sunday passion-filled or mere pandemonium? Was the Gospel reading punctuated with awkward sung bits or reverently proclaimed? Was the Gospel chanted by multiple cantors in a key that was awkward for all but one?

What about that Holy Thursday thing—the foot washing ritual: men and women? men only? Giant puppets?

What about the music? Are you ready for another rendition of "Were You There" on Good Friday? Does your parish have the Veneration of the Cross during the Mass or afterwards? Will the procession of the Cross feature incense bearing nymphs clad in sheer fabric that screams 'Get thee to a confessional!', à la the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress?

Attendance at the Vigil—yea or nay this year? Incense or no? Will any catechumens be received into the Church at your parish? Is someone ready with a fire extinguisher if, God forbid, Father accidentally brushes up against the new fire and his chasuble ignites? Will you be wearing your second-best clothing in case your pew neighbour drips wax on you during the Easter Vigil? Will you bring a mint or some other candy to help avoid choking during the Mass? Expect glares if the wrapper is stubborn and noisy.

Will you remember to turn off your cell phone or other electronic device? Will you be among the throng of parish paparazzi who whip out their smartphones to take pictures of those precious moments when so-and-so is baptized, illuminating the moment with a blinding flash that may or may not cause a ripple of dissent in the congregation?

Are you ready for the inappropriate applause for the choir at the end of the Easter Sunday Mass? Instead of distracting those attempting to pray, why not touch base with the director after Mass and offer a personal gesture of gratitude?

Ladies—how about that Easter bonnet? Will you be wearing the same one as last year, or spending a day's wage on a new chapeau? Men—suit and tie or jeans and a t-shirt? Parents—have you packed lots of Goldfish snacks for the little ones?

Will you forget to turn on the oven before leaving for Mass, or will the turkey still be thawing when you return home. Is it an Easter ham or other roast? Or, will you be dining at the pub this year?

Will you watch any of the liturgies from Rome? Reruns, perhaps? Or attend a sunrise liturgy atop a local hillock? Channel surf for a hockey game?

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Welcome to Holy Week! Remember the Lord died for you to save you from everlasting death. Prayers expressing gratitude to Almighty God for such a magnificent gift seems entirely appropriate for those rescued by Christ's sacrifice.

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