Friday, April 15, 2011

More indifferentism from the Catholic "leadership" on Staten Island

The pastor at St. Teresa's recently hosted his annual indifferentism-fest at his church, in which Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Protestants, Hindus and Unitarians took part in a Jewish Seder and then exchanged awards and mutual congratulations. The pastor called this gathering a "little Assisi," referring to the vile, pantheistic worship service Pope John Paul II originated in 1986, in which Buddhist idols were placed on the altar of St. Francis' shrine, and the successor of Peter prayed with animists, witch doctors and other assorted pagans. Indeed, this spiritually destructive ceremony at St. Teresa's was a miniature of the abomination of desolation at Assisi. I wonder how many souls were damaged or lost by this secular humanist ritual. How many children and adults came away with the impression that there is no difference between religions, that all paths lead to God, that there's really no reason to be Catholic, besides a sentimental attachment to a cultural heritage? This isn't what Father O'Hara was ordained to do. The Great Commission of Christ was to convert the entire world to Faith in Him, not to promote feel-good indifferentism and to bring Him down to a level of false equality with false gods. After all, Jesus said that no one comes to the Father except through Him. That's a pretty clear and unambiguous statement. What exactly does Father O'Hara do to convert these people to the True Faith, and thus save their souls? I think we all know the answer to that question.

As an aside, I wonder again why this event always involves us participating in a Jewish seder? Why don't we invite the Jews to a Stations of the Cross, or to Easter Sunday Mass, if the purpose of this organization is mutual understanding?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

No Latin Mass on Staten Island

After reading a lot recently about Vatican II and the suppression of the old Latin Mass, I looked into attending one on Staten Island. I wasn't exactly surprised that, according to the Latin Mass NYC website, there are no regularly or even irregularly scheduled Latin Masses on Staten Island. Sacred Heart hosts one every so often, usually around 3:30 on Sunday afternoon. The most recent one took place in the Spring of 2010. I wasn't able to attend that one, but according to a commentator on this website, there was a good crowd at a 2007 Latin Mass there, although mostly older. I remember back in the late 90s, Holy Family would have a Latin Mass in the chapel (not in the main church!) once a month, but that seems to have fallen into desuetude. There seems to be a website for the Staten Island chapter of the New York Latin Liturgy Association, but there is no useful information on it.

Pope Benedict XVI's 2007 motu propio, Summorum Pontificum, ordered pastors to provide the Latin Mass if a stable group of parishioners requested it. Under the Novus Ordo regime, it has never been easier to have access to the Latin Mass. Yet Staten Islanders either have no desire for it, no knowledge of it, or are so passive, timid and lacking in initiative that they are unable to actually do anything to bring it about. Whatever the reason, it's a sad situation that the "Mass of the Ages" is nowhere to be found, or seemingly wanted, on our "Holy Island".

Catholic Church Shopping, Part XII: Gone in 25 minutes

The next stop on the ecclesiastical safari was a beautiful, Shore Shore parish that was founded in 1922. (By the way, I'm from the old school Staten Island where everything south of the expressway was "South Shore". I guess the newcomers would call this area "East Shore"). It has a pretty interesting history. Before the present church was constructed in 1928, the parishioners first worshipped in a Revolutionary War-era tavern, and then in a wooden chapel that was transported from the old Vanderbilt estate (present day Miller field). At some point in those early days, the founding pastor even erected a huge mission church a mile and a half away, to accommodate the seaside vacationers. They still hold one Mass there every Sunday.

I attended a 1:15 Mass at the main church and was surprised to see it packed with around 150 people. Hardly anyone genuflected when they entered their pews and absolutely no one sang along with the female organist, who sat in the choir loft. However, they didn't seem to display the infectious boredom usually associated with such lack of piety. The pastor of this church is a young Indian priest, but the priest who said this Mass was a short, stocky, White man. He was attended by two altar boys (shocker) and a young, male lector in a suit (another shocker). The sound system was excellent, and the priest had a very articulate and commanding voice. I eagerly looked forward to hearing his sermon.

He seemed to be tearing through the Mass at a manic pace. At one point, as he was saying a prayer over the gifts, he gave the universal "hurry up" gesture with his upraised hands to the men with the collection baskets. Needless to say he used the short form of the Gospel reading about the resurrection of Lazarus. By this point he was starting to sound like a cattle auctioneer. His sermon had a good and sensible message. He said that even though there are only 2 weeks left until Easter, we can still have a "good Lent" if we manage to break at least one bad habit and resurrect our souls like Jesus resurrected the dead Lazarus. I liked listening to this priest. He was obviously intelligent and well spoken. However, he wrapped up his sermon in about 40 seconds. I kid you not. Literally 40 seconds. He then resumed his frantic race to set a new world's record for fastest Mass. I don't know if he succeeded, but he managed to get it done in 25 minutes, which is the fastest time I've ever witnessed for a Sunday service.

This was a disgrace and a shame. I can't think of a single good reason that a priest would have for treating the Mass, and the congregation, so disrespectfully. Do any other religions or Christian denominations have to endure a clergy that is so bored with worship that they race to get it over with as quickly as possible? Do any other faiths have a laity that is so docile and indifferent as to tolerate this? Or maybe the laity wants it like that? I know that I've often heard a priest praised because he keeps his sermons short. If that's our attitude, then why do we go to Mass? To fulfill a Sunday obligation? if anyone under 60 still remembered or adhered to such old-fashioned ideas. There's certainly no sense of community and certainly no edification or inspiration, and polls show that most Catholics don't believe in the Real Presence anymore. So why do they go?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Year of the Mass: Break out the felt cloth and the Elmer's glue! Helloooo New Springtime!

Back at the end of 2010, in response to the blatant abandonment of the Church by the vast majority of American Catholics, Archbishop Dolan wrote a column in Catholic New York calling for 2011 to be the Year of the Mass: a diocesan effort to celebrate, promote and appreciate the divine splendor and significance of the Mass. He then called together 4 liturgical experts to implement this plan, and warned us that we were going to be hearing "a lot about the Mass from your parish priests, your deacons, catechists, and from me." Three and a half months later, we are seeing the first fruits of this endeavor: a 1970s-ish banner you can hang on your church to encourage people to go to Mass. It says, "Come to Mass in the Lord's House on the Lord's Day". The 3x6 ones are $130 and the 3x9 ones are $160. I've seen them prominently displayed outside most of the churches on Staten Island, including the ones that are on the verge of death. I hope they've all assigned extra ushers to deal with the returning hordes. Because as we know, there's nothing that changes the hearts of cynical, spiritually indifferent, fallen away Catholics like warm, fuzzy banners.

I'm glad that the banners contain a specific call to action (come to Mass), as most Catholic sermons don't even have that bare minimum. But one of the basic rules in advertising is to "sell the sizzle, not the steak". These pathetic banners don't sell the sizzle or the steak. It doesn't resort to branding strategies, by making the Mass or the Catholic faith seem at all desirable, on a subconscious level. Nor does it employ a direct response type of pitch to appeal to the conscious intellect and explain why exactly going to Mass is beneficial to you. It just contains a slogan and a none-too-inspiring picture, and expects us to fanatically obey its directive, like some Communist youth cadre. I hope they can come up with something better than this.

They should have taken a lesson from the men at NYPRIEST, who seem to know how to present an idea (and an idea that's a really tough sell, at that) in the most attractive and convincing light. See this video for a contrast in marketing techniques. Oh, I almost forgot that the NY diocese's Year of the Mass also offers web site banner ads and bulletin inserts from the USCCB. Well, I guess it's a lot easier than actually having to talk to people.