Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Idol of "Participation"

When I attended Mass at Our Lady Help of Christians in Tottenville a few weeks ago, I was utterly shocked and horrified to see that two large video screens had been placed on the walls to either side of the altar. There was an explanation in the bulletin:

"The introduction of the TV screens in the church has caught the attention of many. I invite anyone who has knowledge of this technology and is willing to work and meet with Fr. Sylvester to learn about it. We hope to minimize the use of the Missals and maximize the liturgical participation making Sunday worship more interesting and spiritually beneficial to all. The clergy will devise ways and means to enhance their delivery of homilies using this technology."

The size of our video screens is in direct correlation to our holiness

So, there in one short paragraph are summed up a host of errors, misconceptions and incompetence from the first word to the last. The Vatican II Church, animated by the leveling, hippie spirit of communalism, has always been obsessed with the participation of The People (always ennobled with a capital "P") in the Mass. However the People stubbornly do not want to participate in the Mass. Therefore, our enlightened (ha!) overlords will_force_us to play-act their fantasy of the Great Group Hug by further degrading and infantilizing the Mass. 

I don't suspect the pastor at OLHC of any devious intentions, but his dumb response to a non-problem is based on faulty premises. He sees his congregation sitting in the pews week after week in a catatonic state and bemoans the lack of excitement and engagement, which he's been bred to expect from the "new springtime" in the Church. So, the natural response of a priest marinated in both the post-Vatican II era and the age of technology is to make it more entertaining! Whereas the clueless, 1970s hippie priest would bring in guitarists, clown Masses and liturgical dancers, the lame and impotent response of the modern, clueless pastor is to introduce TV screens. Next will be youtube videos, comedy routines, pre-recorded rock music, and other cribbed gimmicks from evangelical megachurch circuses. Who knows, perhaps they'll even introduce trampolines?

Coming to a Catholic church near you! 
Needless to say, the screens were a major distraction. They were scrolling announcements before the Mass (the same announcements that were in the bulletin), thereby precluding the ability to quietly pray. As the Mass started, the screens flashes the words of the Mass and the Scripture readings as we were simultaneously listening to them. Obviously, it is human nature to look at moving images, so everyone was staring at the screens instead of the priest. At one point during one of the guitarist's songs, a photoshopped picture of Pope Francis as the Good Shepherd was shown, conflating the current Pope with the Creator and Savior of mankind.

Our Lord...Francis?
I can ignore bad homilies. I can ignore bad music. I can ignore bad congregations and priests who rush through the Mass. I cannot ignore two 10 foot video screens that grab and demand your attention more than the Holy Sacrifice. They change the very nature of the Mass in a very fundamental way, which means that I will never, never go back to this parish.

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