Monday, May 14, 2012
HORIZONTAL AND VERTICAL WORSHIP, CAN'T WE JUST BE FRIENDS WITH GOD AND EACH OTHER?
Are hospitality and solemnity mutually exclusive? No! Our elegant parish Church has no vestibule. People are quiet and reverent before Mass, although friendly--we are your typical Catholic Church in this regard.
But after Mass, there is a great deal of talking in the Church as we have no narthex and no real good place to go and talk conveniently. I have looked the other way in all of this and I think our parish is typical.
However, many newer churches while building modern structures that in no way compare with mine, have narthexes that cause me narthex envy. Sacred Heart Church in Warner Robins, Georgia has a magnificent narthex!
If I were a pastor in a narthexed church, I would insist on silence in the nave of the Church before and afterward. Hospitality and conversation, but muted of course and non-gossipy, should be in the narthex.
You can also have coffee and donuts there (after Mass, please, not before)and really show off the "sacrament" of hospitality in that venue. Certainly the narthex is the place to greet people in the most friendly way, coddle seekers and be a great assistance to them like a concierge in a hotel.
The horizontal aspect of our worship should be in the narthex. Even the SSPX parish in Roswell, in their glorified "Butler" building have all their educational and social hall in the same building and I presume they are quite friendly in that part of the building which is in fact an extension of their nave.
But in the nave of the Church, the vertical aspect of our relationship with God is emphasized to the nth degree. I suspect people entering the nave of a very traditional Catholic Church who are not familiar with the ultra-traditional approach to being in the nave would think the SSPX and other traditional Catholic people are quite cold and aloof. This might turn them off as well as Catholics who are more accustomed to just the horizontal in their narthexes and naves.
But my point is that you could have an exclusively EF parish and still be quite friendly. The two forms of being "Church" the horizontal and the vertical are not mutually exclusive but really need their own spaces to experience both.