Monday, February 9, 2009


I went to an "EF" Mass on Sunday.

This is the Mass offered by the diocese to placate traditionalists.

There had, previously, been a small parish that practiced a traditional form of liturgy. It was a busy, vibrant little group - with a large choir struggling manfully to learn the Gregorian chant, devout regular parishioners, and even extra-curricular activities.

The diocese closed it down.

It was replaced with a "regular" Sunday Mass - at 4pm - in the basilica.

It's a low Mass. It's said on the main altar, behind the NO table, which obscures most of what the priest and servers are doing. The church, being extremely large, seems empty, and the parishioners are not quite sure what the postures are for them, and because they are spread out through a very large space, they are even more awkward and uncertain.

(There are five altars in this church - why don't they simply offer the Mass at one of the side altars, providing a more intimate feel, and allowing the priest to be seen, without trying to look through the "table?")

Why, for that matter, don't they offer a High Mass? It's Sunday, it's the main EF Mass of the day. The congregation could then sing the responses, and feel more a part of the Mass. The chant is not all that difficult to learn.

And then there was the sermon. I admit it - I sinned in my thoughts as I listened. It was not a sermon, it was a feel-good statement that "God is good and loves us, all of us, each and every one of us, no matter who we are or what we do."


The gospel was the story of the householder who hires workers throughout the day, and at the end of the day, pays them all the same wage. The guys who worked throughout the day were not happy that they weren't paid a premium when they learned that the ones who worked only 1 hour got full pay. The householder says, that was the deal when you signed on.

The parable is about the fact that God will reward us all equally - with heaven - no matter when we sign up. And it goes on to say that "many are called, but few are chosen."

So the message really isn't about "God loves us all no matter who we are," it's about God's reward is what it is - eternal salvation - no matter when we come to it. And moreover, it's about the fact that while salvation is available to us all, "few" of us will actually find it. Wow! How different that is from the touchy-feely message of today - the "protestantized" message of universal, once and for all, salvation.

The Catholic Church always taught that Jesus' sacrifice was renewed again and again at the Mass, and that even after our baptism (the initial washing away of original sin) our salvation was not complete. We had to continue to earn it with our good life and our adherence to the Church. This is a very different message from what is being modeled now, and what is taught in Protestantism.

I'm not here to say what is "right." I'm just noting what I see going on - and what we were told at the EF Mass on Sunday.

I guess this is in part what the SSPX and others have been trying to say: it's not just the liturgy, though that is a huge part of what has happened. It's the other teachings, which have strayed far from what they had been. So even though there is an EF Mass available (however inconveniently, and however badly executed), it is still a watered-down version of Catholicism that is being taught.

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