This is a video from the web version of the Augusta Chronicle about the growth of a non-denominational Protestant congregation in metro Augusta, Georgia (actually North Augusta, South Carolina). The video is well done and highlights how well Protestants form community and hospitality and grow and build churches and that the Church is them!
I do see that in many Catholic Parishes. But I am always a little conflicted because we admire this festival atmosphere so much we can't control our urge to turn Mass into a festival, too.
I'm with rcg on this one.
I agree with you, Father, that Protestants tend to foster hospitality and community a lot better than we do.
That said, I think we do have to tread carefully. What that Protestant church did is great for after Mass. But not during Mass. Somehow or other, we have to work at connecting the two while being aware that what is appropriate for one is not appropriate for the other.
It's bad enough that some of those things-- like the choir and a band up at the front of the church, along with electric guitars, keyboards, and a drum kit-- have found their way into some Catholic churches. The Mass is not a festival, and Catholic worship is not festival, either. It would seem that St. Francis de Sales's words-- "a sober joy"-- applies to the celebration of the Mass.
I have, however, seen that reverent love of the Mass and the Eucharist translate into community gathering, though: at the parish in South Philly where I attend the Traditional Latin Mass once a month. The gathering is small, but it's nonetheless there.
I agree. For example in Augusta there is a Catholic charismatic community which has borrowed heavily from Protestant Pentecostalism's spirituality and style of worship and praise, yet these Catholics are extremely conservative in terms of Church teaching and politics and very devout too in terms of devotions but they love Pentecostalism that is a bit too cyncrinistic for me.
I've often wondered what a leven in the diocese they would be if they embraced the Extraordinary Form of the Mass and the spirituality that evolves from it rather than their charismatic approach.
In other words, we need community and but we don't need to drag it into the church building and Mass and do it in a secular way, but apart from Mass and the Church building by all means.
But, so much of prot theology is subjectivist pietism devoid of dogma. That is reflected in their worship and in their behavior. Heresy may feel good and make everybody happy and warm, but it is not the direction the Catholic Church needs to go.
I must say, also, that I do not quite understand the complaint that the Catholic Church does not foster community and fellowship. I was a Prot all my life and a Prot pastor for twenty years. I have never had the kind of devotional life or meaningful fellowship with other Christians that I have had for the six years I have been Catholic. St. Jo's and other Catholic Churches are full of activities and opportunities for involving oneself in Church life on as frequent a basis as one pleases. There is far more opportunity for such things in the Catholic Church than in any Prot church I ever saw. What is the problem? I have never been refused when I asked someone to help with a project or teach a class; if I ask someone on the spur of the moment to be an usher or help at an activity they always readily agree. The atmosphere in RCIA is wonderfully open and inviting, with candidates willingly sharing what are sometimes very emotional or difficult struggles and experiences; I have been on the Pastoral Council and the meetings were always cordial and cooperative, even when there were disagreemeents. I probably know more people on a personal basis in humongous St. Jo's than I did at my two small Churches and one large one and I was the pastor! Fish fries, Wednesday night supper, processionals, Holy Days, special Masses (re: Schubert, etc.), Coffee and Conversation, Bible Study...the list goes on...all in a Sacramental and devotional context that, to me, is magnetic. If that ain't fellowship then there ain't a cow in Texas!
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