Monday, May 14, 2012


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.


Henry said...

You reflect a common but odd misconception. As on who has kept one foot in the OF and one in the EF all through the years, I have wide experience with both camps. Without doubt in my observation, traditional communities on the whole are more sociable than ordinary ones, perhaps if for no other reason because of the camaraderie that exists in groups who are unified in their beliefs, which they may feel are marginalized by others. Although of course, there is no conversation within the nave in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, and ordinarily no narthex, folks stand around outside talking much longer--sometimes an hour or more--than in ordinary parishes, where people typically hit the parking lot ASAP. Traditional social hours often last much longer than their name. And newcomers to my present TLM community frequently remark (both vocally and in writing) on how warm and welcoming it is. I think this is the rule and not the exception. So I think the vertical versus horizontal is a false dichotomy. Indeed, it almost inevitable that people who are one in vertical worship will feel bound together horizontally, almost reveling in what they share. And conversely, where belief is not shared in discussion, conviviality may be somewhat superficial.

Gene W. (formerly Pin) said...

I think we worry far too much about this hospitality thing..."Welcome to the Holy Catholic Church of St. Dale Carnegie." I am not even sure we need people who are so hopelessly protestant as to judge a Church by its hospitality quotient. If they are that shallow, how deep is their understanding of Catholicism to be?
But, I'll tell you what, if it is that huge a concern, why not the following:
1.)Place "VISITOR" cards in the entrance (in a very prominent place) to be filled out by visitors and worn on the lapels of their clothing. Have "GREETERS" who wear the same color card as the VISITOR. These greeters will stand on the steps and in the entrance before and after Mass to chat up new people.
2.)During Mass, encourage the VISITORS to drop their filled out card (address and phone number)in the offering basket.
3.) Have several people in the Church office assigned to call all these folks and chat them up and invite them back (within the week).
4.) Assign people to visit these people in their homes and pray with them (within the week).
5.) Make sure there is a current list of upcoming Church activities placed alongside the VISITOR cards in the entrance. Be sure to announce that there are goodies for the kiddies, a raffle, a hidden gift somewhere in the room, and a band.
6. Buy a bus and go around town picking up kids to bring to Church on Sunday morning. Have snacks on the bus and a hidden gift under a seat. The kid who finds the gift also gets a plenary indulgence.
7.) Have workshops for the outreach staff that teach them to say stuff like: "You just have to let the Lord lead;" "Let go and let God;" "I'll be a prayin' for ya'll now, ya' hear;" "Just take your burden to the Lord;" "You just have to hold Jesus' hand;" "We need more prayer warriors like you in our church."
8.)Make all the parishioners put fish decals on their cars.
9.)When you read the Gospel, announce the verse out loud to everyone (visitors do not know how to follow the Mass book). When they begin to turn the pages to find it, say (in an exultant voice) something like,"Praise God! Ya'll still turn the pages of those Bibles....sounds like the rustlin' of Angel wings to me!"
10. Fire and brimstone is still in among prots. When you know there are a lot of prots present (from the brightly colored VISITOR cards they wear), preach a sermon sending them all to Hell. This should not be as short as a typical homily, but it should be no less than fifteem minutes. Use a lot of words and phrases like "wretched," "hopelessly mired in sin," "convicted," "outcast from the presence of God," "unrepentant," Hell-bound," and "in free-fall toward the gaping maw of damnation."
They'll be back...I promise.

Feeling like a Baptist yet? BTW, this is how many prot churches do it...except for the indulgence on the bus thing...LOL!

Gene W. (formerly Pin) said...

BTW Fr, Do you know how to pound a pulpit (ambo) and properly wave a Bible? I can probably teach you; it has to be a KJV, however. If you are threatening Hellfire, you pound with a tightly closed fist. If merely for emphasis on some verses containing exhortations to the Christian life, you slap with the palm. Foot stomping is for serious threats of everlasting fire, generally requiring an altar call, which we do not do.
Never wave a Bible with a limp,no. You wave it in a sweeping motion from the shoulder. It is permissable to hold it firmly and point at the comgregation with it as if aiming the pistol of salvation...LOL!

Henry said...

Gene, I take your message -- that if you have to encourage sociability by such transparently artificial means, then it's likely too superficial to be meaningful. Really, if camaraderie after Mass does not flow naturally and joyously from unity in Christian faith and oneness in sacred worship--as it does wherever traditional (both OF and EF) Catholics gather--of what great benefit is it?

Gene W. (formerly Pin) said...

Henry, absolutely. I feel more community, more fellowship and have been more active in the Catholic Church than I ever was in the protestant church...and I have very little conversation with anyone at Mass other than a nod or a smile. But, RCIA, Coffee and Conversation, Parish Council meetings, Wednesday night activities, Knights fish fry, supper or coffee with other Church members before meetings...all these just seem to have grown naturally out of being in the Church. And, I feel completely at home and comfortable attending Mass at other parishes...except when it is too mod/progressive. Then I just feel like I am back at a prot church and try to feel at home like that. LOL!

rcg said...

People seem in a big hurry to leave after Mass and that is sort of sad. I'm with Pin on this: we seem to be trying to create a Protestant atmosphere with all the greetings and tail waging before Mass. Don't you have a big parish Hall? Host coffee, donuts, and Screw Drivers afterwards. As Far as Narthex' go, you might put a trailer out front like Pin has in his front lawn.

Gene W. (formerly Pin) said...

Very funny, RCG. You move that car body out of your side yard know, the '56 Imperial up on blocks?

rcg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rcg said...

At the risk of duplicating posts, I explained to Pin that we still need the Imperial so guests will have a place to sit. Besides the trunk is an excellent smoker, you just can't get an entire hog into the back anything made since 1980. That thing is great, when it runs. Awesome on the straights, not so good in turns. My dad calls it the 1956 Missile. One guy up front running things and two families in the back praying the world doesn't end.

And that last picture looks so fake. Everyone knows you have to hold your hands at your sides to beam up.

Gene W. (formerly Pin) said...

Well, RCG, you can just do the hams and split the ribs off separately and lay them beside the hams and still have room for a possum or two. The kids can play in the front seat. Leave the bootlegger's knob on the steering wheel because they can have fun spinning it. The floor in back will sleep several dogs if you leave a door open and put some old overalls down. Of course, don't be cooking when the kids or dogs are inside. When the kids are asleep, you can take the Polaroid out and talk Betty Jo, your sixteen year old first cousin, into some cheesecake photos of her stretched out on the hood in cutoffs and a gingham top. NASCAR hair ribbons in her pig tails, of course. Sounds like a great Saturday afternoon.

Anonymous said...

Henry nailed it!

Been hungry for an EF Mass lately.