Sunday, June 30, 2013

Behold The Lack Of Man

I don't know about you, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of guys going to Mass anymore. It's not just my parish. I see it when I travel. Sort of. It's not a problem in the Eastern Rite or TLM parishes I attend. Maybe this is just a self-selecting group. However, it's noticeable in the parishes that are offering the Pauline Mass.

Maybe I'm wrong. If I'm not, though, there must be an explanation. Rorate has a great article that gives one possibility. It all comes down to the liturgy. By way of introduction, I provide the prediction of Cardinal Heenan:

The correspondence between Cardinal Heenan of Westminster and Evelyn Waugh before the promulgation of the Novus Ordo Mass is well known, in which Waugh issues a crie de coeur about the post-Conciliar liturgy and finds a sympathetic, if ineffectual, ear in the Cardinal. What is not as well known is Cardinal Heenan’s comment to the Synod of Bishops in Rome after the experimental Mass, Missa Normativa, was presented for the first time in 1967 to a select number of bishops. This essay was inspired by the following words of Cardinal Heenan to the assembled bishops:

"At home, it is not only women and children but also fathers of families and young men who come regularly to Mass. If we were to offer them the kind of ceremony we saw yesterday we would soon be left with a congregation of women and children."

Make sure you read the whole thing. It's a pretty fascinating analysis. I"m not sure whether it's right, but Cardinal Heenan seemed to see something coming down the tracks.

Tangentially, Cardinal Heenan's autobiography Crown of Thorns is also excellent reading and gives a good picture of what happened at Vatican II and in the post-conciliar chaos.


Atticus said...

This touches a raw nerve. I will eace it to others to opine on the misanthropy of the Mass as it is presently constituted, but let me go on for a while on the sermons we hear.

When my sons were young they would get a kick out of two things I did at Mass. If and when a priest mentioned he was from Brooklyn, they could count on me to give a quiet and hidden fist pump. Then, when the sermon was over they would glance sideways at me as I rated the sermon with a show of fingers, from 1 being terrible to 10 being great. On very very rare occasions, usually when a visiting priest from Africa was saying Mass, the sermon would rate a 6 or 7. Not bad considering a higher number was reserved for a Newman, a Knox, or a Sheen.

The criteria for a good sermon was manifold, but one of the main ones was focus on the day's readings. If everything, including today's hard reading from the gospel was reduced to pablum, then the sermon rated 1 or 2.

I tease some priests I know, well, a lot of priests I know well (Opus Dei excluded) by asking them when was the last time they mentioned the following words in their sermons: sin, heaven, hell, judgment, etc. They generally smile as if they are addressing an ignorant child. Yet the tree is judged by its fruit and the fruit of modern religious practices is barren indeed. The men have opted out. If everyone, including all good dogs, go to heaven, then why the hell should a man go to the trouble of going to Mass, especially when men know that what they are being fed is sh*t? After all, whether it's hard-wired or acculturated, men understand the world in a zero-sum fashion. You screw up, you pay the price. But you never hear that in the sermon.

One of my odd hobbies is researching and collecting sermons, from Knox to Newman, which are favorites. but it just so happened that I recently came across Jonathan Edwards' sermon on hell, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." I do not want to seem morbid or puritanical. I am neither. But I do value honesty and if the Scriptures are full of consequential warnings, then shouldn't we hear the real score at Mass? Cardinal Newman is right:

"First, masculinity is opposed to sentimentality—not to sentiment, but to sentimentality. There is an absence of any trace of sentimentality in the Traditional rite, also called the Extraordinary Form. This is seen in its collects and prayers that are succinct and to the point without sacrificing beauty of language, and in its rubrics that prevent the personality of the priest from inserting his own feelings and choices into the rite itself. If we take note of Cardinal Newman’s insight that sentimentality is the acid of religion, meaning that it destroys true religion, then the rubrics of the Traditional rite are the little purple pill that prevents the reflux of sentimentality into the liturgy."

Philip said...

Your experience matches mine.

Philip said...

Your experience matches mine.

Throwback said...

Atticus, I agree. When I remember lots of men coming to Mass, it was our old, straight-off-the-boat Irish priest who frequently made the point of Job 7:1

"The life of man upon earth is a warfare..."

And that men were called to protect their families from spiritual destruction. The frightening possibilities of judgement for failing in this task kept men engaged.

No more, though. As for the liturgy, we traded what you described for liturgical dance and enough people roaming around the sanctuary to field a baseball team.

Damn shame.

Anonymous said...

While I haven't noticed an absence of men at Mass, it is striking that the vast majority of those roaming around the sanctuary are women. This is definitely something that has changed in the past ten years.