19 July 2009

You know it's not a good sign when the pew beneath your butt vibrates

I absolutely, desperately need to go to Confession. At least, I feel like it, since I just got back from the LifeTeen Mass at Saint Leo's. In reference to the post title (do you think I'd write something like that and not embellish upon it?), it's true--the pews were vibrating because the music was so loud.

Let me go through this Mass, step-by-step. There was a visiting priest from Kenya at Saint Leo's Catholic Church. Saint Leo's is not my regular parish, but this weekend was one of those weekends. You know, the ones where your Saturday is insane so you can't go to Mass that evening, and then you're all so exhausted on Sunday that getting up before noon is unthinkable. Frankly, I was hoping to go to the 1:30 pm Trinitine Mass at Saint Stanislaus. My family and I all agreed that it would have been much more spiritually satisfying.

Anyway, I like having priests from Africa visit. They usually have interesting stories, and their accents make me giggle a bit because they're just so...different. Not that different is bad--I actually find it quite intriguing. But I digress. Upon walking in, the church is small and sort of homely. Its vaulted ceilings are a bit lower than what I'm used to--ah well. What caught my eye most of all, however, was the large amount of young families. I smiled at the concept of having more young churchgoers, though the back five pews or so on each side of the main aisle were cordoned off with yarn (probably to make the congregation sit more towards the front).

Up in the front of the sanctuary area was a kid with a laptop (to the left of the altar and "downstage" of the steps leading up to it) and a group of people with instruments and music stands. We're not talking harps, organs, and pianos... we're talking electric guitars, drums, keyboards, and a tambourine. Uh-oh. The thoughts going through my head went something like this: Maybe they're just trying to put a modern spin on all the hymns. Hey, let's check the hymns. [Here, I proceeded to flip through the hymnal and find the numbers displayed on the board in the front of the church.] ...oh gosh, the last hymn is How Great Thou Art. I hate that song, it's a funeral song! (Where I used to live, I used to altar serve funerals all the time. That hymn is a Southern favourite for funerals.) How are they going to rock-ify it? It's usually a dirge. Hm. I bet the laptop is for a slideshow during the homily, since it's an African priest. Maybe he'll show us pictures of his village.

The music started, and we stood. Sistra, the sister next to me (and second-oldest in the family), leaned over and commented, "It feels like a rock concert." Up in front, the title of the first song was prominently displayed in garish colours on a Powerpoint slideshow. The slide changed to the lyrics. What happened to regular hymns?

My immediate reaction was to pull up the hood on my coat (which was sitting at home, since it's a bit too obnoxious to wear to church). So I took my hair out of its clip and covered up my ears, which were probably bright red. I wanted to just curl up and hide in a hole somewhere.

Twice during the service, I broke down and cried. I'm not usually much of a crier, but the so-called Mass was making me extremely upset. The first was during the Allelujah. There's a very peppy Allelujah that goes "Halleh-halleh-halleh--looo-oooo-yah!" They used to play it at my old church, and it lightened the mood but was still rather respectful. I don't know how they pulled it off there, but it worked. Here... with an electric guitar and drums, they added hand motions. Clapping on the "halleh-halleh-halleh" parts and twirling hands/fingers in the air on the "looo-oooo-yah" part. That did it for me. I made a complete fool of myself by crying during that stupid song... alas.

My second crying incident has some more reason and backstory to it. Earlier in the year, a senior from my school died in a tragic car accident. To make a long story short, at the funeral, a beautiful song called "Breathe" was sung by the choir. They have not played it at a school Mass ever since. Sure enough, the first Communion hymn at this wannabe-Mass was that song. I was sobbing within seconds, flashing back to images of Saint Charles Borromeo's beautiful stained-glass windows and the feeling of people pressing in on me from all sides. It was only God's grace that helped me recover quickly enough to actually make it through the line for the Eucharist.

During the Our Father, they called all the youth up to the front. None of my sisters nor I went up. And I've figured out that I know something is way wrong when I stand up to say the Nicene Creed with the congregation and the first words coming to mind are, "I confess to Almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters..."

Overall, I'm highly disappointed in this. I don't understand the attraction to a Mass that is more rock concert than religious celebration. And -- a question to anyone who knows -- what's the official ruling on designs on the Eucharistic Host (if there even is one)? I was under the impression that the little round ones had to be stamped with some sort of cross, but I could be very far wrong.


Dr. K said...

"What caught my eye most of all, however, was the large amount of young families."

Another LifeTeen Mass in our diocese, located at St. Andrew's church in the city northeast, averages only 60 people per Mass.

"I smiled at the concept of having more young churchgoers"

You might want to try Our Lady of Victory for an alternate Mass to St. Stanislaus when you can't get there. Most of the people there are younger.

"There's a very peppy Allelujah that goes "Halleh-halleh-halleh--looo-oooo-yah!" "

Like the one in this video? :-)

~Dr. K

The Well Done Review said...

wait wait wait...

you're a parishioner at St Charles Borromeo in Greece? or are we talking about a different St. Charles Borromeo Church's stained glass...

(I think those at St. Charles in Greece are rather interesting...the colored ones lining the church for Sundays in color-appropriate order, and then those three big ones in the back...not my favorite church building on the whole, but there's some really great stuff there...the crown above the tabernacle, which is centered good stuff!)

Ink said...

I'm not a parishioner there. I have been there previously, but I am a parishioner at Our Mother of Sorrows, also in Greece. The funeral which I mentioned was at Saint Charles.

The Well Done Review said...

Did you get a chance to see Fr. Simeon Gallagher...I couldn't get up there any evenings that week, unfortunately

Ink said...

No, I didn't... Homework is my first priority on weeknights, I'm afraid.