Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Novus Ordo Mentality

The father of a long time friend died late last month, and I attended his "memorial" service shortly thereafter. My friend's father was Catholic, and so naturally his service was a Catholic one. It wasn't a Mass, but I thought I knew what I was going to experience due to my previous experiences at Novus Ordo Masses (for new readers, I converted to Catholicism 11 years ago in a Novus Ordo parish and made the move 4 years ago to an indult Latin Mass community). It turns out I wasn't prepared for what I was about to experience.

When I showed up at the small church, I remarked just how loud it was. Everyone was sitting in the pews visiting loudly--and by loudly I mean very loudly. It reminded me of the noise level in a school gymnasium before an assembly or basketball game. Churches are a place of prayer and worship, not socialization. I was so struck by people's lack of respect for the house of God, and for God Himself present in the tabernacle.

As I went to my pew, I genuflected, made the sign of the cross, and knelt in prayer. I observed no other person doing the same. Here we were at the memorial service of a dead man, and no one prayed privately for the repose of his soul.

The service was full of the cliched Novus Ordo "hymns" such as "Be Not Afraid," "We Will Run and not Grow Weary," and the classic funeral song "On Eagle's Wings." No Gregorian chant, in fact no Latin at all. The priest's vestments were white--no black at this service. The prayers were such that it seemed as if it was beyond doubt that this dead man was indeed in Heaven--I thought only the Pope could canonize people?

Then I was thrown a curveball--instead of the priest giving the sermon, a nun (of course without habit, or anything at all indicating she was indeed a nun) got up and gave the sermon. It was at this point that I got up to leave, but I must admit my motives were not entirely based on my disgust at a nun giving a sermon--I really had to use the restroom.

The service ended eventually--short for a Catholic ceremony but not short enough for this Traditionalist. As the attendees left the church, again no one genuflected as he left. I think I was also the only one to bless himself with holy water on his way out.

The service was so poor, so lacking in reverance, so liturgically abusive (the nun giving the sermon) that instead of thinking about my good friend's dead father, all I could think about was the service getting over. When the Church's ceremonies fail to lift up the heart's of the faithful, to give them a glimpse of Heaven, it is time to re-evaluate those same ceremonies--long past time.


Anonymous said...

I had a similar experience.

Was the church architecture traditional or modern was it located in an affluent parish?

I’ve observed that the more affluent the parish and the more modern the architecture the less reverent the environment.

Nick said...

The church building itself was beautiful--very traditional with great stained-glass windows and a beautiful marble high altar. It was also in a poor section of town know as "felony flats" due to the high crime rates.

Anonymous said...

Well that means my theory is obviously flawed.