Monday, February 19, 2018
MUSINGS ON ASH WEDNESDAY AND THE NEED FOR THE RETURN OF THE SHORT LOW MASS ON SUNDAYS
Let me start with the short Low Mass. I had a parishioner who is a snowbird and lives in Richmond Hill for about 6 months during the colder time up north where his primary residence is. He told me while saying, hint, hint, that the Sunday Mass he attends up north at his home parish lasts about 35 minutes--which means that the priest races through the prayers and there is no singing.
Is this a good idea to keep Catholics in our pews by giving them a short Low Mass each Sunday? I can remember loving the Low Mass as a child, especially in the heat of Augusta's red hot summers when our pastor would mercifully tell us that he would dispense with the homily because it was too hot in the church and the loud humongous fans we had drowned him out anyway. Who needs the homily anyway, it's not really a part of the Mass or is it?
And now for Ash Wednesday. My new church seats about 1,200 people and if it were only standing room only, about 1,500 people could get in there if not more. The church was built with future growth in mind as Richmond Hill is about to explode as the up and coming premier suburban bedroom community of Savannah.
We have a Saturday Vigil Mass and two on Sunday with the 11 AM Mass what I would call our principle Mass or the most heavily attended. However, we seldom have more than half the church full, but that is about 500 or 600 people which would have been a packed church in my Macon parish church that only could seat 550.
But on Ash Wednesday, our 7 PM Mass was packed, absolutely packed. Many there I did not recognize so I suspect they were Christmas, Easter and Ash Wednesday Mass attendees only.
What is it about Ash Wednesday that we get so many inactive Catholics attending Mass?
And how can we get the nearly 70 to 80 % of Catholics who don't attend Mass, but still consider themselves Catholics, not "nones" to come to Mass more frequently--where did the reforms of Vatican II go wrong? Does the fact that in many places in the world almost 90% of Catholics no longer attend Mass indicate that Vatican II must see the advent of Vatican III, especially on the nature of the Church and her liturgical style to reform Vatican II? Is it Vatican II that needs reform and not the Church?
Let me say this. Today inactive Catholics aren't looking for Latin and their moral lives could better be described as amoral not even immoral. And there is so much more for them to do on the weekend than in years past.
So is it the poor liturgies we have which are uninspiring? Or is a Low Mass that is short, more appealing to the 80% or more Catholics who don't attend? Would they be more likely to attend a 15 minute Mass with no homily even an EF Mass?